The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 6, 2001

Mosquito Mail

Let's pull together, not apart

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to the latest lament about the "mansionization" of Carlisle, "Sell and move now?" in last week's Mosquito. I sympathize with the feeling of loss and frustration as a small house in a neighborhood of small houses is replaced with a "monster mansion" that makes the remaining residents feel out of place. Unfortunately, after decrying the builders and developers, the writer, as many have in the past, goes on to categorize the people who may buy such a house as "status hungry newcomers" who, the writer is willing to bet, "won't be at Town Meeting."

Personal disclosure: I live in Tall Pines. Though Tall Pines is a development consisting of similar-sized homes and not a neighborhood with "monster mansions" among more modest homes, we were aware early on of a generalized opinion of us from a few in town which is similar to the above: self-involved status seekers uninterested in the community at large. Some of us have taken to saying we live "off Curve Street" to avoid being thus stereotyped.

The problem with such stereotyping is that it presumes too much and promotes an "us versus them" mentality that can be at its worst in a small community such as Carlisle. Let's not confuse those who choose to live in a home with the developer who built it. And let's not judge someone's character by the home they live in, be it larger or smaller than our own.

I believe most of us in Tall Pines have moved to Carlisle to put down roots and raise our families. We are not real estate speculators. We are involved in the community. We participate in and enjoy Old Home Day. Many of us attend Town Meeting regularly. My neighbors include a volunteer fireman, an actor in community theater, Scout leaders, numerous school volunteers, and dedicated coaches of Carlisle (and Concord) kids in field hockey, baseball, softball, soccer, basketball and ice hockey. Many are also deeply involved in the religious institutions in the area.

Ironically, we newcomers have much in common with those who have lived here for 20 or 30 years or more. We too want to preserve what remains of the "rural character" of Carlisle. We contributed to the fund to hold the Wang-Coombs land until the town could purchase it for preservation. Please, let's look for such commonalities in a shared vision for the future of Carlisle. Let's work together to find suitable locations for affordable housing, to encourage large land holders to place as much as possible under conservation restrictions, and to support the Community Preservation Act to raise additional funds for these critical goals. The more we pull together, the more we can preserve. The more we categorize and stigmatize, the less community there will be to preserve.

David Freedman
Hutchins Road

House bashing 101

To the Editor:

I take issue with the continuing onslaught of letters and Forums written to the Mosquito, over time, regarding the "million dollar mansions" and the "status hungry newcomers" that now constitute Carlisle. As a newcomer of four years, I have made many friends who live in houses of varying types and sizes. I base my opinion of them on their character as opposed to their dwelling. I do not drive by neighborhoods and decide who I would want to befriend based on the size of their house. The size of my house in no way represents me, my husband or my children. I welcome your opinion of me, negative or positive, only after you have met me and we have had a conversation of substance.

The open disdain for the business people, i.e. real estate agents, builders and developers, that sell, work and live in this town is overwhelming! If I didn't know better, I would believe that we have the stirrings of a "good old-fashioned feud" being created from attitudes of prejudgment and ignorant assumptions. This is not healthy for anyone. The generalizations coming forth do nothing to promote diversity and acceptance, which is the foundation of our country, and which our schools and churches so openly and wisely teach.

Contrary to the preconceived opinions expressed in these letters, my children are being taught that when meeting a person they should look for good character and integrity and not the address where they live. What makes my house truly "priceless" is the family that lives in it, not the size.

Denise Dray
Hutchins Road

Realtor responds

To the Editor:

Over the past many years I have often been inspired to write rebuttals, regarding Sue Granger's many letters of dissatisfaction. The most recent letter (week of March 30) was just too cynical for me to remain silent. Firstly I am offended by her "Mcmansion" derogatory remarks; though you may not like a particular style of home, does it warrant such hostility towards the people who have worked hard to afford them, build them and sell them? This is a town of little diversity. How intolerant and unneighborly of some not to respect the type of home their neighbor wishes to live in. I wonder what the reaction was to the modern deckhouses of the '70s or the capestyle homes of the '50s. Homes, like fashion, change with times. The reality is that many of these smaller homes are on beautiful lots. Often the land is worth more than the house. The seller hires a real estate agent to assess market conditions and market trends. It is the job of the agent to get the highest and best price for the seller. In this town, with land so scarce, often the best price is obtained from developers or buyers wishing to transform the property into something different.

So what's so wrong with that? Should the seller be chastised for wanting the highest and best price? Should the broker be insulted for affording homebuyers and sellers opportunities? You may not like the way the real estate market is changing, but I worry about sellers "putting design restrictions" on their deeds. Who's to say a seller has better taste than the buyer? Basically who cares? I envy people who have so much idle time on their hands to be worried about other people's affairs. In my opinion if you are so unhappy in town, move! Don't sell your house to a developer; discount it to some young family who would appreciate living in your beautiful neighborhood. I can recommend a good real estate broker.

