EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 3, 2013

Other facilities open doors to Atkinson residents

Function room closure put space at a premium

By Alex Lippa

---- — ATKINSON — It’s been a hectic week for recreation director Noriko Yoshida-Travers. After the popular function room at the Atkinson Community Center closed abruptly, she had to deliver the bad news to all the groups scheduled to use it in the coming months.

But others are stepping up and offering space.

“It’s just been great,” Yoshida-Travers said. “We’ve had great support from everyone during this.”

The town closed the function room Tuesday after a structural engineer deemed the facility to be unsafe. The floor and the oil burner are just two of the things that will need to be replaced before the facility can reopen. Town officials hope to get the work completed this summer.

Yoshida-Travers said the Rev. Paul Dionne has offered space in Atkinson Congregational Church to groups. The church will host the Atkinson Citizens of the Year award ceremony Sunday and other upcoming events.

She has received calls from others, too, looking to help.

Carolyn Heffron, hospitality sales manager at Atkinson Country Club, offered function rooms at the club to the town.

“We always like to do a lot in the community,” said Kristin Perry, controller for Atkinson Country Club. “We always want to do our part to help out,”

Perry said two groups from the community center came to check out the country club, but it wasn’t the best fit for either.

Yoshida-Travers also received a call from outside the community. David McPherson, vice president of the East Derry Village Improvement Society, told her Upper Village Hall was available.

“We just wanted to let them know that we’re available,” McPherson said. “We have the same common goal. Whether it’s Derry or Atkinson, we’re all in this together.”

McPherson also mentioned that there could even be a bonus in using Upper Village Hall.

“I think our rates might be cheaper than theirs,” McPherson said.

While she looks for alternate venues for all her activities, Yoshida-Travers has had to be creative for some of the more immediate activities.

On Wednesday afternoon, they held a senior exercise class outside the community center.

“It was a nice day, so we went outside,” Yoshida-Travers said. “I ‘m not sure we’ll be able to do that when its hot and muggy though.”

Instead, they will look at moving to Kimball Library for future classes.

“We have a room they could use here,” library director Diane Heer said. “We can try to make that happen. We always like to help out another department in town.”

Yoshida-Travers said most people who had functions such as graduation parties and wedding receptions have already found alternate places. But some people are still looking for venues.

“I know two rentals are still struggling to find a place,” Yoshida-Travers said. “At one of them, many families are flying in for a birthday party from different parts of the country. Fortunately, everyone involved has understood and been supportive of us.”