GROTON — Caught shorthanded, members of the Park Commission planned to take steps to replace long-time member Jon Strauss, who decided not to run for re-election in the last election cycle.
Park Commission Chairman Gineane Haberlin said voters in Groton wrote Strauss’s name on the ballot but due to personal commitments, he declined the seat.
There were no other candidates.
As a result, the commission is trying to find a replacement for Strauss, scheduling interviews with candidates on July 13 followed by a joint meeting with the Board of Selectmen on July 20.
There, it is hoped that selectmen will appoint the finalist chosen by commissioners who will then serve until the town election next spring.
Members of the commission include Kenneth Bushnell, Robert Flynn, Matthew Frary, and Haberlin. With Bushnell and Flynn’s terms ending in the spring, the commission will have three of five seats open for contention.
Strauss attended the commission’s meeting on June 15 to ask for support in his quest to fix up the track and playing fields at the middle school, which he said have fallen into disrepair as a result of neglect by the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District.
The problem, say commissioners, is that the school district has not allocated resources for upkeep. Instead, reported Haberlin, the district administration said that budget constraints have forced it to consider the high school fields as its first priority.
Discussion centered on the fact that the middle school fields are actually owned by the town and so could be eligible for Community Preservation Commission funding aimed at repairing them for public use.
Eager to work with the school district as well as the town, Strauss received the support of the Park Commission to contact district officials as well as the office of the Board of Selectmen to sound them out on the idea of repairing the middle school fields, and in the fall, applying for money to do it from the CPC.
Strauss guessed that repairs to the fields could be as high as $80,000 to $120,000.
“That field used to be a great field,” said Strauss.
Also at their meeting, commissioners learned that the start of a plan by Eagle Scout candidate Nick Marsh to conduct repairs on the Gazebo at the Town Field is delayed.
“He’s not ready,” explained Haberlin.
Haberlin said Marsh has requirements outlined by the Historic District Commission to meet before materials can be purchased. To date, he has met all the milestones the Park Commission has given, including the budget and timeline for the project that the town accountant needed. The HDC requirement is the next milestone.
“Nick has done an outstanding job preparing thus far,” Haberlin said in an email the next day.
Earlier, Marsh had estimated a cost of $1,053 to accomplish the needed work, which includes painting, repairs to flooring and deck preservation coating.
Hoping to take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade the structure’s electrical system, commissioners had planned on spending another $500 for that.