By Dustin Luca
---- — Town officials are hoping to empty a town trust to expand senior programming and build part of the Cormier Family Youth Center.
A Special Town Meeting will likely be called within the confines of Annual Town Meeting in May in an effort to spend the $1.29 million held by the William M. Wood Memorial Trust. The trust was created by the Andover family of Wood, who built the American Woolen empire and created Shawsheen Village in the early 20th century.
The Council on Aging and Andover Youth Center Building Committee are proposing that the money be split. Half, or $649,000, would slated for a stabilization fund for senior citizen programs, and the remaining $649,000 would go towards the second phase of the youth-center construction, officials from both committees said Monday.
“What I think we’re presenting to you today is something that I think a lot of people have really been asking for over the years, and that’s an opportunity,” said Don Robb, Council on Aging chairman.
The stabilization fund would generate around $9,000 in interest annually, which would “help provide funding for expanded senior programs and services,” Robb said.
Town Manager Buzz Stapczynski provided further details on the fund, saying the town has “an intent of what we want to do. We don’t want to use it for wages, utilities, operating expenses. It’s supposed to be for extraordinary [senior] services and programs.”
Andover Youth Center Building Committee Chairman Chris Huntress said the other $649,000 going toward the youth center would put a notable dent in the $1.35 million needed to finish the second phase of the project.
The project is being split into two phases. The first phase builds most of the building, with $2.2 million raised by the private Andover Youth Foundation and another $2 million provided by Andover voters at 2011. The as-yet unfunded second phase would add a multipurpose room, extra office space and an additional set of bathrooms.
With so much money coming from the senior community, Robb said the completion of the center “is an opportunity to foster community use within the new youth center, expanding youth and senior collaborations within that building.”
Rosalyn Wood said her family, specifically her late husband, the grandson of William Wood, wanted the money to go towards “a senior center when we thought we were building a senior center uptown.”
“That never materialized, but this seems like a wonderful compromise,” she said.
If the trust’s money is used for a youth center, the current deal between the youth foundation and the town may need to be amended, according to Stapczynski.
“Those are the details that town counsel and I have to work with the selectmen on, in terms of how the $649,000 would fit into the program,” he said. “We do have an agreement between the selectmen and the foundation about whose money goes first — theirs goes first and ours goes second. So we would have to amend that to accomplish the additional $649,000.”
Annual Town Meeting is slated to begin May 6 and is expected to run all three scheduled nights, through May 8, according to Stapczynski. It will be held at the Andover High School’s field house, beginning at 7 p.m. each night.