Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

January 24, 2013

Letter: Extra Bancroft money unpleasant, but appropriate

The Andover Townsman

---- — Editor, Townsman:

Unfortunately, the town faces the unhappy prospect of being asked for another $5.6 million to complete the Bancroft Elementary School project.

I’ve heard the comment, “Can’t this town ever bring a project in on time and on budget?” It’s a fair question, given past history, but in this case I think the answer is that the budget shortfall was truly a result of factors outside the control of the town.

Construction costs were exceptionally low when the project was approved, but abutters’ lawsuits and appeals created a year’s delay, just as construction costs were rising sharply across the state. Add to that the added legal costs and the cost of a retaining wall built at the request of abutters, and we have a $5.6 million shortfall.

There is no easy solution. The building plans contain no “frills” or fancy architectural embellishments that can be eliminated to save costs. Yet the building must be completed, because the existing Bancroft will soon become a danger to students and a serious risk for the town.

Unpleasant as the prospect is, I suggest that there really is no acceptable alternative. I urge the voters of Andover to attend the Feb. 11 Special Town Meeting and make the only reasonable decision: to vote the additional money need for the project.

Don Robb

36 York St.