By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Over at Kittredge Elementary School, they’re keeping their fingers crossed.
Kittredge, which sits across Route 125 from the much larger North Andover Middle School, is the only public school in North Andover that does not have a gymnasium. A space not much bigger than a classroom serves as cafeteria, auditorium and gymnasium.
Principal Richard Cushing jokingly calls it the “cafegymatorium.”
If voters at tonight’s annual Town Meeting approve Article 20, the Capital Improvement Plan, Kittredge School will no longer have to make do with its cafegymatorium. The multi-million-dollar plan includes $810,000 to build a gymnasium for the elementary school.
School Building Committee Chairman Stanley Limpert, who also serves on the School Committee, estimates the new gymnasium could be finished by December if everything goes according to schedule. Moderator Mark DiSalvo is expected to call the Town Meeting to order at 7 p.m. in the North Andover High School auditorium.
The Kittredge gym is included under the Facilities Master Plan, which has a total cost of $3,895,500. Design for a new central fire station is also included in this section.
Besides the Facilities Master Plan, Article 20 also proposes $1,115,000 for roadway improvements. Voters will be asked to approve the borrowing of $5,749,188 to pay for the Capital Improvement Plan. Because the article calls for bonding, a two-thirds majority is required to pass it.
Article 19 asks the voters to authorize the borrowing of $4,049,027 to pay for a large number of energy-saving projects at schools and other town-owned buildings. Town Manager Andrew Maylor and other proponents say these projects will actually pay for themselves because of the energy and money they will save.
Unlike Articles 19 and 20, Article 21, the recommendations of the Community Preservation Committee, does not ask the town to borrow any money. The article seeks approval for spending $2,945,694 on a variety of projects that will preserve historic buildings, save open space and provide affordable housing.
The recommendations include slightly more than $900,000 worth of improvements at McEvoy Field, $461,894 to build three homes for veterans at 138 High St., $ 436,950 to put a new roof on the Stevens Estate, $397,000 for building improvements at the Parson Barnard House and Johnson Cottage and $300,000 to construct playing fields at the Town Farm Road on Dale Street.
The Town Meeting will not be restricted to dollars and cents issues. Article 28 requests that residents be permitted to keep up to six hens in their backyards. Those who own 3 or more acres would be allowed to have three hens per acre.
At present, North Andover residents are not allowed to keep chickens on their property unless they have at least 3 acres. If they have that much land, they’re not permitted more than one chicken per acre.
Article 28 would forbid roosters.
North Andover is governed by an open Town Meeting. That means that any North Andover voter is able to attend the meeting and vote on the issues.
If any voter wishes to speak out on a particular article or wishes to offer an amendment, but is not sure about how to go about being heard, four citizen advocates will be there to help. DiSalvo has appointed attorneys Maria Galvagna Mesenger, John Fouhy and John Smolak to serve in this role, as well as Phil DeCologero, a young but veteran political activist.