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Williams Stone Company in Otis donates land for wind turbines, but not development

OTIS – Ed Williams has a 220-foot wind turbine powering Williams Stone Co. The company CEO said wind power has been a great investment, but he’s focused on granite products rather than producing more wind turbines.

As the owner of 900 acres of land, however, Williams is openly willing to support wind-turbine efforts. He has already donated 35 acres to Otis for wind-turbine use.

He might not be done yet. Williams, a man of few words who doesn’t care much for publicity, said he’s willing to donate additional land to Otis, or Becket, to create space for other wind turbines.

“If we can extend this to other towns, how much better would we be?” Williams asked.

Williams, who owns a majority stake in his company, signed over the land to the town at the end of December. The land was appraised by the town at $100,000. His only condition is that no residential buildings be built on the land.

Williams declined to publicly release financial figures related to his turbine, but he previously stated he’s likely to recoup his investment in less than eight years.

Williams allowed town officials to review the financial figures, and they’ve been moving forward with the project since then. Town officials say the turbine would power municipal buildings, but also possibly reduce power costs for residents and generate a windfall of profit.

The site is about a quarter-mile from the company’s own turbine.

“This is something the town appreciates very much and it’s very generous of him,” said Roberta Sarnacki, the chairwoman of the Board of Selectman. “It’s obvious how much he cares about the town.”

Williams has approached town officials about donating additional land for turbine use. Sarnacki wouldn’t close the door on the possibility.

“It’s just a matter of making sure things go well with this one first,” she said.

Williams, 71, continues to work five days a week at the company he purchased from his parents when he was 21. He said he doesn’t have many outside interests, though he enjoys spending time walking and enjoying nature.

With no clear set business plan, he started purchasing surrounding land. His longtime business partner, Ed Mahoney, who is also the board president of Williams Stone Co., said the decision was supported because it provided a buffer zone around his operations.

Williams said in the 1990s, at the company’s peak, it owned 2,000 acres, but he’s sold more than half since then.

A representative of the state Department of Fisheries and Wildlife confirmed Williams sold a total of 1,065 acres of land in Otis and Becket that’s now part of the Farmington River Management between 2003 and 2005.

Williams declined to identify how much he sold the land for.

He said he could have sold the land to developers, but he wanted to ensure the land stayed pristine.

“You could make half or twice as much, but that’s suicide [for the area],” Williams said. “You can only keep so much. The company didn’t need it. It seemed it was a logical marriage.”

Mahoney said decisions haven’t been based on profit. He enthusiastically supports his longtime friend’s decision to donate the land to Otis.

“It’s part of being in the position to do the right thing and do it,” Mahoney said. “No hidden agenda. It’s the right thing to do.”