Laura Baliestiero
Stearns Street

Stop the whining

To the Editor:

Once again, a sarcastic letter blasting the new construction in the town appears on the editorial page. Why does the Mosquito continue to give so much "airtime" to the whiners and name-callers and those with a personal ax to grind? When will people like Ms. Granger realize that this is America, and that it is not a crime to build or buy a large house, particularly in a wealthy suburb like Carlisle? Her remarks about "monster mansions" are blatantly offensive, not only to all the new families who have moved into town to live in them but also to all the business and tradesmen who earn their living in the construction industry, from the architect to the builder to the carpenter and painter, not to mention dozens of others who pull the entire package of a new house together. New construction fuels the economy all around, and the mega-tax dollars that these houses generate add to the town coffers as well. Instead of alienating and being hostile to her new neighbors, Ms. Granger should try to accept the fact that tear-downs are inevitable, and that if a person has the money to purchase a property, he also has the option and the right to replace an old house with a new one. She should be happy that she is healthy and that she lives in a small old home that she loves, and be welcoming to the person building the large house down the road, who is probably realizing a dream of his own as well. Let's stop all the insults and complaining, shall we? Live and let live. This subject is getting old.

Patricia D. Kilfoyle
West Street

Running for reelection

To the Editor:

Having served almost a three-year term on the Carlisle School Committee, I am pleased to announce my decision to again run for this position. The past three years have been challenging and stimulating. It is an honor to work with the professional staff at the Carlisle Schools and to serve as your representative in this capacity.

We are fortunate that Carlisle is a community that recognizes and pursues excellence in their schools. The support of the parents, voters and taxpayers attracts highly trained professionals and dynamic programs for the children result.

I seek the opportunity to continue as your representative on the school committee to address the challenges ahead as communities struggle with unfunded mandates and the ever-changing requirements of producing life-long learners for our ever-evolving world.

Suzanne Whitney Smith
Russell Street

Let's not leave CPA money on the table

To the Editor:

Congratulations to the Mosquito for its fine coverage last week of the Community Preservation Act (CPA), which Carlisle considers at Special Town Meeting, April 10. I write to offer additional points on the finances.

The article reported that the proposed 2% surcharge would produce $155,000 in revenue from the property tax, before state matching funds. That number was preliminary; more recent estimates approach $180,000. Even that is conservative, since it leaves out the impact of new construction.

Also, while it is prudent to use an 80% assumption (about $140,000) for the state matching funds, there is a reasonable probability that the first-year match could go as high as 100%. The Mosquito published the list of towns currently considering CPA. An analysis of the tax revenues from those towns shows that even if every town on that list approved CPA at 3% (or a lower figure, if one has already been set), then the total tax take to which the state funds must be matched would be less than $20 million. If some towns don't adopt, or adopt at lower rates (both of which are likely), that number decreases.

The state has already set aside $26 million for the first year, and must distribute 80% (or $20.8 million) of that in first round financingmore than enough to provide a full 100% match to every adopting community. Truly, as the Mosquito suggested, the early birds will get fat worms indeed!

Looking further out, if the state match drops to 50% in years two through five and local receipts rise 5% per year due to inflation and new construction, the total pool of funds would exceed $1.5 million.

While there is no guarantee on the amount of the state match, citizens should be clear on the facts. The first year monies have already been set aside by the state.

Carlisle has a very good chance of getting at least a 80% if not 100% first-year match. We will leave money on the table if we don't adopt now. And we can always lower the surcharge later if the state funding dries up.

Wayne H. Davis
Concord Street

Ed. note: We agree that CPA revenues may well be higher in FY02 than our conservative estimates in the March 30 issue. We also agree that with very few towns adopting CPA this spring, a 100% state match is likely for all participants.

Many thanks from RecCom

To the Editor:

Thanks to the many people who volunteered their time to Carlisle Youth Basketball. Without your efforts our program would not be possible. Carlisle Recreation would like to acknowledge the following individuals who volunteered their time:

Bob Fidler, Jack Bromley, Leslie Morgan, Rob Morgan, Bob Stone, Scott Evans, Sandy Dolins, John DeBruzzi, Ted Ford-Webb, John Marchant, John Roberts, John Bakewell, Dick Cheever, Mike Davin, David Dockterman, Chad Koski, Paula Trebino, Norm Lind, Bruce Grean, Alex and Abby Jeffers, Paul and William Lucky, Melinda and Parkman Howe, Maura Ferrigno, Richard, Shelly and Jacob Dweck, Chris Alberto, Lovella Slusser, Leo Geoffroy, Peter Trainor, Amy Sennick, Betty Kennedy, Joan Popolo, Bonnie Jacobellis, Sue Koning, Debbie Power, Peter, Maureen and Kevin Tarca, Brian, Nancy, Jackie and Kimi Anderson.

In addition, thanks to our referees Kevin Tarca, Sean DeBruzzi, Mark Hassey, Chris Bodnar, and Dave Irwin.

Lorraine Stone
Carlisle Recreation Commission

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