Andover residents may have a chance to vote on the fate of the town seal as early as the spring town meeting on May 1, 2023.

Town Manager Andrew Flanagan, who sits on the Andover Town Seal Review Committee, suggested the committee put a “placeholder” article on the spring town meeting warrant, which opens Oct. 22.

“I think we have to be getting close to making a decision on whether or not we’re going to stick with the seal or change it. It doesn’t have to mean what we’re going to change it to, but that we acknowledge some change is needed,” Flanagan said at the committee’s meeting Thursday. “And if it is the decision, we lay out what the next steps are. Because I think that’s going to require a whole new round of public input.”

Last fall, Andover joined several other Massachusetts towns that have reconsidered Native American imagery on their town seals when the select board appointed a Town Seal Review Committee to reevaluate the seal Andover has used since 1951, collect public input and, if warranted, propose a new seal for town meeting approval. The committee’s survey earlier this year drew 1,818 responses that showed people were almost evenly split on whether the town needed to update its seal, which it is required to have under state law.

At Thursday’s meeting, committee members took no action, but scheduled a meeting for Oct. 3 to make a decision on pushing to get the issue on the town meeting warrant. Some members signaled they were behind changing the seal.

“I think we have enough input to go ahead with the change,” committee member John Hess said. “Even the people who like it, when you read into their comments, their opinion is not based on the facts.”

Last month, held its first public forum, which was described as its “first opportunity….to hear in-person input.” The committee invited Paul and Denise Pouliot, the head male and female speakers of the Pennacook Band of Abenaki People, to address the forum and heard a presentation on the history of the seal from Elaine Clements of the Andover Center For History and Culture, who also serves on the committee.

Andover’s seal depicts Cutshamache, a Pennacook leader who appeared in court in Boston on May 16, 1646, to acknowledge he had sold the land that became Andover to John Woodbridge for six pounds, a coat and the right for Pennacook people to continue fishing in the area. The image of Cutshamache was adopted when Andover updated its seal in 1899 was based on the design in a pin (above photo) a local jeweler sold for the town’s 250th anniversary in 1896. That first seal was designed by William Foster, who was 13 at the time and went on to become an artist.

Discover more from Andover News

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading