Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


March 13, 2014

Oberto: A fresh set of eyes

Believes Andover's a nice town, with a few problems


But she’s been hearing from people that money is tight.

“The big thing from folks is taxes,” she said. “They’re too high. They want to know if it’s going to Andover. Is it being used properly.”

She said since she moved here in 1995, her property taxes have doubled.

She said people are also concerned about having a “vibrant downtown. ... If you bring kids downtown, you bring families downtown. We need to make it more vibrant.”

She said she is also concerned about the Ballardvale Fire Station project, noting that relocating it next to a school — where her youngest daughter is a student — is a bad idea.

The Fire Station Building Committee proposed constructing a new, 10,000- to 12,000-square-foot station at the corner of Andover and Woburn streets on the South School campus. The location, owned by the school district, now supports a Little League ball field. The new station is estimated to cost $6 million.

Oberto doesn’t think the fire station should be next to an elementary school.

“Other properties are available. Sticking it next to an elementary school doesn’t make sense,” she said, again calling for a different fix.

She said the same thing goes for expansion discussions for the high school, where her older daughter is a sophomore.

“Is it busting out of its capacity? If there’s a need, that’s one thing; it can’t just be for aesthetics,” she said.

She said it’s even more difficult to get a handle on the cost of salaries and benefits because teachers and other staff are all members of unions.

“If salaries are commensurate with what teachers are making elsewhere, and it’s not exorbitant, then there’s nothing wrong with that,” she said. “You have union stuff. You don’t even want to go there. You’re stuck with what they do.”

Oberto said that she wants to be a voice of reason.

“I’m trying to convey — let’s be sensible with what we do. I want to have a simple focus on getting things done. I want to find a way to make things work. I’ll go in with a fresh set of eyes, a female perspective, a parents’ perspective and hopefully a diplomatic voice.”

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