GROTON -- Town officials on Monday read from a press release on a recent investigated incident involving a call firefighter complaining about treatment from his superiors.
"(An) investigation concluded that the allegations advanced by the complainant were not substantiated," stated the press release. "The board and (town manager Mark) Haddad are satisfied that the investigation was thorough and the town considers the investigation closed."
In a separate, heavily redacted release, the findings of independent reviewer Corinne Greene of the Charlestown-based employment law firm Greene & Hafer, were listed.
Greene's conclusion was that the original complaint "alleging retaliation and/or harassment is unsubstantiated."
According to Greene's report, in 2013, the complainant learned that the department intended to fill an EMS lieutenancy with someone other than himself. At the same time, he suspected he was being paid less than another employee with less experience in the same position.
After a meeting to discuss the issue and in which a suggestion by the complainant to change the Fire Department's pay structure was rejected, the complainant said he believed the department's administration considered him a "negative" influence and unfairly targeted him.
At a meeting in December, comments on social-media outlets were brought up by the administration, which ordered it to desist, with all complaints brought through the chain of command. At the time, the complainant suspected he was the object of criticism by the administration.
Greene said she found "credible" the claim the administration had "taken action to address allegations relating to (the complainant's) negative attitude" but found that it did not "give rise to retaliation or harassment claims under the law or pursuant to the town's policies."
Although selectmen in the press release identified the complainant as "a member of the Groton Fire Department," they refused to say who the person was.
Selectmen as well as Haddad also declined to identify the administrators in the complaint.
When asked if the complaint was between call firefighters and paid firefighters, board Chairman Peter Cunningham said tha was not his belief.
"I'm not concerned beyond that," said Cunningham.
"The allegations were not substantiated," said board member Anna Eliot.
Also Monday, selectmen voted to approve a purchase and sales agreement with Groton Center Farms owner Dan McElroy for the sale of the former Center Fire Station, set to be abandoned with the completion of a new station off Farmers Row.
According to the agreement, McElroy will purchase the property for $100,000, having already given the town a $15,000 deposit.
In his renovation plans, McElroy intends to alter the building to reflect its original appearance before it became a fire station in the 1940s. Inside, the ground floor would be converted into a single commercial space possibly selling produce and renting bicycles and the second floor into a residential apartment.
Robert Collins, attorney for McElroy, told selectmen his client intended to move immediately through the permitting process with the town's land-use boards.
With the sale of two other town properties proving to be more difficult, Haddad asked selectmen to give him permission to issue a request for proposals to hire a realtor to help market the former Tarbell and Prescott school buildings.
Members voted for the request.
Also, Haddad told selectmen about plans by Kinder-Morgan Energy Partners to run a new 36-inch high-pressure natural-gas main from Dracut through Groton and beyond to supply area towns and other communities in central Massachusetts.
In Groton, the proposed pipeline would run across portions of land owned by the Groton-Dunstable Regional High School, Conservation Commission, Conservation Trust, beneath the Nashua River, and over numerous private parcels.
Along the full length of the buried pipeline, a 50-foot-wide corridor would be permanently clear-cut for access.
Although some residents have come out against the plan on environmental grounds due to laying the pipeline or the gas produced by fracking, others feared for private property.
Longley Road resident Diane Hewitt told selectmen of her experience with Kinder-Morgan whose methods appeared to be secretive, warning property owners that they planned to survey their land whether or not they have permission.
Hewitt also warned people might not realize that through federal and state agreements, the company could also gain the right to seize what land they needed through eminent domain.
Selectmen were reluctant to condemn the company's plans outright and expected Haddad to continue efforts to contact Kinder-Morgan representatives for more information.
Haddad was also instructed to query the town's legal counsel while also continuing trying to arrange a meeting with company officials. At the same time, Haddad was expected to meet with officials in other affected towns.
Selectmen learned from Haddad that a fire-chief search committee had received 25 applications for the position being vacated by retiring Chief Joseph Bosselait, and that after interviews had been conducted, three finalists were chosen.
Haddad said plans called for the recommendation to the Board of Selectmen of two or all three of the finalists in early June so that members can conduct their own interviews and vote on appointing the new chief.
"This process has been outstanding," said Haddad.