Friday, January 12, 2001
No place to go
An argument for affordable housing in Carlisle
Karen and Paul Lamoreaux have spent almost their entire lives on Bellows Hill Road. Paul grew up at number 19 with his four siblings and parents Maybelle and Richard. Karen lived at number 100 with her five siblings and parents Janet and Walter. Many of you probably know Janet Liessner from her days at "The Carlisle Bakery." Walter was an engineer at Raytheon until his recent retirement.
Karen and Paul always knew each other, but Paul used to hang out with Karen's older brother Chris, and they had separate haunts in the Estabrook Woods. Karen and Paul even worked at the Mosquito in the mid-70's as teenagers at the same time, designing cartoons and drawings to illustrate what was happening in the town. Karen and Paul are now married to each other and still living on Bellows Hill Road, by the good graces of Joe Gardner. But their story has not been a "happily ever after."
Karen was living at home when she and Paul started dating five years ago. Paul had lived for a while in Western Massachusetts where he was driving a truck for Bread and Circus. When he returned to the Boston area, he continued to work for Bread and Circus and moved in with his mother. Karen and Paul were married with the blessing of the whole neighborhood at Saint Irene Catholic Church in August 1999.
Initially they moved in with Karen's parents to help them cover expenses. But once Walter retired, the Liessners were forced to make a decision to sell their house and move, due to the high cost of living in Carlisle. Karen and Paul then began to look for another home. They knew that their options were limited by their income; Paul continues to drive a truck for Bread and Circus and Karen works at a nursing home in Framingham. Add to that the fact that they had a few pets three rabbits two cats and a dog and suddenly, there were few housing options available to them. They searched for a rental or property to buy around and west of Route 128 and were turned away repeatedly. They described a property for sale in Littleton for $175,000 which was tiny with no option to expand; an unfinished living room floor, water stains on the ceilings, in other words, a dump. That was what they could afford. They then started calling everyone they knew looking for someplace to move.
Karen and Paul seriously considered two options simultaneously: relocating to another part of the country and/or putting their pets to sleep, but they just couldn't face either one. Finally, neighbor Joe Gardner came forward. His mother had passed away recently and her house, next to his at 144 Bellows Hill Road, was vacant. Karen and Paul were welcome to rent the house and help him with yard work. They took his offer gratefully.
And so we are brought to the present. This isn't a situation that will last forever, and Karen and Paul are acutely aware that they will face this nightmare again. More than anything, they would like to stay in Carlisle and raise a family surrounded by friends and beautiful forests where they played when they were growing up. But they know they will most likely be unable to stay because there is no place for a couple like them in Carlisle, or in surrounding towns, for that matter. They are quick to point out that their plight is not unusual. In fact, they quoted recent statistics on the housing crisis for working class families in Massachusetts; that the average price for a starter home is nearly $250,000.
It would be a sad day for the Bellows Hill folks to have to say good-bye to Karen and Paul. Karen has been marching through the Estabrook Woods as a Minuteman on Patriot's Day for the past five years. Both share an affection for this town that is a delight to hear. Both enjoy sharing anecdotes about the old timers and the old times that shouldn't be allowed to disappear.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito