Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

September 19, 2013

Neighbors deserve action on blight properties

The Andover Townsman

---- — Neighbors deserve action on blight properties

Editor, Townsman:

Your article on blight properties was of great interest to us, as 27 Kirkland Drive is across the street from our home. We’ve been getting “assurances” that this problem will be resolved for more than seven years now. Beyond the issues of the unsanitary and potentially hazardous conditions, we also fail to understand why the town refuses to enforce its own bylaws, such as Section 6.7.4, which prohibits unregistered vehicles not in condition for travel from being in public view.

Andrew and Leslie Malis

30 Kirkland Drive

Step up to help pay back Tewksbury neighbors

Editor, Townsman:

This summer, Andover was faced with the very real prospect of a slots parlor in neighboring Tewksbury, in the Ames Pond area off Route 133, abutting West Andover. At a meeting at our library on Aug. 6, more than 100 town leaders and other residents heard from an official of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission what our town’s status would be as a “surrounding community.” It was not reassuring to learn of the negotiating process for “ameliorations” of potential costs for traffic, public safety and other areas that could be expected to impact Andover’s services and in some cases, homes and properties. It was also alarming to learn that Tewksbury’s boards and town manager were unanimously supportive of the plans of Penn National Gaming and pushing for approval of the necessary rezoning proposal to be acted upon at their open Town Meeting on Aug. 20.

Fortunately, a number of Tewksbury residents were of similar minds to many of us in Andover. With very little time to organize and marshal support, the ad hoc No Slots Tewksbury group pulled off a marvelous effort that resulted in the defeat of the rezoning proposal by an overwhelming 1568-995 vote. In Andover, there was a collective sigh of relief.

But the effort in Tewksbury, in the face of time constraints, a summer Town Meeting and town leaders of the opposite persuasion, was not without its costs. I have recently learned that a small group of Tewksbury residents contributed $5,000 of their own money to fund the purchase of yard signs, postcards, fliers, advertisements and other expenses of the campaign. There is no doubt that this financial support and the hard work of many Tewksbury people resulted in the best outcome for Andover, avoiding a negative impact on our budget as well as on many West Andover residential areas.

It’s now time to step up and show our gratitude for the efforts of our good neighbors. Donations are being solicited to reimburse those folks for their out-of-pocket expenses, and I hope others will join us in contributing to this fund. Contributions in any amount can be sent to: No Slots Tewksbury, c/o Lowell Five Bank, 1775 Main St., Tewksbury 01876.

Nancy Mulvey

104 High Plain Road

Finance staff raises debate

Editor, Townsman:

If anyone was looking for any further evidence that the galactic spending habits of our town manager are approaching those of the British monarchy, all they need to do is listen to the lame rationale he gave for creating yet another padded, overpaid secretarial position when challenged on it by Selectwoman Mary Lyman at last week’s meeting of the Board of Selectmen.

Buzz Stapczynski’s response to Lyman’s question as to how he could justify upgrading what was working just fine as a part-time secretarial job into a $75,000-a-year job was, stunningly, “all the department heads have administrative assistants.” Just another example of how, while the rest of the world has learned how to be more efficient, reduce administrative overhead and get more bang for every administrative buck, Stapczynski just wants more bucks. These so-called “administrative assistants,” handmaidens for managers at best, have been eliminated almost everywhere in the business world, even those who used to work for corporate CEOs, as businesses have learned that these jobs were never justifiable financially. Yet here we have our town manager continuing his empire-building ways by converting a part-time secretarial job into yet another overpaid administrative position on the town’s payroll.

And Selectman Brian Major’s defense of Stapczynski’s bureaucratic empire building — that Mary Lyman should have raised her objection during budget planning last spring — is just flat out wrong. If the Board of Selectmen cannot make changes to town spending after a budget is approved, then they have declared themselves to be merely yes-men working for the town manager, abdicating their being his boss as it should be. It was a sad display of the neutering of our Board of Selectmen by the current town manager that Selectmen Alex Vispoli, Daniel Kowalski and Paul Salafia bought into Major’s muddleheaded thinking. Lyman appears to be the only member of our Board of Selectmen who is willing to take on the town manager’s bad spending ways as the other selectmen continue to cave to every ill-conceived spending desire of our current town manager. Sadly, until we either get a new town manager or more members of the Board of Selectmen with the courage that Mary Lyman has to say “no” to the irresponsible spending ways of our current town manager, our town will continue its downward financial spiral and huge increases in property taxes that have become the hallmark of the Stapczynski regime over his 23-year tenure as town manager.

Bob Pokress

3 Cherrywood Circle