Groton on the Inside: The building is built – but no one will come!


Among the many great things living in Groton has to offer is the openness and caring nature of its governing bodies. In a very clear example of that, the Village Board dedicated a portion of its meeting time on Monday, Oct. 15 to hold an open discussion regarding the grocery store situation in the village; offering the opportunity for residents to suggest viable ideas to utilize the former 7-11 store building on Main Street to bring a local source for groceries back to life.

This invitation was extended by Mayor Chris Neville and Trustee Betty Conger, to anyone who was interested in attending the meeting to contribute to the discussion. Approximately 10 residents attended, as well as Steve Gobel, president and CEO, and Gary Watrous, senior vice president, from the First National Bank of Groton.

The board explained that one of the key detriments for businesses that might consider occupying the building is that control of the property is not local. It is owned by Benderson Development; a very large company with offices in Buffalo and Rochester, as well as other offices across the country. Benderson is not interested in selling the property and asks $107,000 per year to lease it. That was the main reason 7-11 left; it could not sustain the cost.

Concerns were expressed that a majority of Groton residents work in Cortland, Ithaca, and even Syracuse, and commute daily. These folks can stop at any store on the way home, rather than shopping locally, which also makes sustaining a store difficult.

Local residents offered suggestions such as letter-writing to newspapers in the cities where Benderson is located, a grant program through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called “Local Foods, Local Places,” which helps communities revitalize neighborhoods through development of local food systems, and enticing a business such as Whole Foods, Aldi’s, or Trader Joe’s to come to Groton. Unfortunately, retail stores like these depend on market research for targeting an area to build in, and Groton does not meet the “traffic flow” needed to sustain them.

Gobel and Watrous both spoke on behalf of the bank. They would welcome a serious investor. The bank would work with such a person or business and also assist them in working with the Small Business Administration (SBA), HUD and local loan committee, or any other entity that could be of assistance.
Village Trustee Conger said “Our local bank is more than willing to help the serious investor. They would love to see a growing business across the street from their Groton office. So very many communities like ours struggle with the very same issues. We have a lot to offer, but when big companies like Sears are filing for bankruptcy, small towns like Groton are fighting for every opportunity we can find.”

What is the bottom line? Groton needs a grocery store and has a building for lease to accommodate that need, along with a local bank that is ready and willing to partner with someone who has the potential and vision to make it happen! If that might be you, stop in and chat or call the bank at (607) 898-5871.

It’s Trunk or Treat!
Groton’s second annual Trunk or Treat event will be taking place at the C.R. Pavilion, Main Street on Wednesday, Oct. 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. This location will also include the Groton Fire Department’s annual distribution of free donuts and cider for everyone.

The annual Groton Business Association Trick-or-Treat at area businesses and the Groton Public Library will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. to provide a safe and friendly environment for those children who would like to participate.
If you, your family, your friends, or a group are interested in decorating a trunk, sign up by Oct. 24 and you will receive a free 70-piece bag of candy to help get you started. It is hard to estimate how many trick-or-treaters to prepare for. Last year’s estimate was 500 to 600.

Please reach out to Jennifer Foote-Dean at or (607) 216-5250 with questions or to sign up.

Water hydrant flushing
The Village of Groton Department of Public Works will undergo the process of its annual flushing of water hydrants throughout the village from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, Oct 22-26.
It is important to know that this project could discolor the water in homes, which may stain white clothing, but is completely safe for all other uses. For questions or concerns, feel free to call the Village Office at (607) 898-3345.

Free winter clothing
The McLean Community Council, in partnership with the McLean Community Church, will hold its 15th annual “Share the Warmth” event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 at the McLean Fire Station truck room. There will be winter clothing available in all sizes free to anyone who needs them.
Donations of gently-used or new winter clothing may be dropped off at the McLean Post Office, or the church or school any day through Friday, Oct. 26.
Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit items to Linda Competillo, or (607) 227-4922


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