Friday, January 12, 2001
Life in Carlisle: snapshots from the Year 2000
As the century turned, life in Carlisle mirrored the larger picture of a time of national peace and prosperity. The story behind most local headlines was the continued growth of the town and its citizens' determined efforts to maintain the quality of its schools, town services and "rural character."
· The new millennium started quietly with no Y2K bugs in Carlisle - or anywhere else on the planet. But writing the number "2000" as part of the date became a daily drama.
· A complaint of sexual harassment filed against a Carlisle Middle School teacher in late 1999 continued to grab headlines and emotions of the school community. Although the allegations, which did not include any touching or sexual comments, had been extensively investigated according to Title 9 procedures and the complaint had been dropped by the involved family, parents on both sides of the issue crowded into school committee meetings for emotion-packed sessions. At the January 18 meeting, Title 9 coordinator Linda Stapp summarized the investigation and the findings. The committee expressed their complete satisfaction with the process and ended public discussion.
· Five Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) male students faced felony charges for allegedly videotaping sex with a 16-year-old female student.
· The conservation commission and Cranberry Bog farmer Mark Duffy challenged the privately run Chelmsford Water District's application to locate six wells within the bog's water sources. The bog has "registered rights" to draw up to 357,000 gallons of water per day from the system, with agricultural needs taking precedence over all other uses.
· The selectmen appointed a committee to begin a search for a new town administrator, to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of David LaManche.
· Marshall "Pete" Simonds, who served as moderator since 1967, announced that the May 2000 Town Meeting will be his "last hurrah" as moderator.
· A survey by the cable TV committee showed only average satisfaction with Cablevision's quality, reliability, and service. Direct broadcast satellite service got high marks. Residents requested new services such as high speed Internet access, already available in many parts of the country.
· On February 5 The CCHS jazz band, concert choir and concert band shared the stage with the Symphonic Band of the Middle School of Beijing University for a standing-room-only concert at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston. The Chinese musicians also came to Carlisle to play for the Carlisle Middle School in the Corey Auditorium.
· As department after department submitted FY2001 budget requests far exceeding guidelines, the finance committee struggled to hold down the magnitude of the inevitable Proposition 2 1/2 override. The FinCom requested cuts in budgets from CCHS, the Carlisle school, and the Gleason Library.
· The housing authority struggled with how to finance a small 7-unit affordable housing project on the Conant Land, an environmentally sensitive site.
· Bradley and McCain were big winners in Carlisle's presidential primary on March 7, capturing 53 percent of the Democratic votes and 70 percent of Republican votes, respectively. Gore received 44 percent and Bush 27 percent. Fifty percent of registered voters cast their ballots, a strong showing for a primary election.
· CCHS presented "Damn Yankees" with exuberance, heart and polish.
· A threat to bomb the school on March 17, scrawled on the wall of the Carlisle Middle School boys' bathroom, prompted an intense four-day response by the school and the police. Parents and students were notified, lockers and desks were searched, backpacks were inspected, school entrances were locked. However, the school remained in session. The responsible middle school student was identified and turned over to the juvenile court.
· Bedford Road resident David Duren signed a lease permitting AT&T to site a cell tower on his property. Abutters mobilized immediately to oppose the siting, which did not conform to Carlisle's bylaw requiring a 900-foot set-back from all structures.
· The Carlisle school administration recommended a feasibility study to define needs and options for school expansion.
· After all three top candidates for the town administrator position withdrew their applications, the selectmen decided to bring in an interim administrator. Madonna McKenzie of Westford was appointed and assumed duties on April 11.
· Five new directors were appointed to Carlisle Affordable Housing, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation founded in 1989 that can build and operate affordable housing in Carlisle less expensively than the Carlisle Housing Authority, which is subject to state regulations for public projects. Appointed were Ralph Anderson, Tom Bilotta, Marty Galligan, Laura Snowdon, and Ed Sonn.
· The Superior Court ruled against the Carlisle school's plan to place a needed new septic system on the Banta-Davis land.
· Capacity crowds applauded the seventh grade's production of "Fiddler on the Roof."
· Land development continued as the planning board considered plans for the Carriage Way subdivision off East Riding Drive, Great Brook Estates off Rutland Road, and Hart Farm Estates off Curve Street.
· The housing authority held a public forum to present plans to build affordable housing on 6 acres of the Conant land. The large crowd expressed concerns about financial viability, visibility from the road, intrusion on scenic land, and water issues in the center of town
· A permitted fire on Stearns Street went out of control and burned 20 acres of wooded area, threatening 25 homes, before being put out by fire units from Carlisle, Bedford, Billerica, Concord, Westford and Hanscom Field.
· Carlisle resident Sylvia Willard was appointed ConsCom administrator.
· A study of job classifications and wages for town employees was completed and accepted by the Carlisle Personnel Board.
· The May 2 Town Meeting voted down the Conant land affordable housing plan. All other articles passed including a $222,478 override, a $100,000 roll-off truck for DPW, wage increases for town employees, a new school feasibility study, and a feasibility study for building a "school loop" pedestrian path in the center of town.
· Faced with a $58,800 budget shortfall, the Carlisle Public School proposed raising the needed funds through a series of fees for bus transportation and activities.
· In town elections on May 9 Sarah Brophy was elected town moderator and Brooke Cragan library trustee. Carol Peters and Douglas Stevenson, who ran unopposed, were elected to the board of selectmen. Three ballot questions, funding specific budget items for the school, ConsCom, and DPW, all passed.
· The planning board approved the Carriage Way subdivision and the Hart Farm Estates conservation cluster.
· The Chelmsford Water District dropped its plan to drill wells within the Cranberry Bog reserve. Their plan to pump 360,000 gallons of water per day would have threatened the Bog's water resources.
· Jonathan Saphier, Vietnam veteran and former member of the Intelligence Service gave the Memorial Day address in the Corey Auditorium.
· A Carlisle delegation met with the Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs Robert Durand to review the legal status of the Cranberry Bog's legal rights to water, even though the Chelmsford Water District had withdrawn its application to site wells within the bog reservation.
· Carlisle's Destination Imagination eighth-grade team placed fifth in the world competition at Iowa State University.
· Eighth graders graduated from the Carlisle middle school on June 16.
· Newly renovated Banta-Davis playing fields opened for limited use.
· Three residents were honored for many years of outstanding community service at Old Home Day festivities on July 4. Pete and Kate Simonds received Most Honored Citizen Awards. The Conservationist of the Year Award was presented to Mosquito reporter Seba Gaines for her "unbiased, tough" reporting on conservation issues.
· The Concord and Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committees sent a resolution to the state calling for changes in the controversial Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests. Over 80 percent of teachers signed a petition opposing the MCAS, particularly as a requirement for graduation.
· The old St. Irene Church on Bedford Road was demolished, but the steeple, which came down intact, was "adopted" by Bonnie and Gabor Miskolczy, who transported it to their property on Cross Street.
· Real estate prices soared in the first half of 2000. The average price was $662,909; the highest price $2,350,000. Properties in town were re-assessed this year, based on 1999 real estate data.
· The selectmen joined surrounding towns in signing a petition which requested a moratorium on expansion of commercial passenger aviation at Hanscom Field. However, concerned about the uncompromising language of the document, they added a cover letter calling for a regional transportation plan.
· The newly renovated, enlarged Gleason Public Library reopened on August 16.
· Ann Vandal of Dracut was appointed to the newly combined position of treasurer/tax collector.
· The planning board, selectmen and citizens expressed concerns about protective covenants of recent subdivisions which could change the nature of Carlisle. Some covenants already in place specify a minimum of 3500 square feet of living space, prohibit barnyard animals, restrict clothesline and vegetable garden placement, and maintain rights of approval over exterior design, building materials, color schemes of any structures and landscaping
· The Carlisle school re-opened, offering an extended kindergarten program, with two full days and three mornings. Since the extended days were not in the budget, parents were assessed a fee for each child.
· Bill and Nancy Koerner, Carlisle's long-term tax collector and treasurer team, retired.
· The new Gleason Public Library was dedicated on September 17
· The first "Art of Living in Carlisle" tour sponsored by the Carlisle Cultural Council took place on September 23. The route covered 14 sites, including 12 historical or contemporary buildings and six exhibits
· Madonna McKenzie was appointed town administrator for a three-year term.
· A dead crow found on Stearns Street tested positive for West Nile virus. Although there were no cases of humans contracting the virus anywhere in the state, the board of health re-opened the question of mosquito control in Carlisle.
· Guy Clark, lifelong Carlisle resident, dairy farmer, town assessor and moderator, and recipient of the 1964 Outstanding Citizen Award, passed away on October 1.
· Clean-up of the soil at the Daisy's market site, funded by the state Department of Environmental Protection, was completed at last. The soil had been contaminated with the gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) by leaky gas tanks that have since been removed. A second MTBE-contaminated site, at 106 Concord Street, still awaited clean-up
· Elaine DiCicco, CCHS Principal since 1978, announced her retirement at the end of the school year.
· 20,000 people attended the 10
· The board of health hosted a discussion of mosquito control. Town boards and citizens considered the risks and benefits of joining the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Project.
· A fire, which started in the clothes dryer, devastated a home on Monroe Hill. Fortunately, there were no injuries.
· Jack and Betty Valentine granted a conservation restriction "in perpetuity" on 10.2 acres of scenic pastureland at the intersection of Acton and West streets.
· On Election Day Democrats scored a large victory in Carlisle, including candidates for President and Vice-President, Gore and Lieberman, Senator Edward Kennedy, Representative Marty Meehan, State Senator Susan Fargo, Councillor Marilyn Devaney, Clerk of Courts Edward Sullivan, and Register of Deeds Richard Howe. Republican winners included State Representative Carol Cleven and Register of Probate Lee Johnson. Responding to eight complex ballot questions, Carlisle voters strongly supported a state income tax reduction and deductions for charitable contributions, while turning down state-run comprehensive health care.
· Eighty-seven percent of registered voters in Carlisle cast their ballots in the historically close national election. The paper ballots were all counted by 68 volunteers by 10:30 p.m. with excellent accuracy and no chads.
· A Special Town Meeting on November 14 defeated mosquito control with a near-unanimous vote, while passing all other Warrant Articles.
· This was the first Town Meeting for new town moderator Sarah Brophy.
· Results of the third annual MCAS exams showed that Carlisle fourth-grade and eighth-grade scores were highest in the state. CCHS tenth graders scored second highest in Massachusetts.
· After a lengthy review of plans by all relevant town boards, the selectmen gave final approval to the proposed expansion of the Congregational Church on School Street.
· In an end-of-year review of goals and progress, town boards consistently pointed to the heavy demands created by town growth.
· Four locations on town land were identified by town administrator McKenzie as potentially meeting cell-tower by-law requirements. A site behind Malcolm Meadows was identified as most promising and will be evaluated further.
· The school and town departments presented their FY2002 budget drafts to the board of selectmen. Rising costs of insurance and increased town services required to serve the growing town will make it difficult to stay within the FinCom's proposed 3 percent limit.
· The FinCom heard a presentation on a possible multi-million dollar remodeling of CCHS, required by increasing enrollments and changing programs.
· Responding to a "bubble" in sixth grade enrollment next year, the school proposed maintaining the current four sections, allowing larger class sizes and hiring four class assistants.
And the weather
The weather is always news in New England. A winter with almost no snow was followed by a summer with almost no heat. But the fall was glorious and we had a white Christmas with a solar eclipse. An eight-inch snowfall on December 30-31 provided the final punctuation mark to this pivotal calendar year.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito