GROTON -- With a heavily attended public meeting on the subject held last week, momentum continued to build on addressing concerns regarding construction of a proposed natural-gas pipeline.

At a selectmen's meeting Monday, members became aware of the project from a report by Town Manager Mark Haddad as well as resident Diane Hewitt.

At the time, Haddad told selectmen that efforts to contact Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, the company that is planning to build the pipeline, failed to yield any response. With subsequent news accounts of the project fueling interest by landowners whose properties would be affected if the pipeline is built, the board held a public meeting on the subject that was attended by more than 200 people.

No representatives from Kinder Morgan were at the meeting. Haddad said Monday the company had agreed to meet with residents at a public hearing June 23.

According to the plan proposed by Kinder Morgan, the pipeline project would run a new 36-inch-high pressure main from Dracut through Groton and beyond to supply area towns in central Massachusetts with natural gas.

In Groton, the proposed pipeline would run across portions of land owned by the Groton-Dunstable Regional High School, Conservation Commission, Conservation Trust, beneath the Nashua River, and over numerous private parcels.

Along the full length of the buried pipeline, a 50-foot-wide corridor would be permanently clear-cut for access.


To gear up for the June 23 meeting, selectmen plan to meet with Electric Light Commissioner Kevin Lindemer on June 16 to discuss issues related to the pipeline project.

Lindemer has experience in the energy sector and is an analyst for the industry.

Also in the works is the possible formation of a working group on the issue proposed by board member Jack Petropoulos. The group would "make sure there was purpose and organization" to the board's effort to address the pipeline issue.

That subject will be addressed at the board's meeting June 9.

Also Monday, selectmen learned from Haddad that two finalists for the position of fire chief had been chosen by a search committee: Steele McCurdy, currently deputy chief for Littleton; and Robert Hart, deputy chief for Acton.

Whoever is chosen by selectmen will replace the town's current chief, Joseph Bosselait, who has been on the job for 14 years and is due to retire June 30.

Haddad told selectmen it all began with his meeting with Fire Department employees to gather input on qualifications a new chief should possess followed by the development of a departmental profile.

Twenty-five applications had been received.

Also, a formal search committee was established to review the candidates, which were cut to five and who were interviewed. That number was reduced to three and after a "deep dive" into their qualifications and experience. Haddad said the finalists were then cut to two.

Haddad called the finalists "strong candidates" and told selectmen they "would have a tough decision to make."

Candidates will be required to take part in an exhaustive evaluation program conducted by Mark Morse of MMA Consulting Group.

The program, according to MMA, "is a process to test and evaluate the leadership, supervisory, administrative and management skills" of candidates who are to have supervisory responsibilities.

Candidates will take part in a series of exercises and are then judged based on criteria such as communication skills, decision-making, reasoning, problem analysis, technical competence, strategic planning, negotiating, human relations and counseling.

After the assessment exercises, which selectmen will observe, members will conduct their own interviews June 9, followed by a possible vote on a finalist.

Selectmen Monday also:

* Accepted a $100,000 donation from the Groton School presented by its new headmaster Temba Maqubela. The donation is given to the town by the school annually in lieu of property taxes.

* Proclaimed June 2 as Ruth Emma Wilson Day. Wilson celebrated her 100th birthday May 19 along with her twin sister Eva Morin. 

Voted to ratify the appointment of Evan Boucher as equipment operator/laborer with the Highway Department.

* Reorganized itself after the recent elections naming Joshua Degen as the board's new chairman and Anna Eliot as vice chairwoman.