Friday, May 1, 1998

Carlisle's 'rural character'—What does it mean?

by Marilyn Harte

Over and over again we hear and we read the phrase, "the need to preserve Carlisle's rural character." What is it that people mean when they talk about Carlisle's rural character, wondered one of the Mosquito's typesetters the other day in the office? A good question, I thought, and to find out the answer, I stood outside the Carlisle Post Office on Monday morning and interviewed a random group of Carlisle residents as they went in and out of the post office.

The questions I asked were the following: "We read in the newspaper and hear people talk about preserving Carlisle's rural character. What does preserving Carlisle's rural character mean to you? How can Carlisle preserve its rural character?" Here is what I learned.

Jeannine Driscoll, Indian Hill Road—"It's pretty simple. Rural character means leaving Carlisle just the way it is. I just took a walk down Russell Street and School Street and I was impressed with how lucky I am to be living here; how beautiful the flowers were and the wonderful open space."

"The way to preserve the rural character of the town is to pay attention to conservation land. We need to elect selectmen who care about the rural character of the town. And we need people to attend Town Meeting and to keep involved."

See RURAL on page 15

Katharine Bell, Maple Street—"It's in the planning. It comes down to approving designs for the development of the community, rather than the needs of the developer or the homeowner. What I'm saying is that the primary concern should be for the community, not the developer."

"Planning, especially when near the center of town, should be toward a walking community, not a driving one. At least we should try to go in that direction. It's silly to have to drive from the bank to the post office."


Steve Kirk, Westford Street—"Rural character means trying to keep as much open space and farmland, like the O'Rourke land, as possible. I would like to see the Sorli land preserved. I'm from Washington D.C. and I'm fascinated by the stone walls and wooden houses here in Carlisle. I bought pumpkins from Mr. Sorli [on Westford Street] and learned about the long tradition in Carlisle of maintaining the rural character. When I moved here I was attracted to the way Carlisle looked."

"To preserve its rural character the town should keep on doing what it has been doing."

Eunice Knight, Bedford Road—"Rural character means being able to walk on wooded trails and seeing open fields as I drive by. Most of all it's being able to enjoy native plants and wildlife."

"Carlisle can preserve its rural character through long-range planning and homeowners putting conservation restrictions on their land."

Margaret Baltz Darling, West Street—"The rural character means more than keeping the town rural. The people are the most important ingredient."

"We are already going a long way in preserving the rural character because of town policies. I don't see the same degree of involvement or real love of the town in other communities. People feel they are in the loop here in Carlisle."

Mark Snyder, Bedford Road—"It's a vista thing. It's what you see driving through town—fields, farms, a lack of visible housing density. The trick is hiding [the houses] in the bushes. I'm an advocate of cluster zoning—it's a trade off."

"There's no simple solution to preserving Carlisle's rural character. We have to accept change."

Bob Hilton, Lowell Street—"I just happen to live in the village [center] and preserving its rural and historic character is most important to me. Keeping trails which connect things and preserving open space and conservation land, these are important."

"Conservation, preserving the village and the trails are all necessary for preserving the rural character of this town. Maintaining diversity in town is important too."

Diane Cuccinello, East Street—"I moved here last Fourth of July. We moved here because of the rural character of the town. There was a feeling of sanctuary; a tremendous amount of privacy from the outside world, but with a sense of commonality."

"People are the town. When it's not broke, why fix it? I don't want to see Carlisle change. I love it for what it is. It's like a village. Change is inevitable, but I hope it will be minimal."


Susan Smith, Curve Street—"Carlisle's rural character means a great deal to me. I hate to see all the changes coming. I just hope we can control it." "How can Carlisle preserve its rural character? By restricting building and making sure what is built is in character with the rest of the town and by preserving two-acre zoning."

Cheryl Finn, East Street—"The rural character is why I moved here [from Newton]. It feels like a little piece of Vermont close to Boston. I would hate to have it change. Then I'd have to move to Vermont."

"The way to preserve the rural character is to buy up as much open land as possible. Preserving barns is a nice idea."