GROTON — In what has become a perrenial discussion between town officials, selectmen met with members of the Planning Board, DPW Director Tom Delaney, and police Chief Donald Palma to mull over issues of parking and downtown traffic along Main Street.
“I have mixed feelings about what to do on Main Street,” said Delaney at a meeting held July 28.
Delaney’s comments were almost identical to those he made exactly a year before when he met with selectmen for the same reason.
Main Street is also designated as state route 119.
This year, the issue was raised by George Barringer, a member of the Planning Board, which has been working to implement provisions in its “complete streets” design program.
Barringer told selectmen that it was the desire of the Planning Board to move from discussion of downtown traffic to implementation of a plan that would allow for accessibility, public safety and visibility as well as adequate parking for local businesses.
But preventing that is the same problem that town officials have been wrestling with for many years: crosswalks, curb cuts, and parking restrictions demanded by the state that minimize parking.
More immediately was a project undertaken by the DPW to create a “bump out” area in front of Town Hall at the entrance of Station Avenue, a change that would only decrease the amount of parking still further.
That sparked a wider discussion with selectmen about creating more parking along Main Street with possible elimination of one or more of the 12 crosswalks located between the Middle School and Lawrence Academy.
In response to a suggestion that if parking spaces were indicated by striping more might be created, Palma said that due to all of the curb cuts, crosswalks, a new bump out, all with site distances required by the state, the town would lose 48 parking spaces.
Better to leave spaces unmarked to squeeze in more cars than could be literally allowed by designated spots.
As discussion of downtown parking usually did, talk came around to the creation of off street parking with the potential for a public parking area behind the former Prescott School if a bid to buy and develop the property is approved by the town.
Also discussed was the possibility of approaching a pair of Main Street banks with the idea of merging their parking areas for use by the public after business hours. The only problem with that, reminded Delaney, is that in the past, the banks have rejected just such a plan.
With nothing decided, selectmen took the various discussion points under advisement with the intention of revisiting the issue again in the future, perhaps after the fate of the Prescott building has been settled.
Also at their July 28 meeting, selectmen:
* Appointed Maura Hurley, Thomas Mace, timothy McGibbon, and Kayla Sheehan as reserve police officers. Also appointed were Catherine Meyer as part time dispatcher and Beverly Jeddrey as police matron.
* Voted to change the name of the Lost Lake Sewer Advisory Committee to the Lost Lake Watershed Advisory Committee. In a separate vote, board members appointed Art Prest and Mark Deuger to the renamed group.