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Mystic River Bluffs is development Groton needs

Groton is sitting at a juncture. Years of planning and hard work by our town leaders are poised to become reality through new economic development across Groton. Thanks to the hard work of our town staff, vacant town-owned and state-owned properties are set to join the tax rolls and become contributing parts of our neighborhoods, rather than wasting away as eyesores.

But this council needs your help to support this transition.

One of these projects is the state-owned, historic Mystic Oral School property.

Council members ran on the principle of Smart Growth, meaning choosing to grow existing developed land rather than touch natural spaces. Part of Smart Growth is to combat sprawl and build density, encouraging mixed use and walkable spaces. Mystic River Bluffs, the planned development for the property, checks all these boxes.

The character of Groton is the intersection of our history and cutting-edge technology. Maintaining the historic Oral School buildings, including the lovely cupola and ship weathervane atop the stately red brick buildings, in a mixed-use redevelopment serving our high-tech local industry is the best of both worlds. We must preserve our character, rather than bulldozing it, as some have suggested.

On a purely financial note, according to our town staff, the Mystic River Bluffs redevelopment is poised to become the third largest taxpayer. This council, as part of economic development, is striving to diversify our tax base. If we want money to ensure our high-quality schools continue to thrive; to support our award-winning parks programs and facilities; our amazing library; and yes, to protect and grow our green space, we need to expand our tax base.

Over 80% of our workforce in Groton lives somewhere else. Another of our goals was to entice as many of those workers as possible and convince them to call Groton home. In order to capture those new residents, we require a variety of housing, including mixed-use walkable neighborhoods. Mystic River Bluffs is one such neighborhood. And when these new hires settle here, they will spend their income at our local shops and restaurants, providing yet another point of growth for our local economy.

In addition to these stated advantages, Groton has the opportunity to realize amenities for the community that we otherwise could not afford, namely a community indoor pool and a performing arts theatre. As part of Mystic River Bluffs, the Pratt Building pool will be rehabilitated, and we are evaluating the potential of theatre renovation as well. Neither of these two amenities are things that we could fit into our budget now or in the foreseeable future.

This is an amazing opportunity to secure these facilities for the people of Groton. In addition, part of Mystic River Bluffs is the preservation of over 30 acres of green space, as well as the addition of a trail down to the river for use by the public. Again, not something our budget could support at this time.

So many positive facets flow from this project and so many benefits for the people of the Town of Groton. We ask you to join with this council fostering smart growth by emailing your support to Council@groton-ct.gov. Thank you for allowing this council the privilege of serving you and “Growing Groton Together.”

Submitted by Mayor Patrice Granatosky and Councilors Portia Bordelon, Aundre Bumgardner, Rachael Franco, Conrad Heede, Juan Melendez, Lian Obrey, Juliette Parker, and Joseph Zeppieri. This commentary was read into the record of our Committee of the Whole on Feb. 23.

 

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