The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 31, 2002

Dismayed by editorial

To the Editor:

Regarding your editorial last week (5.24.02), your headline "E-Politics" was presumably referring to the level of e-mail buzzing about town surrounding the recent tax override issues. I would submit, however, that your headline "E-Politics" is more relevant to "Editorial-Politics."

We'd like some facts clarified, please! You said that an e-mailed "...copy of a news release from (Carlisle Committee for Tax Fairness) landed on your desk..." and you went on with opinions about the statements made, etc.

For the record, we want it known that a draft copy of the news release was first sent out to our town officials. The copy e-mailed to you was not sent by our committee. In fact, shortly after drafting the release, the CCTF received information that made us feel that the board of selectmen may have been changing their approach to the issue in a way more in line with our expectations. As a result, we felt that the release might not state the current facts accurately. Therefore, the release was never sent to any news media. Not even to the Mosquito.

On Monday, May 20, Ms. Harte called one of our CCTF officers to "discuss" the news release copy she had somehow received and was told four times during the conversation that the release was never sent out and was not for publication. That the Mosquito never received a copy directly from CCTF should have validated that.

We were dismayed by your subsequent editorial comments, the misstatement of facts and the publication of one of the committee officer's home phone number, which was clearly not meant for public display. The issues facing our town are deeply emotional and affect everyone. Let us all remember that while some may choose to disagree with others, we must all recognize that freedom of choice is one of the basic tenets of our wonderful country.

While we recognize the editorial rights of news media to express an opinion, in the future we urge the Mosquito to use an extra amount of due diligence and sensitivity. Thank you.

Larry Bearfield
Carlisle Committee for Tax Fairness
North Road

Whither Foss Farm?

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter in response to the Mosquito article on future plans for Foss Farm. In March of 2001, I and many other Carlisle equestrians attended a RecCom meeting where preliminary plans for Foss Farm were discussed, including new soccer fields sponsored by the Concord/Carlisle Soccer Association, and an expanded parking lot to accommodate players and spectators. As riders, we expressed our concerns about these issues. Mixing large numbers of children, cars, dogs and horses presents many safety problems. RecCom listened to our concerns and reassured us that horses would be welcome on the property and that if necessary, the fenced riding ring could be moved. Many of us left our names and telephone numbers and we were assured we could be included on site walks and future planning sessions.

Well, 14 months have passed and there have been no invitations to participate or comment on designs. I find this very troubling. Foss Farm has for years supported many activities ­ dog training, community gardening, bird watching, riding, and agricultural use. The question now is: what does the entire Carlisle community want for Foss Farm? Do we want soccer fields there or do we prefer passive activities on the property? Who will pay for maintenance of fields, assuming construction costs come from the Concord/Carlisle Soccer Association? What impact will athletic fields have on the Concord River and the adjacent wildlife sanctuary?

These are topics for the entire town to consider, and a decision should be reached only after careful consideration of all these questions. No one group, from within or outside of town, should decide the use of our conservation land. Before one tree is cut or one cornfield eliminated, the wishes of the community must be heard.

Patricia Schannen
Prospect Street

School cuts are a shame

To the Editor:

As the dust begins to settle on the budget process, it is now clear that the Carlisle Public School will have to make many difficult and painful decisions. Cuts in programs and personnel will have an unforeseen ripple effect on our children. I am especially concerned with the deep cuts at the middle school level. Research has shown that middle school students are at a pivotal age. Two things have been shown to be critical to healthy development for adolescents: they need to be fully engaged in their school community by participating in positive, developmentally appropriate activities that help build social and academic skills, and they also need to be in a school setting where they can maintain close connections with the adults. The current budget has necessitated cuts to the very programs that meet these vital goals for adolescents. These cuts include elimination of the choral music program, elimination of extracurricular activities (i.e. student council, yearbook, math league), elimination of the teaching assistants in the current sixth grade, leaving them with a student-teacher ratio of 27 to 1, and fees for bus service for the seventh- and eighth-grade students. What message does this give to these children? As an educator and a mental health professional, I know all too well which roads we do not want to see our children travel down.

Recently, I had the privilege of attending the Boston Symphony Orchestra's "Stars at Symphony" program held at Tanglewood for the musical ensembles that had been awarded a gold medal at this year's Massachusetts state competition. The Carlisle Middle School Band performed, as did the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School Concert Band and the 160 member CCHS Chorus. As I sat in Ozawa Hall and watched my son and his classmates perform, with pride, in front of their families and friends, I could not help thinking, "This is the road we want our children, our nieces and nephews, our grandchildren, to be traveling on."

I have heard people say, "The situation at the Carlisle Public School is not a crisis." Reluctantly, I agree. This may not be a crisis, but it is a shame.

Debbie Dawson
Autumn Lane

Which neighbors will bear the brunt?

