GROTON -- In a unanimous decision made at its meeting of Nov. 19, members of the Board of Selectmen set the end of January for an important vote on a new Center Fire Station proposed for land off Farmers Row.
The voting will take place at a Special Town Meeting to be held at the Middle School on Jan. 26, when residents will be asked to approve funding for the new fire station which is estimated to cost $7.5 million.
Selectmen made their decision at the request of Town Manager Mark Haddad, who informed them that site plans for the new facility had been approved by both the Planning Board and the Conservation Commission with only the Historical Districts Commission yet to weigh in.
That last approval process, however, is expected to finish with another affirmative, setting the stage for the late January decision on spending by residents at Special Town Meeting.
In addition to the cost of the building itself, the 2.7-acre parcel upon which the fire station is to be constructed has been set at $350,000.
The facility itself is to include a four-bay garage and two-story administration complex with offices on the first floor; fitness room, dormitory, kitchen, dining room, and day room planned for the second floor; and HVAC and other mechanical equipment to be placed in the third-floor "attic" space.
Completion of the fire-station project, which survived an attempt to end it at last month's Town Meeting, will represent the culmination of a long process that saw rejection of other locations in town, including the site of the former Sacred Heart Church and Prescott Elementary School.
But the fire station article will not be the only measure on the Town Meeting warrant, two others will ask residents to approve funding for the demolition of Fitch's Bridge and for herbicide treatment of Lost Lake.
In its Nov. 19 voting, the board also set Feb. 2 for a second session of Town Meeting should a snow date be needed.
Also at the same meeting, selectmen:
* Voted to retain the town's single tax rate for both residential and commercial property. With modest growth keeping the tax base "stable," members of the Board of Assessors, who met with selectmen, recommended that no change be made in the town's traditional single tax rate. As a result, selectmen voted to set the new rate for fiscal 2013 at $16.85 per $1,000 of valuation, a 2 percent increase over 2012. The rate for 2012 was $16.08.
* Voted to approve the installation of school zone signs at the request of the Seven Hills Pediatric Hospital. Concerned about excessive speed by drivers around their facility, officials at the hospital asked the board for permission to place signs on West and Fairview Streets as well as Hillside Avenue. Still in consideration is Whiting Street. With the approval of the board, hospital officials hope to see the signs erected as soon as possible.
* Voted to approve a beer and wine license for the new management of the Clover Farm General Store in West Groton.
* Voted to approve a charge for a new Town Meeting Review Committee that is intended to review how Town Meeting is conducted and to make recommendations for improvements if any are identified. Committee membership was set at seven with selectmen expected to conduct interviews of candidates at a future meeting.
* Learned from Haddad that the state had approved funding for a Lost Lake sewer system with zero percent interest. The news was good for supporters of such a system, which was voted down by residents at fall Town Meeting. But with some hope that the issue can be revived, Haddad said he would meet with representatives from the state's Department of Environmental Protection to see how long the funding offer would remain open and how the town could proceed with eventual approval of the sewer system.