Friday, January 11, 2002
2001: a year of loss and resolve
Last year, the review of the year 2000 began with the description, "As the century turned, life in Carlisle mirrored the larger picture of a time of national peace and prosperity." As we look at 2001, we seem a light year away. 2001 began without prosperity and ended without peace. But though we lost our sense of security we rediscovered patriotism and a national cohesiveness. Through all the dramatic events following September 11, Carlisle's small-town tranquillity and unchanging green beauty served as a reassuring reminder that life will continue.
· The Carlisle Finance Committee (FinCom) began its annual series of hearings for the Fiscal Year 2002 (FY02) budget. The schools, responding to increases in enrollment and special education, presented double-digit proposals. Somehow no one had anticipated that a new library would require higher operating costs and the town was shocked when the library asked for a 27 percent increase.
· West Street resident Ben Benfield, who had been honored twice as "the father of town conservation," granted another 71 acres of undeveloped woodland along West Street to the Carlisle Conservation Foundation for conservation purposes.
· A year-long cell tower saga began with the discovery that the deed of the town-owned Malcolm Meadows prohibited most non-conservation uses.
· Concerned about drinking, skimpy clothing and "dirty dancing," Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) cancelled school dances.
· The board of health began a series of hearings on mosquito control programs, driven by fear of an outbreak of West Nile virus. Last year, Town Meeting had turned down a proposal to join the Central Massachusetts Mosquito Control Program.
· The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination dismissed a complaint of former fifth-grade teacher Susan Greene against the Carlisle School. Greene alleged that she was subject to "retaliation" due to her support of a student who filed a sexual harassment complaint against another Carlisle teacher.
· A Municipal Planning Day, sponsored by the Municipal Land Committee, reviewed the town's land needs and priorities to 2020. Residents agreed that the town needed to acquire additional multipurpose lands for conservation, recreation, affordable housing and a new school, in that order.
· The Carlisle seventh-grade presentation of The Wizard of Oz "possessed a delightful sense of creativity and an impressive degree of professionalism," in the words of the Mosquito reviewer.
· A Youth Risk Behavior Survey administered to CCHS students in 1998 and 2000 showed a significant increase in alcohol use. Other areas of concern included depression, suicidal thoughts and eating disorders. The survey has led to the formation of ACTS, a group that seeks to decrease risks through involvement of students in school and community activities.
· Janet Lovejoy announced a plan to place approximately 70 acres of forested lands off West Street under permanent conservation restriction.
· Edward (Ned) Bennett, historian and former Mosquito Forum editor, passed away at 77.
· The school building committee learned that the school will need a $1 million sewage treatment plant to meet the needs of the current school, as well a possible new school, for the next ten years.
· Nextel Communications revived an earlier application for variances to build a 100-foot cell tower at One River Road. Abutters presented strong objections at the meeting of the board of appeals.
· A storm on March 5 and 6 dumped two feet of snow and downed multiple power lines but did not measure up to the prediction of "the storm of the century."
· CCHS presented a stellar performance of the musical Oklahoma.
· The CCHS girls basketball team won the Division 2 state championship for the first time.
· Heavy rains and melting snows on March 22 flooded many basements and leaked through roofs dammed up with ice. Approximately three feet of snow covered Carlisle from January through March.
· A Special Town Meeting voted to join the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act (CPA), approving a two percent tax surcharge to fund conservation, recreation, historic preservation and community housing,and making the town eligible for state matching funds. Carlisle was one of the first towns in the state to approve the CPA.
· CCHS and Carlisle Public School bands earned gold medals at the Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association (MICCA) state concert festival.
· Arthur Dulong, associate principal at Lexington High School, was named CCHS principal to succeed Elaine DiCicco who had announced her retirement at the end of the current school year.
· The last snow piles finally melted in mid-April.
· Chair of the Carlisle Conservation Commission (ConsCom) Carolyn Kiely resigned over a dispute with town administrator Madonna McKenzie, alleging "interference" with the ConsCom's efforts to obtain state funds.
