GROTON — Town officials met last week to discuss changes to an agreement with a private company chosen to conduct a review and updating of Groton’s master plan.
The town’s master plan has not been updated since 2002.
Judy Barrett of the Community Opportunities Group, Inc., the Boston based firm chosen by the Planning Board earlier in the year to oversee the updating process, appeared before board members at their Dec. 3 meeting to explain the need to cut back on some of the tasks her company had expected to perform as part of its scope of services.
COG was chosen by the Planning Board in September following a vote by residents at the fall Town Meeting to appropriate $100,000 to pay for the review and updating process for the master plan. The updating process was supposed to be conducted in two parts with $70,000 set aside to cover phase one and $30,000 for phase two, the implementation phase.
However, the appropriation was somewhat short of the $115,500 first proposed by COG, forcing alterations in the original scope of services.
According to Barrett, The Planning Board asked her company to make the reduction in services in order to bring the remainder into conformance with the approved appropriation.
Helping to make the cuts easier was the town’s ability to complete certain aspects of the review by itself.
Of those in-house services, the most significant will be those covered by the Conservation Commission.
The ability of the ConsCom to conduct an inventory of all of the town’s open space; update maps of open space, playing fields, and other parkland; to identify land acquisition priority parcels and protected natural resources; and to identify strategies that would limit the impact of future development in town, allowed the COG to remove the Open Space and Recreation portions from its original scope of services.
The ConsCom’s offer required $9,000 from its Conservation Fund to pay for the Open Space and Recreation inventory and review.
With the cuts, COG was able to reduce its original fee for scope of services from $115,500 to $95,000 bringing it back within budget.
But, with the money offered by the ConsCom for the Open Space portion of the scope of services, the town will have a total of $104,000 dedicated for the Master Plan review process, preserving all of the original elements of the scope of services for $11,500 less.
When all was said and done, the town will have $79,000 to spend on the first part of the project and $30,000 for the second.
“We get added value plus savings,” noted the town’s Planning Administrator Michelle Collette.
Also attending last week’s meeting were members of the Board of Selectmen, chairman of the Conservation Commission Bruce Easom, and Sustainability Committee member Michael Roberts.
“I think this revised scope of services of work is excellent,” said Board of Selectmen member Joshua Degen, who had suggested that further savings could be made if certain housing portions of the agreement were farmed out to the town’s newly hired housing coordinator.
With the new numbers in place, the Planning Board voted to approve them and send the recommendations to Town Manager Mark Haddad for review clearing the way for formal contract negotiations with COG and final approval by the Board of Selectmen.