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Groton seeks feedback on Pratt Building, recreational opportunities

Groton — The town is looking to hear from people about the types of recreational services, facilities and amenities they would like to see in their community.

Groton is seeking comments from residents, business owners and other individuals to help prioritize recreational amenities and upgrades to the Pratt Building at the Mystic Education Center, said Jessica Patterson, community outreach coordinator for town Parks and Recreation.

The Pratt Building, with a pool, gymnasium, bowling alley and other amenities, shuttered in 2011 but Respler Homes LLC’s proposal for redeveloping the Mystic Education Center as a mixed-use village includes renovating the building for public recreational use.

In addition, the town is seeking feedback to understand what it could better provide the community, she said.

“What type of facilities or improvements or field options could we be focusing on to ensure that everybody who lives, works and plays in Groton is really utilizing and using the facilities, or the parks, or the trails, or the beaches, as much as possible?” Patterson said.

GreenPlay LLC, a parks and recreation management consulting firm, will be overseeing the development of the Community Recreational Needs Assessment, according to a news release.

Patterson said the town is cognizant of the COVID-19 situation but is hoping the development of the assessment will offer people an opportunity to focus on something they can look forward to in the future and that can ultimately benefit the community.

Currently, to help stop the spread of COVID-19, the town closed playgrounds, the skate park, Central Bark Dog Park, the skate rink, basketball and tennis courts and Esker Point Beach volleyball courts until further notice, according to Parks and Recreation. Staff is posting signs at sites and removing nets and rims on basketball courts, locking fences at the skate park, dog park and tennis courts at Farquhar Park, and removing picnic tables from pavilions at Sutton Park and Esker Point Beach. Staff put up caution tape at playgrounds, except for Poquonnock Plains Park, which already has fencing.

The department is urging people to practice social distancing when using trails and parks, which remain open.

To gather feedback on future recreational opportunities, the town will hold a virtual public meeting via Zoom, an online virtual conferencing service, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 9. People can register for a spot in advance at GrotonRec.com/zoom. The town is holding the meeting virtually due to the need for social distancing to lower the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

Patterson added that people without internet access or who can’t use Zoom can call the Parks and Recreation office to provide feedback.

The news release says a number of people will be chosen for a statistically valid survey, but other community members also can fill out the survey, which will be posted on the Town of Groton Parks and Recreation’s Facebook page. The town also will hold focus groups and stakeholder interviews.

“We’re trying to identify current and emerging needs and then potential gaps in services and partnership opportunities,” such as potential partnerships with businesses and organizations in the future, Patterson said.

For example, while Parks and Recreation programs currently are “pay to play,” the town is trying to identify opportunities to encourage more community involvement and inclusion without having to raise costs.

“We don’t want to assume we know what the community wants,” Patterson added. “We want to encourage the community to let us know ‘Hey, this is what we’re looking for,’ and we’ll do our best to get it done,” she said.

k.drelich@theday.com

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