By Hiroko Sato
GROTON -- Selectmen chose Robert Hart, Acton's deputy fire chief, as Groton's new fire chief Monday night.
The board's unanimous appointment, pending a successful contractual negotiation and background check, came after a split-straw vote for two finalists, Hart and Steele McCurdy, deputy fire chief for Littleton. Selectmen Joshua Degen, Anna Eliot and Jack Petropoulos favored Hart while Selectmen Peter Cunningham and Stuart Schulman favored McCurdy. Both Cunningham and Schulman said, however, that they had no problem going with the majority's choice because both finalists were well-qualified.
A few selectmen mentioned that the interview process that involved a day-long exercise based on realistic scenarios helped them make decisions. Degen said the exercise showed style differences between the candidates in how they would handle personnel issues.
During the Monday night meeting, selectmen also formed the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Working Group Committee. Seven members will serve, including representatives from the School Committee, Conservation Committee, the Groton Electric Light Department, the Board of Selectmen and two yet-to-be-appointed at-large members.
Selectmen have scheduled a Special Town Meeting for Monday, June 30, to vote on a non-binding resolution that will state the town's position on the Tennessee Gas Pipeline's natural-gas pipeline that will involve a part of Groton.
Selectmen made several committee appointments, including the reappointment of Bruce Easom to the Conservation Commission. Degen opposed Easom's reappointment, saying Easom had accused Town Manager Mark Haddad of "being corrupt" regarding a proposed wetland swap for the Boynton Meadows mixed-use development on Main Street during Town Meeting three years ago.
But Eliot said she believed Degen's remarks stemmed from a personal agenda and the board needed to stick to the merits of appointment. Cunningham, in the meantime, said he was concerned about reappointing Easom to the Conservation Commission because Easom was recently elected to the Groton Electric Light Commission and there could be a conflict of interest.
The board voted 3-2 to confirm Easom's reappointment to the Conservation Commission with Degen and Cunningham voting against it.