Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

February 7, 2013

Bancroft 'Judgment Day' returns: Special Town Meeting votes Monday

$5.7M vote Monday would allow project to continue

Andover voters will decide Monday whether to approve $5.7 million to finish building the new 680-student Bancroft Elementary School that is currently about 25-percent complete.

As you read this, crews are busy building the new school inside an assembly of steel beams and tarp walls on Bancroft Road. The temporary walls allow them to work protected from the cold winter air. But unless Special Town Meeting approves the additional spending next week, their work will stop once the building’s real walls go up, say officials.

The extra $5,715,000 is needed because a lawsuit by abutters stopped the project for a year at a time when construction costs were increasing, according to the School Building Committee.

Voters will meet at Andover High School’s Collins Center for the Performing Arts, on the right side of the Shawsheen Road building, on Monday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.

Residents approved the original $44.7 million project because officials said the existing Bancroft School has structural issues and the new, larger building will allow the town to redistrict elementary school students throughout Andover so that all buildings are at capacity. The state will reimburse the town for 44 percent of the $44.7 million.

Town taxes will cover 100 percent of any additional money approved.

ABUTTERS’ APPEALS POSTPONE PLANS

The Bancroft School construction project was first approved by voters at a December 2010 Special Town Meeting. A ballot vote the next month approved a debt exclusion override, allowing taxes to be raised above the levels allowed under Proposition 2 1/2, specifically to pay for the $44.7 million price tag.

After receiving final approval from residents, the School Building Committee started putting its plans in motion in less than 24 hours, according to Tom Deso, committee chairman. The committee hired a construction manager and started putting the designs together to present them to an eager construction market. However, as parts of the project were about to go out to bid, everything stopped.

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