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Town Meeting Approves Funding To Improve Pedestrian Safety & Accessibility

by Connie Sartini
Fall Town Meeting voters were asked to approve the sum of $35,000 that would allow the Complete Streets Committee to apply for a grant from MassDOT to improve pedestrian safety and accessibility in two specific areas of town.
     This would provide the funding for the required engineering design for the projects. Sites under consideration at this time include installing a sidewalk from West Groton Center to the new Groton Senior Center on West Main Street and installing a sidewalk on Route 40 from the Groton Inn to Gibbet Hill Grill.
     Resident Paul Funch made a motion to amend the article from $35,000 to $64,000, arguing that by not increasing complete street funding request from the MassDOT, the town would be leaving “money on the table, and by adding $29,000 more, we would get a lot more money from the state (Complete Streets Program).”
     Groton Finance Committee Chairman Bud Robertson said the FinCom was “unanimous in not supporting the addition of the $29,000. “We prioritized our cash; $35,000 is the right number.”
     He pointed out that both the schools and the library had pushed out some of their projects. “At this time, and at this meeting, we should not approve this at this late date. We should not support the addition of $29,000,” and suggested that this could be part of the Spring Town Meeting.
     Funch said he saw “no reason that $29,000 would be more palatable next year,” adding that this article “just came to my attention recently.”
Michelle Collette, a member of the Complete Streets Committee, told voters that the Committee voted to ask for $35,000. The project in West Groton is worthwhile. She advised that the Complete Streets Program takes in two sets of applications per year. “It was the Committee’s intention to apply for West Groton at this Town Meeting and do the remainder at our next Town Meeting.”
     Selectman Josh Degen commented, “I would agree with Funch, but at another time.” He added that there are “two more rounds of funding in the next two years and we would have an estimate for the spring town meeting.”
     One resident asked why the businesses that would benefit from the Route 40 sidewalk can’t contribute to the project.         Robertson asked voters not to pass Funch’s amendment, and go back and approve the $35,000 request, adding, “Then we can see what we can do for buy-in.”
     Funch’s motion to amend the article from $35,000 to $54,000 required a 2/3 majority and was defeated by a hand count of 79 yes votes and 88 no votes. The article moved back to the main motion for $35,000 and passed by a majority vote.
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