Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

June 20, 2013

Youth Center seeing final changes

Expanded gym, generator proposed

By Dustin Luca

---- — With just a few months left before the project breaks ground, changes are being proposed in just about every aspect of the Cormier Family Youth Center. And those changes come with a higher price tag for the $5.4 million project.

As town officials work to finalize changes to the agreement between the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee, proposals are moving forward to increase the size of the building’s gym, at a cost of $107,500 and install a generator so it can be used as an emergency heating and cooling center. That would cost around $32,500.

Both proposals came before a skeptical Board of Selectmen Monday night. The board is expected to take a final vote on the proposals and other changes to the youth center agreement this coming Monday.

Proposal one: Gym expansion

Andover Youth Services Director Bill Fahey proposed expanding the gym by 400 square feet to accommodate more programs. His recommendation calls for using money from an Andover Youth Services “gift” account containing more than $125,000 to pay for the additional work.

If approved, the expanded gym — at 8,900 square feet — would become the third largest owned by the town, with the high school’s field house measuring around 25,000 square feet and the neighboring Dunn Gymnasium totaling 13,100 square feet, Town Manager Buzz Stapczynski said.

The proposal would shift the northern edge of the building 4 feet, toward the senior center, according to Fahey. The added space would eat into an 11-foot-wide grassy area to the north of the building, but it wouldn’t have an impact on parking or any town buildings, Fahey said.

Town Project Manager Ihor Raniuk said the change would add $100,000 in construction costs and another $7,500 to redesign the building.

Selectman Paul Salafia supported the proposal, saying the town “can always finish the building later, but we can’t always open the building up again” to expand the gym.

Proposal two: Generator upgrade

Stapczynski requested the town use some of the money set aside in last year’s Annual Town Meeting’s capital project requests to turn the youth center into an emergency heating and cooling center.

The money was originally earmarked to upgrade a town building with the connections needed for a high-end generator. A used generator from Bancroft Elementary School can be used at the Youth Center, Stapczynski said.

It would cost around $32,500 to upgrade the youth center’s electrical systems to accommodate the 6- to 7-year-old generator, he said.

Officials had some reservations about the plan.

Selectmen Chairman Alex Vispoli said Town Meeting last month was told that no additional town money would be needed to complete the youth center project. “This is about as clear as anything to say that it’s additional money that’s going to be put into it,” he said.

Andover Youth Foundation Chairwoman Diane Costagliola said her organization is sensitive to criticism that the group is repeatedly seeking more money for the project.

She added that it was not “inherent to have a generator at the youth center. We’re certainly supportive of it and supportive of the town manager’s request, but it’s totally separate. We’re kind of getting a rap that we’re always coming for more money to build this in and build that in.”

Andover Youth Center Building Committee Chairman Chris Huntress said the project already has around $30,000 in its budget for a smaller generator to provide emergency lighting in the event of a power outage.

Agreement changes

The wording of the agreement between the Board of Selectmen and Andover Youth Foundation is also being revised to reflect changes in the financials for the project.

The agreement created in 2012 had the foundation paying $2.7 million of the $5.4 million project, with the town covering the remaining cost.

With the Special Town Meeting vote in May to add $700,000 from a town-controlled trust fund to the project, the town’s contribution to the project has risen to $2.7 million.