“Why is it an impossibility for this town, like every household here in Andover that is faced with a financial issue where you have an unexpected cost or a major cost that comes in, that you have to adjust your expectations and cut out certain things in order to deal with that cost override?” Pokress said.
One resident also used the meeting as an opportunity to call for an investigation into the role Selectmen Chairman Paul Salafia played during the lengthy delay that resulted in the project becoming millions of dollars out of budget.
In 2011, residents living near the school site appealed the project’s Order of Conditions, issued by the Conservation Commission regarding wetlands impacts. Those abutters subsequently sued the town in state Superior Court on the grounds that the town didn’t follow its own bylaws.
A settlement came months later after Salafia worked as a middle-man between the town and the abutters to broker a deal.
Salem Street resident Peter Cotch addressed town officials at the meeting, saying that Salafia’s “clandestine” effort in the lawsuit was done “secretly with an unnamed agent for the lead plaintiff in that suit before it was abruptly dropped; resulting in a bonanza for the abutters and the $5.7 million upcharge that brings us here tonight.” Cotch wants to hear more details about Salafia’s role.
Town Moderator Sheila Doherty ruled Cotch’s comments out of order, saying the comments “do not appear to be within the confines of this warrant article.”
“Well, they are germane to the expenditure of the $5.7 million, which is the issue before us,” he said in response.
After Cotch returned to his seat, Deso asked to address the comments. Doherty said he couldn’t respond “to something that’s out of order.”