The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 19, 2002


ConsCom initiates informal coffee and conversation

The Carlisle Conservation Commission (ConsCom) played host on April 9 to more than 25 residents ranging from newcomers who just wanted to get acquainted to familiar representatives from town organizations, official and private. Commissioner John Lee welcomed all to the first "Conservation Coffee" at Town Hall, an informal 7:30 a.m. get-together, with java and goodies, which its initiators hope will catch on as a monthly happening. He indicated that he and his colleagues view the events as a sociable exchange of information, concerns and creative ideas related to the quality of our surroundings.

Noting that the commission's legal authority extends solely to wetland resource areas and conservation land management, ConsCom administrator Sylvia Willard said the gatherings, which are patterned after a 15-year tradition in Concord, would provide an opportunity to discuss a broader range of associated interests, such as road construction, wildlife protection, human health issues, community aesthetics, etc. She then invited all present to introduce themselves and state why they chose to attend.

Carlisle Conservation Commission member Chris Gaulden Kavalauskas speaks to the assembled group at the commission's first "Conservation Morning Coffee," held on April 9. (Photo by Mike Quayle)

Harmful lawn chemicals

New resident Lisa Weisner, a professional gardener, picked up immediately on the commission's approach to express her concern about the widespread use of environmentally harmful garden and lawn chemicals on private properties outside ConsCom's control. Bonnie Miskolczy expanded on that threat, deploring the heavy use of those materials on recreational lands, public and private, and recommended that the town work with the area coalition for Integrated Pest Management.

A visitor from Bainbridge Island, Washington, described a successful campaign in her community, headed by former Carlislean Ann Lovejoy, which has resulted in local garden suppliers carrying organic items only. This led planning board and trails committee member Louise Hara to interject that the Carlisle Boy Scouts had similarly changed over to organic products only, at this year's successful fertilizer sale.

Trail clearing by committee

Hara also took the opportunity to publicize the trails committee's work to keep the town's 40 miles of trails cleared. Pointing out that her committee receives no budget from the town and gets its only funding from the sale of trail guides, she stressed their dependence on volunteers like arborist Bob Eaton, who led the major effort to clear 50 or more trees from the Greenough dam, bringing a comment from Willard that his labors had saved the town many thousands of dollars.

Speaking for the Carlisle Garden Club, Eunice Knight revealed their plans to plant elm trees proven to be resistant to Dutch Elm Disease along the outer boundaries of open land in the town center. "If this appeals to you, you can buy plants at our spring sale, and the money can go to buying them," she said.

Field clearing by sheep

Art Milliken, president of the Carlisle Conservation Foundation (CCF), said that group is inventorying their 100-plus acres of conservation properties to determine which should be kept open and which left to nature. This brought him to a subject dear to practically the entire community ­ the sheep that last summer chomped their way through the buckthorn, poison ivy and other brush choking CCF's Spencer Brook property as well as the town's Towle Field. His CCF colleague Margie Findlay said they can't get last year's herd this time but are negotiating with "Sheepscapes," a new company formed by two of last year's shepherds.

Describing the coffee hour as "a great idea," selectman Tim Hult observed that issues often arrive at the selectmen's meetings "with insufficient context." Thus he found the informal social gathering very valuable at a time when tight budgets bring "a collision of town services with conservation concerns."

Preserve the CPA

The selectman's observations proved timely when former conservation commissioner Jay Luby brought up the sole direct reference to a topic on the Town Warrant for the May 6 Town Meeting, namely, reducing the 2% Community Preservation Act (CPA) tax surcharge approved last year. "Given a 100 percent matching grant [from the state], it's foolish to turn it down," he said. He was concerned that some people are arguing that because the town hasn't used the $431,516 in the kitty from this year's assessment plus matching funds, it means we don't know what to use it for. He reminded his listeners that the purpose of the Act is to allow towns to build up sufficient funding to enable them to move rapidly the next time a key property comes on the market. He concluded, "If we stay the course, in a couple of years we'll have over a million dollars. That would give us the clout we would need to negotiate with a seller."

Finally, the get-together provided an opportunity for announcements: ConsCom - Guy LaChance, state forrester for the Division of Forests and Parks, Region 2, will discuss forest management at the ConsCom meeting at 6:30 p.m. on April 25; Ken Harte ­ An expanded BioDiversity Weekend program will take place the first weekend in June and will include a canoe trip on the Concord River; board of health agent Linda Fantasia ­ Voluntary water tests at a reduced rate will be available again this spring. Call the BOH office for an appointment.

The next coffee will be held on Thursday, May 21 at 7:30 a.m.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito