Developer may want Seely School

Groton - A developer interested in buying William Seely School will meet with the Town Council on Tuesday.

The council has scheduled a potential executive session at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall Annex to discuss interest in "acquiring a piece of town-owned property," which Town Manager Mark Oefinger identified as the school.

Groton Town Parks and Recreation uses the school for many programs, including gymnastics, and has for years.

But Oefinger said programs could be moved to the former Fitch Middle School, which is more centrally located.

He added that the William Seely School abuts a property that isn't being used, and the two could be developed together.

"I think long-term, there isn't a need for the town to hold onto that property," Oefinger said of the school.

The Seely School property abuts a former mobile home park owned by Gretchen Chipperini, who fought with the town for years over another property, a former house in Mystic. It's unclear whether the developer is interested only in the school or in both the school and the property adjacent to it.

Councilor Bruce Flax said Chipperini has been trying to sell the mobile home park and at one point asked if she could market her property and the school as a unit. The council said if she had a developer who was interested in her land and needed the school property as well to make the development work, they would hear the proposal.

William Seely School was built in 1954, and is in the western section of town. It closed in 2003.

Flax said he didn't know what the proposal Tuesday would entail, but the council would learn more this week.

Chipperini's lengthy dispute with Groton involved 23 Library St. and started shortly after the family bought the house in 1989. Neighbors complained that she and her company, Ultegra LLC, started renovations that didn't end.

In 2004, the state Department of Transportation closed a section of sidewalk next to the property because the walk had a void beneath the concrete. Then in 2008, the house was destroyed by an arson fire. Four days after the fire, the town ordered the Chipperinis to demolish it for safety reasons.

Groton town took Chipperini to court almost a year later to enforce the order. She bought a demolition permit that August.

The chimney, the last remnant of the house, was dismantled in July 2011.


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