Andover selectman Alex Vispoli was the first ever guest on an Andover Patch live chat lunch. He touched on several town issues and a couple that will be addressed at Town Meeting. Here are some highlights of the chat.
Andover Patch: What do you think is one of the biggest issues affecting the town right now?
Alex Vispoli: For the upcoming Town Meeting, one of the largest decisions for the residents attending town meeting will be a solution to the town yard replacement. The buildings that currently house town yard were built in the '60's and are well beyond their useful life. Several years ago, one of the buildings had to be removed because it was structurally unsound.
The current configuration of the town yard does not support today's needs with over 220 miles of roadways, field maintenance, vehicle maintenance.This complex is critical in our ability to maintain our transportation infrastructure, school facilities, playing fields, water infrastructure, and emergency response.
The proposal being discussed in articles 18 and 19 on the warrant proposes that the town yard be moved to another location off of River Rd. This would free up the current location of town yard for potential commercial development.
Comment from Angry Bill: What is your feeling about keeping the current location? it seems to appear that it is expensive solution to move it.
Alex Vispoli: Thanks Bill. The decision with what to do with town yard will certainly revolve around cost. All options need to be weighed by the voters. There are long term potential advantages by opening up the property where the town yard currently resides. But it becomes a long term strategy.
Comment from Frank: What do you think of all the business moving out of the downtown? Does this worry you?
Alex Vispoli: Thank you for your question Frank. We're always concerned when a business leaves any part of Andover. During business cycles over the past 15+ years businesses have come and gone based on market conditions. The town has just formed an economic development council (EDC) made up of large, medium and small businesses in town to develop a plan for retention of businesses in Andover. Additionally Frank, our goal is for Andover to be an easy place to do business with a predictable process and for businesses that look to move into Andover, a mentorship by the EDC for businesses that are interested in moving to Andover.
Comment from Seamus: Do you think the town gets too much money from parking and is sacrificing small business or people shopping locally?
Alex Vispoli: Thank you Seamus. Five years ago when the town and local businesses with the police chief did a analysis of parking rates, the proposal was in line with other towns like Andover. The cost for parking is signifigantly reduced for the lots behind old town ahll and teh lot behind that.
Comment from Terrance: What is the biggest challenge of being part of Andover government? Any projects you would personally like to see through?
Alex Vispoli: Thank you Terrance. Great question. The challenge has been over the past several years with the state of the economy and reduction in local aid to be able to keep the quality of services that residents expect while reducing the cost of delivering those services.
Comment from D: Do you have any insight on the status of the new off ramp between 125 and dascomb? The last I saw Tewksbury wanted to gain the tax benefit of the businesses but didn't want the traffic coming into their town. The number of illegal u-turns off I-93 on Dascomb Road by Tewksbury residents is very aggravating and I think this could alleviate that.
Alex Vispoli: Thank you D. The Town of Andover has been working very closely with Tewksbury and Wilmington on this proposed interchange for the past 8 years. All three towns have agreed to the roadway configuration. The challenge at this point in time is funding. Interstate projects are funded by the Federal Government.
The estimated cost for this interchange is about $180 million. Last week we heard from Congresswoman Tsongas and Congressman Tierney, who both attended the Andover Board of Selectmen meeting last Monday night. From the prospective of the businesses in Andover including Phizer, and Procter and Gamble, and the residents of Ballardvale, this would alleviate the traffic problems that we have seen over the last 10 years on teh local roads.