Some Residents Upset With Town's Stone Messages

Large stone markers with a welcoming message are catching people's eyes as they enter the town of Groton, Massachusetts. 

Some residents love the message others don't. 

"It says Town of Groton, all are welcome," said Steve Kalter. "What's wrong with that?" 

The stone markers sit on the side of major roads as you enter the town. Currently, five markers have been installed with three more yet to go. 

The idea was a joint effort by a group of people including the town manager, the police chief, school superintendent and others. 

"It's just to show that Groton is a welcoming community," said Town Manager Mark Haddad. 

Jack Saball, a longtime Groton resident, said "all are welcome" has a political undertone. 

"I did go to the town fathers and asked them to consider the stone and the wording," Saball said. "I asked them just to keep it politically neutral." 

Saball has since started a petition that has 13 signatures of residents who'd also like to see the message change. They'd like it to say "Welcome to Groton." 

"A lot of people felt that it has a political connotation," said Saball about the stones' current wording. 

"It has no political message," said Haddas. "When we were talking about what to say on the signs we said, ‘ok, all are welcome just seems like a natural thing.’" 

The town manager says they got inspiration from a local church and the public library. 

The words "Open to All" are engraved on the stone entrance to the library. 

The stone markers were installed in July after a favorable vote of 140 to 113 during the town's spring meeting, in April. 

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"That article was not debated by the public," said Saball. 

Residents were aware that the article regarding the markers would be discussed. 

It's listed in the town's warrant which is sent to every registered voter. The marker discussion is listed as Article 17. 

"There were two people that spoke in favor of it and then it went to a vote," said Saball. 

Haddad says that's not true. It was open to debate before going to a vote. 

Haddad said the moderator, Jason Kauppi, asked if anyone had any questions on the article but no one asked to speak so it went to a vote.

"It's a positive message," said Kalter 

Since the petition has garnished more than 10 signatures it will be placed on the warrant for the town's fall meeting. 

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