ANDOVER — The regional YMCA is one step closer to reality with approval this week from the Planning Board.
On Tuesday night the board voted to approve the site plans for the $21 million, 100,000-square-foot complex at 165 Haverhill St., on the North Andover border.
“This is a very exciting time for our organization,” said Steve Ives, president and CEO of the Merrimack Valley YMCA. “We are proud to be moving forward, for all the communities we serve, Andover, North Andover, Lawrence, Methuen and Southern New Hampshire.”
The Andover/North Andover Y, along with facilities in Methuen and Lawrence, draws people from the entire region, he said.
There are currently 8,000 members who attend the Andover/North Andover facility, with more expected as the facility expands. Ground-breaking is scheduled for March 28. The entire expansion is expected to wrap up in early 2015. Existing programs will remain open during construction, Ives said.
The project still needs approval from the Conservation Commission, which is scheduled to vote on it next week.
Conservation agent Bob Douglas said the commission has asked for more information about drainage to “make sure the project meets water quality standards.”
He said the expansion, along with new roads and parking lots, has created a lot of impervious surfaces so that runoff from the site could potentially get into the Shawsheen River. He said new projects are not allowed to create more runoff than is currently occurring, so the YMCA has had to create filtration chambers and holding ponds that allow the water to more naturally filter into the ground rather than cause flash-flooding.
“They are putting parking in areas where it hasn’t gone before and have also proposed an access road for fire safety,” he said. The Conservation Commission is scheduled for a Tuesday, Jan. 21 meeting in the third floor conference room of Town Hall. The meeting starts at 7:45 p.m. but the public hearing on the YMCA plan is scheduled to start at 8:15 p.m.