Friday, October 19, 2001
Granted an evening free from Notices of Intent and public hearings at its October 11 meeting, the Carlisle Conservation Commission was able to turn its attention to two Requests for Proposal (RFP) which have not been awarded.
First among them was a thrice-circulated RFP for lease of the farmhouse, barn and agricultural lands that make up the eastern portion of the 242-acre Greenough Conservation Land.
Authorized at the 1999 Spring Town Meeting, the original RFP brought only one incomplete bid, when published for the first time, and no bids thereafter, in spite of advertisements in the Boston Globe, Lowell Sun, Concord Journal, Mosquito and farm publications like the Farm Bureau Newsletter. The reason for the lack of enthusiasm is not hard to ferret out. The document offered a five-year, in-kind lease that would have required the lessee, while occupying the house rent-free, to de-lead, remove asbestos, re-shingle and complete major reconstruction of the deteriorating farmhouse "with essentially no out-of-pocket expenses to the town."
Not financially appealing
As commissioner Jo Rita Jordan declared when she raised the topic, "We need a better RFP, one that is financially appealing." It was her contention that the amount of work and up-front capital required by the RFP was far too ambitious for the length of the lease. She felt that the scope of the project suggested an arrangement more like the 20-year reconstruction and educational orientation currently proceeding at the Litchfield House on North Road.
Onerous red tape
Curious as to why the original proposal called for such an apparently unrealistic timeframe, the three newer members were told it was an attempt to avoid the onerous red tape at the state level, which a longer term lease would require. However, mention of the Litchfield project reminded the veteran commissioners that one of the original arguments for a longer lease had involved possible development of a self-sustaining agricultural showcase during and after the rehabilitation of the farm. Commissioner Peter Burn seized on even broader potentialities, such as a Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) project or a regional approach that might use a functioning Greenough Farm as a more modest Appleton Farm à la Ipswich, Massachusetts.
After further speculation, the commissioners agreed that a more realistic long-term RFP should be undertaken, even though it would require an ad hoc sub-committee, public hearings, legal counsel, Town Meeting approval and finally action by the Massachusetts legislature, before it could be underway.
Bog House is attractive
Another RFP that is definitely not lacking takers, must also be re-issued, after town administrator Madonna McKenzie, acting in her role as Chief Procurement Officer, turned down bids from both Charles Boiteau and Carlisle Cranberries president Mark Duffy for a three-year lease of the third level of the Cranberry Bog House. McKenzie found that neither proposal met the requirements specified in the lengthy document. The commission voted to include a statement of the town's goals in seeking a lease which called for specified renovations in lieu of rent. They were as follows:
· Active maintenance of the agricultural building at no cost to the town,
· Protection of the property through on-site residence, and
· As property owned by the Town of Carlisle, a use that is congruent with the conservation/agricultural purposes of the property.
Return of the sheep, dogs and shepherd in 2002
Other topics discussed very briefly included water withdrawal by hydro-seeding and well-drilling trucks, which will be taken up with the Department of Environmental Protection; an ongoing conservation land inventory; renewal of agricultural agreements with local farmers, and the anticipated return of the sheep, shepherd and guard dogs to Towle Field, come the summer and fall of 2002.
© 2001 The Carlisle Mosquito