Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

November 1, 2012

Letter: Plan for future, but don't forget past, Andover

The Andover Townsman

---- — Editor, Townsman:

My perspective of Andover’s transition from what it used to be to present day is factored upon my growing up here. I left town decades ago, only to return to a town once known for its nickname; “Mill, Hill and Till.”

The explosive growth of industry, scale of homes and number of inhabitants transformed Andover into a smaller version of New York City where I spent more of my life. At least Andover has much less urban ills than Gotham, however I hope to live here independently and still be engaged with town activities. I think, however, the changing population of Andover, especially those who haven’t grown up here, may lose sight of its history and traditional values.

My first indication on how the town changed was at the Town Meeting for a youth center. It was apparent the proponents of the center were going to have their way by packing the meeting including pushing the advertised start to a later time that evening to include more voters and violating every fire law since the Coconut Grove fire of 1942. What was extraordinary was that the moderator, fire chief and police chief allowed it to happen.

In approving money for youth, Andover missed the boat because an intergenerational center should have been built. Town Meetings have certainly changed rom the more democratic ones I remember, except for the entrance distraction of a certain blonde garnering the attention among most of the male audience. On a different historical note, Town Meetings were held at the Memorial Auditorium adjacent to the current Town Offices building which should be remembered for the Punchard High School it once was. It should recognize and honor Benjamin H. Punchard with a plaque at the outside entrance.

I am offended on how a once attractive river has become neglected and forgotten only to worsen without proper attention. Destroying dams will do that in short order. The most scenic part of the Shawsheen today is near the Ballardvale dam and the river front near the “Horn Bridge.” Other places may exist .The once wide and attractive Shawsheen River flowing along the St. Augustine Cemetary is now has a stream trickling towards the once existent Smith and Dove dam. That stretch of the river resembles a Love Canal wasteland. The destruction of the Marland Mills dam is in the works and that will be another ‘‘coup de gras’’ and insult to the environment.

The Andover Townsman article Oct. 11 highlighted the Shawsheen River Watershed Association outing being held on Fosters Pond and not the river. Seems that group can’t even navigate its namesake river!

It’s impractical to return to the yesteryears of Andover, but somehow I remembered it was an easier place to live. Today’s downtown shopping seems appealing to those with more spendable income and not one on a budget. The congestion of downtown vehicle traffic can be heavy at times, but Manhattan is worse. Future movement on Andover streets will not improve as major tracts of land along Interstate 93 will impact all Andover resources. Planning for the future is now, but let’s not forget the past.

Robert Stefani

332 South Main St.