Good things were said and good questions were raised during the discussion of Article 29 at Andover Town Meeting last Tuesday evening, May 6. Since Town Meeting had just passed Article 27, Senior Citizens Service Needs Study, Margaret O’Connor’s suggestion that the town wait to draft a home rule bill until it has the results of that “comprehensive assessment of the service needs of Andover residents 50 years of age and over” is a good one. I hope questions will be asked that get at the question of what needs are not being met by the tax exemption/abatement/deferral programs that Andover already has in place. How well do Andover seniors understand the benefits available, since utilization of programs based on need has been declining?
The data referred to in Article 27 seems to imply the town is not losing as many senior citizens as advocates for Article 29 would imply. “Andover’s population age 60-plus has grown by 78 percent since 1980, while the population in general has grown by 26 percent.” If the “population in general” includes those 60-plus, then the under-60 population has grown even more slowly. My own experience on Robandy Road (about 20 homes) was a modest number of children growing up on the street in the early 1970s when I moved there, a time in the late 1980s when there were no children under college age, and now, when the street is populated with children again. The older residents on the street aged in place. Ed, at the end of the street, and Florence, at the beginning of the street, both died at age 99, while the “Dekes,” also at the bottom of the road, died in their early 90s. Three other homes are now occupied by the second generation, children who grew up in those homes and whose surviving parent chose to downsize.