Three public information sessions on the upcoming Special Town Meeting will be held to provide an overview of Town Manager Andrew Flanagan's recommendation of how the town should spend its portion of the $80 million settlement with Columbia Gas.
Flanagan said the recommended plan was developed by his team in conjunction with an emergency management working group, which he said was the "best equipped team" to determine how to use the resources from the settlement.
The plan, according to Flanagan, was built to provide the opportunity for some flexibility given the uncertainty of some elements of the recovery.
Andover will receive $13.9 million for road repairs, $3.85 million for expense reimbursement and $3 million of the remainder.
The plan, which was presented to the Select Board at a meeting last month, would establish four capital accounts with the money: Restoration and investment in roads, sidewalks and infrastructure; emergency preparedness; deficit reconciliation; and a gas disaster mitigation reserve account.
Flanagan said everything funded through the accounts was either impacted or used during the Sept. 13 gas disasters.
The plan would fund the restoration of the near 19 miles of roads impacted by the Sept. 13 gas disasters, as well as sidewalks. That restoration, however, will not be “curb-to-curb” on all impacted streets, only those necessary. Other roads not as severely impacted will include the necessary repairs.
Flanagan said it would cost about $750,000 a mile for restorations.
It would appropriate $500,000 for the Senior Center renovation, which would allow for the expansion of bathrooms in the center and the addition of showers and other priorities such as freezer and refrigeration space.
The plan also includes appropriating funds for about 55 parking spaces at the Senior Center, and sidewalk improvements from the Senior Center to downtown, allowing easier access in case of an emergency.
During the gas disaster recovery, Flanagan said Andover spent $400,000 on portable showers at Pomps Pond. He is recommending money from the settlement go toward implementing showers there, allowing the space to easily be turned into an emergency shelter again if necessary.
Another major item to be funded is the remainder of the design for the reconstruction of the intersection at Route 133 and Route 28 through to the intersection at Beacon Street and Route 133.
Flanagan's recommendation included putting $500,000 toward the remainder of the design’s cost, which would complete the $750,000 total. The state would then leverage additional state funds for the project.
The second warrant article for the Special Town Meeting will seek voters' approval for spending $2 million on water main replacement projects.
At Town Meeting in April, voters approved $4 million for water main projects already.
Flanagan said the reason for this warrant article is because the water rate set by the Select Board in April funded an additional $2 million per year for water main replacements. However, the warrant for Town Meeting was closed at the time at just $4 million.
To keep pace with the four-year paving program of the roads, Flanagan said the town will spend $6 million on water main replacements the first four years, and then 11 years at $5 million per year.
The road work, a project that Flanagan said would typically take 15 years based on the town's paving history, is expected to be completed in four years.
"This is going to cause disruption," he said. "It's a major, major project."
Flanagan said if the plan were to advance any faster than four years, it would exceed the tolerance level of the community.
"The key is that we have these funds appropriated in advance of July 1 so we can begin the work this paving season," he said. Paving season runs from spring to mid-fall.
In addition to restoring roads, water main replacement work will also be done simultaneously to avoid having to open up roads again at a future time for that work.
There are over 80 miles of water main that need to be replaced, with a goal of completing that work in 15 years. Over the course of the four years that road repairs will be done, the goal is to replace 20 to 25 miles of water mains.
IF YOU GO
What: Town Meeting Information sessions
When: Tuesday, June 11, Memorial Hall Library, Third Floor, 7 p.m.; Wednesday, June 12, Town Offices, Third Floor, 8 a.m.; Monday, June 17, Town Offices, Third Floor, 6 p.m.
Why: Town Manager Andrew Flanagan to brief residents on his plan to spend Columbia Gas settlement money.