Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

July 17, 2014

Letter: Reconsider dorm plans and preserve Austin Green

Reconsider dorm plans and preserve Austin Green

Editor, Townsman:

As members of the Coalition for Merrimack College Smart Growth, we believe the college, its planners and the Board of Trustees have not done an adequate job of due diligence or communication to understand the impact that five buildings and 350 student beds will have on the surrounding neighborhood and college entrance. We believe the college has many viable and less egregious sites to grow their student residences.

Austin Green is the last area of open green on campus. It allows for a beautiful entrance to the college, as well as a lovely entrance into the town of Andover. The green, with the mature trees that were hand-planted by Fr. Kenny O.S.A., offers students the benefit of a suburban campus setting, which is promoted in Merrimack marketing brochures.

Alumni choose to get married at the chapel and have their wedding photos taken on Austin Green. Students use this green daily to play pickup sports and it is often used by the college as adjunct parking for college events and hockey games. The green also provides a scenic buffer between the college and the residential neighborhood it has respectfully cohabitated with for the last 67 years.

All this is about to be destroyed.

We understand the college aspires to grow and become more of a residential college. We support this endeavor. However, we strongly object to this dorm proposal and its location.

Out of respect for the additional civil service resources this will require from Andover and North Andover, the location of these dorms should be reconsidered. There has been no acknowledgement of, or remediation for, the increase in student parking, loading areas or traffic. There have been no solutions discussed or offered for the existing sewer and drainage issues that plague the surrounding residences, which are caused by the college and which these dorms will make much worse. There has been no communication or consideration for the negative impact these dorms will have on our community property values, public safety and quality of life, as they are literally jammed without buffer into a residential neighborhood.

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