Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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February 14, 2013

Residents support Bancroft spending

The new Bancroft Elementary School saw two milestones this week.

A topping off ceremony was planned for Wednesday, for students and residents to celebrate placing the final steel beam in place on the new building. And on Monday, Special Town Meeting voters figuratively held their noses and approved spending an additional $5.7 million to complete the Bancroft Elementary School construction project.

Almost all of the approximately 470 residents who attended Special Town Meeting supported the article by a hand vote. When residents against the proposal weighed in, only about 15 dissenting votes were cast.

But it seemed clear the remaining 97 percent of voters also felt negatively toward the request to raise taxes over the next 20 years by up to $24 a year.

“I doubt if any of us came here tonight wanting to vote for this article,” York Street resident Don Robb said. “We’re all terribly disappointed. It’s $6 million of our money. But I would point out that we really have no alternative.”

With the vote, the School Building Committee now has the cash it needs to award all outstanding contracts on the project. The first of those agreements, to install exterior curtain walls and metal panels on the school, was expected to be awarded by the committee yesterday, Wednesday. The rest will go out before the end of the month, according to School Building Committee Chairman Tom Deso.

While the focus of the one-article meeting was on building a school, some residents took it as a chance to grill officials on what one resident characterized as “a continuing series of bailouts that town leadership has come to town voters to ask for over the past 20 years.”

“We’re now being asked again to bail out a project that, in this case, is way over budget,” Cherrywood Circle resident Bob Pokress said. “As always, these are presented in such a way that we’re being asked to spend more money on top of everything else that has previously been budgeted.”

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