The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 16, 2001


Surviving Temptation

The rage on television these days (in case you've just returned from a two-year stint at the South Pole) is reality shows. In one such incarnation, a group of strangers are plopped down in the middle of the Australian Outback and left to fend for themselves ... in the presence of television camera crews, EMTs, and a horde of support staff. Oh yes, and each day, the strangers get to vote one of their compadres off the show until there is but one "survivor," who promptly collects a check for millions, not to mention a bundle of endorsements and an appearance on Rosie O'Donnell.

In another show, four strikingly handsome and committed couples are transported to a Club Med-like resort island inhabited by a coterie of even more handsome and decidedly uncommitted Casanovas of both sexes, whose sole purpose is to "tempt" these couples into infidelity. The winners, I suppose, are the couples who were rejected during the vetting process.

So how real are these "reality" shows? Well, I put that question to the test last week and let me tell you, reality TV ain't nearly as tough as a weekend afternoon in my house. Here's what happened.

First, I marooned myself in the basement with only a bag of chips, a light sweater, and two coquettish cats named Sparky and Freckles. The remote controls for the TV and stereo were both missing, making the conditions impossibly harsh.

After only one hour, Sparky had settled in my lap in a deep sleep, the chips were gone, and the basketball game was over. I was faced with my first critical decision: should I stay put and watch the post game show, or not?

Having no other reasonable alternative, I voted myself off the couch.

In my first egregious miscalculation, I stood up too abruptly, causing Sparky to dig his claws deep into my legs, which, fortunately, were both asleep. Unfazed, I trudged the four-and-a-half feet to the TV to channel surf for another sports show. Luck was not with me: the only thing on until the XFL game was golf. This was rapidly turning into a harrowing ordeal.

Suddenly aware of a burning in my thighs, I let loose a howl. Sparky let go with an annoyed "meooowwwwrroow," sending shivers up my spine ... or was it simply that the temperature had plunged dangerously below 68 degrees? Using nothing but primal instincts now, I instantly whirled around, turned on the gas fireplace, and sat on the hearth to restore blood flow to my legs and my by-now somewhat addled brain. Freckles promptly started rubbing my side, which set Sparky into a jealous fury. He gave a short "mrrack" of displeasure and headed upstairs for dinner.

My own rumbling stomach also needed attention, but I knew I couldn't give in to my desire to raid the pantry for salted peanuts just yet. This had to be a real test of my survival skills. So I scrounged around in the dark recesses of the basement until I found a case of beer. Now I was sure I would survive the golf.

Soon I fell asleep on the couch and missed the cheerleadersuh, football game. When I awoke, my wife was standing over me with her I'm-not-cooking- tonight-so-get-yourself-moving look. This was one challenge I knew I couldn't conquer. So I congratulated Frecklesnow asleep on top of the TVon his winning strategy, and gave in happily to the prospect of a soon-to-be contented wife and a scrumptious steak dinner ... at the Outback Steakhouse, of course.

Is the Community Preservation Act an Option for Carlisle?

An overarching concern voiced by the eighty-some participants at last Saturday morning's Municipal Planning Day at Town Hall was "how can we preserve Carlisle's unique character before the town becomes just another upscale Boston suburb?" Other issues to provoke a lively discussion included: how to plan for a new school, if needed, how to provide affordable housing, how to protect high-priority open space parcels, and how to supply recreation facilities such as more playing fields.

Now along comes the Community Preservation Act (CPA), which was signed into law on September 14, 2000. The CPA allows towns in Massachusetts to vote to create their own local preservation fund for three purposes: protecting open space for conservation and recreation, preserving historic resources, and developing affordable housing. The act, which also provides for state matching funds, offers cities and towns a new mechanism to help preserve the character of their communities. A property surtax of up to three percent can be assessed for this fund.

Once the town votes to create its own preservation fund, the Massachusetts CPA Trust Fund will provide matching funds for participating communities. For many communities this will add up to more than a million dollars funding per year. Each town will form a Community Preservation Committee to hold public hearings on the use of the funds and make recommendations to town meeting. At least 10 percent of the fund must be spent on each of the three purposes and adopting the CPA is a five-year commitment.

If approved by the voters of Carlisle, estimated annual funding under the act, based on a 3 percent surcharge on the year 2000 real estate property tax levy, would be about $348,000 before adding state matching funds. An estimate of Carlisle's share of the state's contribution, which came out of a workshop on the CPA also held last Saturday, is $324,000.

So how could the CPA help Carlisle? If we focus on how to preserve Carlisle's rural character, the CPA Fund could help the town purchase high-priority parcels for a combination of playing fields, affordable housing, and open space, as well as preserve historic sites such as the Clark Farm on Concord Street.

The Community Preservation Committee, which will be made up of representatives of all relevant town boards, will have the added benefit of coordinating the town's land acquisition program and thus avoid destructive competition.

The town should act now and vote to join the CPA at the 3 percent level.

2001 The Carlisle Mosquito