EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 9, 2013

Andover's Council on Aging weighs in on Youth Center

ANDOVER — Parking and scheduling concerns dominated discussion at an at-times heated Cormier Youth Center presentation before the Council on Aging last night.

The articles facing the town were brought yesterday to what could be considered the planned Cormier Youth Center’s greatest neighbor in the town once it is built: senior citizens and the Center at Punchard, previously known as the Senior Center.

At the meeting, Nancy Jeton, Andover Youth Center Building Committee chairman, said the building is designed to serve not just as a place for Andover youth, but also as a community space for all residents to use.

“When (Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski) first asked me to chair this committee, one of the things he talked to me about was the fact that this is a town facility,” she said. “Although primarily a youth center, it was to be a town-controlled building and available for use by many different entities.”

During the presentation, the committee fielded questions about the building’s use — specifically how available it would be to Andover seniors — and how the plans address parking at the Center at Punchard.

“What doesn’t work in the building we have now is parking,” Don Robb, council chairman, said. “We have many seniors who say they can’t come to activities during January, February because they can’t walk from the end of that parking lot, all the way through the school through ice and snow. We’re talking people in their 70s and 80s. That’s an unfair and dangerous situation.”

Beyond the youth center project, a $3.2 million plan is coming before the town at Annual Town Meeting to redesign the parking and asphalt areas around Doherty Middle School. As part of that project, parking would be adjusted to accommodate the construction and later occupancy of the youth center.

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