The White Oak Gravel Pit Saga

Answers to questions about ownership of the pit

By Andover Select Board

A lot of people are wondering what is going on with the White Oak Pit so we will try to explain it to you.  The pit was taken for taxes some years back and over time, we decided it would be a good area from which to get our winter sand.
We have been getting our sand there for a number of years saving the town thousands of dollars.  We had to get permission from the State to give us a right-of-way over their property in order to access the pit so as far as we knew everything was fine, but it seems it wasn’t.  The State came to us last year and informed us that they owned the pit and all of the property by the Northern Rail Trail.  They told us we may be able to purchase it from them for around $135,000 but it could be more.  They told us that we were not allowed to take any more sand from the pit except for the sand we already had manufactured.  They then told us we could take more but we had to tell them how many yards we had made so they could bill us, but they didn’t give us a price per yard.  At this point, we felt it was wise to buy our sand from a local supplier because we would at least know what we were paying.
We also noticed that the process that the State uses could take years.  Before they can sell the pit to the Town, they have to offer it to every department in the State.  Any department could claim it and we’d have nothing, if no department claimed it, it would then have to go to the state legislature to get permission to sell.   If it passes the legislature, it has to go to the Governor’s Executive Council to set the price and give their permission then it has to go to the Governor for his signature.  All of this could take anywhere from two to five years, if not longer, so the Select Board decided to look for a new area.  We could buy several years’ worth of good sand supply and also have a good property for the Town to use for other things.  We have found such a place that the owner wishes to sell to us.  We talked with him and for several acres of land and a good sand supply; the price of $100,000 was good.  The reason for looking and finding another property is because if it should take four or five years to deal with the State and at the end not know if we would even end up with the property was disheartening.
First, we may not end up with the property.  Second, in the process of waiting we are going to be spending $40,000 annually to buy sand.  So, if we wait not knowing what will happen we spend at least $200,000 and still might not even have the pit so we became proactive and found a pit with good sand for $100,000 saving over $100,000 over several years.