Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


January 9, 2013

Selectmen back, others balk at new youth center plan

Special Town Meeting voters will be asked to support a plan increasing the youth center's footprint, while reordering how it will be built.

In the warrant articles for the Feb. 11 meeting, voters will be asked to amend the vote from 2011 Special Town Meeting so that it no longer references how big the building is. The new proposal is to create a one-story building with a footprint that is 4,000 square feet larger.

The center will cost more than expected in 2011.

The first $2.2 million spent on the project must come from money raised privately by the Andover Youth Foundation. Only then can the $2 million approved by 2011 Town Meeting voters be used. The rest of the money needed to finish the job would also be raised privately by the foundation, according to Nancy Jeton, chairwoman of the Andover Youth Center Building Committee.

"We found out that the building was going to be more expensive than we had anticipated," she said.

To help reduce costs, the committee decided to eliminate plans for a future second floor. Doing so removed stairs and an elevator from the project as well as additional, costly support structures for a second floor, Jeton said. However, the new design has a larger footprint by 4,000 square feet.

With rising construction costs, the cost of the project itself has risen sharply.

"With construction costs, plus a 10 percent contingency, plus the building fees, plus the design fees, instead of being a $4.2 million project, it has become a $5 million project," Jeton said. "What we'd like to propose is breaking the project into two phases. We would go forward with the original funding option that had been approved by Town Meeting voters to build everything but the gym."

In the original vote, residents agreed to give $2 million to the project after the youth foundation paid for the rest of the project first — $2.2 million at the time.

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