This is a serialization of the new book written by Carl Flowers, owner of Silveus Plantation, the subject of “Groton’s Anonymous Mistress.” This 300-year-old house is accessed by Kemp Street near the boundary of Groton and Dunstable.
By Carl Flowers
In August of 1999, I informed the town of my intention to place a barricade across Dan Parker Road. The purpose of the barricade was to prevent ongoing vehicular damage to a field of Christmas trees.
The emergency management director didn’t want anything barricading the road because it would impede the response of an emergency vehicle. The compromise was to provide a key to the barricade for each of the town’s emergency vehicles.
Concern about my barricade was a complete contradiction and discrepancy in the town’s behavior. Every single winter, snow was piled up at the end of the paved portion of Raddin Road. On many occasions, the pile was so big, only a front-end loader would be able to break through the pile. A police car, ambulance or fire truck would not be able to push its way through. What’s so ironic about this is the fact the emergency management director didn’t require the town to keep its colossal snow pile off Raddin Road where it becomes unpaved.
Failure to plow the unpaved portion of Raddin Road appears to be a double standard. If all of Rocky Hill Road is plowed, why can’t all of Raddin Road? I’m not aware of any bylaw allowing the town to decide which town roads should or should not be maintained. Town code states if something is not specifically allowed, the action is prohibited. If this is the case, the town is violating its own prescribed standards which we, the residents, have to live with.
My request to barricade Dan Parker Road eventually led me to ask for the 1983 town counsel opinion. The request eventually brought about a new opinion in 2005. Selectmen’s confused discussion at their 1999 meeting over whether Dan Parker Road was abandoned or discontinued was the tip-off. They eventually concluded the town owned Dan Parker Road, but abandoned the town’s maintenance of the road. This muddled concession illustrated everything Groton Selectmen didn’t know. They said county roads were abandoned and town roads were discontinued. Selectmen said the action taken at the 1932 Town Meeting should have been a discontinuance rather than an abandonment.
Not long after the barricade was placed across the road, someone tore it down. I put it back up, and a day or two later it was torn down again. To address this vandalism I went to the administrative officer for assistance. The administrative officer said nothing could be done because Dan Parker Road was a discontinued road. Destruction to the barricade continued and once again, I spoke to the administrative officer. For a second time, the administrative officer stated no assistance could be give because Dan Parker Road was an abandoned road.
Use of abandoned and discontinued interchangeably caused me to question whether I lived on an abandoned or a discontinued road. The attitude being displayed toward me definitely made me feel as though I had been the one that was abandoned. Because of the disparity in the use of abandon and discontinue, I decided to do a little research of my own. As soon as I saw the proceedings of the Feb. 1, 1932, Town Meeting, I immediately knew the Mistress was not on an abandoned or a discontinued road. There was absolutely no way Dan Parker Road could be abandoned north of Martin’s Pond Road. Dunstable Road was south and easterly of Martin’s Pond Road.
My thoughts were, how could it be no one on the Board of Selectmen or Planning Board knew Old Dunstable Road and Dunstable Road were the same? Certainly there were members on both boards who were lifelong residents of Groton. Maybe both boards did what their hired staff told them to do because they didn’t bother to go out and do any looking around on their own. The behavior raised some questions in my mind. Could it be certain individuals in town hall weren’t capable of looking up information? Did they give an answer off the top of their head to blow off a taxpaying resident? Do certain town hall people believe the taxpaying residents exist for them rather than the other way around?
Because of the interchanged use and meaning of the words discontinue and abandoned, I spent quite a bit of time looking through the Middlesex County Commissioners minutes for the years 1931 and 1932. The minutes failed to suggest Dan Parker Road was a county road as implied by the Groton Selectmen. An examination of the terminology having to do with a road’s status was equally revealing.
Only the town can abandon or discontinue a town road. Only the county can abandon or discontinue a county road. The selectmen’s April 2, 1999, discussion on the difference between abandon and discontinue was a complete display of their misunderstanding of the two terms.
As a result of my findings, I once again went knocking… The meeting resulted in the rudest experience I have ever encountered. (I was told) I wasn’t telling the truth, no one had any time for me, and if I didn’t like what I was hearing, I could sue the town. With that, the … office door was slammed in my face. If I had been standing in the doorway, I would have been hit.