The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 2, 2003

Article 12 provides tax relief for seniors

To the Editor:

In light of the hardship that real estate taxes pose on many of Carlisle's senior citizens, the Council on Aging supports Article 12 of the Town Warrant regarding the Senior Citizen Tax Voucher Program. This program aims to employ qualified senior citizens who may apply their earnings toward partial payment of their property taxes. The senior tax voucher program was successfully implemented in Carlisle this past year, allowing ten residents to reduce their taxes by $500. Seniors worked in various town departments such as the library, town clerk, and assessor's office. In addition to the financial benefit to seniors, the program also increases senior citizen involvement in town government and enhances municipal services provided. The senior tax voucher program is one step towards easing the financial burden for our seniors, who have been facing escalating real estate taxes for many years.

Elizabeth Jewell
Director, Council on Aging

Vote for footpaths

To the Editor:

This letter is a strong endorsement of the need to fund the footpath plan for Carlisle. How many times have we seen parents drive children between the school and other local spots because it wasn't safe for the kids to go on their own? And what about the fact that seniors feel isolated without cars when there are no alternatives for them to get around? Retaining our elders provides long-term stability, a sense of community and a requirement for fewer services.

The Pedestrian and Bike Safety Advisory committee has come up with a sensible and reasonable way to provide options for those of us who would prefer to burn calories instead of gasoline. The pathways will blend into the landscape, preserving the rural appearance in a way similar to the walk behind the stone wall and among the trees on the Church and School Streets corner. Pathways would be created along the main roads within about a half mile of the town center.

Although any increases in taxes in this economic climate is significant, this modest proposal uses approximately $30,000 per year over five years for a total of $150,000. This amounts to about $1 per year for the first year to about $15 for the fifth year for an average house and would cease altogether when the bond is paid off in ten years. This is not a permanent addition to the tax rate.

We would all like the commuter traffic and trucks to go away, but unfortunately they are here to stay. Ways to avoid getting hit by them would be nice. And how many times have we been told by the medical community that there is a physical consequence to our overreliance on the automobile. Our kids need to know that there is another way to get around for a healthier lifestyle. The Ped/Bike Committee deserves credit for a carefully thought out plan for a pedestrian network. Now the method for implementing it deserves your support as well. Please vote yes at Town Meeting and at the election.

Vivian F. Chaput
Milne Cove Lane

Ed. Note: Vivian Chaput is a member of the Carlisle Board of Selectmen.

Report from the Animal Inspector

To the Editor:

The animal counts are in and Carlisle has a healthy farm animal population. 2003 seems to be the year to "chicken up" for fresh eggs. There are 221 chickens in town. The "other" barnyard bird population is 30. Horses outnumbered cows this year. Our bovine count was 136. Our equine count was 161 which included horses, ponies, donkeys and miniature horses.

I'd like to get a better count on rabbits. I only have eight "official" rabbits (lagamorphs) in town and there are eight South American llamas and alpacas.

There are 13 goats and nine sheep in the official spring 2003 Carlisle count, and we await the fall arrival of the first miniature cows in town.

Please vacccinate against rabies.

Sally Lakness
Cranberry Hill Lane
Carlisle Animal Inspector

Group organizing to encourage pesticide reduction

To the Editor:

Several Carlisle residents met two weeks ago to discuss how our town can participate in a state-wide initiative to reduce pesticide use in our community. The town of Wellesley, using state and private grants, created a Pesticide Reduction Resource Guide to help Massachusetts communities create their own pesticide reduction programs. Now, over 100 towns have this guide and are in various stages of implementing it.

With guide in hand, we aim to increase pesticide awareness, to promote reduction of pesticide use, and to encourage organic and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods in Carlisle. We plan to work with the Board of Health, Conservation Commission, our school, DPW, residents, local landscape and lawn care professionals, and other interested groups.

If you care about reducing pesticides in our town, please find out more. We are in the early stages of organizing as a non-profit, tax-exempt organization, and will be applying for grants to help pay for pamphlets and future clinics and workshops. We need and welcome volunteers who can help in any capacity. If you want to get involved or have questions, please contact Chris Chin (1-978-369-6769, or Lisa Wiesner (1-978-371-7845, wiesnerlisa@hotmail. com). Thank you.

Chris Chin
Hemlock Hill Road

Malcolm Meadows response on water usage

To the Editor:

I would like to set the record straight with regard to two allegations made by Debbie Webster as reported in the April 25 edition of the Carlisle Mosquito:

1. Allegation: After its installation, Malcolm Meadows (MM) chose to run its lawn irrigation system "during the sunniest part of the day."

Fact: The irrigation system operates on a timer from 6 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. for one section and from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the other.

2. Allegation: Ms. Webster complained that MM's lawn irrigation system was the cause of her loss of water.

Fact: MM reduced the sprinkler consumption by 20%; however, Ms. Webster reported this measure provided her no relief.

Fact: After reducing the sprinkler consumption by 20%, and learning that this had no beneficial effect for Ms. Webster, MM further revised its sprinkler to operate every other day.

I also wish to point out these additional considerations:

1. Four large homes have been built, or are nearing completion, on Stearns Street; two are located on either side of the Websters. At the height of the drought, the builder ran the lawn sprinklers at two of the completed spec houses for extended periods without interruption.

2. On August 28, 2002, before the drought had begun to recede, the Carlisle Fire Department emptied the 20,000 gallon cistern located on MM property in order to fill a pumper truck. Since the cistern should be full at all times, the dedicated well exclusively serving this cistern and located directly across Stearns Street from the Webster residence was required to produce the 20,000 gallons of replacement water.

Russ Perry
President, Malcolm Meadows Condominium Association
Stearns Street

Ted Read to run for library trustee

To the Editor:

I want to thank Alan Cameron for nominating me as a candidate for Library Trustee. Also, many thanks to the League of Women Voters for sponsoring the Candidates Forum on Sunday, April 13, at which time I took the opportunity to make a statement.

My wife Norma and I are 25-year Carlisle residents, living at Indian Hill. We are both retired. Our three adult children all reside in other Massachusetts communities. I graduated from Harvard College in 1951 with a BA degree in Economics.

Before retirement, I spent 40 years as a technical writer in various Massachusetts hi-tech industries. My last job before retirement was with CTI Cryogenics in Mansfield where I served as manager of technical publications for 13 years, directing a staff of up to eight employees.

Currently I am serving my third year as treasurer for the Carlisle Council on Aging.

Why am I running for Library Trustee? First, let me say this. The Gleason Public Library does an absolutely superb job and offers an invaluable service to the Carlisle community. I don't aspire to change what we have, but only to make it even better. As a writer with a 40-year career experience, my primary focus would be to enhance communication between the library and the Carlisle public. As an example, I would volunteer to write and offer a series of articles to the Mosquito entitled "Know Your Library Better." Also, I would propose to install a prominently-displayed suggestion box on the library entrance level floor. Communication needs to be a two-way stream.

I believe my 13 years as a publications manager, plus my current COA treasurer position, provide administrative and financial experience directly applicable to the duties of a Library Trustee. I recognize that other responsibilities would be new for me but I am a fast learner and highly motivated to get aboard quickly. Right now I have the enthusiasm, the time and above all the interest to make the library even better.

I humbly solicit your vote on town election day, Tuesday, May 13.

Ted Read
Indian Hill

Come to the Education Forum on May 17

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Carlisle School Committee, I invite all members of the Carlisle community to attend the eighth annual Carlisle Education Forum on Saturday, May 17, 2003. This year's forum, "Kids, Books & Censorship: An Author's Perspective," features Carlisle's own award-winning author, Ms. Nancy Garden.

Ms. Garden has written over 30 books for teens and younger children. Her work encompasses both fiction and non-fiction, including insightful coming-of-age stories, histories, fantasies and mysteries. In January the American Library Association honored Ms. Garden with the Margaret A. Edwards Award for her lifetime contributions in writing for young adults.

Ms. Garden has graciously accepted our invitation to share her thoughts about children, books, and censorship with the town. She is well-equipped for this task. Her 1982 novel, Annie on My Mind, touchingly tells the story of two young women who fall in love. That critically-acclaimed book has been burned and banned in several parts of the country.

The purpose of the Carlisle Education Forum is to provide an opportunity for townspeople to share their ideas on the future of education in the town. In past

years we've heard about and discussed systems thinking, technology, new skills for today's workplace, raising standards, and raising our children. This year's topic and speaker will continue to push our thinking about who are children are and how we should participate in their growth.

Ms. Garden's speech will be followed by community discussion groups. Registration fliers have been sent to all Carlisle households. Pre-registration makes planning easier, but you can also register at the door. We hope you will join us Saturday, May 17, from 9:30 to 12:30 p.m. at Corey Auditorium.

Suzanne Whitney-Smith
Chair, Carlisle School Committee

Vote no on the CCHS override

To the Editor:

Congratulations to the Carlisle Finance Committee for successfully holding the line on budget increases in Carlisle, and kudos to the Carlisle School Committee for developing a budget within the levy limit. Both committees deserve our thanks.

Similar accolades cannot be accorded the Regional School Committee, which seems blind to the realities taxpayers face. "Just Say No," a popular anti-drug slogan, also applies to the proposed $189,429 operating budget override for Concord-Carlisle Regional High School.

Arguments for and against the CCHS budget override are well known, and the state's fiscal freefall introduces another complication that will not be resolved before Town Meeting. Will taxpayers allow massive state aid reductions to be passed along to property owners in the form of higher local taxes now and perhaps for years to come?

Carlisle's current tax rate of $15.05 combined with high assessed property valuations make the tax burden in Carlisle among the highest in Massachusetts. Taxes are forcing long-time residents to leave town and challenging younger residents facing layoffs and salary freezes in industry.

In difficult economic times budgets must be cut, and the CCHS budget should be no exception. Lincoln-Sudbury RHS, for example, recently announced staff and teacher reductions that will result in no override for high school funding despite a 9.1 % salary increase in their new three-year teachers' contract.

Currently, teacher compensation at CCHS is among the highest in the state. Unless the RSC demonstrates real leadership in negotiating a new contract with minimal salary scale increases, Carlisle taxes will escalate for years to come. Increasing teacher workload requirements from four classes to five classes, as 98% of Massachusetts school districts currently require, will produce staff reductions and finance modest compensation increases without the need for an override.

Last year an override failed in Carlisle because taxpayers finally decided to say no. That surprising vote sent a message that apparently the RSC hasn't received. Tough times require more fiscal conservatism than the Regional School Committee has thus far been willing to recognize.

Send the message again. Vote no on the CCHS override.

Linda Kistler
Heald Road

Support the high school budget

To the Editor:

Our schools today face the challenge of being a place that is relevant and valuable for every one of our children. In the past, students who became disengaged or dropped out entirely had options. Today there are few opportunities for the uneducated, and the expectation is that every child will have the opportunity to benefit from a good education.

This challenge is met at CCHS by the variety that exists at the school today — the excellence of academic classes offered at various levels of instruction, the arts, — visual and performance, sports for different ability levels, clubs and other activities. It is also met by the teachers and other adults, who, as a result of class loads and administrative support, are in a position to meet the needs of students struggling academically, as well as those who may lack a sense of belonging, and who need a little extra time and attention from a caring adult. These things are not frivolous extras. They are essential elements of what we ask of today's schools for our children, and are a part of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges standards for high school accreditation.

The education that our children receive at the high school today is the result of extraordinarily well-thought- out decisions, the commitment and expertise of true professionals, and the past support of its communities. And I believe CCHS does what we are asking it to do, in a way that is as fiscally responsible as it is possible to be. There is nothing extravagant about how money at the school is spent. Some parents and other community members do choose to provide personal time, energy and financial resources to enhance some of the experiences for students. But the budget is lean.

The teachers' salaries are not the problem. Our teachers are well paid, not overpaid. That is as it should be.

Let's keep our high school at least intact until we find a way to meet fiscal challenges that face us. Diminishing our educational system should not be the answer we choose. Please vote for an override at Town Meeting and the polls.

Barbara Lewis
East Riding Drive

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito