GROTON — A list of funding requests for the Community Preservation Committee, which ultimately must be approved by town meeting voters, came up for review by the Board of Selectmen.
Selectmen on Monday night reviewed a number of CPC funding requests. By state law, Community Preservation Act funds, which are collected through a property tax surcharge, must be used for open space preservation, affordable housing, historic preservation and public recreation.
Among the requests for funding was a new Rail Trail project for the former Greenville Line, of which only a small fraction of its 10-mile length lies in West Groton, with the rest in neighboring Townsend.
According to Bruce Easom, sponsor of the application, enthusiasts in Townsend have been trying to get the project off the ground for several years and may have a deal in the works to lease the old railroad bed from the MBTA, the current owners of the property.
Easom told selectmen that he would gladly serve as coordinator for the application if they would officially act as sponsors, along with the CPC. If the application is approved, it would receive $10,000 of CPA funds to cover the cost of an engineering study for the town’s portion of the proposed Rail Trail.
Easom said that because of the need for inter-town and inter-agency coordination, it would be more helpful if the Board of Selectmen were to sponsor the application.
“I think that’s appropriate,” commented Selectman Peter Cunningham.
Also considered for CPC funding was an application for $35,000 to hire a consultant who would work with the town on ways to implement its existing affordable housing plan.
The town’s administrative officer, Jeffrey Ritter, told selectmen that the consultant was needed in order to help set up a Community Development Corporation and to set goals for the town for the creation of affordable housing to be constructed by Groton itself rather than by private contractors.
“I hope to get some real specifics from this gentleman,” said Selectman Stuart Schulman, who sat on the ZBA for many years.
Finally, board members were informed that a CPC application for $20,000 would be sought by the Building Committee, to pay for a feasibility study for the 120-year-old Squannacook Hall.
The study will be done to discover the full extent of repairs needed to bring Squannacook Hall into full use as a public building. Currently, the hall has been closed to most activities, by order of the selectmen, pending a decision on what to do about its renovation.
As an indication of the board’s willingness to do whatever could be done in order to extend the useful life of Squannacook Hall, members voted to approve the funding application. — Pierre Comtois