By Bill Kirk
---- — The Andover Youth Foundation presented the Board of Selectmen with an oversized check for almost $2 million Monday night, which should allow construction on the teen center to begin next month.
Diane Costagliola, chairwoman of the Youth Foundation, thanked selectmen and other town officials for their support in pushing the project forward.
“Thank you for your help and assistance,” she said. “I’d like to thank all the people who came before us and many others whose hearts have been in this, but most importantly Bill Fahey.”
Fahey, who was on hand Monday night for the ceremonial event, said the teen center has been a long time coming.
“I’ve been standing in this meeting room for the last 20 years now,” he said. “We’re excited to make this project a reality and build a building in the next year.”
Tom Watkins, the town purchasing agent, said the contract has been sent to Dagle Electric Construction Corp. of Woburn, which won the low bid to build the center.
“We sent it off to them on Friday, we should get it back in the next day or two,” Watkins said. “Then they are ready to get mobilized on-site. They are set to start Dec. 1.”
The teen center is being paid for through a combination of public and privately raised funds, including about $2.8 million from the Andover Youth Foundation and $2.7 million from the town.
In addition to the $1.9 million handed over by the Youth Foundation this week, the group has already spent $857,000 getting the site ready for the installation of the foundation and structure.
The project has taken so long to build because it has been through numerous funding and location changes. In particular, the entire project originally was to be built with private money at the site of West Middle School.
Over the years, the sources of funding shifted so that it is now a true “private-public partnership,” selectmen Chairman Alex Vispoli said.
“This is a project that was started before I got on the board,” Vispoli said. “This really shows the commitment of Bill Fahey. It’s a testament to him.”
Vispoli said the facility, while will be called the Cormier Youth Center after lead donor Ivan Cormier, will be available to everyone in the community, from young children to elderly citizens.
“The group (pushing for the teen center) stayed together and was given overwhelming support at Town Meeting, which shows the community really supports a facility like this,” Vispoli said.
More recently, the teen center has faced a number of smaller hurdles, including a problem with the original low bidder, G&R Construction of Quincy, which had to pull out because of a clerical error.
Going with the second low bid required the town and Youth Foundation to alter their agreement to reduce the contingency coverage in place should something go wrong with construction from 10 to 5 percent.
Even with the reduced contingency, there was still not enough money available, so the Youth Foundation went back to some of its donors for more cash.
The Waldo Trust Foundation made a $12,000 donation, and additional donations have come in from the Rogers Foundation as well as other, private donors.
Costagliola said fundraising will continue so that the building will include all of the original bells and whistles, some of which have had to be sacrificed along the way to allow the project to proceed.
A casino night is planned for Dec. 6 and proceeds from the Youth Foundation’s annual Christmas tree lot will also go toward the teen center.