Shawsheen River Master Plan

Shawsheen River MP Logo-01

The Shawsheen River is a hidden jewel that meanders its way through Andover, but its clear water, rich history, and wildlife are often obscured from view. When asked, many longtime residents were unaware of how special this water body is, and even fewer could locate it on the map. The Shawsheen River Master Plan’s goal is to raise the awareness of the Shawsheen River and its many treasures in our community.

The Master Plan will collect and present both existing and newly acquired information about the River and its relationship to the Town. Public input from the community will be gathered to inform a conceptual design vision for the River corridor in Andover. A graphically-rich publication geared toward communicating the Master Plan to municipal staff, elected officials, and the public will then be crafted. Long range goals of the plan include outlining projects and the next steps for moving the Town toward implementation of the vision for the River corridor in Andover.

The Shawsheen River is a vital element of Andover’s identity. The Town’s industrial heritage is closely tied to the Shawsheen River, as is the community’s ability to adapt to future climate impacts.  Flooding along the Shawsheen River has caused significant damage in Andover at least four times since 2007, but the river also provides significant recreational, social, and aesthetic benefits to the Town. As Andover approaches its 375th Anniversary, the time is right to develop a vision for the River corridor that will enable the Town to capitalize on the River’s value and to improve access to and engagement with the River’s many beneficial services. Simultaneously, the time is also right to plan for future community resiliency to protect the Town’s natural resources and to prevent flood damage to the built environment surrounding the River.

The Shawsheen River has always been a critical waterway for the Town of Andover. Year to year we have seen an uptick in interest in the River, as well as recreational use of its flows. With removal of the Marland Place and Balmoral dams in 2016 and 2017, the Shawsheen River now flows more naturally through Andover than it has in over 200 years. For migratory fish, River below the Ballardvale dam is now open to the Merrimack River, and hence is an unbroken reach of water the Atlantic Ocean. As a result, river herring and other wildlife are using this special natural corridor through Andover in greater numbers. With the town focusing more on the River, this proposal is for a Master Plan to examine the increased use of the river as a recreational and aesthetic resource while also protecting and preserving the River for future generations of Andover residents.

Shawsheen River Master Plan draft presentation announcement

Shawsheen Master Plan Presentation_4.10

Shawsheen Master Plan Documents

Kickoff Meeting on January 25th, 2022

Community Meeting on August 10th, 2022

Shawsheen River Master Plan Community Meeting on September 22, 2022


Shawsheen River Master Plan Task One: Community Feedback Overview

Following the virtual kickoff meeting on January 25th, the following document was created to compile the valuable community feedback that was gathered from the session's breakout groups. In addition to an overview of the public comments that were received during the event, this document also shares additional comments from community organizations and leaders on various aspects of the Shawsheen River. Lastly, the document synthesizes public comments gathered from a survey posted at Andover's public boat launches to capture feedback on recreational opportunities or improvements desired by the community along the Shawsheen. 

Shawsheen River Master Plan Task One

Kickoff Meeting January 25, 2022