The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 28, 2000


Smith resigns from ConsCom

The Carlisle Conservation Commission has received the unwelcome news that their colleague Tricia Smith has tendered her resignation. As a five-year veteran, and the only environmental engineer on the board, Smith will be hard to replace.

In her letter of resignation, the commissioner explained that she was stepping down in order to make more effective use of her time to "pursue other ventures." Declaring that she has enjoyed the many contacts with fellow citizens that the post entailed, Smith promised her fellow commissioners to continue to serve until a replacement can be found.

After that, as a private citizen, Smith intends to follow the proposal pending before the Chelmsford Conservation Commission, which seeks approval for the installation of six wells with a total daily pumping capacity of 360,000 gallons of water from within the Chelmsford portion of the Cranberry Bog Reservation. This application constitutes a potential threat to the Carlisle Cranberries operation off Curve Street.

Is it necessary to grow cranberries?

Reference to the bog issue led commissioner Eric Jensen, a relative newcomer to the board, to ask if it were really crucial to continue growing cranberries on Carlisle's tract. The query brought a barrage of answers from his colleagues. Said Smith, "We want an active Cranberry Bog and we want it renovated." From commissioner John Lee, "We have a strong fiduciary interest, since the town paid $1.86 million for it." From commissioner Tom Brownrigg, "It's one of the gems of our town. It possesses the greatest diversity of wildlife in the entire area, with the possible exception of Great Meadows." Brownrigg backed up his evaluation by reporting that he and his wife have recorded 105 species of birds there, as well as beaver, ermine, muskrat and mink.

The presence of selectman John Ballantine at the session sparked a discussion of the January 18 public hearing on the Barnes Terrace well field, which both he and selectman Doug Stevenson had attended along with four members of the commission. (See story on page 1) Smith felt their Chelmsford counterparts were "doing a good job," but felt the lack, so far, of a comprehensive approach. This brought the discussion to the probable need for an independent engineering evaluation or "peer review" of the Chelmsford Water District's impact analyses.

Ballantine felt it important to nail down the matter of the town's legal and registered water rights at the bog and suggested that attorney Frank DeLuna, the water rights specialist the town has retained, should quickly establish Carlisle's legal position in writing. Smith agreed, emphasizing the importance of explaining the town's position to the state department of environmental protection before a decision is handed down on the Chelmsford Water District's request for a permit from the state's water management division.

Lee, who has volunteered to coordinate the town's effort, recommended that a statement from DeLuna be sent to both the Chelmsford board and the state agency, along with a summary of Carlisle's concerns and consequent desire for a peer review. Ballantine suggested the possibility of cost sharing with Chelmsford to get the job done. "The money part is important, but it shouldn't slow us down," he advised.

Stressing the importance of identifying and alerting a hydrogeologist to the town's possible requirements, Smith volunteered to draft a request for proposals. Speaking for the selectmen, Ballantine advised, "Since you're coordinating the process, we just want to stay in touch with what's happening."

Budget dilemma

The meeting concluded with a brief discussion of problems caused by the 1.4-percent cap on salaries imposed by the Carlisle Finance Committee. Chair Jo Rita Jordan had already reported that the board of health, planning board and ConsCom have asked for a joint meeting with the FinCom. The three boards feel it is patently unfair for the town's contract workers to get a 3-percent hike, while non-contract employees are capped at the lower figure. Ballantine weighed in with the observation that, "The 3-percent figure is a serious issue. It has got to be faced."

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito