Initial comment period on the Claude Chester School site open until Wednesday

July 9 – GROTON – Sports fields, a swimming and paddling pool, and a municipal green are among the many ideas people have suggested so far for potential future uses for the elementary school property Claude Chester, and the city is always looking for comments online.

The old school, at 1 Harry Day Drive off Route 1, closed at the end of the 2020-21 school year as part of Groton Plan 2020, the city’s school consolidation and improvement plan. town. The plot is located near Poquonnock Plains Park, Groton Public Library and Thrive 55+ Active Living Center.

The city said it was still seeking feedback from people until Wednesday before closing its initial public comment period on Groton’s online community engagement website, Greatergroton.com. People can submit ideas on the site, and the city also held an in-person ideas workshop for the old school site on June 6 at the Thrive 55+ Active Living Center. During the workshop, Chad Frost, Principal of City Consultant Kent + Frost Landscape Architecture of Mystic, presented potential ideas for the property, such as an outdoor classroom, public event space, a playground and a mixed-use development, and people took part in exercises to give their feedback.

“The public is invited to use GreaterGroton.com’s polling and budget simulation tools to voice your opinion. Let us know what you would like to see on the site and how you would budget for this,” according to a notice from the city. “Imagine the possibilities and make your voice heard! Public comments will be accepted until July 13.”

Two surveys and a budget allocation exercise are available at greatergroton.com/visioning-claude-chester.

People can weigh in on how important they think certain ideas would be to the site, selecting if it’s something they don’t need, don’t care about, would like to have, or think is a must have. The list of ideas includes school building removal, city green, sports fields, pedestrian connectivity, cycling facilities, playground, event space, streetscape enhancement, municipal office uses, an outdoor classroom, a shaded pavilion or structure, public restrooms, a small community pool, larger community pool, public art or native site creation and plantings.

There is also a poll to provide feedback on how much residents would be willing to see their taxes raised to support a potential site project and whether they would prefer a one-year tax increase or a 20-year annual increase .

Jon Reiner, director of planning and development services for the city, said after the initial data collection period closes, the city will work to compile the data and look to schedule a meeting next month to present this information and consider next steps.

At last month’s meeting, parks and recreation manager Mark Berry described the plot as one of Groton’s gateways. He said he’s looking forward to hearing people’s vision for the property, as it will help set the tone for what Groton will look like for the foreseeable future.

Frost said the board of education deemed the building no longer usable for a school and city staff members deemed it truly unsuitable for another city facility, so he believes that it is probably necessary that the removal of the building be one of the first steps.

k.drelich@theday.com

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