The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 12, 1999


Committee begins to revise town report which ranks open space

Every seat in the Heald conference room at Town Hall was taken March 4 as the subcommittee charged with updating Carlisle's Open Space and Recreation Plan opened its first workshop session. Particularly notable was the fact that nearly all official and non-official attendees arrived with pencils sharpened, ready to go to work.

The first step in revising the document had already been taken by conservation commission subcommittee designees Susan Emmons and Betsy Fell, who had prepared worksheets listing all relatively undeveloped parcels of ten acres or more that remain in private hands. A number of properties that appeared in the original 1994 state-mandated plan had been dropped owing to development, purchase by public entities, or placement under conservation restriction.

Twelve values

The detailed worksheets constituted a grid with the properties listed vertically. Aligned across the page horizontally were 12 columns representing "values" that were to be assigned to each property on a scale of one to four. The assignment for the evening was to fill in the grid with the correct value numbers for each property. These would be used later in the process to rank the 76 parcels as to their priority for future town planning.

Three values were given double weight, namely vista, linkage to other protected land, and the presence of endangered species. The nine other categories were: location in the town center, potential linkage to other important parcels, suitability for agriculture, potential for active recreation, location in an area of town having limited open space, water resources, trails, special features whether scenic, historical or recreational, and finally, environmental diversity. The weighting of a "size" category was left for future discussion.

Present to tackle the evaluation task in addition to Fell, Emmons and five conservation commission members, were selectman Vivian Chaput; Steve Tobin and Louise Hara of the trails committee; Mark Spears from the recreation committee; Art Milliken, president of the Carlisle Conservation Foundation; and five or six other knowledgeable citizens.

A reference and resource

The Open Space and Recreation Plan, which was first developed in 1979 and revised in 1987 by the late Kay Kulmala and approved at the next Town Meeting, has served as a major reference and resource whenever the town is faced with critical decisions concerning land acquisition. In addition to the careful ranking of significant undeveloped parcels, the document gives general information about the community, its ambiance and salient characteristics. It describes protected lands and natural features and proposes a five-year plan for protection of open space and preservation of land with a potential for either passive recreation (hiking, cross-country skiing, biking) or active recreation (baseball, soccer, tennis).

The plan is required when a town applies for state grants, and it must be updated every five years. It's worth noting that the 1994 edition, also developed by Emmons and Fell, received high praise from the state authorities who judge a town's critical applications.

1999 The Carlisle Mosquito