Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


December 27, 2012

After project fails vote, Town Yard sees 2013 resurgence

The Town Yard project has spun in place during 2012, and many other years. Time will tell is 2013 will be the year it gets traction.

News will pick up quickly for the Town Yard in 2013 with a public hearing discussing the project slated for late January or early February, according to selectmen Chairman Paul Salafia. A vote at the upcoming Annual Town Meeting will also help determine whether the Town Yard stays at its current home or moves elsewhere in town, opening up three acres of Lewis Street to downtown development.

The project was being led by the Town Yard Task Force when it was brought to Annual Town Meeting in April. The proposal was to purchase land on Campanelli Drive and River Road, and then build the facility for $18.5 million. But with the majority of the Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen recommending the project’s withdrawal from the Town Meeting floor, it seemed the project wouldn’t see the light of day.

Voters rejected the idea of removing the project from the warrant. A majority then voted to support the plan— but not enough to pass the project because a two-thirds majority was needed. Supporters came 31 votes shy.

Since then, selectmen has discussed it on a regular basis in a workshop format.

“We took the hint from Town Meeting that we needed to take it on as a project, not appoint another task force,” Salafia said. “We’ve been running workshops the entire year since then. We’re drawing near a recommendation.”

The next steps for the project are putting a zoning proposal before Town Meeting voters in 2013, and putting an offer out to buy land for relocating the Town Yard in the future.

With the proposal, residents will consider retooling the Town Yard’s present site on Lewis Street to support some form of mixed use — a combination of residential and commercial space. Town Meeting voters will be asked if they want to rezone the property for a different use.

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