EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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May 7, 2013

Letter: Youth center sham continues

To the editor:

The only consistent element to believe in with the Andover Youth Foundation is its lack of achievement and credibility.

By the foundation’s estimates the building will cost $5 million, but that doesn’t even include the $3.25 million CIP (capital improvement plan) money being rerouted from work planned at the high school — bringing the cost close to $9 million — and they haven’t broken ground yet.

Now the foundation is looking to grab $645,000 from the Wood Trust Fund. All this expenditure for a glorified basketball court with a state-of-the-art kitchen. The Council on Aging dropped its legitimate concerns about parking, access and use after being promised a piece of the Wood Fund – probably use it to pay for taxis and uniforms for their new three-on-three basketball league at the center.

What you don’t hear is this building can’t be built in this location without major construction involving the drainage system – thus the need for the $3.25 million in CIP money. It’s ridiculous to think you can’t drop a 20,000 square foot building in an area and end up with more parking without something changing.

A school in existence for years not ADA compliant — more to do with the access road they need to handle traffic than the three handicap locations they have now.

The entire process has been a sad example of financial ineptitude, irresponsibility and political manipulation. Andover never supported it at a regular town meeting resulting in the use of special town meeting to push the agenda — with less than one half of one percent of voters making this commitment.

With more thoughtful planning, we could have built a true community center if the town bought and refurbished the property at the top of High Street overlooking Main Street where the Enterprise Bank now sits or we could have developed the property on Park Street where Northmark Bank sits — both with their own parking.

Somehow I think Andover would survive with one fewer bank and we wouldn’t have crippled the ability for the Doherty School to expand in the future.

Rick Gagnon


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