GROTON — Groton made history at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting Monday, when police Lt. James Cullen was appointed as the town’s first deputy police chief.
“This is a big day for the town of Groton,” said Town Manager Mark Haddad, in remarks introducing Cullen to the board.
Cullen, a police officer since 1986, joined the Groton Police Department in 1999, was promoted to sergeant in 2003 and to lieutenant in 2009.
Joined by the entire uniformed staff of the Police Department as well as family and friends, Cullen was sworn in as the town’s first deputy police chief by Town Clerk Michael Bouchard and had his new badge and insignia pinned on him by his wife and daughter.
Police Chief Donald Palma, describing the moment as a “great day” for his department, noted that Cullen had already been serving as his “right hand.”
With an effective date of Monday, selectmen voted unanimously to ratify Haddad’s appointment of Cullen as deputy chief.
In other business, selectmen received an annual progress report from Groton Electric Light Department Director Kevin Kelly in his capacity as chairman of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Working Group.
Kelly prefaced his remarks by noting that as a result of a lack of carrying capacity, Groton residents are currently paying higher prices for natural gas.
“There’s a huge cost,” said Kelly of the situation in Massachusetts, which pays one of the highest rates in the country.
Kelly said that although the preferred pathway for the proposed pipeline is a Southern New Hampshire route, Groton, among other communities, is still on the books as a potential alternative route.
The Working Group was established by the Board of Selectmen to examine issues dealing with plans by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners to construct a new 36-inch high-pressure main to supply natural gas.
Kelly, as part of his report, said that the pipeline-approval process has now reached a phase where the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission overseeing such projects will begin hosting a number of “scoping sessions” intended to identify issues related to the pipeline’s environmental impact and to consider alternative solutions to the energy distribution question.
Kelly said that the Working Group intends to attend such sessions and bring up a number of questions including the project’s impact on conservation land, wetlands crossings, a high-school evacuation plan and tunneling under the Nashua River.
In addition, the group could ask that if the Groton path is chosen, would a route along already disturbed corridors be considered.
* Voted to ratify the appointment of Sydney Greeno as pro shop attendant at the Country Club and appointed Leslie Colt to fill a vacancy on the Housing Authority.
* Decided to discuss further their vision for Station Avenue before getting back to Kelly about the future use of land upon which GELD’s old garage facility is located up against the rail trail. Kelly said the last items in the process are being moved into the department’s new facility next door. He is prepared to draw up an RFP (Request For Proposal) for anyone interested in buying the property on which the old garage rests. Kelly said he hopes to recoup up to $300,000 the department spent on the cost of the new facility.
* Voted to authorize the town manager to release $3,500 from the town’s budget for use by the Municipal Building Committee for Prescott School. The money is needed to cover inflation. It would be added to a previously approved amount of $35,000 and used to hire consultants to study the former elementary school building to determine how much it would cost to renovate the structure and bring it up to current standards. An article on the warrant for town meeting would seek voter approval to replenish the $3,500 via specific appropriation.
* Decided to take a first step in developing a monthly newsletter of board activities by allowing Haddad to post meeting agendas and related information on the selectmen’s web page.
* Decided to consider four of seven applicants for town legal counsel and invite them in for interviews at a special working session that was yet to be scheduled.