Friday, January 28, 2000
What Makes for a Sense of Community?
It seems like every time I pick up a newspaperI'm not referring here to the Mosquitothere is talk of the loss of community in our daily lives. The reason most often given for this phenomenon is the lack of time. They say two working parents in a family have no time to get involved in neighborhood or town activities; people living in a town like Carlisle, where houses are built on two-acre lots, find it takes too great an effort to interact with their neighbors; families that have TVs, computers, computer games, and the Internet in their homes find it much easier to remain at home than to go out to socialize.
This is not to say we have lost a sense of community in Carlisle. Families with children get involved in school activities, such as the CSA, the Sixth Grade Spaghetti Supper, or Pig 'n Pepper to raise funds for the school. Children who take part in sports, Odyssey of the Mind, or Scouts, find their parents making friends on the side-lines.
Townspeople of all ages join local churches, volunteer for town committees, sign up for the volunteer fire department, and even work at the Carlisle Mosquito. Older members of our community take part in COA activities. To really learn more about what community means in the lives of Carlisle residents, the Mosquito will run a series of articles over the next several months, focusing on different neighborhoods in townsome new, others older and more established. In February, we will start our series with an article about the relatively new neighborhood of Hartwell Farm.
If you, our readers, have any thoughts on this topic of community, we would be more than happy to hear from you.
Chances are you've seen the signs that say "No commercial airlines at Hanscom" in Concord or Bedford. But don't think it's just their problem. It's Carlisle's as well. A Massport official recently assured our selectmen that Hanscom will be developed to relieve corporate aircraft congestion, but that it was not Massport's plan to make it a major airport (Mosquito, January 7). Maybe he should have talked to his boss, (Executive Director) Virginia Buckingham. In a Boston Globe column (January 8), Buckingham crowed that Hanscom "has found a niche providing limited commercial service to local business and leisure travelers. During Thanksgiving, Hanscom handled more than 5,000 passengers that's 5,000 people who didn't trek to Logan." However, they did trek to Hanscom, with the only public access via a two-lane historic road. Why is it a better solution to bring that many people through the small towns surrounding Hanscom?
Where is Hanscom heading? In 1978, the Massport Master Plan said Hanscom was to remain a general aviation airport, allowing commuter flights only in planes with fewer than 30 seats and 7,500 lbs. payload. Since then, Massport has often publicly affirmed and assured area towns that they planned to abide by this Master Plan (just as they recently did to Carlisle's selectmen). In 1990, Continental Airlines attempted to begin commercial operations to Newark, NJ in 30-seat planes. Community opposition plus requirements of a full Environmental Impact Report caused Continental to withdraw. However, in 1998, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Affairs weakened regulations, eliminating "increases in aviation" as a condition that triggers an environmental review. In the summer of 1999, Massport granted a license to Shuttle America to begin flying in 50-seat turboprop planes. To do so, Massport obtained a higher level of certification for Hanscom from the FAA. Although the selectmen also received assurances from the manager of airport administration at Hanscom that the facilities are not sufficient for large carriers, Massport has recently approved construction of a 92,000 sq. ft. office building and a 40,000 sq. ft. hangar.
Consider that Hanscom is already New England's second busiest airport, with up to 200,000 takeoffs and landings annually about 500 per day. Consider also that Westchester Airport in New York started accepting commercial flights in the 1980s, and now serves 1,000,000 passengers per year (almost 100 commercial flights a day). Hanscom lies in close proximity to Minuteman National Park and Great Meadows, to mention only two of the irreplaceable resources that are affected. Continued expansion of commercial service at Hanscom will bring increased noise, pollution, negative environmental impact and increased traffic congestion. The towns surrounding Hanscom are in active opposition to commercial service. Schools in the area already have a "Hanscom pause" teachers must stop speaking to wait for airplanes to pass over. If you think it's not Carlisle's problem if you don't hear the constant drone of planes over your house as I do over mine just wait. You'll hear them sooner or later.
Unfortunately, Massport seems determined to bypass local input. Ms. Buckingham's Globe article, probably intended to send a message to the more vocal Logan expansion opponents, stated, "Despite opposition from neighbors of Hanscom Field, Massport never backed down as commercial air service returned to that airport." Given that statement and the recent history, I think there's ample cause for concern. There are several ways to become involved. Keep up with Hanscom developments. Attend HATS (Hanscom Area Town Selectmen) meetings. Contact your representatives at the state and local level and the Department of Environmental Affairs. Report noisy planes to Massport's noise complaint line at 781-869-8050. Support SHHAIR (Safeguarding the Historic Hanscom Area's Irreplaceable Resources (Box 441, Concord/ www.shhair.org). And just hope it's not too late.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito