The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 25, 2002


My wish list for 2002

Since this is my first editorial of the New Year, I'll take the opportunity to put forth my wish list for 2002 and beyond. I do this as the FinCom struggles with a $1 million gap between requested expenditures and expected revenue. I am also aware that certain town bylaws would have to be changed to implement some of the items on my list.

Cell towers. The town needs to take another look at the possibility of placing cell towers on town-owned land. The money that might have gone to private landowners for siting the apparently needed two or three cell towers on their land would be a welcome addition to town coffers.

Affordable housing. "Inclusionary zoning," a local ordinance that requires developers to set aside a fraction (typically 10 percent) of new subdivisions for low and moderate income families appears to be a reasonable solution to the lack of affordable housing in Carlisle. Such a requirement has been established by several towns in Massachusetts, but has been subject to legal challenge. Now the state is considering enabling legislation. This is an idea whose time has come, especially if these affordable units are first offered to individuals working in Carlisle or those who had a past association with the town.

Building a new school. The school building committee should delay building a new school until a more accurate study can be completed of the school population expected in the next five to ten years. In the meantime, increasing the class size to 26 when necessary and using modular classrooms might be the short-term answer to overcrowding.

Pedestrian pathways. The photo on the back page of last week's Mosquito says it all. The small portion of the "school loop" pathway that has been built offers children and adults a safe way to traverse the busy corner of School and Church Streets, separated from school buses, parked cars and drivers dropping off or picking up their children. The possibility that new federal funds might be allocated for pedestrian and bicycle pathways, as reported at a recent MAGIC meeting, was good news for those supporting foot/bicycle paths along Carlisle's major roads.

In closing, I might add one other item to my list a downtown coffee shop or pub, where Carlisle folks might gather together. Am I dreaming?

Grow up . . . already?

I remember being shocked to hear my father's words. I was home from college, and we were just talking. "I still look at the world more or less as I did when I was your age," he casually commented. The concept was incomprehensible to me. Had he learned nothing in his adulthood? What about the wisdom I presumed him to hold?

Twenty-five years later, I am roughly the same age my father was on that summer's afternoon. And I still look at the world more or less as I did then.

Of course I've learned a few things over the years. I've changed some opinions, and refined others. But my essential outlook has held fairly steady. Perhaps more illustrative is the fact that I still see the same person in the mirror every morning, masking my awareness that others may see someone different.

The desire to hold onto one's youth is at least as old and as universal as the legends of Ponce de Leon and Peter Pan. But my generation is perhaps even more skeptical about assuming the mantle of responsibility than our predecessors. We are the product of Vietnam, Woodstock and Watergate. We were not to trust anyone over 30, and we sported (or still sport) bumper stickers urging others to "Question Authority." We joked that we might grow old, but we could be immature forever. But can we?

The changes have arrived gradually. In hindsight, I realize that I enjoyed the grand luxury in my twenties of holding all the answers, while lacking any real opportunity to "field test" their validity. As I have gained in responsibilities, as a parent, a professional and a citizen, I've been surprised and a bit unnerved to find that (seemingly by default) I am supposed to have the answers. In the process, of course, I've learned that the answers that once seemed so simple and so obvious are neither.

Maybe I'm overly taken with the subject this morning because I took my teenage son, with a couple of his friends, to a rock concert last night. It was a band that was big in Boston when I was in school, back together for a reunion tour. My son was the driving force behind the decision to go, but there were at least as many of my contemporaries as his in attendance.

The fact is, I still enjoy many of the same leisurely pursuits as I have for many years. I even relish frivolity and downright silliness when the opportunity presents itself. But surely my parents were not frivolous, nor the civic leaders to whom I looked for leadership and inspiration in my youth . . . were they?

Hard as it may be to accept, there are, in fact, certain settings in which I have to behave differently than I did 20 years ago, and certain instances when I must be more measured in giving my opinions or advice (since there's a greater chance someone will actually pay attention to them).

Hard as it may be to accept, there are times when I have to admit I've become a grown-up. Just don't tell my Dad it'll make him feel old.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito