Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

January 24, 2013

Editorial: Town lacks focus on its key projects

The Andover Townsman

---- — The Annual Town Meeting warrant has 22 lines devoted to this pressing issue: changing the size allowed on letters or other graphic elements on valances of awnings for businesses. There’s a similar amount of space devoted to better defining what makes a retail establishment and a fast food restaurant.

What’s not on the warrant? Two long-awaited construction projects. There is no article about the new Bancroft Elementary School construction project. This is true despite the fact that if Special Town Meeting voters in February do not approve $5.7 million to finish the job, some deals with contractors will expire. If these elements need to be rebid, it’s expected that the town will need to go to regular Town Meeting to ask for as much as $7 million more.

There are also no articles devoted to changing the plan for the proposed youth center. Such votes are needed for that project to move forward. Supporters are looking to shift the location of the building away from some wetlands. They also want to change the phasing and create a one-story building with a bigger footprint to save some money.

“When I received the warrant this morning [Tuesday], I discovered that three warrant articles I wanted to have on the preliminary list weren’t included as of Friday” when the warrant closed, Town Manger Buzz Stapczynski told reporter Dustin Luca.

So here’s a thumbs down to the focus of leaders involved with creating the Annual Town Meeting warrant.

Certainly, there’s an easy fix. Stapczynski will ask selectmen to reopen the warrant and insert the necessary articles. But, it would be nice to think that such important construction projects would not be overlooked by those in charge.

Speaking of focus, it’s time to lodge a familiar complaint in these spaces. In creating goals for the town and town manager, we’d like to see two or three large goals, rather than 12. At some point, when there are too many goals, focus is lost and it is as if the town has no real top goal.

We’d like to see the town focus on a couple of major goals and ensure they are completed to near perfection. Considering the amount of money and time devoted to issues such as the new Bancroft School, replacing or repairing the Ballardvale Fire Station and consolidating the public works and plant-and-facilities departments, those would be three reasonable choices.

Fickle weather

We humans think we have a lot of things pretty well figured out when it comes to the mechanisms of how our planet operates. Well, we had yet another humbling session Tuesday morning that reminded us that we humans are not quite so advanced as we think.

The weather forecasters and their high-tech computer models and diagrams had some people all stirred up for the biggest dumping of snow in a couple of years.

That dusting that swirled down the night before was all we got. The storm decided it didn’t want to do what our computers said it would do.

All that preparation was for naught. We heading into work or off to school or appointments as usual. At least we all had something to complain about, something to make the sting of the Patriots’ uninspired defeat feel a little more distant.

We are so far ahead of where our ancestors were a century ago. They had no idea of all the complications that this planet is capable of. But perhaps, at times like this, they were better off. They’d never know what didn’t hit them.