GROTON -- On a busy night for the Board of Selectmen, the disposition of a number of properties owned by the town were at the top of the agenda.

Among them were a couple of deals in the works that selectmen were asked to reconsider including one involving the old Center Fire Station on Station Avenue.

There, Town Manager Mark Haddad had reported earlier that following issuance of an RFP (Request For Proposal), an offer was received to buy the disused property for $100,000 with the object of converting the ground floor into a bike shop and food service shop and the second floor into a residential unit.

The proposal had appealed to board members as it seemed to fit with long range plans for the development of Station Avenue until local real estate salesman John Carver appeared before members April 7 to say that even at the price, the town might be selling itself short.

According to Carver, extensive analysis of local real estate sales indicated a very strong market in Groton, one that with wider notification of the sale, ought to produce a higher selling price.

Calling the current offer "inadequate," Carver recommended that the RFP be reissued.

"We have not scratched the surface of potential buyers," Carver concluded.


In the end, the current offer for the building fit so well with long range plans for the Station Avenue neighborhood that selectmen were reluctant to reject it instead, opting to establish a committee made up of real estate professionals to draw up a plan for the future sale of public property.

On the other hand, selectmen did vote to delay approval of an offer to purchase the former Prescott Elementary School with the developer possibly investing as much as $1.7 million to renovate the building while leaving the old schoolyard available to the town for the creation of a 60-space parking lot.

Haddad confirmed that the developer had lined up three businesses interested in leasing space at the site including two whose services were currently unrepresented in town.

However, due to new issues, including that of real estate values raised by Carver, the town manager asked selectmen to delay acceptance of the offer until the building could be properly appraised and the possibility of using the old schoolyard in the back as municipal parking could be explored.

Meanwhile, at the Country Club or Pool & Golf Center, Haddad reported that the owners of the Blackbird Cafe had agreed to take over management of the club's snack bar.

Haddad said that with the deal, the owners agreed to pay for new furnishings and food preparation equipment in addition to paying $400 a month rent plus utilities.

For its part, the town would renovate the snack bar building at an estimated cost of $8,000.

"It's a good deal for the town," declared Haddad.

"Hopefully, this will generate more commercial activity there," commented board chairman Peter Cunningham.

According to DPW director Tom Delaney, the new management expected to have the snack bar open for business by May 1.

Also, selectmen:

* Learned that the state will likely provide a 23 percent match to what the town collected for its CPC account (Community Preservation Committee), the lowest in the many years since Groton residents adopted the surcharge intended to fund the account. Through it, voters at spring town meeting will be asked to consider appropriating $41,000 to pay for a feasibility study and plans for playing fields at Ledge Rock Field; $11,000 to pay for restoration of historic mile stones around town; $100,000 for deposit in the ConsCom's conservation fund for use in acquiring open land when it becomes available; $170,500 for erosion control and stabilization efforts at Sargisson Beach; $47,000 to refurbish the Country Club's driving range; and $47,618 to pay for the salary of the town's housing coordinator whose hours are to be increased to 25 a week. A request for $52,000 by proponents of efforts to use chemicals to eradicate weeds in Baddacook Pond was rejected by the CPC due to concerns raised by the Water Commission. 

* Voted to accept a gift of $25,000 from Groton School earmarked for the town's emergency services. The vote also created an account to hold the money and a second vote authorized the town manager to make withdrawals when necessary.

* Learned that the town's emergency services came through again on April 6 when they came to the aid of a 78-year-old resident who had fallen from a ladder and suffered cardiac arrest. CPR was administered and when a pulse was regained, the man was evacuated to the hospital. The incident marked the second time in four months that a life was saved by the town's EMS services. Last December, the life of a Chinese student attending Lawrence Academy was saved after s/he suffered a heart attack and collapsed.

* Voted to ratify the appointment of Melissa Doig, former assistant treasurer in Ayer, to the position of human resources director. According to Haddad, Doig was chosen by a search committee after a field of applicants was narrowed to two. Degen questioned Doig's lack of a college degree but the ratification went forward nonetheless.