EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 8, 2013

Youth Center vote could change funding promise

ANDOVER — Special Town Meeting voters will be asked to endorse an altered plan for the proposed Cormier Youth Center that would produce a one-story building with a larger footprint than originally expected. The new plan would also spend both $2.2 million raised by the private Andover Youth Foundation, and then $2 million approved by 2011 Special Town Meeting to build part of the center and pour the foundation for its gymnasium.

The gymnasium would be built at a later date, with privately raised money, according to youth center supporters.

Specifically, residents will vote on two articles relating to the project at a Special Town Meeting on Feb. 11. The first will move the building by 35 feet due to a wetlands issue. The second article, after a Board of Selectmen vote last night, is expected to strike building size references from Special Town Meeting’s vote in 2011 if approved by voters next month.

In 2011, residents agreed to approve $2 million for a Cormier Youth Center, when the building was projected to be 20,000 square feet and cost $4.2 million. At the time, residents were told all of the Andover Youth Foundation’s privately raised money for the project — $2.2 million, including contingency funds — would be spent prior to any of the taxpayers’ $2 million being spent.

The plan was to add a second floor in the future with money raised by the private foundation. The $2.2 million share of the cost from the foundation includes $400,000 that has been spent up front for design and related work.

Since then, “we found out that the building was going to be more expensive than we had anticipated,” said Nancy Jeton, chairwoman of the Andover Youth Center Building Committee. “We looked at some design alternatives to reduce the cost.”

One option moved the anticipated second floor space to the first floor, in turn removing staircases and an elevator. With that design change, the final building would now be 24,000 square feet, Jeton said.

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