· For four months CCHS superintendent Ed Mavragis and the regional school committee locked horns with the Concord and Carlisle FinComs, insisting on a 12.4 percent budget increase for CCHS, resulting in a 21 percent increase for Carlisle. Just before the Warrant closed, all parties agreed on two levels of funding, representing cuts of $200,000 and $350,000 in the proposed budget.
· A spring drought resulted in several brush fires, including one that threatened a Suffolk Lane house, and another that burned five acres of Towle Field.
· The Annual Town Meeting approved the requested hefty increases for schools which required substantial overrides of the Proposition 2-1/2 tax levy limits. Also approved were a new ladder fire truck and a sander dump truck for DPW. The ConsCom's proposed bylaw revision, to protect isolated wetlands and vernal pools, was defeated in a close vote. Mosquito control was rejected again after a colorful debate.
· Retiring CCHS Principal Elaine DiCicco was honored at a dinner at the Westford Regency on May 10.
· All candidates for town office ran unopposed. There was no candidate for a vacancy on the Carlisle Housing Authority. Realtor Jack Bromley was elected on three write-in votes.
· The highest-level override for funding the CCHS budget, which was approved at the Town Meeting, failed at the ballot box. Voters approved Carlisle's participation in the Community Preservation Act and its 2 percent tax surcharge.
· Carlisle resident and chairman of the EMC Corporation Michael Ruettgers gave the Memorial Day address urging residents to become "soldiers waging peace."
· Carlisle residents Nina Nielsen and John Baker granted a conservation restriction on a ten-acre property in Carlisle and Concord that protects public access to the Estabrook Woods.
· Nextel continued to press for variances to build a 100-foot "stealth pine tree" cell tower at One River Road.
· Concord approved the FY02 budget for CCHS at the same level as Carlisle, averting a potentially divisive joint town meeting. Total assessments for the high school increased by 8.2 percent for Concord and 15 percent for Carlisle, which has greater enrollment increases.
· The CCHS Class of 2001 graduated under sunny skies.
· Great Brook Farm State Park received monies from the state for a major upgrade for landscaping and visitor facilities.
· The Reverend Eugene Widrick retired after 24 years of service to the First Religious Society in Carlisle.
· The Carlisle Mosquito began publishing on the web at www.carlislemosquito.org.
· The state's "build-out analysis" for Carlisle, when every parcel is developed, predicted that the town could add 3,200 people, 1,100 building lots, and 600 students. In 2001 Carlisle population was approximately 5,000 with close to 850 K-8 students in the Carlisle Public School.
· The CCHS boys tennis team won its third consecutive MIAA Division 2 state championship.
· Carlisle eighth graders graduated in an outdoor ceremony on June 22.
· At the traditional July 4 Old Home Day celebration Joe Antognoni was named Most Honored Citizen for his contributions to the education, recreation and development of Carlisle's children. Conservationist of the Year awards honored a group of citizens who collectively placed over 100 acres along West Street under conservation protection, including Ben Benfield, Janet Lovejoy, George Reichenbach, Fred Rundlett, and John and Elizabeth Valentine.
· A riderless horse returning to its stable after 9:30 p.m. triggered a dramatic night rescue of a Chelmsford woman who had broken her leg after being thrown from the horse.
· The Valchius brothers, their Berry Corner Lane neighbors and the Carlisle Planning Board continued their property dispute in and out of court.
· The hunt for a suitable site for a needed sewage treatment plant for the school centered on four parcels including the town-owned Banta-Davis Land and the Fox Hill conservation parcel on Bedford Road.
· Town committees began working on a five-year plan for possible capital projects which may total $20 million.
· While construction of large new homes continued in the Tall Pines, Hart Farm Estates and other new subdivisions, there were many signs that the economy was slowing. The number of homes for sale increased and real estate prices stabilized or decreased slightly.
