Petition calls for referendum for hockey-heavy Andover Community Center expansion

The Andover Community Center features a number of amenities including three basketball courts and an ice rink. More than 14 years after it was built, city leaders are now seriously weighing the option to expand.

“Is it our decision to meet the needs of the community?” said Andover Mayor Julie Trude. “I think that it is.”

The plan, which would be funded primarily by taxpayers, calls for a number of additions including an indoor track, a fourth basketball court, and another ice rink that can be converted to turf. The estimated price tag is $17.9 million.

“I think that people elect us to make decisions reflecting what the needs of the community are,” said Mayor Trude. “I just want to take care of the kids and families.”

Costs passed down to the average homeowner will create an increase of around $100 in taxes a year.

“Just because it’s legal to do an expansion and abatement bond, doesn’t make it right,” said Twila Hauck-Martin, a former mayoral candidate. “You should ask your taxpayers for the money instead of taking it.”

Hauck-Martin, who ran as a write-in candidate in the mayoral race, believes the expansion favors one group only.  

“Two-thirds of the expense for this expansion is for the hockey rink,” said Hauck-Martin. “So, I think that’s very favorable for hockey. And it doesn’t serve the other sports well.”

Stirring the debate, Hauk-Martin informed city leaders Tuesday night that she’s launching a petition to call for a referendum.

“People just want to vote, people want a voice,” she said.

The Andover City Council has yet to vote on the plan. So far, more than 1,100 signatures have been collected for the petition.