CHESTER— The board of selectmen Thursday agreed to begin negotiations with Essex Savings Bank for lease of the vacant bank space at town hall. At the special meeting Thursday, the board also approved the selection of a Groton engineering firm as the consultant for the Main Street project.
Essex Savings Bank was the only area bank to respond to a request for proposals for the vacant space on the first floor of town hall that had been occupied by a Bank of America branch until last week. Bank of America had leased the 3,200- square- feet on the first floor since the town hall relocated to the building in 2003.
Residents at an April 17 informational meeting had expressed strong support for offering the available space to another bank, with representatives of Essex Savings Bank announcing at the meeting the local bank was interested in opening a new branch at the town hall location.
First Selectman Edmund Meehan said he would now begin direct negotiations with Essex Savings Bank for a multi-year lease of the space. The bank has agreed to a down payment of $18,982, representing three months rent, with a goal of concluding the lease agreement and opening the new bank branch by the end of the year. The final lease agreement between the town and the bank will require approval from voters at a town meeting.
The board also unanimously approved a recommendation from the Main Street Project Committee to select the Groton firm of Kent & Frost LLC as the engineering and design consultant for the long-planned Main Street improvement project. The volunteer committee, appointed last year to coordinate and direct the project, had interviewed four firms before approving the recommendation to select Kent & Frost. Eleven firms had responded to the initial request for proposals that was published in March.
Meehan said the firm would work with the committee to prepare a detailed town center master plan to guide the project by March 2013. The plan would include cost estimates for the street repairs and improvements, along with information on how to coordinate the Main Street work with the planned replacement of the Main Street bridge over Pattaconk Brook that is also expected to begin in 2013. The price for the consulting work is $66,030.