GROTON -- Longtime Fire Chief Joseph Bosselait has announced his intention to retire next summer.
The news was delivered by Town Manager Mark Haddad at Monday's Board of Selectmen meeting. Haddad said Bosselait had submitted a letter indicating his intention to step down at the conclusion of his current contract, on June 30.
It was with a "heavy heart," said Haddad, who praised Bosselait's 14 years of service.
Selectmen noted that Bosselait took the top job at a time when the Fire Department was in transition from mostly a volunteer force to its current more professional incarnation with its merged firefighting and EMT services.
Bosselait was also on hand to shepherd the creation of a new Center Fire Station through a multiyear effort that began with a needs analysis and eventually leading to ongoing construction of a new building along Farmers Row.
Selectmen voted to accept Bosselait's retirement letter. They're expected to begin the process of finding a new chief sometime in the new year.
Also expected in the new year will be Haddad's public presentation of the town's proposed budget for fiscal 2015, which begins July 1.
According to the manager, who is obligated under town rules to submit a budget by Dec. 31, the formulation process was concluded a week ahead of schedule.
"This is a very, very good budget," Haddad told selectmen as he handed out hard copies to each member ahead of a Jan. 6 formal presentation.
Haddad said the proposed budget included a 2.5 percent increase in spending while remaining $450,000 below the levy limit.
In making his announcement Monday, Haddad warned the board that pieces of the budget puzzle were still missing including school spending -- which he hinted could turn out to be more than expected. But whatever that amount might be, it would have to be approved by regional school district partner Dunstable before being included in the budget.
Also on Monday, selectmen:
* Learned from Haddad that a local business has expressed interest in the former Prescott Elementary School building.
"The interest is very sincere," said the town manager before asking selectmen to approve his reissuing an RFP putting the property out to bid.
The town has been seeking a buyer or developer for the property with previous RFPs yielding little success. An open question, however, has been whether the school district would keep its central offices in the building as they are now.
Haddad said the interested party would not mind if the district chose to stay.
"It sounds very promising," said Selectman Anna Eliot, a member of the Prescott Reuse Committee.
Selectman Joshua Degen, however, suggested the property be appraised before being sold, noting that with the success of Boynton Meadows and the rebuilding of the Groton Inn across the street, the value of Main Street property could rise. Board Chairman Peter Cunningham said the RFP and appraisal could be done at the same time.
Selectmen then voted to authorize Haddad to prepare an RFP and to work in conjunction with the Reuse Committee while doing so.
* Voted to ratify the appointment of Pepperell resident Barbara Tierney as payroll coordinator. Described by Haddad as "highly qualified," Tierney was chosen from among six applicants and is expected to begin work Jan. 16 at a salary of $20.91 per hour.
* Learned that an auction of surplus town equipment, including trucks that had been used by the Fire Department, yielded $19,560. These funds will be deposited in the general fund.
* Learned from Water Superintendent Thomas Orcutt that the department's Whitney Pond Well site would be shut off for cleaning. Orcutt said the operation would take a week, with the well back online by Jan. 3. In the meantime, residents were asked to conserve water use.
* Voted to accept a conservation restriction on the 108-acre Walker-Cox property along Chicopee Row. A slight hitch in the acceptance occurred when it was learned the agreement had been slightly amended to include the approval of the Groton Conservation Trust in addition to that of the Groton Conservation Commission.
Earlier, the board had included permission for the creation of access roads through the woods for fire suppression vehicles, something selectmen expressed concern that the trust might not agree with.
* Delayed a vote to appoint membership for an Ad Hoc Polling Location Committee due to heavy interest by residents in joining the group.
The committee will look into finding a permanent location for voting in Precincts 2 and 3 that is more convenient than the Prescott School building, where voting was held last.
The board is expected to consider members and vote to appoint at its next meeting.