EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 1, 2013

Youth Center design tweaked ahead of Town Meeting

Foundation has raised $2M, $200,000 shy of promise


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — ANDOVER — The Andover Youth Center Building Committee has restructured how it plans to build the Cormier Youth Center, and the foundation fronting most of the bill is only $200,000 shy of meeting its $2.2 million promise to the town.

Annual Town Meeting voters will face two articles pertaining to the youth center in May: one to break the project into two phases, and another to move the building’s footprint 35 feet closer to the Center at Punchard, formerly the Senior Center, due to a wetlands buffer issue.

The building committee aims to break the building’s construction into two phases in order to fit the first body of work within a $4.2 million budget, according to committee Chairman Chris Huntress.

While previous plans had the committee saving the construction of an 8,570 square foot gym for the second phase, the gym has now been worked into the project’s first phase, Huntress said.

“It became clear to us that they need a gym to function,” Huntress said. “To build a facility without a gym didn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

A 2,940 square foot multi-purpose room, an extra set of restrooms and two 110 square foot offices have been moved to the proposed second phase of the project. That phase will cost an additional $1.35 million beyond the cost of the first phase, according to Huntress.

The multipurpose room will double as a theater and performance space. While the goal is to have it in the finished product, “we can use the gym as the theater” for the time being, Huntress said. “We can’t use it the other way around.”

Provided voters support the phased approach to building the project, the space to be taken up by the second phase of construction would be left completely empty, Huntress said. Construction of the first phase is slated to begin in August.

The first phase’s construction costs are expected to be around $3.5 million, Huntress said. That doesn’t include other costs, such as design and engineering expenses, that bring the first phase’s total up to $4.2 million.

The Andover Youth Foundation — charged with providing $2.2 million before taxpayers provide the $2 million it approved at 2011 Special Town Meeting — doesn’t have all of the money it needs in the bank yet, according to foundation Treasurer Brian Lynch.

The foundation, to date, has raised $2 million — including $400,000 it gave the town to hire the project’s architect as the process started. $200,000 more is needed, but foundation Chairwoman Diane Costagliola said the foundation “will have all the money for phase one by the time they need us to have it.”

The building committee’s goal is to not bring the project to another Town Meeting vote once annual Town Meeting has adjourned.

“We were adamant to the fact that we won’t go to Town Meeting for more money,” Huntress said. “The foundation has told us they are ready, willing and able to move forward.”

The foundation hopes that its annual telethon, scheduled for March 14 and 15 at the high school’s Collins Center for the Performing Arts, will bring in the final bits of cash needed to put a shovel in the ground.

Direct donation letters for the telethon will be going out to Andover homes next week, according to foundation Vice-Chairwoman Andrea Zames.

For more information on the telethon or to participate, email CormierYouthCenter@gmail.com or call 978-623-8241.