EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 30, 2013

Preserving a Place for Veterans

More than $460K in preservation funds approved for homeless vets

NORTH ANDOVER — Fourteen local residents who have served in the military need a place to live, according to Veterans Services Officer Edgar Mitchell.

There is now hope for at least three of them. The proposal to create homes for veterans at 138 High St. got a boost April 18 when the Community Preservation Committee voted unanimously to recommend spending $462,000 on the project.

The Finance Committee later also approved the plan. Voters at the May 21 annual Town Meeting will have the final say. The Community Preservation Committee makes recommendations on how the town should spend the money it raises from the 3 percent surcharge on real estate tax bills.

Mitchell, John Ratka, executive director of the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center, and other members of the Veterans Housing Task Force initially proposed putting five apartments on the site - now occupied by a vacant house. Neighbors objected to having that many, so Mitchell and Ratka compromised and reduced the number to three apartments.

“We have decided not to do Phase 2,” Ratka said. The first phase of the project initially called for rehabilitating the house into two apartments, while the second phase proposed building another house on the property with three apartments.

The Veterans Housing Task Force will either rehabilitate the house at 138 High St. and build an addition for the third apartment or tear down the structure and construct a three-family house.

“Cost effectiveness will drive that (decision),” Ratka said. “I really think it’s going to cost more not to tear it down.” In any event, one apartment will have three bedrooms, another will have two and the third will have just one bedroom, Ratka said.

Community Preservation Committee Chairman John Simons noted the task force will need to obtain a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals to add a third home to the structure. Committee member Bradford Wakeman asked why the group chose 138 High St.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Merrimack Valley

Eagle-Tribune News Videos
Photos of the Week