GROTON — Pending a final decision by Town Meeting, there seemed to be a certain level of inevitability to the town’s possible purchase of land off Farmers Row for use as a location for a new Center Fire Station.
The feeling was heightened last week when Town Manager Mark Haddad and Center Fire Station Building Committee chairman John Petropoulos met with members of the Planning Board to discuss aspects of land owned by the Lawrence Homestead Trust, one of three properties being considered as potential sites for a new fire station.
In an earlier summation of the search process made to the Board of Selectmen, Petropoulos reported that the committee had narrowed down the choices to three sites: the former Prescott School, land owned by the Groton Electric Light Department located along Station Avenue, and land along Farmers Row owned by the Lawrence Homestead Trust.
Of the three, Petropoulos said at the time that the Lawrence Homestead “would be an easy place to build a fire station” and the least costly to develop.
Thus, at the board’s meeting of April 19, Haddad and Petropoulos sought the Planning Board’s support of an Approval Not Required plan that would divide up the 11-acre Lawrence Homestead land into a number of lots, including one to be reserved for a fire station.
According to Haddad, the lot intended for a new fire station is the farthest removed from the existing Public Safety Building, where at one time it was hoped access from the new station could be had using the same driveway.
Locating the proposed station away from the Public Safety Building, said Haddad, was necessitated by nearby wetlands forcing planners to provide the lot with separate access to Farmers Row.
Wary of the wetlands issue, board member John Giger warned town officials about creating a site that would box in the station, preventing future residents from making any improvements on the station.
Petropoulos, however, told Giger that he did not see any need for more space in the future.
Because the ANR plan submitted by Haddad and Petropoulos was only a draft, the board was forced to wait until its meeting of April 26 to take a vote on the issue.
Board members were also asked to support a pair of warrant articles to be presented to voters for consideration at Town Meeting dealing with the possible purchase of the Lawrence Homestead land and the appropriation of funds to cover the cost of designing the new fire station.
At last week’s meeting, Haddad said that a purchase price for the lot had not yet been made public but would be discussed by the Board of Selectmen when it met on April 23.
Haddad told the board that the Homestead property is currently the subject of an architectural review and that efforts at a possible purchase could proceed if the findings were positive.
After a brief description of the search process by Petropoulos, board members raised a number of concerns about locating a new fire station at the Homestead property, including cost, sewer connection, square footage of the proposed building including area to be covered with impermeable surfaces, and reaction by abutters.
“It seems to me that all the i’s have been dotted, the t’s crossed, and the homework has been done,” concluded a satisfied Giger.
“You guys did a fantastic job,” agreed fellow board member Carolyn Perkins.
The two echoed the feelings of their colleagues, who joined them in a vote to support both articles.