The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 28, 2002


Equestrians offer Foss renovations

Responding to a May 23 request from the conservation commission, the recently-formed Carlisle Area Equestrians submitted a detailed proposal for both immediate and long-range renovation of the riding facilities at Foss Farm. Spokespersons Louise Hara and Molly Springer told the board on June 13 that the group has already raised half of the $20,000 needed to carry out their three-year undertaking.

First: firm footing, water

Advised by two knowledgeable engineers, the equestrians are asking the commission to approve a Phase 1 plan to upgrade the deteriorating surface of the enclosed ring, in order to assure firm, safe footing for this season's riders. The admittedly temporary step calls for excavation of a sandy corner near the entrance and redistribution of more stable soil from other sections of the ring. The entire surface will then be leveled, rolled and compacted, with wood shavings added to provide organic binder material, hold moisture and keep the dust down. They believe they have found an old well that can be repaired as a source of water for sprinkling the ring and giving horses a drink.

Later: final surface, fencing, jumps

Phase 2, scheduled for the spring of 2003 and 2004, would involve more permanent reconstruction of the ring. Existing soil would be removed down to sub-base sand (approximately a foot), and would then be compacted. Filler fabric would separate sub-base from base material, the latter to contain six to ten inches of star pack or roma pack to act as support for a final surface footing yet to be specified. Phase 3 anticipates reconstruction of fencing as required. Hara reported that resources and labor have already been committed to complete Phase 1. Once Phases 2 and 3 are completed, the equestrians hope to move on to renovation of the jump area and construction of a three-sided shed for storing jump equipment.

Foss Farm regulars Paul Kress and Bob Dennison were present to lend moral support to the riding community. Dennison has trained his sled dogs there for over 40 years. Kress revealed that he too has trained dogs at Foss since 1960, although the area is now too crowded for him to work hunting dogs. Noting that he has served in the executive office of the Environmental Affairs and the Massachusetts Natural Preserves Council, and prowled the halls of Beacon Hill lobbying on issues of land use, the environment and recently the Environmental Bond, he offered advice to the commissioners. "Your job is to find the best way to allocate [Foss Farm's] usage, and then have the courage to follow through. As it stands there are a lot of people doing a lot of things there, and everyone gets along well." He indicated the riding ring was in use even before the town bought the property in 1971. "What they are doing is only a postage stamp on the whole site," he concluded.

Other users of Foss farm

Chair Chris Kavalauskas saw no problem in letting the riders go ahead with Phase 1 of their project. Springer reminded them that the Carlisle Recreation Commission (RecCom) has its eye on Foss Farm for soccer fields, and has suggested a joint site walk with the equestrians and other users. When she added that she felt RecCom should put its main effort on expansion of soccer facilities at Banta-Davis, commissioner Peter Burn warned, "I don't feel we can preclude anyone at this point." Member Jonathan Beakley added that RecCom should be invited to come in and discuss what the equestrians have proposed for Phases 2 and 3 of their project. Meanwhile, the commission has given its approval for the Phase 1 work to proceed.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito