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Correspondent

GROTON — “Phase one” of the town plan to redevelop the Station Avenue neighborhood could get a big boost from the federal government.

The Board of Selectmen this week authorized planning administrator Michelle Collette and Highway Surveyor Thomas Delaney to pursue a federal grant to support drainage improvements along Jane’s Brook.

According to Collette, the importance of Jane’s Brook as a source of drainage, covering an area from Court Street to Broadmeadow Road, was pointed out to her following a meeting with local residents.

The area drained by the brook, which runs along the Rail Trail at the end of Station Avenue before passing beneath it and continuing on the other side, is an important part of the surrounding wetlands network. Town officials hired a consultant who suggested the town apply for a federal grant to cover the work needed to complete low-impact drainage improvements in the area.

If awarded, grand money would be used to clean up the brook, address the problem of invasive plant species, and allow for maintenance of the neighborhood’s stormwater drainage system.

Also part of the grant would be the erection of plastic bag dispensers to be used by pet owners walking their dogs along the Rail Trail, public education and awareness projects, and general drainage improvements along streets in the neighborhood of the brook.

Collette told selectmen that the grant could represent a boon to the town of $150,000 to $400,000 with the town needing to pay the labor costs incurred by the Highway Department in performing several tasks.

“It is a substantial amount of money,” said Collette.

“It’s a really good opportunity for us to get some matching funds,” added Delaney. “It should be a very interesting project.”

Delaney guessed that if the town won the grant, work on the project could start no sooner than next year.

Selectman Joshua Degen said that by going for the grant and eventually doing the work, Groton would demonstrate to potential developers of the Station Avenue area that the community was serious about its responsibilities for protecting wetlands, even in the center of town.

Degen referred to designs by the town to redevelop Station Avenue in anticipation of a move by the offices of the Groton Electric Light Department. With the departure of GELD, plus other parcels currently owned by the town, the neighborhood could be rebuilt with a mixture of commercial and residential spaces that planners hope will provide a new focus and new life for the downtown area.

“This could be considered phase one of a larger project,” agreed Collette.

Selectmen voted 5-0 to approve the grant application.