· A shepherd, 333 sheep, three guard dogs arrived at the Spencer Brook Reservation and Towle Field to clear out grasses, noxious weeds, and small shrubbery on the conservation lands.
· Carlisle residents and the town cable advisory committee, frustrated by poor cable service and no shortterm prospects for high-speed Internet access, tried to negotiate a tough deal with AT&T Broadband whose cable license in Carlisle was up for renewal.
· American Tower Corporation came before the board of appeals to request variances to build a 150-foot "monopine" cell tower on the Duren property at 662 Bedford Road. This was the first of four monthly hearings at which the applicants and abutters argued their positions.
· A Curve Street motorcycle accident on September 9 claimed the life of Brandeis physics professor and Carlisle conservation commissioner Eric Jensen.
· On September 11 Carlisle and the world watched in horror as suicide terrorists flew fully loaded planes into the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. As the towers crumbled into dust, so did America's sense of homeland invulnerability. In Carlisle churches opened their doors and citizens opened their hearts and wallets for mutual support and to aid the victims of the attacks.
· The board of assessors recommended a tax rate of $15.78 per thousand of assessed real estate value for fiscal year 2002, a five percent increase over the FY01 rate of $15.02.
· The board of directors of the Carlisle Elderly Housing Association voted to close the Sleeper Room to food service and use by community groups, believing that increased insurance costs and a food service permit were needed. Subsequently, a major outcry in the community and some creative ideas gave hope that the decision could be reversed.
· The school building committee presented a proposal to site a new K-2 school on the Banta-Davis Land. With the economy sliding into recession, town boards and other citizens questioned population projections and whether less expensive options had been adequately explored.
· The Carlisle Historical Society moved into its new home on Concord Street, renaming the Coppermine Farm the Heald Homestead.
· A sense of normalcy returned to Carlisle. The sixth-grade spaghetti supper was the best ever; the Pig 'n Pepper festival BBQ contest was a big success; and 340 wooly field mowers returned to Towle Field. But the reminders of September 11 continued to invade daily life with the bombing of the Taliban and fear of opening the mail.
· The Kids Walk for Heroes, involving Carlisle children and their families, supported by the Carlisle police, firemen, and Minutemen in full uniforms, raised $15,000 to benefit the New York Police and Fire Department Widows' and Children's Fund.
· With its cable license about to expire on October 12, AT&T Broadband reneged at the eleventh hour on an agreement that had been negotiated with the cable advisory committee. In a last-ditch effort, Carlisle was able to secure cable coverage for all residents in town, but no service upgrades for another 24 months.
· Carlisle and CCHS students once again scored impressively on the MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) exams.
· Developing a proposal for an affordable housing cluster on the Town Forest, the housing authority drafted a Warrant article for the Fall Town Meeting requesting funds for an engineering study of the town-owned land. However, a week before Town Meeting, it became apparent that the 46-acre Town Forest is under a Chapter 97 conservation restriction which would prohibit such use.
· The Town Meeting on November 27 approved funds for the design of a wastewater treatment facility for the Carlisle Public School, as well as an engineering study to analyze potential sites for school expansion.
· A Carlisle resident hoping to build a boarding stable for horses cut down a significant number of trees in the triangle between Bedford and River Roads, on his property as well as in the town-controlled scenic road setback. Predictably, Carlisle residents reacted negatively to a change in the natural landscape.
· After four months of hearings, there was still no decision on the variances requested to build a 150-foot cell tower at 662 Bedford Road.
· Facing a significant shortfall in revenues, the state slashed its promised aid to towns for the current fiscal year. Carlisle will receive approximately $100,000 less than the state estimated on the "Cherry Sheet" received last July.
· The first snowfall of the winter decorated the town mid-month. Perhaps to compensate for a year which saw much darkness, town residents decorated their homes for the holiday season with an explosion of lighting and red, white, and blue.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito