I am writing in response to your recent article about Merrimack College’s plan to build 350 units of student housing off of Elm Street in Andover, directly abutting a residential neighborhood.
In the article, the college stated that 200 neighbors were invited to an informational meeting about the project and that only 20 showed up and just 12 had concerns. I live directly across from the proposed housing and, while I can’t speak for all residents in this area, no notice of this meeting was ever received at my address. I have subsequently and after the fact seen that notice. It was an invitation to hear about campus improvements and projects. Even if I had received the notice, I’m not sure I would have attended because I wouldn’t have realized that was code for “we plan to build student dorms right across the street from you.” I think those notice numbers by Merrimack College were misleading and that there is, in fact, far more concern about this project than has been conveyed.
I can appreciate that Merrimack may need more housing. There is considerable concern and discussion happening among residents of the surrounding neighborhoods about the process and the speed associated with this project. While I don’t relish the idea of 350 student dorm rooms across the street from me, I have more general concerns about the impact this project has on the wider residential area. Traffic, parking, water, incidents of crime and the subsequent drain on town resources and public services should also be considered. There is also concern about the loss of green space abutting a residential area. As an alumnus, I also hate to see an open green area that is regularly used by students to play pickup sports games and for overflow parking, as well as a beautiful entrance to the college and Town of Andover, become blighted with student dorms.