Phillips Academy would like to sell to the town the site of its current boat house off Campanelli Drive, and Town Meeting voters could be asked to weigh in on the sale next year.
A seven-acre lot off the Heffron right-of-way near the Greater Lawrence Technical School, along the Merrimack River, is currently in the crosshairs of Conservation Director Bob Douglas and other town officials who have "had this boathouse as a target for acquisition since forever," said Douglas.
For the last several years, Phillips Academy has been running a crew boating program from the site, according to Tracy Sweet, Phillips Academy communications director. Currently, the school is working on refurbishing recently-acquired property in Methuen, after which it will no longer need the boat house it owns in Andover.
How much it will cost to buy the property is unknown. Multiple assessments of the property are being conducted by both the town and Phillips Academy, but two conservation-related grants could make the purchase less expensive, according to Douglas.
The boat house would also be of use to the Fire Department, which Douglas said would benefit from having a direct way of accessing the Merrimack River in the event of an emergency necessitating a water response, given that Andover has one of the largest amounts of river-front land on the river, he said.
After hearing about the proposal, Selectmen Chairman Paul Salafia said the land "would be a wonderful asset, if we could pull it off."
The area, however, has also been known for vandalism. Previously, another nearby boat house owned by Phillips Academy was the target of vandalism that Douglas characterized as a "chronic problem." Several years ago, vandals smashed the storage units of another boat house located just yards down from the present site, causing extensive damage, according to Douglas.
Buying the land "could be a wonderful opportunity for the town, and for the academy, if it worked out," said Sweet.
Douglas, whose department manages and oversees hundreds of acrea of town-owned recreational land throughout Andover, agreed.
"The best use [for the land] would be for the town to acquire it," said Douglas. "What we have found with other purchases is when you get something next to water, people get excited."
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