What’s stopping middle class housing in Carlisle?
To the Editor:
I read with interest Russell Ruthen’s letter in the June 8 “Mosquito,” supporting efforts to attract “middle income families” to Carlisle. After serving for 20 years on the Carlisle Housing Authority, I’ve learned that with the high cost of land in Carlisle and much tougher mortgage eligibility rules, such efforts cannot possibly succeed without state and federal financial subsidies. The great majority of these are now available only to rental housing projects, which the state feels have the best chance of attracting and retaining middle class families so vital to the future of the Massachusetts economy.
Unfortunately, a majority of our current Board of Selectmen (specifically Nathan Brown, Luke Ascilillo and Kerry Kissinger) are adamantly opposed to rental housing in Carlisle. They base their opposition on the premise that the “people of Carlisle” rejected mixed income rental housing at a Town Meeting four years ago. Although it is true that Town Meeting voted in 2014 (by all of 16 votes) not to authorize further study of rental housing, the real issue was a proposal to build that housing on the town-owned Banta-Davis land. That proposal was opposed by the Recreation Commission, which wants to build more ball fields there, and the School Committee, which retains an ownership interest in the property. In a typical parliamentary effort to keep a vote on Banta-Davis from coming to the floor, many people voted against studying rental housing at all. This was by no means a true reflection of the Town’s support or lack thereof for rental housing.
So long as the Selectmen stand in the way of mixed income rental housing that is eligible for state subsidies, there will be no middle class housing in Carlisle now or in the future. No Master Plan will change that.
Vice Chair, Carlisle Housing Authority
Come to Master Planning Workshop
To the Editor:
Carlisle’s Master Planning Workshop on Monday is an important effort to discuss many of the issues confronting the town—housing mix, community center, taxes, town services, schools, transportation, civic connections and conservation—to name but a few. Our town committees and volunteers write terrific, well-researched reports; however, we often find it difficult to agree upon concrete actions.
Housing mix and a community center are two challenges that I have worked on for many years. I use the term housing mix, rather than affordable housing because I feel that we should be looking at ways to encourage a mix of housing options in Carlisle and the surrounding towns. We need affordable housing ($300-$600,000) choices for seniors, town employees, and young families (and affordable housing) if we are to remain a vital town. This means looking at our current zoning by-laws – multi-family houses, accessory apartments, and housing clusters – within Carlisle’s septic and water constraints.
Carlisle’s two-acre zoning and conservation acquisitions have shaped a beautiful town – our rurality – so, how can we modify our housing/zoning bylaws as we go forward? Or shall we just hope for friendly 40Bs and conservation clusters like the recently approved Woodward/Doutriaux housing development on Bedford Road? Zoning changes are never easy, nor does Carlisle find “friendly 40Bs” that are acceptable to its neighbors.
Our median housing sales (over $800,000) are beyond the reach of many. Maybe that is the way of the market and current construction costs and we should accept it? Let people find housing in faraway towns. I think not.
A community center that serves all generations in Carlisle has been a dream for many. At the moment, the Library and various spaces around town are cobbled together to meet some of our needs. Our neighboring towns—Chelmsford, Concord, Westford, Bedford—have found creative ways to build community centers (approximately 10,000 square feet for Carlisle) that meet the diverse needs of seniors, children and adults. Of course, this will cost money.
Let us gather on Monday to find workable solutions for our future.
Take part in the OHD Art & Craft Show
To the Editor:
The Old Home Day Art & Craft Show has been getting bigger and better every year and we encourage all Carlisle residents who love to make things to enter their work in the show. The show is open to all ages, levels of experience and accomplishment and materials. The show includes professionals and non-professionals, and it is up to you to decide how you would like to identify yourself. Anyone is welcome to put a price on their pieces. We ask that 10% of sales be donated to the Old Home Day Fund.
The show will be held in Union Hall of the First Religious Society on Saturday, June 23, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. , during Old Home Day. Each person is allowed to enter up to four pieces; $1 donation per piece. Come Friday, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. to register your pieces. Everything that is meant to be hung on a wall must be ready with a wire or hooks so that the team of volunteers can easily hang it on a hook to display. Table space will also be available.
Judging will take place on Friday night to award 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in various age categories, adult professional, adult non-professional and best in show. We are delighted to have James Dyment, Executive Director of the Brush Art Gallery and Studios of Lowell, judging this year. On Saturday all visitors to the show are encouraged to vote for their favorite student piece and their favorite by an adult, for the People’s Choice Award! Artwork pick up is from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
During the show, music will be provided by students and adults who have offered their talent to enhance the experience for visitors. All ages are invited to participate. If you would like to be on the schedule for a few minutes (the piece you have just mastered for a recital?) or much longer, or if you have any questions at all about the Art & Craft Show, please email email@example.com, or call 1-978-287-0049.
Chair, OHD A & C Show
Thanks for a successful Pass It Forward Day
To the Editor:
Thank you to everyone who participated in Pass It Forward Day this past Saturday: to the Carlisle citizens who donated items; to the charities who benefit; to Gary Davis, Tom McConnon and Frank Wojtas for their cooperation and patience with the extra activity at the Transfer Station; to Steve Herbst, who, year after year, transports items from the Transfer Station to my garage so I can sort and distribute over the next several months and to The Mosquito for publicizing the event. All the donated items get used for some good purpose and are delayed in going into the landfill—good for the planet. Thank you all.
Director, Pass It Forward Day
Consider this new electricity program
To The Editor:
I hope all Carlisle residents will consider the new electricity program arranged by the Town. It may save you money and, better yet, help save the planet.
The program is a form of group buying: Carlisle residents band together (“aggregate”) under the Town’s flag, increasing their collective purchasing power to secure an electricity supply agreement on more favorable terms.
The default service under the new program is 100% renewable energy, at a price of just $0.10981 per kWh plus the delivery charge. That’s considerably less than the $0.124 to $0.171 for 100% renewable power available otherwise to individual consumers. It’s even less than the $0.11397 rate charged by Eversource for its 24% renewable/76% fossil fuels mix.
Call it a double-green choice: good for your wallet and good for the planet.
Carlisleans on Eversource’s Basic Service will be switched automatically. But if you’re like me and purchase from a competitive energy supplier, you’ll need to enroll at www.colonialpowergroup.com/carlisle/ or call Colonial Power at 1-866-485-5858. (But first check your current supplier agreement switching terms.)
This program is a great example of something we need more of: a government-initiated, but market-based solution to a complex economic and environmental challenge. The state legislature created the law that allows municipalities to form buying groups on behalf of residents and businesses. Town Administrator Tim Goddard brought the Program to our Board of Selectmen, who sought Town Meeting approval to participate. Then the Selectmen, with input from Goddard and the Energy Task Force, investigated the possibilities and selected the plans to offer.
This policy stimulates three market responses. Intermediaries (such as Carlisle’s broker, Colonial Power Group), see the opportunity and develop attractive service packages for Massachusetts municipalities. Energy generators and resellers compete to capture each town’s business. And as more people opt for renewables, market demand stimulates further innovation and scale economies that help drive renewables costs lower.
All that happens without expenditure of tax dollars…other than that involved with elected and appointed government officials just doing their jobs well.
We could use more innovations like this.