The Shawsheen River is a hidden jewel that meanders its way through our Town. Its clear water and rich history and wildlife are often obscured from view as its flows through Andover. When asked, many longtime residents were unaware of how special this water body is, and even fewer could locate it on the map. The Shawsheen River Master Plan’s goal is to raise the awareness of the Shawsheen River and its many treasures in our community.
The Master Plan will collect and present existing and newly acquired information about the River and its relationship to the Town. Public input from the community will be gathered to inform a conceptual design vision for the River corridor in Andover. A graphically-rich publication geared toward communicating the Master Plan to municipal staff, elected officials, and the public will be crafted. Long range goals of the plan include outlining projects and the next steps for moving the Town toward implementation of the vision for the River corridor in Andover.
The Shawsheen River is a vital element of Andover’s identity. The Town’s industrial heritage is closely tied to the Shawsheen River, as is the community’s ability to adapt to future climate impacts. Flooding along the Shawsheen River has caused significant damage in Andover at least four times since 2007, but the river also provides significant recreational, social, and aesthetic benefits to the Town. As Andover approaches its 375th Anniversary, the time is right to develop a vision for the River corridor that will enable the Town to capitalize on the River’s value and to improve access to and engagement with the River’s many beneficial services. Simultaneously, the time is also right to plan for future community resiliency to protect the Town’s natural resources and to prevent flood damage to the built environment surrounding the River.
The Shawsheen River has always been a critical waterway for the Town of Andover. Year to year we have seen an uptick in interest in the River, as well as recreational use of its flows. With removal of the Marland Place and Balmoral dams in 2016 and 2017, the Shawsheen River now flows more naturally through Andover than it has in over 200 years. For migratory fish, River below the Ballardvale dam is now open to the Merrimack River, and hence is an unbroken reach of water the Atlantic Ocean. As a result, river herring and other wildlife are using this special natural corridor through Andover in greater numbers. With the town focusing more on the River, this proposal is for a Master Plan to examine the increased use of the river as a recreational and aesthetic resource while also protecting and preserving the River for future generations of Andover residents.