Friday, November 17, 2000
Town Meeting defeats mosquito control with near-unanimous vote
Neither rain, nor cold, nor election fatigue stopped 216 town citizens from attending the Special Town Meeting on Tuesday November 14, dispelling concerns that the quorum of 150 would not be reached. During the 90-minute meeting, the twelve Warrant Articles were moved efficiently, with unanimous or near-unanimous votes on each (see Warrant Articles page 5). All motions passed with the exception of Article 7 which asked the town to join the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project (CMMCP). Both the Board of Health and the Conservation Commission opposed the article, pointing out that the risk of mosquito-borne diseases is very low while environmental risks are a concern.
Brophy takes charge
This was the first Town Meeting for new Town Moderator Sarah Brophy, who kept a deliberate pace and a sense of humor. Before moving to the Warrant, Brophy asked everyone on stage (board of selectmen, finance committee, town counsel and town administrator) to introduce themselves, and established a few ground rules. "All questions should be addressed to me," stated Brophy. "You can address me... as 'Madam Moderator,' which makes me terribly uncomfortable. I have a little trouble thinking of myself as a 'madam,' but it's appropriate." She stated her preference for hand votes over voice votes "since one hand can't be louder than another," overruling a suggestion from the floor that a hearty "Aye!" is more satisfying.
Pathways and affordable
The first six articles passed with virtually no discussion and unanimous votes. Under Article 1, the town heard reports from the pedestrian and bicycle safety advisory committee and the housing authority. Pedestrian chair Deb Belanger summarized the results of the recent Carlisle footpath questionnaire sent to all town households. Eighty-two percent of 520 respondents were in favor of building pathways and 66 percent felt it would improve the quality of life in town. Bedford Road was considered the highest priority for paths, followed by East and Lowell Streets. The committee promised to develop a preliminary plan for building paths in Carlisle, at reasonable cost and with regard for conservation and right of way issues, by the spring Town Meeting.
Housing authority chair Marty Galligan summarized the options for creating more affordable housing in Carlisle: conversion of single-family homes, building of small 5 to 10 unit developments, and pursuing larger developments. The authority favors the 5 to 10 unit development as most appropriate for Carlisle and is currently exploring sources of outside funding. The goal is to build 50 units in the next five to ten years.
Articles 2 and 3 asked for fund transfers, which were approved without discussion. Article 4 rescinded the town's right to borrow funds for building the town hall and purchasing the O'Rourke land. These funds were not needed. Article 5 directed anticipated state monies, partially reimbursing the town for the purchase of the Wang-Coombs land, to the stabilization fund. Article 8 created a 53E1/2 revolving fund account for convenient management of full-day kindergarten fees. The frustration of some parents with the number of different fees assessed by the school surfaced during a brief discussion of this article. Carlisle School Committee chair Paul Morrison acknowledged the concerns and stated that the school will try to phase out some fees, although the full-day kindergarten fee is likely to remain for several years.
Article 6 asked Carlisle to approve a petition to the state legislature to combine the positions of town collector and treasurer, now held concurrently by Ann Vandal. This seemingly simple administrative action requires an act of the legislature since Carlisle does not have a town charter. Should it become necessary to separate the responsibilities in the future, another act of the legislature will be required.
Article 7 asked residents to participate in the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project (CMMCP). Tim Deschamps, assistant superintendent of the CMMCP, briefly outlined the project's approach to mosquito control, including water management to decrease stagnant water breeding grounds, larvaciding to control the larval stage of mosquitos, and spraying to control adult populations.
The anticipated vigorous discussion over joining the CMMCP did not materialize, possibly because a clear, well-prepared presentation of the pros and cons by Board of Health chair Steve Opolski, and shorter commentary by John Lee of the Conservation Commission, answered most questions. Both boards minimized the threat of West Nile virus and other diseases to humans and expressed concern over spraying. Under CMMCP any resident can request spraying if mosquitoes simply become a nuisance, they said. Deschamps tried to reassure that the town or an individual landowner can prohibit spraying of public or private property, respectively. A key point, said Opolski, is that there is no firm data that spraying reduces the number of mosquitoes over the long term. If fact, he continued, there is evidence that mosquito populations can actually increase if spraying concomitantly decreases the population of mosquito-eating birds and insects. The vote against the measure was overwhelming.
Hutchins and Robbins Fields
Article 9 passed unanimously, re-naming the Wang-Coombs land after two early Carlisle settlers. The land north of Curve Street is now Hutchins Field; the parcel south of Curve Street is Robbins Field.
Minor bylaw changes
The remaining three articles requested minor wording changes to bylaws dealing with conservation clusters, special permits, and private driveways. All three carried without opposition.
eligible, 200 to 220 have shown up at the two events since the beginning of this school year. The night entails basketball, a DJ, and food, and is very well chaparoned. A small amount of seed money was provided by the town, but the program is largely self-supporting through fees.
Maureen Tarca of the Recreation Commission reported, "We're booming." Programming has increased and enrollments this year topped 1,000. More programs could be offered but the RecCom is now limited by space. The summer program grew by 25% this year, and about 40 Carlisle teenagers are trained as counsellors and employed in the program. The Banta Davis fields are "the jewel of this community and the envy of Concord." The RecCom has received nets and goals from Concord-Carlisle Youth Soccer and hopes to partner with CC Youth Soccer and Youth Baseball to build additional playing fields. Next year they hope to add two tennis courts and a basketball court on Banta-Davis. "We're facing growth issues as well," added Tarca, as evidenced by the need to turn people away from some programs such as tennis, skiing, and ceramics. It is hoped that future land aquisitions will include land for recreation.
Pedestrian and bicycle safety
Deb Belanger of the pedestrian and bicycle safety committee reported they are looking for engineering firms to evaluate the plan for the school loop path. Next year the committee will focus on signage and marking of crosswalks and the possibility of volunteer parent crossing guards. They have met with nine town committees and incorporated their suggestions.
Louise Hara of the Trails Committee reported they currently maintain 40 miles of trails through volunteers. They have sponsored walks, including a recent one the day after Thanksgiving which attracted fifty-five walkers. They have also recently updated the trails book, which is available at Town Hall. Next year the committee will focus on better signage and parking spaces at the many trails which have none.
Cable TV Committee
Ray Pichuloof the Cable TV Committee reported that the change from Cablevision to Media One/At&T has not been completed. AT&T has not made any committments for expanded service in Carlisle, although a negotiation for license renewal next year will provide an opportunity to make requests. Carlisle's small subscriber base of 950 spread-out houses is not attractive. Cindy Nock suggested that any concessions from AT&T be gotten in writing, since promises they made to the high school were never been kept.
The boards and committees of town government have been successful in maintaining a quality of life in Carlisle that attracts people to the town. Fitzgerald referred to this double-edged sword when he congratulated the School Board on Carlisle's superior MCAS results,and ruefully added, "Expect a new influx of students next year." As most boards are finding, providing for and managing growth will be the major challenge facing the town in the next few years.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito