Friday, January 10, 2003
2002 review: Yankee frugality returns
As the national and regional economy continued to founder, Carlisle citizens rediscovered Yankee frugality, defeating an override budget supported by the selectmen and finance committee, questioning expensive proposals for enlarging the Carlisle School, and challenging the budget voted by Concord for Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS).
The Carlisle Finance Committee (FinCom) began its annual series of hearings on town and school budgets for fiscal year 2003 (FY03). As officials worried that revenues and state reimbursements would drop, the Carlisle School and town departments asked for $1 million more than the FinCom guideline.
The Carlisle Board of Appeals denied variances requested by AT&T to build a 150-foot cell tower on land owned by David Duren at 662 Bedford Road, saying that better sites exist in Carlisle. AT&T and Verizon filed lawsuits claiming the denial violated the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Concord and CCHS superintendent Ed Mavragis announced that he will resign at the end of the school year, citing a "diminished quality of life."
The Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) proposed a FY03 budget for the high school that was $1.3 million higher than the level funding in the Carlisle FinCom guideline.
After six years of litigation, the Carlisle Planning Board denied a permit to Michael and David Valchuis to build a sixth house on Berry Corner Lane, a five-lot subdivision. The Valchuis brothers countered by filing a second suit against the town.
Long-term Carlisle residents Arthur and Freida Bisberg, both 70, were found dead in their car parked in the carport of their home on Fern Street. Mrs. Bisberg was a victim of Alzheimer's disease. Many months later the state lab identified the cause of death as suicide by injection of an opiate.
Carlisle Affordable Housing. Inc. (CAHI), a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to building affordable housing in Carlisle (not the Carlisle Housing Authority), voted to dissolve itself. In the words of president Ed Sonn, "After two failed attempts to develop affordable housing on town-owned land, it has become apparent that the town's commitment to affordable housingis not strong enough to overcome well-organized groups of abutters."
The selectmen formed the Town Forest committee to investigate the boundaries and permitted municipal uses of the Town Forest off East Street. At least a portion of the forest is under forestry protection and not available for affordable housing or other town use.
Carlisle School parents responded emotionally to proposed FY03 budget cuts, including closing the school library and cutting back kindergarten to half-day. School supporters packed a selectmen's meeting and called selectmen and FinCom members at home to express their opposition.
Nextel filed an application to build a cell tower at 1 River Road for a third time, but was a "no-show" at a subsequent hearing.
Eugene Thayer was appointed interim CCHS superintendent.
"Alcohol is a huge problem here," said CCHS principal Art Dulong to parents at a Carlisle School Association meeting. "There is a subculture that each weekend seeks out an empty house [parents away], then spreads the word."
Carlisle and Concord appeared to be heading for a show-down on the FY03 budget for the regional high school as leaders in the two towns could not agree on a level of funding.
Poodle skirts, slicked-back hair and pill-box hats were back in style as Carlisle seventh-graders sang and danced their way through "Bye Bye Birdie."
The Carlisle Middle School Senior Band was awarded a gold medal for the fifteenth consecutive year at the annual Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors' Association (MICCA) festival.
Town Hall welcomed John Speidel as the new principal assessor, replacing Sean McFadden who returned to his former position in Rowley.
A proposal to build a cell tower on the property line between the Woodward and Andregg family lots off Bedford Road received a friendly reception from the board of appeals as well as some abutters.
The Annual Town Meeting approved an override that would increase the FY03 budget by 5.9% over FY02. However, a 7.0% override failed by a large margin. An article that would have increased funding for the high school, matching Concord's level of support for CCHS, was defeated. Concern over high taxes and high teacher salaries dominated the budget debates. The Community Preservation Act surcharge was retained at 2%.
At the town election voters said no to the 5.9% budget approved by Town Meeting, turning down the first override in a decade. This left the town with the levy-limit budget, requiring significant cuts in Carlisle School programs, no salary increases for Town Hall employees, and funds for CCHS that fell far below the level voted by Concord.
Nicole Burkel and Michael Fitzgerald were elected to three-year terms on the Carlisle School Committee and both were subsequently appointed Carlisle representatives to the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee.
The Carlisle School Senior Band, along with the CCHS Chorus and Band, performed at Tanglewood on Mother's Day. The musical groups were awrded the chance to play at Tanglewood because of their gold-medal-winning performances at the MICCA Festival in April.
Sheep returned to Carlisle to mow Towle Field and other conservation lands.
A culvert on Maple Street collapsed closing the road to vehicular traffic "for the next few weeks," the DPW said.
The Carlisle Board of Selectmen called a second Town Meeting and second election to ask for a small override to match Concord's funding for CCHS and provide a modest salary increase for Town Hall employees. The selectmen's meeting was attended by a vocal crowd of several hundred, including a no-override faction brandishing "No means NO" signs.
