The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 9, 2003

Manage water use wisely

To the Editor:

The agenda for two recent board meetings in Carlisle included discussions about a proposed high-density housing development on Lowell Street. I attended those meetings to share my experiences and to encourage the board members to address the issue of water supply and the potential impact on the neighboring residents before approving the project.

Changes in my neighborhood, such as the high-density housing development directly across the street from my house and the installation of in-ground irrigation systems in the neighborhood, have impacted our water supply to the point where we lost water five times last summer. This year I have asked our neighbors to consider various water conservation efforts such as watering in the early morning hours when evaporation is minimized, use of a rain gauge and flexible watering schedule, watering once every three to five days as needed, and setting the lawn mower blade higher as taller grass will shade it's own roots. Whether there is a drought situation or not, Carlisle residents need to practice water conservation methods.

Since Carlisle's sole water supply is from individual wells, I request that town officials be proactive in addressing this issue by establishing a town-wide water management policy.

Re-elect Dan Holzman to the planning board

To the Editor:

We'd like to encourage voters to re-elect Dan Holzman to the planning board. As fellow civil engineers, we value his participation on the board as a civil engineer and feel that his technical knowledge as well as professional experience and judgment have made him an effective board member. We also enjoy his plain-spoken manner.

Dan's expertise applied to the review of comprehensive permit plans for affordable housing and to cell tower regulations is a huge asset to the Town.

We feel the Town is truly fortunate when talented citizens offer to dovetail their specialized skills with the needs of the Town and even more fortunate to gain the continuity of judgment when someone like Dan decides to run for election again.

Please vote for Dan.

More support for Dan Holzman

To the Editor:

This letter is to voice my support for the re-election of Dan Holzman to the planning board for a second term. Dan's knowledge as a civil engineer coupled with his characteristic approach of examining issues in detail, has proven invaluable. The board continues to need the expertise that he has provided.

My perspective on Dan's value to the board is enhanced by my having spent ten years as a member of the planning board and my present position as clerk and a member of the Carlisle Board of Appeals.

I urge all members of this community to vote to retain Dan in this important position.

Harold S. Sauer
Westford Street

Donate during "Pass it Forward" Day next Saturday

To the Editor:

As residents tackle their spring cleaning, I hope they will consider participating in Carlisle's first "Pass It Forward" Day. On Saturday, May 17, from 10 a.m. to noon, some town residents who are affiliated with various charities and social service organizations will be collecting specific items for these groups at the transfer station.

The Household Goods Recycling Ministry of Acton is looking for used furniture, small kitchen appliances and cooking utensils, lamps, and decorative items to help people coming out of shelters who are trying to set up living quarters. The Bedford Veteran's Center and the Host to International Student Program at MIT need men and women's casual, business, and outdoor clothing. House of Hope, a shelter for women and children, can use new toys for infants and toddlers and used child safety equipment such as outlet plugs, baby monitors, car seats and strollers. AIDS shelters in Boston need gently used toys, games, art supplies, and children's clothing and books. The Domestic Violence Victims' Advocate Program is looking for old cell phones.

"Pass It Forward" Day, which is being sponsored by the Household Recycling Committee, will hopefully become an annual event that will include more charities. It's truly a win-win situation. We get rid of our "clutter" while helping others at the same time. What a positive way to start the spring!

Amy Fennick
River Road

Praise for Personnel Board

To the Editor:

On Monday evening Town Meeting approved a new personnel bylaw for town employees. On behalf of the town employees covered under this bylaw, I would like to recognize the efforts of the Personnel Board, Town Administrator and Selectmen in completing this task. In addition to the bylaw, the Personnel Board has prepared a job classification plan, compensation schedule and is currently working on an employee policy handbook. Thank you to the Personnel Board for the many hours spent on meetings and discussions and to the Selectmen for their commitment to provide a well-managed, professional work place for our municipal departments.

Linda Fantasia
Board of Health Agent

CCHS is a busy, frugal place; an excellent school

To the Editor:

As a former regional school committee member and parent of recent and future CCHS graduates, I am familiar with the issues regarding the CCHS budget. Our high school is among the best in the state and we hope that it will continue to produce superbly educated graduates.

When you investigate college choices for your son or daughter, you'll look for small class sizes and a low student-teacher ratio. In other words, few classes per teacher and few students per teacher, exactly what you find at CCHS. This is by design, with the support of the faculty, the administration and the school committee, part of the reason that CCHS is so successful. Enthusiastic, attentive, available teachers.

Perhaps the best objective measure of cost-effectiveness in a school is cost per student. When cost per student is lower now than ten years ago, while the attainments of the students increase (test scores, college acceptances, national merit awards, gold medals, etc.) year after year, you may be assured that this is a school that works efficiently and well.

A vexing issue in school budgeting for our regional school is the large change in the size of Carlisle's student contingent from year to year. Up by a dozen one year, down by ten the next, then up 15, but the trend is up. This translates into huge changes in Carlisle's annual tuition bill, since each town must pay the same amount per student. This is usually what drives the allocation increases we have recently experienced, as the proportion of Carlisle students grows towards 40%; only a few years ago it was 25%. Every 5% population increase pushes the budget allocation up 20%, an effect not so apparent with the Carlisle public school budget, an effect which produces great tension and pressure within the regional school committee to keep costs down.

If you can visit CCHS, you will find it a busy, frugal place, clean and well lit. It is not a lavish facility, but it is an excellent school, deserving of your continued support.

Harry Crowther
Bedford Road

Tony Allison and Doug Stevenson for selectmen

To the Editor.

The community of Carlisle is fortunate to have an excellent field of candidates running for the board of selectmen. In my three years on the finance committee, I have come to know and respect both Doug Stevenson and Tony Allison. Both Tony and Doug know to listen to our townspeople, our town employees, and to the various other boards and committees, which make up our town government. Both are dedicated to making and keeping Carlisle the community we want it to be.

Doug Stevenson has been a lifelong resident of Carlisle. He has continually demonstrated a commitment to our community, whether as a member of the board of selectmen, as a volunteer firefighters or in his many other community service activities. He will continue to bring his knowledge of our town to his responsibilities as a member of the board of selectmen.

During his five years on the finance committee (two years as chair), Tony Allison has demonstrated his ability to balance the needs and desires of the town against its available resources. He understands Carlisle's priorities, and has continually worked to keep those priorities in focus. Tony will bring the same level of commitment and dedication to the board of selectmen as he has demonstrated on the finance committee.

I urge you to elect Doug Stevenson and Tony Allison to the board of selectmen on May 13.

W. Lawrence Barton
Elizabeth Ridge Road

More election recommendations

To the Editor:

By the time this letter is printed, Carlisle will have concluded its Annual Town Meeting and will be heading to the ballot box on May 13.

I strongly urge voters to vote Yes for the Concord Carlisle Regional High School override budget that is entitled Question 1 on the ballot. Developing a budget for CCHS has been particularly vexing this year due to the uncertainty surrounding state aid for the region. There are significant differences between the Governor's budget and the House's budget in terms of aid to the CCHS and how that aid should be applied to CCHS. Given the vagaries of state support, and a lot of respectful give and take between the Carlisle FinCom and school committee, the budget requested by CCHS is a responsible one and I hope the Town agrees with this point of view by supporting Question 1.

Also, this year there are three candidates, including myself, running for two open seats on the Board of Selectmen. I would ask that when voters are casting their ballot for the BOS, one of the candidates that they vote for be Doug Stevenson. I've known Doug for over 5 years and the energy and devotion he has for Carlisle is remarkable. Mr. Stevenson's reelection will insure that his valuable governmental knowledge and experience will continue to be available to our Town's citizens.

Tony Allison
School Street

CCHS override perspectives

To the Editor:

On May 13 Carlisle taxpayers vote on the $189,429 tax levy override proposed by the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee.

Little information has been published to justify the necessity for this override and the underlying issues prompting the proposal. We have only heard about losses of state aid and (especially) about the very modest impact that the override will have on Carlisle's tax rate (1.3 percentage points).

To clarify and broaden this issue facing Carlisle voters, an additional perspective is offered.

In early March, the Governor's budget proposal projected a $1.7 million dollar cut in state aid for CCRSD. Carlisle's share of this cut was $490,000. Later, Carlisle received an increase of $287,000 in state aid to offset a portion of the CCHS cut.

Carlisle FinCom placed the remaining $204,000 of the CCHS cut within its levy limit (no-override) budget. Concord did the same with its portion of the cut.

Therefore, all of the $1.7 million state aid reduction was restored by the two towns within their no-override budgets. Due to good fiscal management, Carlisle's FY04 no-override (levy limit) budget also restored decreases in state aid affecting Carlisle's K-8 School.

How did the Carlisle Finance Committee restore cuts in state aid to the two schools? Here's a partial listing of what was done: 1) cut training from the police budget; 2) cut the fire department budget; 3) reduced the ambulance fund; 4) reduced the reserve fund; 5) applied insurance cost savings; 6) reduced free cash; 7) applied savings from interest costs.

Thus the $189,429 override for CCHS is not due to cuts in state aid but rather from budget increases above guidelines to allow for increases in pay and other costs at the high school.

The Regional School Committee (RSC) has threatened educational program cuts if the override is not passed. However, other alternatives should be considered such as adjusting teaching workloads, reducing amounts of salary increases, not expanding the parking lot, etc. thereby allowing CCHS to maintain educational excellence without an override. It is time for CCHS teachers and administration to share in the economic burdens already assumed by the towns they serve.

Ralph Anderson
Baldwin Road

The unasked question of 40B development

To the Editor:

Last week's Mosquito editorial missed the single most important fact regarding all affordable housing development in Carlisle — a question whose answer will determine the success or failure of this town's growth.

It's understandable that this crucial issue was missed, since the whole 40B process is unfamiliar terrain for our town. In fact, this issue hasn't been raised by any member of the town boards reviewing the proposed Laurel Hollow project.

What we have heard is members of the boards (and the Mosquito editorial) claim that the density of Laurel Hollow would be "equivalent" to one-acre zoning "just like in the town center." Except that Carlisle hasn't let anyone build that densely for a long time now, mainly to ensure against water problems. As for "equivalents," imagine three 6,000 square foot homes, plus another 4,000 square foot home, each of them sporting a four-car garage, all built on adjacent one-acre lots. Oh, but they share septic systems and wells. Oh, and don't forget the detention basin located directly off of the main road.

Either we have two-acre zoning in this town for a good reason, or we should change to one-acre zoning. I'm suspicious when someone tells me that two-acre zoning is right for most Carlisle residents, but one-acre zoning should be okay for, well, me.

So what's the question the town should be asking, but hasn't yet? It's this: What is the minimum divergence from our zoning bylaws required in order to get affordable housing into this town? Chapter 40B itself states that projects can be limited in order to meet local needs. Laurel Hollow is proposed as an eight-unit project — could it be economically viable as a six-unit or even a four-unit project, causing much less impact on the area? The town needs to know. The town should insist on knowing. We should protect the best interests of Carlisle with a financial review of the project, just as other towns routinely do.

You only get one chance to set a precedent. Let's have both affordable housing and a margin of safety for our delicate environment.

John Brewer
Lowell Street

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito