This is a serialization of the new book written by Carl Flowers, owner of Silveus Plantation, the subject of "Groton's Anonymous Mistress." This 300-year-old house is accessed by Kemp Street near the boundary of Groton and Dunstable.
By Carl Flowers
After five years of request after request for a meeting with selectmen, they finally agreed to meet with me. The only reason they agreed to meet was to cover themselves. All my earlier requests were oral, but following my second written request, a date was set for Sept. 12, 2005. I was given about 15 minutes just prior to a scheduled Town Meeting. This way there would be no lengthy discussion. At the meeting, an overwhelming majority of the time was monopolized by one selectmen who dwelt on the nonexisting 1983 opinion from town counsel and the abandonment of Dan Parker Road to the Dunstable town line, because there was no Dunstable Road in the town of Groton.
What's so amazing about this is that neither selectmen nor the administrative officer comprehended the difference between an actual opinion from town counsel and a personal letter. Without a doubt, the monopolizing selectman was well coached prior to the meeting. I was not allowed to discuss the many documents I brought to the meeting. When the meeting was declared finished, I gave the chairman of the board of selectmen a copy of Groton's 1923 precinct map, James Fitzpatrick's 1938 death certificate and the 1942 assessor's street listing showing the Fitzpatricks lived on Shattuck Road. There was no discussion of these documents or any of the other documents I brought to the meeting. The street listing in addition to all the other documents clearly showed Shattuck Street passed by the Mistress and not Dan Parker Road.
At the same time I requested the meeting with selectmen, I also requested a meeting with the Groton Planning Board. The board voted not to meet with me because selectmen had authority over public ways under state statute. Interestingly, state statute gives the planning board authority to make recommendations to selectmen about roads, but the Groton Planning Board chose to make no recommendation. Besides this, the planning board has significant input on the building of new roads in housing developments. In the same letter informing me of the planning board's refusal to meet with me, the planning administrator wanted my email address to forward messages to me about preserving historic roads. Is there a contradiction here?
Sometime in 2006, after 14 years, for reasons that are unknown, the town's administrative officer resigned. With the newly appointed interim administrative officer, I believed a reasonable person would be willing to talk to me and look at my research. This wasn't true. The same old song and dance prevailed. To give this saga an additional twist, the interim administrative officer was impressed by the significant sums of taxpayer money the town spent at no cost to me confirming Dan Parker Road was abandoned. Of course, no mention was made of the fact that no one would sit down and talk to me. If they had, the significant sums of taxpayer money wouldn't have been spent.
On another occasion, the interim administrative officer personified the town's behavior by not talking to me. There was this one particular day I suggested the interim administrative officer and a selectman walk 20 steps across the hall to the tax assessors' office. I could prove to them there really was a Dunstable Road. They refused because they both had too much to do. Two or three minutes later, I returned to the selectmen's office with the 1940 assessor's maps, but both the selectman and the interim administrative officer had left the office.
The town's behavior toward the Mistress is identical to everything the town was so critical about relative to its dealings with the property owner along Jenkins Road. The controversy concerned a trail leading to Fitch's Bridge. The time and money spent on slapping the Jenkins Road property owner around has to be more than a nominal sum. A surveyor was hired as well as a consulting firm to conduct a title search. Town counsel's work certainly wasn't performed gratuitously.
The town claimed it wanted to be friendly toward the property owner. The message the town broadcast in dealing with the Jenkins Road property owner was loud and clear. Trails are more important than keeping a working farm, which is what the Mistress' domain is all about. In other words, let's get rid of the farms so there can be more housing developments and less food production. Right now, less than 10 percent of all the food consumed in Massachusetts is actually grown in Massachusetts.
The status of the road passing by the Mistress was important for a variety of reasons...