Why do you live in Carlisle?

What makes an ideal town? The Ideas Forum on June 18 will gather input on townspeople’s needs and priorities for Carlisle’s future. These will be incorporated in the town’s next Master Plan, which in turn will influence future projects and spending. In preparing for the Forum, it may help to think about Carlisle’s strengths as well as its constraints. 

Carlisle’s clean air and water and plentiful open space are among the small town’s best assets. Families can wander trails at the Cranberry Bog, climb Castle Rock, cross-country ski at Great Brook Farm State Park or canoe in the Concord River. At the same time, Carlisle is close enough to Boston for people to enjoy the broader range of activities available in the city. One intangible asset is the town’s sense of community. A range of intergenerational activities and celebrations bring people together and foster a sense of belonging. Recent examples are the Memorial Day Observances, the Multicultural Festival and last week’s Race Amity Day picnic on the Town Common. Two additional celebrations are coming up soon—the Strawberry Festival on June 21 and Old Home Day on June 23. 

On the other hand, the town’s desirability has driven up land prices, and that, combined with the growing tax burden, has reduced Carlisle’s economic diversity. Building affordable housing would help financially stressed local residents as well as address a regional housing shortage. Other changes might also be worth considering. For instance, no one moves here for the public transportation, yet many later find that they would welcome the convenience. What about more services for seniors, or more recreational or cultural facilities? And what should be done with the unused Highland Building?

The challenge is to puzzle out what is the best way to preserve the town’s natural resources and add amenities that would raise the quality of life for the majority, while limiting tax increases that will harm the quality of life for some. Is it better to change the town by pumping up development to lower taxes, or to allow the attrition of young adults and fixed-income retirees? Are alternatives available? 

Carlisle is a wonderful place in which to live, largely due to the foresight and stewardship of past residents. As people look ahead, it is important to understand which aspects of the town are most highly valued, and then prioritize goals for the future so as not to inadvertently damage those characteristics that make the town such a treasure. What do you value most about the town? Come share your perspective at the Ideas Forum on Monday, June 18. It starts at 6 p.m. in the Carlisle School cafeteria—there will be childcare available as well as pizza and refreshments. ∆