EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

June 5, 2013

Atkinson leaders want new community center

ATKINSON — The Community Center won’t be reopening anytime soon. In fact, it may be razed.

Town officials have decided to pursue building a new community center to replace the current one, which is in disrepair.

The town had hoped to find money in this year’s budget to repair the popular community center, but have now set their sights on a new building.

“The budget is so tight that we don’t have the funds to fix the existing building,” Selectman Todd Barbera said. “We are going to use the time before next year’s election to try and come up with a design and price for the new building.”

The building would be at the same location — 4 Main St. The existing building would be torn down.

There is a contingency plan in case voters at Town Meeting in March don’t agree with selectmen.

Barbera said selectmen will include some $100,000 in next year’s proposed budget for building repairs. Repair estimates are about $160,000.

If voters agree to build a new center, that $100,000 would be used as part of the down payment for the new building.

The town closed the function room at the community center last month after a structural engineer deemed it to unsafe. In the interim, recreation director Noriko Yoshida-Travers has relocated activities to Atkinson Congregational Church, Atkinson Academy and Kimball Library.

But she hasn’t discussed a more permanent location for activities with officials since the community center will remain closed.

“In the summertime, there is usually poor attendance at the community center,” Yoshida-Travers said. “So now is a good time to start planning whatever they want to do.”

Town Administrator Bill Innes said there are plans in the works for more venues.

“We are looking at other larger venues for things like the senior luncheon,” he said. “We have a couple of towns which have offered space to us, and a place in town has also reached out to us.”

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