Friday, June 4, 1999
Selectmen consider loose ends after Annual Town Meeting
Convening for the first time after Town Meeting and the election which returned incumbents John Ballantine and Vivian Chaput to the board, the selectmen on May 25 picked up some loose threads that were left dangling after the town-wide assembly of voters.
"Should we start the search for a financial director?" asked Chaput. This question painfully recalled the confusion which dominated the discussion of the town's finances at Town Meeting, and the selectmen unanimously vowed it would not happen again. Chaput suggested a joint meeting of the selectmen, finance committee and town financial personnel to determine how to improve the process next year. Referring to the scope of duties expected of the FinCom and the policy-making role of the selectmen, selectman Michael Fitzgerald said, "We need to decide who has what responsibilities and what they are."
Ballantine updated the board on the progress of the purchase of the Wang-Coombs land, approved by Town Meeting and at the town-wide election. Ballantine reported that, due to details still being negotiated on the limited development portion of the project, the purchase will take place in two parts, as anticipated by the purchase and sale agreement. The first closing will cover the north field and is expected to take place on July 1. In the meantime, Jack Valentine will continue to farm the north field, and the town will assume the landlord's duties under the lease when the land transfer is complete. The Carlisle Land Trust had planned to sell for development three lots on the south field to help pay for the land and is still negotiating whether to consolidate two of the three lots. When these talks are finished, the second half of the closing will occur.
Following up on the topic of affordable housing, a much-discussed subject at Town Meeting, town administrator David DeManche brought to the attention of the board the Planning and Municipal Management grant program. This program, according to materials submitted by DeManche, provides funds for affordable housing strategies to assess needs or develop mechanisms to provide housing for those unable to afford what is currently available or likely to be developed.
Commercialization of center
Finally, reacting to a suggestion brought up at Town Meeting by former selectman Ralph Anderson, selectman Burt Rubenstein queried whether it was time to hold a public hearing to plan for the future of the town center. Rubenstein commented that there seemed to be two camps in town. One favors keeping the town center residential and the other, as exemplified by Anderson, considers further commercialization of the town center as a way to reduce the tax burden, expected to increase substantially from mounting operational costs and almost $10 million in long-term debt. For the time being, selectmen left this loose thread dangling.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito