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GROTON — A new group made up of residents and town officials asked members of the Board of Selectmen (BOS) Monday to support a project that would see the current senior center be replaced by a state-of-the-art, multi-generational community center.

The Groton Community Foundation began as a private group looking to expand the current senior center in west Groton to better meet the needs of the seniors in town, said spokesman Steven Webber.

To help pay for the expansion, Webber said the foundation hoped to create a building fund supported by private donations.

“It’s not our intention to use any tax dollars,” he said.

After taking a closer look at the senior center and its surrounding property, foundation members determined that there was just not enough room at the site to accommodate an adequate addition to the 30-plus year old building. Also, many felt being located so far from the center of town was also a factor weighing against making improvements.

The foundation began to think in terms of constructing a new building elsewhere in town. The building would not just serve seniors, it would serve all residents. They would build an inter-generational community center.

Vision for the new center included luring a private health club to the site for use by residents, and constructing an indoor swimming pool, an arts center and school.

“We’ve kind of thought about a lot of things,” Webber said.

The current senior center was purchased by the town in 1995. Before that, it had been the town’s VFW Post.

“We see this as a need that is coming 10 years from now,” said Webber.

Members began to look farther afield, to other town-owned parcels including the Prescott Elementary School should a new elementary school be built and the older building become available, Station Avenue where plans are afoot to develop the neighborhood, Cow Pond Brook Road and the Groton Country Club.

The suggestion of using land held by the Groton Country Club, whose athletic activities have grown popular with residents, loomed as the most sensitive option.

“I like the conception, I like the idea,” said board member Peter Cunningham. He would like to see the results of similar projects in other towns before making any hard and fast decisions.

In the end, the board was not against helping the foundation find town-owned land that could be used as the site for a new community center.

For information visit grotoncommunityfoundation.org

The board also met with police Chief Robert Mulhern Monday to review his proposed fiscal 2007 operating budget for the Police Department.

Mulhern began with a review of the dispatch department whose proposed budget for 2007 he characterized as a zero-growth budget. With a 2.5 percent rise from 2006, the chief said increased costs for dispatching were due almost entirely to wages.

As for the police budget, Mulhern said it would remain almost flat with only a $7,177 increase over this year’s which stands at $1,392,387.

Capital spending items for 2007 would include the leasing of two cruisers to replace aging vehicles.

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job at saving,” said Mulhern. “I’ve tried to do as directed and provide a very fair budget. We are doing more with less.”

Monday night, the board also:

* Appointed Townsend resident Joan MacEachern as a dispatch reserve officer.

* Appointed Connie Sartini as town diarist.

* Opened the town warrant in preparation for the annual town meeting scheduled for April 24.

* Voted to approve an agreement between the town and the engineering firm of Ammann & Whitney to conduct an engineering study of Fitch’s Bridge. To cover the cost of the services, $60,000 has been appropriated for the work.

* Conducted a public hearing attended by residents and town officials regarding what to do about the Recreation Department.

The department fell on hard times recently when the Recreation Commission lost all of its members and prompted the board to consider options including the possible elimination of the department and the parceling out of its programs to other groups both private and municipal. With recreation’s 2006 operating budget due to run out on June 30, selectmen decided to allow the department to be discontinued when that time comes.