EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 17, 2012

Town leaders look to UMass to help development

NORTH ANDOVER – The selectmen and Town Manager Andrew Maylor are looking to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to create a vision for attracting businesses to sites along Route 125.

Dr. John Mullin, associate director of the Center for Economic Development at UMass, who will lead the effort, told the selectmen last night he and three to five graduate students will start working on the project by mid-January.

They will likely recommend infrastructure improvements, he said. Last year, a majority of the selectmen – William Gordon, Tracy Watson and Richard Vaillancourt – supported spending $300,000 to design an extension of the sewer along Route 125. Selectmen Donald Stewart and Rosemary Connelly Smedile opposed it and so did voters at the June 12 annual Town Meeting.

Smedile pointed out last night that Route 125 in Plaistow, N.H. is lined with numerous businesses – and there are no sewers there. Mullin said putting a sewer along the stretch of that highway in North Andover will not guarantee an influx of companies – but the “odds” of attracting companies are “far greater” with sewerage than without it, he added.

Vaillancourt, the newest member of the board, who backed extending the sewer along Route 125 during his campaign last winter, asked Mullin if he has worked in other communities.

Mullin said he has advised Andover and other communities along Interstate 495 on economic development issues. He said he has 35 years of experience in urban planning.

“My specialty is reindustrialization,” he said. Mullin told the selectmen he will give them a progress report by mid-April. The students working with him, he said, will be interns working toward master’s degrees in disciplines such as regional planning, landscape architecture and architecture.

The Route 125 corridor between Route 133 and the Haverhill city line includes hundreds of acres of vacant land. The former Lucent plant, now known as 1600 Osgood St., is located on this stretch.

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