EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 8, 2013

Youth Center wins funding

By Dustin Luca

---- — ANDOVER — Town Meeting voters last night OK’d spending $700,000 of a town-controlled trust fund to complete the funding for a new youth center, but not before questions were raised about how the vote affected a prior town agreement.

Voters agreed to break up a $1.4 million trust fund — assigning $700,000 to the second phase of construction for the Cormier Family Youth Center and directing the remaining $700,000 to create a stabilization fund for senior programming.

The votes came during a Special Town Meeting scheduled within the second night of Andover’s annual Town Meeting. The annual Town Meeting resumes tonight at 7 in the field house at Andover High School, with 23 articles still up for discussion.

Many who spoke on the youth center and senior articles praised both groups for uniting around their cause.

“As a member of the Andover Youth Foundation and a senior myself, I’m proud of the collaboration the youth had with bringing this together,” David Drive resident Michael Miller said. “We’ve always sought to work with seniors, to try to make a community center.”

Sam Kefferstan, 18, of Haverhill Street, spoke in support of both articles as well.

“I’ve grown up here and lived here for my entire life,” he said. “My family, and so many others, have donated, and this is exactly what we need to push it over the edge and get shovels into the ground.”

After voters almost unanimously supported the senior programming stabilization fund, questions arose regarding the town’s agreement with the Andover Youth Foundation and how allotting the additional $700,000 for the youth center would alter that plan.

Finance Committee member Jeannie Moffitt, who opposed the youth center article, said the town had already voted to spend $2 million on the project.

“In light of the agreement, the town having agreed to donate $2 million to this project, this was above and beyond the agreement,” she said.

Meanwhile, a proposal to rezone roughly 24 acres of land around the Town Yard on Lewis Street for mixed-use development failed to get the necessary two-thirds approval by just 29 votes, going down to defeat by a vote of 295 in favor, 191 opposed. The second article on the Andover Transit Oriented Development District article was withdrawn after the first article failed.

Discussion on the article continually shifted toward how it would affect the town’s efforts to rebuild or relocate the Town Yard, which officials have historically indicated are linked.

During the discussion, Moderator Sheila Doherty frequently stepped in and stopped comments, telling residents to focus on the zoning article, not plans for a Town Yard relocation.

“There is noise coming out of my mouth, right? This is a zoning article, not a Town Yard article,” she said. “I understand the ramifications of it. We all in this room understand the ramifications .... I will call out of order anyone who is moving in any other direction.”

Alden Road resident Joe Ponti referred to the article as a “house of cards” in stating his opposition.

“Everything is based off of an assumption on an assumption,” he said. “If you vote it, you put a chain of events in motion that, I think, is going to be irreparable. They’ll come after you Town Meeting after Town Meeting (saying), ‘We rezoned it, let’s vote for $20 million (for it).’”

:A26: Senior Residential Community Overlay, regulations. PASSED A27: Senior Residential Community Overlay, zoning map.PASSED A28: Town building and facility maintenance. PASSED A29: Greater Lawrence Tech HVAC renovation. PASSED A30: Andover Transit Oriented Development District, regulations. FAILED A31: Andover Transit Oriented Development District, zoning map. WITHDRAWN A32: High school tennis courts. PASSED A33: Chandler Road land acquisition.PASSED A34: Town playground replacements. WITHDRAWN A35: School facility space needs study. PASSED A36: School building maintenance. PASSED A37: Computer and laptop replacement program. PASSED A38: West Middle School heating system. PASSED Articles 39-61 to be taken up tonight, 7 p.m., Andover High School field house SPECIAL TOWN MEETING RESULTS A1: Elder Services stabilization fund. PASSED A2: Youth Center appropriation. PASSED