Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


May 15, 2013

Now what? Officials ponder next move for Town Yard

Green light, meanwhile, for water system work, Reichhold land deal

It’s back to the drawing board for the Town Yard.

One week after Town Meeting rejected a proposal to rezone the 3-acre site and surrounding property for a second consecutive year, selectmen are now faced with deciding the next step for the deteriorating complex near the center of town.

“What we’ll do, as a board, is take a step back, take a look at where we have been with the process, look at the message we got at Town Meeting, and look at a long- and short-term approach,” selectmen Chairman Alex Vispoli said. “The need and the requirement to replace the facilities that are there still needs to be solved.”

While town officials will be revisiting several issues following last week’s Town Meeting votes, the Town Yard is foremost on many minds.

The proposal to create the Andover Transit Oriented Development District by rezoning 24 acres of land around the Town Yard on Lewis Street for mixed-use development narrowly failed to garner the required two-thirds vote necessary for adoption. The article fell 29 votes shy of the mark this year; last year, it failed passage by 31 votes.

The article came out of efforts to rebuild or relocate the Town Yard, which was built in the ‘60s as a temporary town maintenance facility. The price tag for a new facility has been pegged at $20 million.

Cost is the biggest concern facing the project, according to Vispoli. In the past, a $22 million effort to rebuild on Dascomb Road got pulled from the warrant prior to a vote. Last year’s $18.5 million proposal to relocate the facility to Campanelli Road was also viewed as being too expensive.

But Town Manager Buzz Stapczynski said the current town yard is obsolete. “They are working under very ancient, old conditions,” he said of public works employees. “It has outlived its usefulness.”

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