GROTON — Some old issues became new goals for fiscal 2014 during a special meeting hosted by selectmen Monday night at Legion Hall.
Much of the discussion was on what to do with the former Prescott School and the Station Avenue property. Plans related to both subjects sustained recent setbacks:
* Plans for Station Avenue fell through when the Groton Electric Light Department chose to build a new headquarters complex there, and
* An RFP (request for proposals) at Prescott failed to garner interest from developers to renovate the property as public lodging, forcing town officials back to the drawing board in future plans for the building.
On Monday, resident Greg Sheldon suggested moving town offices from Town Hall to the roomier Prescott building and redeveloping Town Hall as commercial property.
“Where is the public interest in thinking through the bigger picture?” asked Sheldon, also offering the idea of connecting Station Avenue with the Prescott property somehow as a way of making Main Street a “viable commercial downtown.”
While not unfriendly to the notion, board members were skeptical about moving town offices to Prescott. Selectman Stuart Schulman noted that with the town having trouble attracting commercial interests to Prescott, how would getting interest in the smaller Town Hall be any easier?
“We need to think outside the box,” insisted Sheldon, who has previously suggested moving the town offices to Prescott.
Selectmen were more receptive to Sheldon’s idea that there should be some physical connectivity between Station Avenue and Prescott. Selectman Joshua Degen suggested that a roadway could be built from one to the other, crossing empty land behind buildings facing Main Street.
The only problem with the idea, said Degen, was that such a connection would need to cross over wetlands, which the Conservation Commission would never permit.
The subject of connectivity between Station Avenue and Prescott as a means of improving traffic flow, creating more parking for downtown and promoting commercial activity came up again when the board considered its goals for the downtown overlay district.
“We’ve got to do something to make it happen,” said Degen of connecting the two locations.
Other goals set for fiscal 2014 included a continuing effort to improve town government with the board’s support for various groups established to address different issues, including the Charter Review Committee, the Bylaw Review Committee and the Town Meeting Review Committee.