Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


January 9, 2013

Selectmen back, others balk at new youth center plan


Now, the committee hopes to build 15,000 square feet with $2.2 million from the foundation and the town's $2 million, with the plans to build the gym wrapping up soon after with private money.

The first phase of construction, including most of the building and the foundation for the gym, will cost $3.8 million, according to Jeton. The gym to be built on the foundation will cost as much as $1.2 million, of which around $400,000 in the contributed town money will be used. The foundation would provide the remaining money, expected to be as much as $800,000.

When presented at a Board of Selectmen meeting Monday, the proposal met with some opposition.

"The warrant article that we voted on in December, 2011 is unambiguous: that the town doesn't put up one dollar until the town gets $2.2 million, at least, in the bank," Town Counsel Tom Urbelis said.

To illustrate his point, Urbelis said, with the building costing "$5.5 million, minus the two ... they (the foundation) have to put up the $3.5 million."

In response, Andover Youth Foundation Chairman Diane Costagliola said the agreement between the town and the foundation was that the foundation would provide $2.2 million, and then the town would pay $2 million. The originally proposed second-floor space, now slated to move to the first floor, was to have been built later with foundation money.

The articles also came before the Council on Aging Tuesday night, and discussion there focused on parking and how often the facility would be available for Andover seniors.

Conflicting numbers on how much parking would be added around Doherty Middle School this year put the increase in available parking anywhere from 4 spaces to 41. But for council Chairman Don Robb, it isn't how much parking that matters — it's how convenient it is for Andover seniors.

"We have many seniors who say they can't come to activities during January, February because they can't walk from the end of that parking lot, all the way through the school, through ice and snow," Robb said. "We're talking people in their 70s and 80s. That's an unfair and dangerous situation."

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