EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

May 7, 2013

Selectmen not sold on proposed open space purchase

NORTH ANDOVER — The selectmen voted to support most of the Community Preservation Committee’s $3 million in spending recommendations last night, but held off on a plan to buy eight acres off Foster Street for open space.

The selectmen had no problem with the panel’s proposal to spend $903,350 for what Community Preservation Committee Chairman John Simons called a “very extensive” renovation of McEvoy Field. The board also supported the plan to spend $461,894 to purchase the property at 138 High St. for construction of three homes for veterans.

The Community Preservation Committee’s recommendations included setting aside $500,000 to buy eight acres on Foster Street now owned by Albert Manzi Jr., a member of the Conservation Commission.

Simons said the town is not necessarily going to spend that much money to purchase the land, which he said could be used for building houses. The town will negotiate the price with Manzi, he said.

“I don’t understand the benefit of this,” Selectman Tracy Watson said, noting the parcel does not have easy access.

Simons said the purchase will benefit the town because it will preserve more open space. He also said the land can be approached via a 50-foot-wide right-of-way from Lancaster Road as well as another easement from Foster Street.

“I think I owe you some more information,” Simons said. Town Manager Andrew Maylor suggested there should be more “public dialogue” about the possible purchase.

“I get the message,” Simons said.

The selectmen also supported spending $300,000 for new playing fields at the Town Farm on Dale Street; $397,000 for renovations at the Johnson Cottage and Parson Barnard House, both owned by the North Andover Historical Society; $436,950 for replacing the roof at the Stevens Estate; $130,000 for renovations at the Scholfield Mill, where the North Andover Thrift Shop is located; and $7,500 for getting Ridgewood Cemetery included on the National Register of Historic Places.

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