The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 15, 2000


Few large parcels needed, land committee concludes

The municipal land committee is facing three major challenges, all three of which dominated their meeting on August 30. Selectman and chair John Ballantine continues his study of school population demographics as follow-up to last year's Growing Pains report. At the same time, the committee is trying to peer into the future and identify both the demand for and the supply of potential town land. Then, when land becomes available, the group will be prepared to advise the board of selectmen on possible uses, as envisioned when the group was formed at the 1997 Annual Town Meeting.

Population by 2010

Ballantine kicked off the meeting by distributing the demographic projections, updated from the Massachusetts Institute of Social Economic Research (MISER) at UMass (see box at below). He noted that the town is expected to grow by 25-27 families yearly during this period, about the same as currently.

Ballantine's figures show a net gain of 240 families, or about 15 percent, from now to 2010. The estimated school population, including preschool, would rise by about 125 children over the same period.

Can second school be avoided?

Town officials' interest in such statistics is stimulated by whether Carlisle can squeak by without a new school building until an anticipated peak in enrollment passes. According to Ballantine, the capacity of the Carlisle Public School is 850-900 students, although the school is strained at 850 with regard to parking spaces, lunch facilities, etc. His projections show a possible peak in the CPS population at this level (850 to 900) in the 2005-2015 time period, assuming present zoning and building rate.

Ballantine distributed enrollment projections for Acton's kindergarten through sixth grade. These show a similar pattern, with enrollment peaking between 2002 and 2004, then subsiding in the middle of the next decade.

In discussion on possible school expansion later in the meeting, school committee member Suzanne Whitney Smith reviewed some of the tradeoffs involved in deciding on a location for any new school building. The best solution might be near the existing campus so that the cafeteria, library, and gymnasium could be shared. But the lack of space forces such a facility to be built on Spalding Field or the adjacent hillside. "Building on Spalding Field might make sense, except that we need a nearby playing field," reasoned Whitney-Smith. "Banta-Davis is too far from campus to be used during school hours."

Ballantine added that if Banta-Davis is used for school expansion, it would require a loop road around the cemetery through Congregational Church land. Greg Peterson observed that such a remote location would create a big difference in culture. "It's very complicated," concluded Whitney-Smith.

What are the needs?

Members of the municipal land committee have also been brainstorming over the past few meetings to identify all the demands for municipal land over the short (5 years), medium (5 to 10 years), and long term (beyond 2010). Planning board member Michael Abend has summarized the committee's conclusions thus far into a "demand matrix," classifying possible uses into six categories (see box to ??). Abend's exhaustive matrix then describes a number of requirements for each use, covering everything from "land area needed" to "capital costs."

Members had several observations as they worked their way down the matrix. Abend explained why the Department of Public Works might need additional storage and service bays. "Technology changes," he said. "The latest innovation is spray-on ice removal that prevents ice from fixing to the road surface. Westford has it. We'll need more space for this equipment if Carlisle decides to use it."

On the subject of cemetery expansion, members recalled a recent estimate by Public Works Superintendent Gary Davis that the town had enough cemetery plots to last 50 years. Planning board member Louise Hara dispelled initial disbelief by explaining that a single plot can hold up to six cremations in lieu of one casket. "But you can't mix them in the same plot," she warned.

Hara: Connect trails and pathways

On the subject of sidewalks and pathways, Louise Hara of the Trails Committee suggested that more attention be given to an integrated system of interconnecting sidewalks and trails. Repeated requests by the Trails Committee to discuss this with the Pedestrian and Bike Safety Advisory Committee have elicited no response. Hara quickly listed a number of trails and pathways throughout the town that someday could all be linked.

Ballantine wrapped up the meeting by noting that most of the municipal land needs are for small parcels. "School, affordable housing, and recreation are the only large land requirements," he observed. Town groups identified in the "demand matrix" will now be asked to endorse the municipal land committee proposals.

The next scheduled meeting of the Municipal Land Committee is October 2 when they plan to work on a "supply matrix."

How much will Carlisle grow in ten years?

2000 2001 2005 2010

Households 1560 1585 1680 1800

Population 4700 4760 5120 5350

K-8 761 794 850 880

With pre-school 774 807 870 900

CCHS (Carlisle) 250 284 300 315

Estimates compiled by John Ballantine, based on data supplied by the Massachusetts Institute for Social Research, Dr. Gerald Missal of Concord-Carlisle Regional School District, and Beth Hambleton, co-author of Growing Pains.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito