The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 17, 1999

Housing authority responds

To the Editor:

In the September 3 Mosquito one editorial and a letter posed some questions relating to affordable housing development in town. One writer asked about other possible sites for housing. A Banta-Davis siting is unlikely because the space available there is too small. A Wang-Coombs siting is impossible because of the conservation restriction there.

Another writer suggested that since Carlisle has no town water or sewer, we might convince the state that our zoning protects our natural resources and does not simply exclude the less affluent from Carlisle. There is some merit in this idea, and thanks to the work of two geologists in town, Tony Mariano, Jr. and Sr., we have some expert advice in this area. However, Sherborn, a similar town, with no water or sewer service, has been able to safely provide affordable housing. It is not easy to build affordable housing in town, but Lincoln, Sherborn, and others, have shown that it is possible.

Marty Galligan
Carlisle Housing Authority

Experience the Conant Land

To the Editor:

Ahhh, the Conant Land! Of all the open space in Carlisle, the Conant Land is probably one of the most magnificent, most accessible and most widely appreciated. Home of acknowledged archeological sites, magnificent rock outcrops (viz Castle Rock) and delightful northern mixed mesophytic forest, the Conant Land is truly a gem set in the lap of the town.

Originally purchased from Mrs. Conant in 1974, the land was given expressly for the purposes of water supply, town offices, fire and police facilities. The parcel has fulfilled its statutory requirement. Furthermore, the land is surrounded on three sides by undersized lots which depend on the land as an actual or potential water resource. Those who live in the center are truly fortunate to abut such a resource because they also are bordering three known contamination sites and while most homes in the center suffer some degree of domestic water pollution, some homes have seriously polluted household water supplies and little water pressure.

Perhaps as important is the role that the Conant Land plays in forming Carlisle's identity as a quintessentially rural community in our endless belt of suburban sprawl. While largely unheralded in the community at large, the Conant Land is, perhaps the single significant identifying asset in what is rapidly becoming an alarmingly homogeneous community. If you are not familiar with the quiet beauty of the Conant Land, we in the center of town welcome you to walk its trails. Park at the new Town Hall where a trailhead was expressly established to promote the enjoyment of this community jewel. Experience for yourself what so many Carlisle Public School youngsters have used for years as a living laboratory. Relish the solitude of the trees and trails, vernal pools and vulture nest, precipitous rocks and priceless antiquity.

John D. Lee
Lowell Street

Wiesel replies to local students

To the Editor:

This is a message to Carlisle students presently in ninth grade who sent letters to Elie Wiesel after reading his memoir Night.

Elie Wiesel has written a personal note to each student who wrote him a letter after reading his memoir. I would like to share his response with you. Please come by some time after school for a copy.

Paula Ewers, Language arts teacher
Carlisle Middle School

'Friendly' comprehensive permit an oxymoron

To the Editor:

After a presentation by recently chosen architects at the August 31 housing committee meeting, many questions were asked about the investigative procedures planned for the proposed housing project's septic and leaching fields for up to 11 affordable rentals on Conant Land. Apparently, the use of a town-provided backhoe, a visual inspection, and studies done in 1987 will be utilized by the architects to determine whether the selected sites are buildable. A respected local geologist questioned the architects about the subjectivity inherent in such a cursory visual inspection. It was disconcerting to hear the committee respond, "That's all the state requires us to do," and the architect concur, "That's the way we like to do it." Would the planning board allow building of a house in Carlisle with 1987 studies and visual inspections?

One would not expect to hear such indifference about this critical decision that may lead to further stress on the fragile Conant ecosystem and threaten town center wells. It would appear that budgetary and time constraints are driving a minimalist approach. Critical questions continue to exist around possible grant sources and funds, along with feared increases to the town tax rate. Until the town is prepared to spend the time and invest the money to do this the right way to protect the land, why do it at all?

Additionally, the committee will obtain a comprehensive permit to waive existing bylaw restrictions. When queried by residents about the difference between the committee or a developer pulling a comprehensive permit, it was explained, "Presumably, ours would be a friendly permit." Residents must ask themselves, how "friendly" this process is when the only concern expressed by the committee is doing what "the state requires," rather than what may prove to be best for the town's future.

Art Veves
Rockland Road

1999 The Carlisle Mosquito