EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 5, 2014

Committee backs preservation of three parcels in Old North Andover Center

NORTH ANDOVER — The Community Preservation Committee has backed spending $570,000 to prevent further development along Academy Road, which is located in the historic Old Center.

It’s a “complicated transaction,” Community Preservation Committee Chairman John Simons told the selectmen earlier this week, that would result in a conservation restriction on three lots. The land would actually be purchased by Center Realty Trust, but the conservation restriction will permit public access to the property, Simons said.

The committee also recommended spending $290,000 to install a drainage and irrigation system at McEvoy Park, a widely used playing field; $176,000 for a 2,500-foot multi-use trail between the former Davis & Furber property on High Street and North Andover High School; $68,400 for a trail that would connect the Stevens-Coolidge Place on Andover Street, the Old Common and Weir Hill; $25,000 to restore the stained glass windows of the Stevens Estate, which the town purchased several years ago; and $92,300 to expand the Sargent School playground.

The latter proposal sparked some controversy.

“I’m taken aback,” Selectman Tracy Watson said, explaining that she did not realize that Community Preservation money could be spent on a public school.

Simons noted that parents of Sargent School students have already raised $40,000 for the playground project.

Schools that serve students from less affluent families probably can’t raise that amount of money, Watson said. Simons said the committee will likely be financing similar projects at other schools.

Town Manager Andrew Maylor pointed out that “almost anyone can submit an application” for a Community Preservation grant.

“It should be equitable,” Selectman William Gordon said.

Community Preservation money comes from a 3 percent surtax on local real estate tax bills. The state also contributes a portion.

The Community Preservation Committee makes recommendations each year as to how the money should be spent. The annual Town Meeting, scheduled to convene the evening of May 20 at North Andover High School, makes the final decision.

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