May 182015

In reply to a recent letter to the Editor claiming my actions to be the source of the discord at the Board of Selectmen, and offering a tale to his neighbors of my “going to Planning Board” as an example, I would like to provide a bit of perspective:

As a member of the Planning Board, the author knows full well that no such thing happened.

The fact is that I was presented with a town employee’s concern that the construction cost specified in the Groton School’s building permit were significantly understated. Knowing the consequences of questioning the actions of town hall, I sought the less disruptive path of asking an acquaintance, who happens to be a member of the Planning Board, if they had a sense of the size of the project. The acquaintance did not know the value and arranged a meeting with the building department. We politely, without accusations, discussed the discrepancy between the Mass Development news release which specified the initiative as a $48M project, and the construction cost stated on the building permit which stated the initiative as a $6.5M project. Within days, and exactly as I feared, a classic response was issued by the Town Manager using words like: “innuendo”, “misrepresentation of the facts”, “misinformation being spread” to characterize my actions. Together with a letter from the Groton School’s attorney, the Town Manager’s letter assured that “The fee charged for their project is accurate and well researched.” The Planning Board member was part of every discussion that we had on this matter and, should the author or his neighbors care to get the truth on this, he can speak to the (in) accuracy of those characterizations. Fortunately, despite this resistance and assurance that all was right with the world, and with a bit of perseverance, the actual cost was eventually disclosed to be over $21M and we recouped an additional $144,000 in building permit fees.

The other observations made by the author on Blood Farm permit fees, my relationship with the press, and the Four Corners Sewer are similarly incomplete, but to address each here would serve only to provide a lengthy demonstration of the trend.

The trend I find disappointing is the way that events such as the above are spun to distract attention from the real issues; or as has been done here, to accomplish an agenda. For example, the idea that a very serious violation of the Open Meeting law can be turned into an attack on someone who refused to participate in the violation is amazing to me. The author is right in that it does tend to discourage volunteerism. For those who do volunteer, why would any of them take the risk of taking a stand only to be named as “the purveyor of discord”?

I can assure anyone willing to believe that discord is sometimes the reaction to healthy change that I have always tried to do things politely, discretely and methodically; but when protocol is ineffective I will do what I must to affect what is right.

Getting along is important, but we were not elected to join a club.


Jack Petropoulos