A couple of months ago, I wrote a letter to the editor of this paper asking the Groton Board of Selectmen to shut down the Boston Road and Main Street so that my daughter and I could walk to town in peace and quiet. I am writing today to follow up. Mr. Haddad, why hasn't this been done? Why is Route 119 still open to traffic? Aren't you listening? My call to action has apparently fallen on deaf ears. Where are Groton's priorities? I pay my taxes!
Ha! Ha! Obviously I am joking with you. I would not truly expect you to close a state road just so that Sophie and I could walk to Moison's Hardware store, well, at least not on weekdays. Ha! Actually, what this town needs is a call to action, the start of a revolution along the lines of Shay's Rebellion; the Prague Spring; and the Arab Uprising. We must mobilize the Twitterverse and invite our Facebook Friends to join in a Groton Summer Sidewalk Revolution. Tear down the wall of traffic that imprisons all of us.
Yesterday in the evening, Sophie and I were hanging out at the parking lot of Johnson's, just two townies enjoying our cups of ice cream. Sophie always asks for Cookies 'n Cream, most of which winds up on her hands, face and shirt. While we were there, I began noticing the traffic pattern of cars traveling the Boston Road from both directions. It felt a little bit like watching Kasey Kahne round the curve at the Daytona 500. Northbound cars come whipping around the bend from Ames Road without warning, out of the line of sight, and at full throttle.
We sat on a railroad tie under the Johnson's sign and waved to a few cars. At one point, to beat the heat, I rolled up the cuffs of my jeans. The thought occurred to me that if I showed a little leg, it might cause a few of the ladies to slow down. I got nothin'. I must not be as young as I once was. Didn't women used to say that my legs could direct traffic? Or, was it that my face could stop a bus? I can no longer remember.
The true danger, of course, lies not in the speed of these cars but in their sightline. A car turning left into Johnson's from the northbound lane must take a deep leap of faith in the hope that a tandem trailer carrying liquid nitrogen will not be barreling down on him from the other direction. Who would know? You cannot see anything until it is almost too late.
That same situation exists a few hundred yards down the road where cars turn into Skyfields Drive. That's where we live. The only ways to safely turn left are to come to a full stop, peer around the bend, and then punch pedal to the metal from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds. Of course by that time, every driver behind you will have his window down and his middle finger extended.
What a curious thing. I always ask myself, "Is he checking the wind direction?" People worry about the oddest things at the strangest times. I sometimes want to get out of my car, walk over to that impatient guy behind me, and explain to him that prevailing winds in Groton always blow from the northwest. I am sure he would appreciate knowing.
I continued eating my dessert as I gazed across to the Groton Country Club, day-dreaming. Forgive me. This is now called the Groton Pool and Golf Center. Before we moved to Groton, there was apparently an effort to make GCC more approachable and appealing to the starving masses. I pondered that decision. Would a simple name change as this make me feel more entitled to a leisured and privileged life of swimming and golf? What was wrong with the old name? Can't a common bloke like me join a public course with a prestigious name like "Country Club?" Why can't Everyman strive for something better? What good could come from appeasing the proletariat with a common name? Did they consider "The Groton Pool and People's Republic of Golf Club?"
Kidding aside, how about a more meaningful change?
Then it hit me. As I gobbled down the last spoonful of my chocolate ice cream, I received a vision from God, (who, on very hot summer nights, sometimes speaks to me directly).
What if all the trees were cut down on the opposite side of the road along the perimeter of the golf course? Let the public actually see the golf course from Route 119. This plan has several merits. The viewshed from the road will be very pretty, inviting drivers to slow down and take in the rolling hills. A qualified landscape design artist will know how to accomplish this. This would enhance Groton's reputation for bucolic bliss in a country setting. It would increase public awareness of a golf course that is currently tucked away behind scrap pine and choke cherry. It will boost membership.
Finally, it would give northbound traffic -- turning in to Johnson's and Skyfields Drive -- a clear view of who is coming the other way. There is a software app for the iPhone called "Malibu Beaches" that shows the public how to gain access to one of California's most coveted and public beaches. That access is often cleverly hidden with hedges and high walls by the local aristocracy. We need similar help here in Groton to access our public country club. In its May 3, 2013 issue, the editorial staff of the Groton Herald asked that we re-imagine the potential of this "Jewel of Groton."
A week after my first letter ran, the Herald published two responses from Emil Rechsteiner and Brooks Lyman, readers who -- in a rare turn of events -- were moved to pen their own letters to the editor. We must encourage them to write more often!
Among their suggestions was a sidewalk that would run from Skyfields-Two, so-called, all the way to Main Street. Eureka! Here is how that might be done. Once most of the scrub trees have been removed from the side of the road along the perimeter of the Groton Country Club, then a sidewalk can be constructed where they once stood. Another great barrier to public safety and enjoyment will come down. Further north, a second long stretch of sidewalk could continue alongside the Sisters of the Holy Union School and its grounds of the former Lathrop School. The Sisters there may be eager to help. Let's ask.
I call to action all able-bodied men and women to join in this Sidewalk Revolution. To our Board of Selectmen and Town Manager Haddad, I say, "Tear down this wall of trees that obscures idyllic views of Groton's rolling public hills, endangers lives and hinders the enjoyment of peaceful walks around town."
Are we not free pedestrians opposed to the tyranny of racing automobiles? Groton is not a playground for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne.
Sophie and I live here and we would like a sidewalk.