The select board began finalizing town meeting’s decision to opt-in to a state law allowing the town to reduce the speed limit to 25 MPH from 30 MPH on most roads in town.

The select board could hold a public hearing and make a decision on how speed limits will be changed in Andover as early as the next meeting on Sept. 26. On Monday, Andover Police Chief Patrick Keefe outlined the pros and cons of adopting the lower speed limit or applying it on a street-by-street basis.

In the town-wide option, the town wide speed limit would be 25 MPH unless otherwise posted, and signs reflecting the limit would be posted on roads at Andover’s borders. Under the street-by-street option, residents could request the lower speed limit and the police department would conduct a study and make a recommendation to approve or deny the request to the select board, which would have final approval.

Keefe said the Massachusetts Department of Transportation recommends adopting the town-wide option.

So far, 62 Massachusetts towns have opted into the law, including 54 that adopted the town-wide version. The eight that have done it on a street by street basis include Danvers and Billerica. Keefe said the advantages of street-by-street is the speed limit is more effective because the signs remind drivers to slow down.

Simko returns, gets raise

Andover’s new town clerk is also its former town clerk.

The select board approved Town Manager Andrew Flanagan’s recommendation to rehire Austin Simko as assistant town manager and town clerk. Simko began his new job Wednesday, with an annual salary of $158,000.

Simko, who was named Andover town clerk and chief strategy officer in July 2018 with a starting annual salary of $120,000. Simko left last September to accept a position as chief operating officer at Andover-based Doherty Insurance, which is owned by Andover Moderator Sheila M. Doherty.

Assistant town manager Patrick Lawlor has been serving as acting town clerk since Melissa Ripley resigned in August after less than a year in the position. The board also approved Flanagan’s recommendation to name Lawlor chief financial officer effective Oct. 1 at a salary of $158,000 per year. Lawlor, who is the town’s first CFO, was originally hired in 2019 at an annual salary of $76,000.

Pandemic increased demand for senior services in Andover

Monday’s meeting was held at the Robb Senior Center as part of the select board’s program of holding meetings at different locations around town. Elder Service director Jane Burns gave an overview of the center and her department’s work to start the meeting, and said the coronavirus pandemic increased need among Andover’s senior citizens.

“It’s not all fun and games here,” Burns said after outlining some of the 50 programs offered at the Robb Center each week. “Our social workers have been very busy…we’re also seeing increased food insecurity.”

In addition to increased home visits, the center has partnered with the Merrimack Valley YMCA’s mobile food market and has been giving residents coupons for the Andover Farmers Market.

More Coverage Of Monday’s Select Board Meeting

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By Dave Copeland

Dave Copeland is an Andover resident who started Andover News in the summer of 2022. Copeland is the regional manager for Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island for Patch.com, but Andover News is independent and in no way affiliated with Patch.com. Copeland has worked in journalism for more than 25 years. Before joining Patch in 2017, he worked for several newspapers and news organizations, including Dow Jones, the Boston Globe and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He is the author of Blood & Volume: Inside New York's Israeli Mafia (Barricade Books, 2007). Copeland and his wife have two young daughters and have lived in Andover since June 2018. See www.davecopeland.com for more information.

2 thoughts on “Select Board Notebook: Andover Debates How To Adopt 25 MPH Speed Limit”
  1. Saw on the 9/12/22,SB agenda that our new CFO ( Patrick Lawlor) has yet another raise and title.
    Here are his salary figures from the Town’s payroll link:
    2019 $79,000
    2020 104,000
    2021 110,000
    2022 114,000
    2023 158,000
    Not bad—doubled his salary in 4 years. Guess it pays off to be the broom sweeper for your unethical boss Andrew Flanagan.
    How does this happen?
    Where is the oversight from the SB?
    CFO—first time anyone ever held this position. Where did this authorization and $ come from? Sure was not approved by the voters at the Town Meeting.
    No accountability…No transparency.

  2. It is worth noting that Mr. Lawlor’s appointment as CFO is a replacement for the former “Director of Finance” position. The previous staff member holding that position had a salary of $154,000 in 2022. While this appointment represents a substantial pay increase for Mr. Lawlor, his salary is likely lower than the FY23 salary for the previous employee in that position.

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