Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

January 17, 2013

Cheers for community discussion, support

The Andover Townsman

---- — Thumbs down to the town manager’s response to a plan to ask voters to support fixing up the existing Ballardvale Fire Station, rather than replace it.

We’re not making any judgement here on whether the station should be rebuilt elsewhere. Here’s our beef: the manager declined to comment on this idea, brought forward by Richard Bowen, a former Andover town manager who knows a little something about how to run a town. Bowen plans to ask this spring’s Town Meeting to allocate $500,000 to renovate the small station at the corner of Andover Street and Clark Road. He admits that if he can just encourage discussion of why the current station can’t be tweaked, he’ll feel he’s “accomplished a great deal.”

Replacing the Ballardvale Fire Station has been on the town manager’s Capital Improvement Plan for most if not all of Town Manager Buzz Stapczynski’s two decades running the town. Andover has had multiple studies into the issue, and town boards have looked to find the best site in town. By now, the town manager should be able to offer a very quick answer as to why renovating the existing station is not appropriate in his view.

Cheers to Ballardvale Fire Station Building Committee Chairman Dan Casper for addressing the issue when our reporter Dustin Luca called. The station was built in the 1890s, originally for horse-drawn fire trucks. Casper noted that the committee dismissed the idea of fixing it up for several reasons, including a belief that the lot and the building are too small for a modern station that would address the town’s safety needs.

Thumbs up to Andover once again putting some action behind what is too often merely the lip service of “supporting the troops.”

Nine wedding-related businesses in the bridal center at Elm Square have contributed the bulk of a $17,000 wedding package for two members of the U.S. Army who will be married. Brandon Reynolds proposed to Kelly Becraft aboard a Black Hawk helicopter. A video that included that proposal won them the wedding package.

Also, town residents and businesses have combined to create the Troop Challenge. People will do military style exercises -- they can even wear military gear -- as part of a fundraiser for the national Homes for Our Troops organization. The event also will raise awareness for the annual Run for the Troops road race through Andover in April. Both the exercise challenge and the race raise money to help give a free home to someone seriously injured fighting in Afghanistan or Iraq. While we encourage people to support local veterans groups, too, the Homes for Our Troops events have proven to be great community events.

Thumbs down to whoever called police on a group giving away free Boston Bruins tickets in the Park. Andover’s message: “Hey you young whippersnappers, quit giving away free stuff... and get off my grass.”

The group was travelling around to various communities to give away hockey tickets following the National Hockey League lockout that cancelled many games. The ticker-givers were at the Park for about 15 minutes.

True, the group, which included mascots for the Bruins hockey team and TD Bank, was parked on the grass of the Park in the downtown. Businesses ought to know better than to park there to promote themselves.

But a call to police for this is the equivalent of the stereotypical old geezer sitting on his porch yelling at kids to get off his lawn.