October 16, 2023
- Select Board calls a Special Town Meeting, prompted by a resident petition, for November 20 at 7:00 PM; and
- Votes to add two-part article to Special Town Meeting warrant that contemplates the appropriation of funds for schematic design of the full Andover High School building project and an interim approach.
ANDOVER, MA – The Andover Select Board met on Monday, October 16 in the School Committee Conference Room at the Andover Public Schools Administrative Offices. The warrant and other logistics of a resident-petitioned special town meeting were central topics of discussion during the meeting. The Board voted to hold the special town meeting on November 20 at 7:00 PM, and added a two-part warrant article seeking funds for schematic design of the full Andover High School building project and an interim approach.
Beyond actions related to the special town meeting, the Board addressed safety concerns at a critical intersection, approved the appointment of a new Chief Assessor, and approved a calendar for the 2024 Town Election and Annual Town Meeting.
Special Town Meeting
The Town Clerk’s Office received a resident petition for a special town meeting, signed by the requisite 200 registered voters, on Wednesday, October 11. Under Massachusetts General Law, the meeting must be held within 45 days of receipt of the petition. The Board voted to call the special town meeting for November 20, 2023. The meeting will take place at 7:00 PM at Andover High School. Additional information will be shared in the coming weeks.
The availability of meeting spaces and the Thanksgiving holiday placed significant limitations on viable meeting dates within the required timeframe.
The warrant for the special town meeting will contain seven articles, including six resident-sponsored “private” articles and the two-part article approved by the Select Board relative to design funding for the High School building project.
The Board will met briefly on Wednesday, October 18 to sign the warrant. The warrant can be viewed online at andoverma.gov/townmeeting, and available in the Town Clerk’s Office.
High School Building Project Article
In recent months, the Select Board has conducted a thorough process to review a request from the Andover High School Building Committee (SBC) to call a special town meeting to vote on the appropriation of $1.3 million for the schematic design of a full building replacement project.
On September 27, a Quad Board Meeting was held to examine the financial impact of the proposed project. An additional meeting focused on educational considerations was held on Wednesday, October 18.
During the September 27 meeting, a potential “interim approach” for Andover High School was presented where the Town would make short-term investments in the existing facility to address some of its most significant deficiencies while fiscal conditions improve for a future full-scale building replacement. The interim approach was developed in response to requests for an alternative to the full-scale replacement option that would serve as a bridge to a future project, preserve the Town’s bond rating, make investments that extend beyond the life of the existing building, and alleviate overcrowding in the immediate term.
The submission of the resident petition for a special town meeting and the requirement that it be held within 45 days accelerated the Select Board’s process of assessing the financial impact information presented to the 9/27 Quad Board and reaching a determination on how to proceed with the project.
On Monday, the Board voted to insert a two-part article on the special town meeting warrant that would seek an appropriation of $1.3 million to fund the schematic design of the full project, consistent with the SBC’s original request, and an additional appropriation of $500,000 to develop the interim approach.
During discussion of these articles, Chair Melissa Danisch provided an overview of the Select Board’s involvement in the high school project dating back to early 2022. In February 2022, information provided to the Board by the SBC estimated that the cost of a full-scale project would range for $260 million to $294 million. In April, the SBC voted to recommend the “Campus 2 with Auditorium” design, a new construction option that includes a new auditorium. The initial estimated cost of the project was $480,874,000, based on a cost analysis conducted during the feasibility phase.
The significant increase in the total project cost and resulting financial impacts, including a potential downgrade to the Town’s bond rating, has been the impetus for the Board considering an interim approach and ultimately advancing funding for its design to Town Meeting. The Select Board did not take a position on both or either design funding warrant articles. The Board simply placed the articles on the special town meeting warrant.
Annual Town Meeting Schedule
The Board reviewed and voted to approve a calendar for the 2024 Town Election and Annual Town Meeting presented by Deputy Town Manager and Town Clerk Austin Simko.
Annual Town Meeting will begin on April 29, 2024 at 7:00pm, and will be held at the Collins Center for the Performing Arts at Andover High School. The warrant will open on Monday, October 23.
The Town Election will be held on Tuesday, March 26.
Click here to view the full 2024 Annual Town Meeting and Town Election calendar.
- The Board voted to change the intersection of Abbot Street and Phillips Street to an all-way stop. In response to concerns raised by residents, the Town recently contracted with TEC, Inc. (TEC) to conduct a safety assessment of the intersection. The report produced by TEC recommended changing the intersection to an all-way stop, stating that it would significantly enhance accessibility and safety. The move was also approved by the Town’s transportation working group.
- The Board approved a consent agenda with several appointments by the Town Manager, including the appointment of Tristan Hoare as Chief Assessor. Hoare replaces David Billard, who announced his retirement as Chief Assessor earlier this year after 35 years of service.
- The Board reviewed and voted to approve an application by Eversource Gas to install telemetry cabinets at six locations. Installation of the cabinets is a condition derived from the Department of Public Utilities’ safety assessment of Eversource, prompted by their acquisition of Columbia Gas. The cabinets will support remote pressure monitoring that can detect spikes in the system. Locations were identified in collaboration with the Department of Public Works to minimize their impact to private residences and neighborhoods.
The full meeting can be viewed online through AndoverTV.