The regional school committee set a date for a joint Concord-Carlisle Town Meeting to vote a FY03 budget for CCHS. Town officials warned that Carlisle would be outvoted by Concord 3:1.
A drought which started in the summer of 2001 and continued through the fall, winter and spring resulted in a near complete absence of mosquitoes and black flies.
The economy sputtered and sales of large houses slowed, but land values continued to soar. The character of some neighborhoods, like Stearns Street, changed significantly as small older homes were torn down to be replaced by "mansions."
The Special Town Meeting voted to fund the high school at the level approved by Concord and approved small salary increase for non-school town employees. These additional allocations created a $75K deficit in the FY03 budget.
In the second local election in a month, voters approved a $75K override to balance the FY03 budget. Thus ended a long, frequently contentious budget season.
Woodward and Andregg proposed a new site for a cell tower off Bedford Road. Since the site is 23 feet lower than the original proposed location, the tower would not require lights.
At the annual July 4 Old Home Day celebrations, police chief and building inspector Bob Koning was named Carlisle's Most Honored Citizen. Marjie Findlay received the Conservationist of the Year award.
Developer Michael Kenney unveiled his plan to build eight structures, some affordable, on a four-acre lot on Lowell Street, under a 40B comprehensive permit.
The Carlisle Mosquito celebrated 30 years of continuous publication with a special anniversary issue.
The board of appeals granted the necessary variances to Woodward and Andregg to construct a cell tower off Bedford Road. The applicants must now seek a permit from the planning board.
The Acton Planning Board approved a 90-home subdivision in Acton of the Carlisle line. Residents of Log Hill Road and Woodland Road raised concerns for traffic and groundwater and subsequently pursued legal action.
Carlisle lost an icon with the death of Esther Wilson, 98, first woman dispatcher licensed by the FCC who served Carlisle more than 50 years.
The Carlisle Public School was awarded a Green Schools grant by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to help fund a feasibility study of energy- and cost-saving options.
Church Street became one-way east, effective for one year.
Deb Belanger and Tricia Smith were appointed to the finance committee and the conservation commission, respectively.
In the statewide primary, 62% of Carlisle voters took Democratic ballots and 38% Republican. The winners in Carlisle were Democrat Robert Reich and Republican Mitt Romney for governor.
Fire Chief Bob Koning announce that he will resign effective January 1, 2003.
Carlisle Public School and CCHS students once again scored impressively on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exams. Carlisle eighth-graders ranked first in the state in math.
David Freedman was appointed to fill a short-term vacancy on the planning board.
Engineering plans for repair of the culvert on Maple Street were completed. The road will be reopened before winter weather sets in, the DPW said.
Crane tests to heights of 100 and 150 feet at the DPW shed off Lowell Street showed that the site is acceptable for a cell tower. Cell phone company representatives said that Carlisle may need three towers for full coverage.
All properties in town were re-assessed due to rising land values. Smaller older homes with land that is undervalued saw the highest percentage increases.
Carlisle received $215K from the state, matching 100% of Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds collected by the town in FY02. This brings Carlisle's CPA fund to $430K in its first year.
The first snowfall of the season surprised town residents and Halloween pumpkins on October 23.
Sale of the town-owned Carriage Way parcel netted Carlisle $414K after costs.
77.5 % of registered voters went to the polls and voted two-to-one for Mitt Romney for governor.
The Carlisle School introduced Steven Moore as its new business manager, replacing Eileen Riley who left the position in October.
The FinCom proposed a no-override budget for FY04, giving the Carlisle School a 2.6% increase and town departments a 2% increase. If the CCHS budget is funded at the Concord levy limit, Carlisle's assessment will drop below this year's. Town revenues were estimated to rise only 2.3% next year.
The selectmen appointed deputy fire chief David Flannery Carlisle Fire Chief, effective January 1.
In a stake-out operation at the state park canoe launch, Carlisle police arrested a man and his wife who were responsible for a series of automobile break-ins in surrounding towns.
The planning board hired a consultant to evaluate potential cell tower sites in town.
The CCHS space utilization committee presented a proposal for a $45 million renovation and expansion of the high school. Recognizing the reality of getting Concord and especially Carlisle voters to approve an expensive proposal, the regional school committee voted to split the project into two phases.
A new design for the expansion of the Carlisle Public School proposed demolishing the one-story Spalding Building and constructing a new two-story building on the current school campus.
After a year-long construction project, the Congregational Church held Christmas services in the new, nearly completed sanctuary.
Million-dollar home sales slow. One-third of the homes listed at over $1 million in January 2002 were still on the market in November 2002.
And it snowed and it snowed and it snowed.
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito