ANDOVER — Plans for an expansion of Andover High School and replacements of the Town Yard and Ballardvale Fire Station have triggered a shifting of priorities in the town manager’s annual Capital Improvement Plan.
Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski will present this year’s iteration of the CIP, covering fiscal years 2015 to 2019, to the Board of Selectmen Monday night.
This year’s plan reflects just over $9 million in spending requests that will move on as the town develops next year’s operating budget, according to Stapczynski.
Among the requests are two projects that don’t have price tags attached yet. They will require “debt exclusion” votes to pay for them, which will raise taxes beyond Proposition 2 1/2 tax levy limits if approved, according to Stapczynski.
One of the two projects, an expansion of Andover High School, is the subject of an ongoing study that will likely lead to design and engineering work next year, Stapczynski said.
The project seeks to add classroom space, expand the school’s cafeteria and make “other substantial improvements” to the school facility in light of significant overcrowding at the school.
“We have to get the study under our belt. We have to read the study, and we have to hire architects and engineers to design the job,” Stapczynski said. “That typically takes nine months to a year.”
The project itself is expected to follow, with construction to start in fiscal year 2016, which includes the second half of 2015, according to Stapczynski.
Because of the work at the high school, one of the CIP’s larger projects over the next five years — school site improvement — has also shifted.
With $2.7 million of work going into Doherty Middle School’s site layout this past summer, previous plans to do Andover High next have been moved out several years, according to the plan.
In the coming years, voters will be asked to pay for major site improvement projects at two schools, as outlined in the plan: West Elementary School, at an estimated $3.2 million after $319,000 of design work next year; and South Elementary School, estimated to cost $3.05 million after $300,000 in design work, according to the plan.
Those numbers could change drastically, however, as the process moves forward, according to Ed Ataide, acting director of Plant and Facilities.
“Those numbers do change,” Ataide said. “The same thing even with West El. (The $3.2 million estimate) was three, four years ago. Numbers are going to vary from what was estimated.”
Also featured in this year’s CIP is $25,000 to plan and design a new Town Yard. The money will join $27,255 already saved up from prior requests, according to Stapczynski.
Complicating plans for a new Town Yard, as has been the case in recent years, is the decision where the facility will go, according to Stapczynski.
Current ideas cover both rebuilding the Town Yard at its current home on Lewis Street or building a new facility elsewhere in town, which Stapczynski said is up to the Board of Selectmen.
Another major project with unanswered questions, also expected to require a Proposition 2 1/2 override, is a replacement for the Ballardvale Fire Station.
A building committee that has looked into the project for the last five years is in the midst of putting together its final recommendation for the Board of Selectmen, due by the end of the year.
“They’re going to give us a recommendation, a priority for the selectmen, and they’ll be acting on it,” Stapczynski said. “Whether they want to take something up at this Town Meeting or not will depend on the report, and it will depend on the Selectmen — if they want to provide leadership on it.”
The initial request for the station replacement, made by Fire Department Chief Mike Mansfield, requests $1.5 million to cover the cost of land acquisition and design only. Construction would come as a second phase to the project, according to the CIP.
While the full CIP will be presented to the Board of Selectmen at its meeting Monday, a tri-board meeting to also put it before the School Committee and Finance Committee is slated for Monday, Dec. 9, according to Stapczynski.
Monday’s presentation will be held in the selectmen’s meeting room on the third floor of the Town Offices, 36 Bartlet St., starting at 7 p.m. The full CIP can also be reviewed at the town website, www.andoverma.gov.