By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — The town is inviting residents to participate in the creation of an open space and recreation plan.
A public meeting on the plan will take place at Town Hall from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Conservation and Planning departments are taking the lead in developing a system for preserving open space.
Once the plan is complete, the town will be eligible for state money for open space preservation and park improvement projects, according to town Conservation Administrator Jennifer Hughes.
The open space and recreation plan will provide a road map for the next seven years to help identify open space parcels of interest, playground upgrades and sites for new athletic fields. The plan will also propose staffing and management for parks, open space and recreation programs and facilities.
Once the plan is approved by the state, North Andover will be eligible for grants from state funds reserved for park improvements and land preservation, Hughes said. These include Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC), Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is administered by the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
The town has hired Brown Walker Planners Inc., a community planning firm with extensive open space and recreation planning experience, to assist with the planning and public outreach process.
One of Brown Walker’s first tasks is coordinating Wednesday night's community forum. The public's views will also be sought by a survey, which will be available at a later date, Hughes said.