Riverfront conservation land would be unlocked with agreement -, North Andover, MA
Fri, Jan 16 2009

Published: January 05, 2009 12:30 am    PrintThis  

Riverfront conservation land would be unlocked with agreement

By Brian Messenger

ANDOVER — Town Meeting will be asked to approve a land swap and access agreement this spring to unlock 10 acres of conservation land along the Merrimack River.

Public access to the open space is currently obstructed by parcels owned by Phillips Academy and Greater Lawrence Technical School on Heffron Way off River Road.

In exchange for the public access, Phillips Academy hopes to extend underground utilities down Heffron to make improvements to a nearby boathouse.

Greater Lawrence Technical School would be granted access to the street as a cross-country path.

An agreement now being drafted by the town and two schools would allow for unobstructed public access to the conservation land, which is ideal for picnicking, kayaking and bird-watching, according to Andover Conservation Director Bob Douglas.

"It's a great spot," said Douglas. "I think it's been underutilized because of the lack of access to it."

Douglas said Phillips Academy has agreed to pay for the estimated $2 million in road and utility work to bring electricity and water to its boathouse along the Merrimack River.

"It's a substantial capital project," Douglas said.

If approved at Town Meeting, the land swap and access agreements would need approval by the Legislature before taking effect.

Douglas said a subcommittee made up of town Conservation Commission members and representatives from the two schools have drafted a tentative agreement.

Details are currently being worked out by lawyers, he said.

Town Meeting approved a similar agreement on Heffron Way in 1998, but new approval is needed to clear up problems with the language, said Town Planner Jacki Byerly.

"Who's getting what isn't changing from what the town previously voted on," she said.

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