EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 3, 2012

New sidewalks, railings improve safety for seniors

NORTH ANDOVER – Getting from their cars to their apartments is now easier for the senior citizens who live on Fountain Drive.

They are also less likely to trip on the sidewalks and they have more parking spaces.

Earlier this year, the town Community Preservation Committee approved $325,000 to replace the sidewalks and roadway for the 40 elderly housing units. The money also paid for new railings that have been installed along the front walk of each apartment.

Joanne Comerford, executive director of the North Andover Housing Authority, which manages the apartments, said tenants’ safety was her primary concern when she asked the Community Preservation Committee for help.

The work was done in October by Sunshine Paving Corp. of Hudson, N.H.

“I think they did a beautiful job,” Comerford said. Terry Holland, a member of the Community Preservation Committee, said he didn’t think the sidewalks had been replaced since the apartments were built by the state 50 years ago.

Holland, the owner of Stachey’s Pizza, said he especially wanted to see the improvements made for the elderly tenants. He was brought up nearby, at Main and Davis streets, and used to deliver newspapers on Fountain Drive, he said. The tenants with whom he has spoken, he said, are happy with the new sidewalks.

Comerford also said some old trees and brush were removed and new trees planted.

Ana Garcia, who has resided on Fountain Drive for two years, said she is pleased with the new railings and sidewalks.

Frank Britt, another Fountain Drive resident, said the railings are a welcome addition. He just wishes there were more parking spaces for handicapped drivers, he said.

The money that paid for the Fountain Drive project was provided by the state Community Preservation Act, which North Andover voted to accept in 2001. The act authorizes the town to charge a 3 percent surtax on real estate tax bills.

The proceeds go into a local Community Preservation Fund, to which the state also contributes. Since adopting the program, the town has spent more than $20 million of Community Preservation money.

Most of it has paid for purchasing open space, including the land surrounding Lake Cochichewick, the town’s water supply. Besides open space, Community Preservation money can pay for historic preservation projects and affordable housing.

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