To the Editor:

We are confronted with a most disturbing group of options, none of which are without undesirable consequences. Whatever choice is made relative to the Carlisle budget will cause pain for some portion of our population. Voting for no override will result in curtailment of many of the essential services we have come to expect. It will also deny a reasonable level of compensation for our deserving town employees.

The great proportion of our budget is dedicated to our high school. Whether the administrative and salary levels are too high is a moot question since the current contractual levels lock us into these expenses. Future contract negotiations will certainly have to take these factors into consideration.

Other segments among us will also suffer serious consequences if an override is passed - families with modest incomes, single-parent families with limited assets and elderly residents on fixed incomes.

The segment of the population with which I am most familiar are the older residents who have lived in Carlisle for a long time ­ the residents who have supported the town and served on and chaired committees. As an older resident who, as with many of us, has experienced the trauma of corporate downsizing, I know how difficult it can be to be forced into seeking another means of providing support for a family. Many of us are currently living on social security and whatever savings we have been able to put aside. We have the same expenses that all residents have: utilities, insurance, food, heat, as well as prescription drugs for those maladies that are inevitable as we age, long-term health insurance and repairs and maintenance on homes that are also deteriorating with age.

Part of our estates are the houses in which we live. They can certainly be viewed as an asset, but until they are sold, they are a liablility. Most of us are certainly not poor, but neither can we be labeled as rich. We buy used cars. Every few weeks we enjoy going out to dinner. We enjoy attending an occasional concert. We use our vacations to travel to see our grandchildren. There are no sailboats, no country clubs, no European vacations. We live modest but comforable lives. For many of us there will come a time when the taxes become more than we can shoulder, and we will be forced to liquidate our homesteads. In effect we will eventually be voted off this exclusive island.

Our votes will determine which neighbors will bear the brunt of the pain Which way should you vote? The answer is very simple and that is: there is no answer.

Bill Brown
Heald Road

Parents should set example in substance abuse

To the Editor:

Mike Fitzgerald's Forum piece (May 24, 2002) scratches the surface of teen chemical abuse. Stress is only one factor for some teens who use alcohol. Realistically, as long as adults are permitted to drink alcohol, teens will want to do it too. Teens want to be adults in every other way so it should not be surprising that they want to copy adult behavior, including risky behaviors.

Kids learn by example. Parents who regularly come home from work and have a drink, or sip wine while making dinner are two good (or bad) examples of adult chemical use. The parent who takes the kids out to dinner, has a couple of drinks, and then drives the family home is setting an example. While the adult's alcohol level may be "under the legal limit," our teens are held to the 0% limit if stopped and tested by an officer, since they are under-age.

The media is full of young people drinking and having fun. Alcoholic beverage companies sponsor sporting events; the ads are all over the TV. We are supposed to assume all the people in the ads are of legal drinking age, but they look very young to me (the over-40 crowd is not in the ads).

We all know that peer pressure is very intense and has been around since Adam and Eve. We can't underestimate the pressure on our sons and daughters to have a drink at a party with their friends.

How about the adults who permit teens to drink in their house? It only takes a few parents in each graduating class to create a problem for the rest of us. If there were an adult telling your teen to have a beer in his house, would your son/daughter take him up on it? These parents are making it too easy for our kids to have access to alcohol. These are the same people who took your ten-year-old to the "R" rated movie without asking your permission. It is hard enough to raise kids

without these outside influences working against us. What can we do about these people?

At this time of year when teens are graduating and planning the after-prom party, we want them to be safe. If your teen is planning on attending an after-prom party, find out where he is going and check it out. Teens should be encouraged to stay put at the party rather than party-hopping.

Good luck to the graduating class of 2002 and congratulations to the parents to have made it this far in your parenting experience.

Lorraine Stone
Skelton Road

Carlisle students well trained in library skills

To the Editor:

As the librarian at Concord-Carlisle High School, I would like to comment on the quality of the library and search skills that I see in our incoming ninth graders from Carlisle. These students are well-prepared to begin their high school careers and to tackle the papers and projects they will be assigned. I attribute this degree of readiness to the preparation they receive from the Carlisle School librarian, Mrs. Sandy Kelly, and am grateful to her for her diligence in teaching these much needed skills.

Sanda Smith
Librarian, CCHS

Thanks for playground structure

To the Editor:

We would like to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to everyone who helped make the new playground structure at the Carlisle School a reality. The new playground behind the Spalding Building was officially opened several weeks ago. The structure is specially designed for children age six and under. Kindergarten classes use the structure during morning recess, and kindergarten and first-grade classes share it at lunch recess. The kindergarten and first-grade students and their teachers all agree that it was worth the wait! We want to thank everyone who contributed to the project. It means a lot to all of us.

Carlisle School Kindergarten teachers,
first-grade teachers and students

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito