GROTON -- Two-thirds of residents at Groton Town Meeting Monday voted to fund a new senior center with a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion, meaning the measure will now head to the town election ballot later this month.
The debt exclusion would temporarily raise taxes to pay for the $5.43 million project.
The plan would see the existing the senior center, at 163 West Main St., torn down, and a new facility built in its place. The new building would be about 10,000 square-feet, or about double the size of the current facility.
"This town's senior population needs a center that is not an old VFW hall," said Select Board Chair Josh Degen.
More than 10 residents, including several who use the senior center, spoke in support of the funding. Others asked whether a new building is the best use of taxpayer money. After about an hour of debate, the motion passed.
The measure must still gain voter approval at the May 22 town election.
The debt exclusion article was one of 15 tackled by residents.
Residents also voted to change the Board of Selectmen's name to the Select Board.
A voice vote on that measure was too close to call, so residents voted via salmon-colored cards, with 152 in favor and 84 against.
Member Becky Pine, who made the motion, said before the vote that it is time for the board's name to use gender neutral language to reflect the changing workforce and to join other municipalities that have done so.
The article will amend the town's charter, with references to the Board of Selectmen replaced with "Select Board" and "Select Board Members."
One resident said changing the name could be a hassle if it has to be changed in all town documents.
"I don't think political correctness should trump practicality," she said.
Residents also voted to add a second school resource officer to the school district.
Money to fund the position comes from funds that have already been appropriated and will be moved to the police budget.
"To have a school resource officer that can intercede in crisis situations (for students) is something that we can't afford not to do," said state Rep. Sheila Harrington, who spoke as a town resident.
Groton can't fill the position unless Dunstable helps with the cost. About 20 percent of students in the district come from Dunstable.
School Committee Chair Marlena Gilbert said that as a result of meetings with Dunstable officials, she is confident the Dunstable will contribute for the position as well.
The school district lowered both of the town's assessments to help fund the position.
In other business, voters approved:
- The $37.28 million municipal budget, including assessments to Nashoba Valley Technical High School and Groton-Dunstable Regional School District totaling $21.64 million
- A $450,000 capital budget of 11 items
- Crosswalks and signage in two areas along Main Street
- Operating costs for the Prescott School building
Town Meeting will reconvene on May 7.