By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — And the walls came tumbling down.
The vacant structure at Main and Osgood streets that was the town’s police station for many years surrendered to a bulldozer and wrecking crew Tuesday. When the rubble is cleared, New England Builders and Contractors of Methuen will begin constructing a new headquarters for the School Department.
The town awarded the company a contract for $2,304,000 to build the 11/2-story office building, which will bear at least some resemblance to the former police station, according to Town Manager Andrew Maylor. Like the station, it will be made of brick and with 7,600 square feet will be roughly the same size.
New England Builders and Contractors submitted the lowest bid among nine general contractors, Maylor said. The town was “aggressive” in its effort to invite contractors to submit bids for the job, he added.
Completion of the school headquarters will likely take about 10 months, Maylor said.
The school administration offices are now at Osgood Landing at 1600 Osgood St., about three miles from the downtown and very close to the Haverhill city line. School Committee Chairman Stanley Limpert said he and other officials expect the administration to be moved into the new quarters by September 2015 – which happens to be when the lease for the 1600 Osgood St. quarters expires, he noted.
The school administration has been housed in rented quarters for several years. Before moving to 1600 Osgood St., the superintendent and other administrators had their offices in the East Mill on High Street.
The East Mill was part of the Davis & Furber Machine Co. many years ago. The administration moved to Osgood Landing in 2009 because the rent there was lower, Limpert said. He opposed that transition, he said, because “I didn’t want us to move away from the community.”
Maylor said the town rents the school administration offices for about $100,000 per year.
The new administration building will be good for teachers and administrators, Limpert said, because “they won’t have to drive to Osgood Landing for meetings.” He noted the new location is within walking of four schools – North Andover Middle, North Andover High, Kittredge and Atkinson.
The Police Department moved to its present station at 1475 Osgood St., which used to be the headquarters of the Merrimack Valley Federal Credit Union, in November 2010. The former police station at 566 Osgood St. was built in 1967.
The new school headquarters is part of the town’s Facilities Master Plan. Two years ago, Town Meeting approved the construction of a new gymnasium at Kittredge Elementary School. That project is almost finished.
Town Meeting approved the construction of the administration building last year. This year’s annual Town Meeting, which will convene May 20 at 7 p.m. in the North Andover High School auditorium, will be asked to approve the borrowing of $5,940,000 to build a new Central Fire Station at Prescott and Osgood streets.