GROTON — The Board of Selectmen decided to wait for more information before committing themselves to a move that would transfer jurisdiction of a 35-acre parcel adjacent to the transfer station from the town to the Parks Department.
Request for the transfer came at a meeting of the board held last Monday night, when Parks Vice Chairman Jon Strauss explained to selectmen how the town’s sporting organizations were being squeezed for lack of playing fields.
The playing fields at Cow Pond Brook were “taking a beating,” said Strauss, and there was not enough parking.
The reason was that there are an increasing number of sports leagues, including baseball, football, lacrosse and soccer all demanding use of the town’s limited number of playing fields.
As a result, Parks began looking for land where new playing fields could be created and eventually settled on property near the transfer station.
Currently used only minimally by the Highway Department, Strauss told selectmen Monday night that use of the land had been approved by DPW director Tom Delaney.
Strauss also reminded the board that half the money used to maintain the town’s various playing fields was raised by the different sports organizations themselves, a ratio that he expected would continue if and when any new fields were constructed on the land in question.
If the move was approved by the board, Strauss said Parks intended to apply to the Community Preservation Committee for funding to construct the new fields with the sports groups supplying the money for an initial cost estimate.
“This field space is desperately needed,” concluded Strauss.
“I think it makes sense,” said board member Peter Cunningham of the request.
Fellow Selectman Anna Eliot, however, cautioned that verification needed to be made to make sure no one else in town had plans for use of the land, suggesting the Highway Department or the Planning Board, which have been seeking sites to zone for industrial use.
Strauss also asked for the board’s permission to allow use of a portion of the former Surrenden Farm land by the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in their outdoor activities.
Strauss told selectmen that the need came to the attention of the Parks Department when the Scouts suggested using the town field behind the library for an overnight event.
Seeing no problem with the request, board members voted to delegate immediate authority for approval and oversight of the land use to Town Manager Mark Haddad.
Also last Monday night, selectmen voted to approve an increase in work hours for the town’s human resources director from 30 to 40 per week.
According to Haddad, when former director Kathleen Leblanc left the position and it was taken over by town accountant Valerie Jenkins, it was discovered that 30 hours was not enough to do the job.
Now is the time to make a change in hours, Haddad advised selectmen.
The town manager said the increase in hours would cost the town an additional $16,000 per year in salary and benefits.
Friendly to the notion of setting up a new committee tasked with reviewing how Town Meetings are conducted and to make recommendations for any changes that might be made, selectmen asked Haddad to find out if the public was interested in such a thing and if the town moderator could appoint the committee.
Board Chairman Stuart Schulman noted that there had been questions about changing the way Town Meeting is conducted, from the introduction of electronic voting instead of hand counts to simply abolishing the institution outright.
A Town Meeting review committee, when formed, could be charged with reviewing the viability of the institution, its legal framework, cost to the taxpayer, and other aspects and to make recommendations, if any, to the board.
Finally Monday night, selectmen decided to leave it to the Oct. 29 second session of Town Meeting to decide on a date for a third session should one be needed: Nov. 3 or Nov. 7.