GROTON — President Priscilla Pratt told the annual meeting Oct. 16 that 2008 has been a year that mixed the triumph of The Merritt Family Forest acquisition with the challenge of coping with “relentless development pressures” on the Town of Groton. In her annual report to members gathered at the Latham Chester Store, Ms. Pratt reviewed the Merritt struggle, as well as the ongoing GOSA efforts to:

–persuade the town to implement the 2002 Plan of Conservation and Development recommendations for a plan to acquire open space.

–mitigate the impacts of the proposed Mystic Woods Active Adult housing project on Fort Hill.

–oppose plans for construction of a Wal-Mart Super Center near the public drinking water supply.

–follow up on agreements reached with the developer of the Great Brook housing project to protect the water supply.

–provide useful input to Kendig Keast Collaborative, a Mid-west firm hired by the town to update the town’s land-use rules.

The full text of Ms. Pratt’s remarks appears immmediately below this article:

The meeting re-elected Ms. Pratt as president, Genevieve Cerf as treasurer, and Lorraine Santangelo as secretary. Marcia Young was re-elected to a three-year term as a director.

GOSA Director Sidney Van Zandt was honored for her work as chair of the Merritt Family Forest Fund-Raising Committee. The committee not only raised the $350,000 GOSA needed to complement a $650,000 state grant toward the $1 million Merritt purchase but has also brought in $25,000 toward a planned $60,000 endowment fund to finance maintenance of the land.

Ms. Van Zandt thanked donors and volunteers. She called special attention to a gift from the Flat Hammock Press and the Tradewinds Gallery in Mystic–a map from the 1800s of the area now known as The Merritt Family Forest. A copy of the map will be awarded to each person who contributes at least $1,000 to the Merritt fund drive.

Also receiving thanks from Ms. Van Zandt were:

–Elaine Mills, an artist who organized sales of the work of artists at the Latham-Chester store for the benefit of GOSA. Though two planned paintouts at Haley Farm were canceled by rain, sales of the paintings, mostly of the farm, were brisk — both on the evening of the second planned paintout Oct. 5 and on the night of the annual meeting. As of the end the annual meeting evening, sales totaled $4,805, of which 50% went to GOSA.  (See immediately below.)

Poster for Artists' Benefit for GOSA

–Peter Lewis, who built a large announcement board for the Haley Farm as an Eagle Scout project. The board required nearly 140 hours of work by Peter and others and involved contributions from Johnson’s Hardware worth $100 and Home Depot worth $75.

Guest speaker at the annual meeting was Jim Costello of Prides Corner Farms, in Lebanon, CT. Mr. Costello made a presentation on “green” roofs. Proponents of green roofs cite as advantages of this form of roof cover: urban “heat island” mitigation, noise reduction, fire prevention, creation of habitat and control of runoff that reduces the combined sewer outflows.