New Groton committee would work to spruce up town with volunteers

Groton – The Town Council on Tuesday night is expected to establish a Beautification Committee devoted to beautifying areas in town using volunteers.

The committee was unanimously approved by councilors at a Committee of the Whole meeting last month, but Tuesday vote will represent the final step for approval.

"I think it's important because I don't think we've really worked on this," said Town Councilor Rachael Franco, of why she felt starting the committee was important. "I can't see anyone opposing making our community look better."

Earlier this year, after attending a meeting about the Poquonnock Bridge area that sought input from residents, Franco and fellow Town Councilor Lian Obrey began talking about how planting bushes and other things could help change the whole look of the area. That conversation gradually expanded into things that could be done throughout town, and following more research and receiving positive feedback from residents, the idea of creating the committee took form.

"People like to think they are part of something happening in town," Obrey said. "If we take a small area and start with a project, it will be a lot easier to spread to another area."

"Each time you work on something and complete it, it's a wonderful feeling and that feeling has a way of spreading," she added.

The beautification committee, assuming it is approved Tuesday, will consist of five members likely appointed to two-year terms by the mayor. Those members, likely working in conjunction with volunteers, will pursue projects to spruce up parts of town.

Projects could include planting trees and bushes, raising money for park benches or even leading cleanup days to alleviate some of the burden on the Public Works Department, said Franco.

One idea that councilors seem particularly excited about is the possibility of selecting a town plant or shrub - that is non-invasive - to plant throughout the community. The hope is that by spreading an attractive plant around town, it will add a certain sense of place to Groton and draw people to visit, Franco said.

Franco said the committee will not require town funding and use little town staff time. Instead, she said the committee will rely on grants and fundraising to fund projects.

"It is self-sustaining and there is no burden on the town," he said.

If the committee is approved Tuesday, its first meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Groton Public Library. It will also have to have its members appointed.

Franco said that anyone interested in getting involved with the committee is welcome. Both Franco and Obrey expressed excitement over the first meeting next month, emphasizing that it'll be a great opportunity to hear the ideas of residents, which is the entire point of the committee.

"We wouldn't want to put out a project that is not of interest to people," said Obrey. "We have a lot of talented people and we may have someone in town thinking of something they can do for Groton ... this could be their platform."

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