Friday, February 16, 2001
Does the town need a second center?
Support for combining a new school and community center was also expressed in a group charged with evaluating whether any new facilities should be located in the center of town, in a "second center" planned to allow clustering municipal facilities and possibly commercial services, scattered throughout town, or in an "expanded" center, stretching out on one of the main roads out 1000 yards from the rotary.
In fact, if the opportunity arises, combining uses for other facilities or siting them together on public land was
encouraged, to share costs of development and maintenance. But don't create a second center until we know what should go there, several members advised. Some activities, in particular playing fields, members agreed, could easily be spread throughout the town. Before deciding on the location of any new services, the town needs to decide on priorities and how those facilities could be combined.
Ideally, playing fields and other services should ideally be sited close enough to the center to be connected by paths, within about 1000 yards. If not feasible, an alternative may be to establish a second town center, similar to Lincoln's train station or West Acton. In such a "village" zone it might be possible to allow space for a community center and playing fields, possibly even some cluster-type affordable housing or more commercial zoning, all close enough to each other to be connected by paths, trails or walkways.
The group, moderated by Sarah Brophy, with assistance from Burt Rubenstein and Michael Abend, former CMLC chair and current CMLC member, had been asked to evaluate alternatives for siting potential new town facilities. Members agreed with residents Jim Davis of East Street, speaking for the Historical Commission, and Annette Lee of Lowell Street, that the existing center is too crowded to be burdened with more public uses.
There was also little support for more commercial zoning, although some were enthusiastic about developing a coffee shop or other food service as a "gathering place" for town residents. There were also suggestions that other uses, like a community-supported farm, might serve the purpose of bringing residents together.
Banta-Davis 'not a panacea'
Any new school should probably be sited near the existing school in hopes that facilities and faculty could be shared, the group felt. However, group member Ken Harte of Estabrook Road, echoed by Rubenstein and Abend, cautioned that the site currently planned, the Banta-Davis Land off Bedford Road, is "not a panacea" as it is too far from the existing school to expect teachers and children to walk back and forth.
Finally, there was some cautious support for locating services close to one another (such as a community center near the school) by extending the existing town center along major roads from the center, such as along Bedford Road towards Bates Farm.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito