Friday, January 15, 1999
Finance committee hearings begin next week and with the sizable initiatives planned for Town Meeting, residents are advised to follow the news and attend hearings leading up to what could be a three-session Town Meeting.
Town department budgets, proposals and recommendations are now in process so it's a good time for public input and the scope of the projects this year, in particular, warrant due consideration.
Final numbers are not available for most proposals but officials are bandying about some estimates. One request which will come as no surprise is a request, probably in excess of $1 million from the library trustees for the renovation and expansion of the Gleason Building. Then there will be the request for $1.8 million for the 43-acre Wang-Coombs property, which proponents are hoping will, in essence, be a recycling of the O'Rourke Farm funds.
A unique initiative, still very much in process, is a possible $5-10 million serial bond proposal from the municipal land committee which would give officials permission to proceed on land acquisitions which meet specific criteria. The committee intends to outline their plan at a February 1 public hearing, allowing plenty of time for revisions before the April Town Meeting.
Officials are still considering acquisition of some portion of the White property, situated in the town center next to the library, which is currently for sale.
The RecCom revealed a wish list in January which listed items from field maintenance to a part-time administrator to a recreation center.
Then there are lower ticket items which include Year 2000 software because the town accounting package will be useless after this year. Also, as is more typical, requests are anticipated for school program extensions and long-term capital needs.
Although there is not expected to be an associated cost this year, officials are expecting some recommendations for bylaw changes. And last but not least, there may be a request from the housing authority to fund a feasiblity study for affordable housing.
Quite a list! Perhaps if the community can stay abreast of these issues
and provide input early in the process, there will be some hope that
Town Meeting voters can make well-informed choices on appropriate proposals
in an expeditious manner.
I've always been anti-car. Growing up in a New Jersey suburb, I staked out some measure of adolescent independence by riding my bicycle everywhere I needed to go. Some years later, after college graduation, my good friend Jimi and I embarked on a walk across the United States. By the end of the summer, after getting only as far as Waynesboro, Virginia, we were out of both money and enthusiasm. But the following summer we notched up the technology, trading our back packs for panniers and our feet for bicycles. We headed out from Boston in early June and by Labor Day I arrived, alone, in San Francisco. Jimi had met his future wife in Coos Bay, Oregon.
For the next seven years, I lived in Somerville and got to know everyone on the street by walking back and forth to the supermarket. For longer trips it was cheaper and easier to continue riding a bicycle rather than buying a car. Eventually, a full-time job outside of Route 128 created my first need for a car. As a result, my biking became mostly recreational. Freed of the necessity of using the bicycle as a practical means of transportation, I sought refuge from the automobile by bicycling through the woodlands.
Living in Carlisle provides plenty of opportunities to ride on car-free trails. But from my walking and bicycling adventures of years past, I know that walking is the better way to meet people, especially in or near the center of towns. Here in Carlisle we have a wonderfully picturesque town center, but the easiest and safest way to get there is by car. Bicycling as an alternative is more dangerous because you're sharing the rather narrow right of way with automobiles. The same is true of walking. The imminent connection of the Town Hall with the Police Station via a paved path is the first step in the right direction.
As we build more paths from the center of town outwards in all directions, we make it easier to travel back and forth to a common ground. My wife and I walk to the library on spring, summer and fall evenings. But we rarely encounter anyone except those who wave from a passing car. Perhaps we can build woodland trails traversable on foot and mountain bike connecting outlying parts of Carlisle with the network of upcoming paved walking paths paralleling our major streets into the town center. I believe this is one of the most important investments we can make in building our sense of community. The recent proposal to narrow East Street to reduce vehicle speeds and increase safety might also be seen as an opportunity to create a valuable pedestrian path.
There is no better way to make acquaintances than by walking in one's own community. Carlisle has the financial and natural resources to create a wonderful infrastructure of pedestrian paths into the town center that will be enjoyed far into the next millennium.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito