Friday, February 16, 2001
Chances for construction of two soccer fields and an expanded parking lot on the town's 57-acre tract at Foss Farm gained momentum at the February 8 meeting of the Carlisle Conservation Commission (ConsCom). Recreation commission representative Mark Spears presented a compelling rationale for this solution to a crisis facing the town's athletic programs.
In the four years since the Carlisle Recreation Commission (RecCom) identified a looming requirement for six additional sports facilities at Town Meeting, they have been able to complete only three fields at the town-owned Banta-Davis Land off Bedford Road. In the meantime, Spears reported that the soccer program has "exploded" to encompass double the number of players. "We're nearly desperate now for two additional soccer fields and a baseball diamond," he pleaded.
Although there is room for these facilities at Banta-Davis, any construction is on hold until a decision is reached on the need for, and the location of, a new school. Also, because of the presence of ledge on the site, it would be very expensive to put the added fields there.
The commission did not dispute Spears's research indicating that Foss Farm was bought by the town, with a large infusion of state funds, as a multipurpose parcel. The purchase documents suggest a broad range of recreation activities including ballfields, riding competitions, sled-dog running and many others, in addition to agriculture and conservation. The first question from a commissioner was, "How much space will you need?" When Spears replied that by building two soccer fields side by side and providing parking for 30 cars, the total acreage should not exceed three acres, his audience was visibly relieved. He reassured them further by declaring, "We don't want to destroy cornfields or other present uses." That statement brought a friendly comment from farmer Mark Duffy, who grows corn there for his Great Brook Farm milking herd. Declared Duffy, "I'm in favor of multiuse situations, so if the parking lot is improved and agricultural land is not taken, I could certainly live with it." However, Duffy later appended a caveat, "I would want to assume this would not be expanded later to three or four fields." Spears's verbal agility concerning that assumption was worthy of a Washington press conference.
Commissioner Lee picked up on the expansion issue, reminding Spears that ConsCom has a long-standing dedication to agriculture, as does the state. But, he observed, "At first blush the proposal looks like a doable situation." Lee went on to ask how much "hardware" would be involved, but Spears said he thought that could be kept to a minimum. Also addressing the growth potential, commissioner Tom Brownrigg pointed out that any substantial future enlargement would threaten an area that is prime habitat for woodcocks and other avian residents.
Spears's case was buttressed by chair Carolyn Kiely who, as the mother of a soccer enthusiast gave witness to the overcrowding crisis facing the RecCom, concluding, "We all need to coexist." Lee was in substantial agreement, pointing to the triple factors of "child-creep," plus the school's septic system dilemma, plus a probable need for a new school as mandating cooperative approaches. Therefore, Spears was invited to prepare a more specific proposal and bring it back to the commission at a future meeting.specific proposal and bring it back to the commission at a future meeting.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito