EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 27, 2014

New location proposed for Hampstead school access road

By Alex Lippa
alippa@eagletribune.com

---- — HAMPSTEAD — Another option has emerged as a potential location for an access road to Hampstead Middle School.

A new access road has been discussed because of emergency response concerns. There is only one way in and out of the school, via School Street. The School Board is looking to have another access to the school, via Emerson Avenue.

Last fall, the School Board thought they had decided on a route which would cut through current playing fields. But they decided to hold off on that plan after abutters expressed concerns about runoff contaminating their wells.

But now, they are looking to go outside the box.

After Bill Norton of Norton Asset Management conducted a study looking at alternatives, a new option surfaced.

The road would run from the middle school and connect to the back of the parking lot of Saint Anne Church.

“It’s a much more direct route,” School Board member Jim Stewart said. “This would not interfere with the abutters.”

Stewart said it is likely that this option would be cheaper as well.

“We haven’t put pencil to paper yet, but that is our guess,” he said.

The initial project was estimated to cost $100,000

But there is one downside to the plan.

The district would have to get permission from the church to construct the road. Stewart said Norton was in discussions with Diocese of Manchester to get permission. Neither Norton nor a representative from the Diocese could be reached for comment yesterday.

“It’s not a perfect solution because it’s not automatic,” Stewart said. “We also still need to hear a little more details about the plan.”

Conservation Commission Chairman Tim Lovell had expressed some concern over the initial plan, but wasn’t ready to comment on the new proposal.

“It hasn’t been brought to us yet,” he said. “I know they still have to go through some of the wetlands, but beyond that I don’t know many of the details.”

While a location has not been determined, there was one definite about the plan.

“This will be a single lane access road that will have a locked gate at both ends,” Stewart said. “That way only police and fire will have access to the road.”