Friday, March 26, 1999
Keeping an Eye on the Big Picture
While town officials wrestle with a town deficit of $500K due to overruns in the budget, and library trustees prepare for a Special Town Meeting on April 7 to ask taxpayers to provide additional funds to meet the ever-rising cost of the planned library expansion, there are state and local issues that Carlisle residents should not lose track of.
Two weeks ago, on March 11, I had the opportunity to attend MAGIC's Spring Breakfast with Legislators. The Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination (MAGIC) is made up of a representative selectman and a planning board member from neighboring towns. Carlisle is represented by selectman Vivian Chaput and Planning Board member Kate Reid. The discussions this day brought up some very important issues that have a direct bearing on the communities in this area, including Carlisle.
Legislators and representatives were there that morning to discuss the privatization being considered for the widening of Route 3. Of special concern was what private contractors might do with development rights at Route 3 intersections and air rights over the routewould this lead to more suburban sprawl? And would the widening of Route 3 lead to fewer automobiles finding short-cuts through towns such as Carlisle? One wonders why the state isn't trying to expand mass transportation in this area or, for example, establish Park & Drive lots in Tewksbury near the New Hampshire border.
Also on the agenda was the discussion of opposition by East Boston residents to building an additional runway at Logan Airport and a look at alternative airports, including Hanscom Field in Bedford. Traffic at Logan now brings 27 million passengers through the airport annually and is expected to jump to 40 million in the next 15 years. The towns of Bedford, Concord, and Lincoln are especially concerned about this issue. Carlisle should be too.
School funding and special ed was another topic on the agenda, one which representative Pam Resor felt was of critical importance to the state at this time. Governor Cellucci is threatening to divert $70 million from state funds that should be going into local school budgets. A town like Carlisle with such high MCAS scores, will be a magnet for families looking for a good school system for their children. What will happen to our school budget with more and more families moving to town?
The lack of Chapter 90 funds for road repair and bridge building drew the attention of the group. The money earmarked for these projects, some of which have been in the works for 15 years, is now being channeled into the Big Dig in Boston. Also, the "mansionization "of local towns was briefly touched on.
So what can an ordinary citizen do looking at the big picture? "Use the political process," says selectman Chaput. She suggests a call to state senator Susan Fargo and state representative Carol Cleven expressing an opinion as to how the region should develop. Ask our representatives to take the longer view, not just grasp at an easy solution.
What happens on Route 3, the runway at Logan Airport, funding for education, the backlog of unfunded projects under Chapter 90, no planning for mass transportation and the "mansionization" of our towns affects each one of us. We need to speak out. These are the problems affecting all of the communities in the area and we need to work together to find the best solutions.
The Real Thing
When asked "What is your occupation?" we generally describe what occupies most of our time. [Occupy: to engage, absorb, engross, involve, fill in or fill up.] We may be occupied making money to provide for a family, to acquire real estate or useful possessions or perhaps to fund particular interests. We may be occupied in raising and training people, valued animals or growing things. We may spend time cleaning and maintaining.
When we are done with all this, we look for something to engage our considerable human intelligence and provide exercise of a different sort. Computers and television can be fascinating and have their place in our lives, but there is something yet more thrilling, and that is The Real Thing.
The clue to effective exercise is regularly scheduled workouts. Weekly outings with the local bicycle, hiking, walking or birding group fill the bill. Different people and environments provide mental vacation time, and exercise recognizes different muscles and makes the break from weekly 9-5 business.
To entertain the mind, enlarge the spirit, and commune with the best of other civilizations, you cannot do better than to pick the real flower of the human mind the Arts. The exercise of putting on different clothes, going to a different location and experiencing a completely different milieu is enlightening and refreshing to the soul. If you aren't achieving the minimum of seeing an art show or attending a play or a concert once a month you are letting the excitement of the world slip by. You are losing that which is precious. What's grand is that the costs are minimal. I'm talking about local professional excellence, not a grand tour to the Met, the MoMA, the BSO or even the MFA. Close by are art galleries, concerts and repertory theaters of real professional quality which are free, almost free, or accept voluntary donations.
Check your Real Thing score (one point for each): Have you been to Powers Art Gallery in Acton (corner 27 and 2A), The Depot Square Gallery (Lexington Center), The Worcester Art Gallery (smaller than the MFA, with a real 12th century chapel and the largest collection of ancient mosaics in the U.S.), the Brush Art Gallery (in the Boot Mill complex, Lowell), the Concord Art Association, the Lexington Arts & Crafts Society, an Emerson Umbrella exhibit or Open House, a Savoyards performance (Corey), a Merrimack Rep stage play (Lowell), an Early Music performance (FRS), a JGP Scholarship Fund concert (FRS, CCC or Concord Academy), a Concord Players offering (51 Walden), the Concord Youth Theatre (40 Stow St. Concord)??? A score of 4 out of 13 is a good start! Did you know art galleries at Boston University, Brandeis, Wellesley College and the Museum of our National Heritage in Lexington have changing exhibits and are free? Student/faculty/visiting artist concerts at the Longy School of Music or at the New England Conservatory are often free too, and happen during the week as well as weekends in small spaces where you can meet the performers!
Find a friend and plan one expedition per month. You'll be a conversational wizard and culturally renewed. The Real Thing is so much more exhilarating than a superb CD copy, and you'll have exercise getting out of your burrow. When you've got the habit, aim for the Rockport Art Association and galleries, Newbury Street, Portland Art Museum in Maine, the Farnsworth, the Isabella Stewart Gardner and the galleries of Smith, Mt. Holyoke, and Williams Colleges, MIT, the Fogg, and the myriad of small (free) galleries listed in Gallery Guide. They're the Real Thing.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito