Friday, March 14, 2003
Help plan Carlisle's future
What do you value most about Carlisle? Which things should be changed and which things preserved as the town grows in the coming decades?
The planning board is creating a new community development plan, and is seeking the perspectives of all town residents. One way to share your ideas is to complete the questionnaire which was printed in the February 28 Mosquito.
Another very important way to help shape the town's future is to attend the public planning meeting on Saturday, March 22 at the school cafeteria from 9:30 a.m. until noon. This meeting will help determine the town's priorities, and a large turn-out is important so that all viewpoints are represented.
A starting point for any new plan is to review previous work, and that would include the priorities developed through the Community Planning Day held in November of 1992. Many people participated, and the resultant "Long Range Goals of the Carlisle Community" was accepted at the 1993 Town Meeting (see list below.)
Preserving the rural nature of Carlisle is important to me, and this concern was shared by other residents in 1993. Their top priorities included preserving scenic vistas, agriculture, wildlife habitats, water resources and open space for recreation.
Has enough land been preserved to meet these needs? I would argue that we need to protect more open space, or else the quality of life we enjoy here today will be irrevocably lost.
According to the town's Open Space and Recreation Plan of 2000, roughly a fifth of Carlisle's land was still private, unprotected open space. Without some form of protection, much of that land will become housing lots in the not-too-distant future. Carlisle is also facing increased housing density through 40B comprehensive permit developments, which will increase the pressure on our water resources.
Protection of open space through land purchase has become very difficult as prices soar, but there are several other ways to preserve open space. For larger parcels of land, it is possible for a landowner to save vistas, trails and wildlife corridors, while developing the rest of the property.
Outside funding sources can also help. Federal funding preserved the O'Rourke land (now part of the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge); agricultural preservation aid helped protect the Robbins-Hutchins land; landowners have generously donated conservation restrictions; and private donations helped the Carlisle Conservation Foundation buy the 14-acre Poole Swamp. The town can also use Community Preservation Act funding to preserve conservation resources, as well as to fund affordable housing or historic preservation.
Now you know why I'll be at the community planning meeting on March 22. Whatever your perspectives, it is important to make sure they are included. Hope to see you there!
Another point of view
Reading Sally Coulter's account of the peace rally in New York (Mosquito, February 28, page 1) leads me to set out another point of view. I wish the rights and wrongs of this situation were as clear to me as they are to her and the others who journeyed to New York.
Is it so obvious that a preemptive strike against Iraq would be wrong? Certainly it is hard to regard as satisfactory the situation in the Middle East prior to the United States' military buildup · a ruthless leader in Iraq, intent on gaining atomic weapons, known to have chemical and biological weapons and unwilling to account for them, demonstrably willing to use them; endlessly repeated suicide bombings in Israel and harsh retaliatory strikes against the Palestinians; a hate-mongering regime in Saudi Arabia with elements cheerfully supporting terrorism elsewhere in the world.
Is it sensible, when faced with the threat of terrorism carried out by people who care not a whit for their own lives or the innocent lives of those whom they kill, to wait until the terrorists have acted before taking action against them? In hindsight a preemptive attack on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 would have been fully justified. The existence of worldwide terrorism demands a rethinking of the principle that nations may not attack until attacked. The president and the people around him have awesome responsibilities, and they are moving to discharge those responsibilities. Think of the firestorm of criticism that would be levied at the Administration if another attack like September 11 should take place on American soil. It is true that a firm link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein has not been established, but Mr. Hussein clearly approves of Al Qaeda and its actions and demonstrates his approval by paying bounties to the families of suicide bombers in Israel. Admittedly, preemption can be a dangerous policy and one to invoke reluctantly, but the regime in Iraq seems sufficiently dangerous to justify such a policy.
Mr. Bush is accused of "irrationally pursuing war at all costs." Have the Bush Administration's actions to date been irrational? Does anyone suppose that there would be a single UN inspector in Iraq today, or that Iraq would destroy a single missile, if it were not for the United States' military forces now surrounding Iraq? The idea that we should refrain from action because of fear of retaliation seems especially misguided · after all, we were attacked on September 11 and explicitly threatened with further attacks, all without any prior warlike actions on our part. Yielding to threats only emboldens those making them.
Continuing a policy of "containment" for Iraq makes little sense. It has been pursued for twelve years with no discernible effect on the ruling regime but with cruel effects on the Iraqi people. Is it wrong to try something different? And isn't it conceivable that some good things could flow from the current course of action · such as a deterrence for any regime to provide havens for terrorists, or a democratic state in Iraq, or, reaching a bit, a willingness from the Palestinians, seeing a successful democratic state next door, to work out a modus vivendi with Israel?
Even as I write this, I fear it sounds idealistic and ignores the horrors of war, but maybe war for all its risks is a risk worth taking in this situation. It's hard to know. I only know that I cannot share the certainty of others that this war would be unquestionably wrong.
© 2003 The