EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 24, 2013

Finance Committee supports housing for town's veterans

By Paul Tennant

---- — NORTH ANDOVER — The Finance Committee voted unanimously last night to support spending $462,000 to provide three apartments for veterans at 138 High St.

The money would come from the town’s Community Preservation Fund, which is financed by the 3 percent surcharge on local real estate tax bills. The annual Town Meeting on May 21 will have the final word on whether the project receives funding.

The Finance Committee also voted to recommend favorable action on all of the other proposals submitted by the Community Preservation Committee: $30,000 to restore gravestones at the Second Burying Ground; $904,000 to restore McEvoy Field on Route 125; $300,000 to construct athletic fields at the Town Farm on Dale Street; $397,000 to refurbish the Johnson Cottage and Parson Barnard House; $437,000 to restore the slate roof on the Stevens mansion; $130,000 to restore the foundation, walls and roof of the Scholfield Mill, where the North Andover Thrift Shop is located; $7,500 to get the Ridgewood Cemetery included on the National Registry of Historical Places; $500,000 to purchase property owned by Albert Manzi Jr. off Foster Street for open space; and $30,000 for administrative costs.

The only proposal that did not win unanimous approval from the board was the purchase of the 8-acre Manzi property, which abuts conservation land already owned by Essex County Greenbelt. Michelle Nadeau cast the sole dissenting vote, saying there are too many unanswered questions about the possible purchase.

“What’s the benefit to the town?” Nadeau asked. John Simons, chairman of the Community Preservation Committee, said the parcel will enhance access to hiking trails in the area.

He also explained that the $500,000 purchase price is merely an estimate.

“We’re not going to pay more than the appraised value,” he said. Finance Committee members who supported the purchase were Chairman Alan LeBovidge, William Callahan, Karin Blake and Daniel Leary. Roberto Norbedo, Matthew Remis, Thomas Dugan and Donald Elliott were absent.

The veterans housing proposal is being advocated by Veterans Services Officer Edgar Mitchell and other members of a local task force. They intend to either renovate the two-family house that’s on the property or tear it down and build a new structure.

Either way, the result will be three apartments for veterans.

“There is no shortage of veterans who need housing,” Simons said.

Nadeau, Callahan and selectmen Chairman William Gordon urged Simons to have the Community Preservation Committee vote on its recommendations sooner than four weeks before Town Meeting.

“I think your point is well taken,” Simons said.