So the town of Groton welcomes people of all backgrounds to its cozy bedroom community? At least that’s what the many markers placed around town have etched in stone.
Efforts by some residents to simply change that greeting to “welcome” failed at Monday night’s Town Meeting. The majority “all” backers apparently feel, given the tenor of the political times in which we live, that simply saying welcome doesn’t go far enough to distance the town from the current toxic environment in Washington.
That’s the inference many residents read into the welcome greeting; inserting politics, they believe, doesn’t belong on town property, even though private donations paid for the stones’ inscriptions. That may have not been obvious to many at Town Meeting at the time or the population at large, but it has since become a concern.
The uneasiness of some with the stones’ wording apparently came as a surprise to Selectman Jack Petropoulos, the person who initially floated the idea. According to published reports, he believed depositing stone markers around town was a harmless gesture that served as a demonstration of the town’s good will.
Of course, the vote that approved those markers came at the same Town Meeting that overwhelmingly rejected an article that sought to form a committee to review the town seal, the sole purpose of which would be to propose changes.
A segment of the population expressed their discomfort with the seal, which they believed wasn’t inclusive enough. It depicts a Holy Bible and a plow, symbols that pay homage to the ideals that sustained the town’s settlers through the hardships they experienced back in 1655.
Apparently, religion and hard work run counter to some in town’s current norms.
So do these feel-good markers suffice, or must Groton reinforce those words with all-inclusive deeds?
One resident at Monday night’s Town Meeting said he voted against the signs in the spring because he felt Groton isn’t a welcoming town. That comment reportedly was met with levity by those in attendance.
But perhaps he had actually hit a nerve.
Is he wrong? And will just saying you’re not change that perception?
Does Groton, a community that’s 95 percent white, really welcome people of all races to live and work here?
Does Groton, which as of 2015 had barely met half of its affordable-housing requirements, present a welcoming face to those of all economic backgrounds?
Does Groton take steps to provide housing and education for refugee families from third-world countries, like neighbors in Fitchburg and Lowell do?
How many group homes for the developmentally disabled or recovering drug addicts does Groton support?
Answers to these and other difficult questions will indicate just how welcoming Groton really is, more so than some pat-on-the-back stone markers.