By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — This town does not suffer from a lack of open space parcels.
Weir Hill is a popular destination for hikers, as are the Mazurenko Farm Conservation Area, the Stevens Estate, Half Mile Hill, Boxford and Harold Parker state forests and many other undeveloped areas in the town.
This wealth of possibilities for passive recreation — walking and bird watching, for instance — may be one of the best-kept secrets in the Merrimack Valley.
That’s why Susan Brown, head of Brown, Walker Planners of Newburyport, urged conservation activists to “improve the awareness of assets.” Brown’s firm was hired to advise the town on renewing its Open Space and Recreation Plan. Conservation Administrator Jennifer Hughes has pointed out that the town needs an updated open space plan to qualify for state grants.
Brown and an associate with her firm, Brian Groth, met with Hughes, Town Planner Judy Tymon, Conservation Commission Chairman Louis Napoli and others interested in making the best use of local open space.
Brown also suggested the town consider establishing a passive recreation committee and recruiting residents to serve as wardens for the major open space parcels.
Tymon, who leads the Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee, said the town should commit to improving safety for walkers by building more sidewalks. She noted the town has applied for a Safe Routes to School grant to construct sidewalks on Parker and Greene streets.
This will make it safer for children to walk to North Andover Middle, Atkinson and Kittredge schools, she said. The town, she added, ought to consider putting together a sidewalk plan.
North Andover residents were recently asked to express their views about open space in an online survey. The survey ended June 21 and results will be released shortly, according to Tymon and Hughes.