ANDOVER — The town will build new baseball and soccer fields on a former vegetable farm if Town Meeting agrees to spend $425,000 for the project.
Andover bought a 13-acre farm at 15 Blanchard St. for $2.1 million in 2007, and plans to build three Little League fields and one multiuse athletic field there.
Town Meeting will be May 26 and 27 at 7 p.m. at the Andover High School Field House. If necessary, a third night is scheduled May 28 at the Collins Center for the Performing Arts at 7 p.m.
The ball field complex, which will include a parking lot and concession stand, is expected to cost about $1.5 million, according to Andover Plant and Facilities Director Joe Piantedosi.
The bulk of the remaining money needed for the project will be raised privately by the Andover Little League and Andover Soccer Association, Piantedosi said.
"I think both organizations are prepared for it," said Andover Little League President Len Farris. "We know in these times that the youth leagues have to step forward, too."
Farris said the Andover Little League expects to contribute between $300,000 and $600,000 for the field complex over the next three to four years.
The Andover Soccer Association will contribute $100,000, including $50,000 on July 1 if the warrant article is approved at Town Meeting, according to the association's president, Carl Grygiel.
"I think this is a huge step in the right direction to create a new, dedicated place for youth sports," said Grygiel.
Both the Little League and soccer association play a portion of their games at Deyermond Field, which was built atop the former town landfill that will be recapped in either 2010 or 2011.
"There's a time crunch on this," said Piantedosi. "This (new field complex) needs to be in line or there are going to be a lot of kids with no place to play."
Piantedosi said the town plans to spend $30,000 to mediate a pesticide in the farm's topsoil before the fields are built. In 2007, town consultants found the banned pesticide Dieldrin over a 2.6-acre portion of the farm, but told the selectmen it would be safe to build playing fields there.
Piantedosi said the farm's rich soil and good drainage make it an ideal location, he said.
"You could not have a better site for the fields," said Piantedosi. "This is going to be, bar none, the best field in Andover when we get done."