GROTON -- An empty lot behind the Groton Historical Society will be transformed into a public space through volunteer-driven efforts.
Sponsored by the Groton Businesses Association, the area behind the Boutwell House is envisioned as a space with two gardens, a meandering walkway, and seating area.
"The concept has taken hold and there's lots of interest," said Bob Pine, a environmental planner and engineer who is volunteering on the project. He works for the landscaping consulting group Pine & Swallow Environmental in Groton.
Kim Meninger, president of the business association, said the idea for the public space was introduced last spring. The members like the central location on Main Street.
The association, which was previously the town's Board of Trade, sees the service project as a way to reintroduce itself to the community, Meninger said.
Groton's Conservation Commission approved the public space project in the fall.
Work on the lot began in January. Up to 20 people used excavators and front loaders to remove Norway Maple trees that spanned a couple hundred feet back from the historical center.
"It's good to see the community response and people who are willing to roll up their sleeves," Meninger said.
What remains in the lot are stumps and piles of tree trunks and branches. Those will be cleared away so the ground can be evened out and planting can begin.
The project is expected to take several years.
Bobbie Spiegelman, president of the historical society, said she would like to see historically accurate plants and some pollinators in the garden.
The town's garden club will help with planting and selecting flowers, she said.
Meninger hopes the space will help attract visitors and be a place where people want to come to enjoy the scenery.
Encouraging people to volunteer for the project can help foster a sense of community involvement, Pine said.
"It has been delightful to see this community effort growing," he said. "If we can get this all to happen, then it will be a special thing for the history center and for the town as a whole."