The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 29, 2001


Commission adamant on details of library landscape plan

After months of planning and revising the Gleason Public Library finally got approval for its landscaping plan, but not until they agreed to specific features recommended by the Carlisle Historical Commission. The commissioners repeatedly pointed out that, unlike most of the structures in the center of town, the library is a formal Victorian structure that demands comparably formal grounds.

Library director Ellen Rauch, library trustees Mary Cheever and Brooke Cragan, and landscape designer Julie Khuen presented their revised plans for the library grounds to the commission on June 21. "We have been listening, said Cheever, "and we have made the changes you suggested." As requested by the commission at a public hearing on April 19, the revised plan showed a larger lawn, smaller seating areas, and a more symmetrical design. The flagpole will be moved to the side of the lawn and a walk in front of the building will be concrete with two bands of brick. Benches will be wooden, for comfort, but have iron trim to reflect the style of the 1895 building.

Khuen had added a large shallow urn on the lawn in front of the building which, she said, "the garden club will fill with seasonal annuals." Commission chair Jim Davis said that he was inclined to "omit it [the urn] in the present plan, not forbid it. It could be added later."

Granite vs. fieldstone controversy

Davis's greater concern, however, was the low fieldstone wall that separated the edge of the lawn from Bedford Road. Davis suggested that curbstones, sunk six inches into the ground with ten inches above, would be more appropriate for the formal end-of-century building. "If these were the original designers [that designed the wall] it would be cut granite," he said.

Khuen offered that a stone wall will create a "continuity of street scape" in the town center, pointing out the stone walls in front of the post office and several residences. Commissioner Mary Ann Kitrosser countered that the library was "not meant to look like any other building [in the center]. It's such a different looking building. That's how it was meant to be."

The library team appeared a bit frustrated, but Cragan addressed the meeting in a calm voice. "We have taken your suggestions, but we are trying for some compromise here between what the historical commission wants and what we, who are raising the funds, would like to see."

"By state law," responded Davis, "we are in complete control here." Other commissioners sided with Davis. "I don't remember ever being happy with the stone wall," said Kitrosser. "I love stone walls," added alternate comissioner Chip Dewing, " but trying to make that wall be the right wall is really difficult. Risk of failure is high. Other than that, it's a great plan."

In the end, the library team accepted the commission's recommendations, and the plan, with no urn and "with cut granite curbing and granite pillars," was approved.

© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito

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