Friday, September 19, 2003
After returning home from a late summer vacation, tidying up the weeds in an overgrown vegetable garden, and wondering whether it was time to take my woolens out of their mothproof bags, I sat down to consider what issues lay ahead for the Town of Carlisle in the coming months.
Reading over recent issues of the Mosquito and talking to reporters and several town committee members, here is what I believe we should be looking for:
The Finance Committee is down one member and is actively searching for someone to fill that vacancy. Hopefully the committee, with approval from the Selectmen, will find an individual who will make sure that the committee represents all segments of our community.
Although there are still concerns about the 40B development at 302 Lowell Road, the eight-unit development, which will include two affordable units, is expected to be approved once the Board of Appeals is satisfied that the landscape plan is acceptable to all parties, including abutters, the developer and town boards.
Cell towers · what type, what size and where to put them · is a decision to be made now that the planning board has received the results of a report entitled "Evaluation of Wireless Facility Demands in Carlisle, Massachusetts," by Broadcast Signal Lab of Medfield, Mass. After years of debate on where to locate the towers, isn't it time to move ahead, grit our teeth and follow some of those recommendations? Or do we stall until cell towers are obsolete and replaced by satellite transmission? With the recent death of Town Clerk Sarah Andreassen, the Selectmen will be appointing an interim Town Clerk to serve until the next Town Election. Since the Town Clerk position is an elected position, I am happy to report that it can only be filled by a Carlisle resident.
Carlisle parents with students at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School are eagerly awaiting the results of the Concord override vote to be held next week. The Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee has voted to reduce the high school budget by 1%. Carlisle Selectmen support a 1% budget cut, but there is concern that Concord will vote for a 2% budget cut. If that should happen, the Regional School Committee may call for a joint Concord-Carlisle Town Meeting to resolve the issue.
The Town Footpath Committee has added several energetic new members to its ranks. With funds approved by Town Meeting, the committee expects to break ground this fall for a pathway heading down Bedford Road to the Banta-Davis Land and Kimball's Ice Cream Stand. At present, the committee is obtaining easements in areas of private property along the road, on which traffic is becoming increasingly hazardous to pedestrians. Also, health experts are telling Americans they need more exercise and to get out and walk (and eat less ice cream!). These pathways couldn't be coming at a better time.
Carlisle's Revenue Enhancement Committee has been looking for savings and new revenue sources for the town. Their findings will be published in a report coming out soon.
I am keeping my eye on the C.C.Pools venture in Concord, which is about to start building a community swimming pool across from the high school this fall. Hopefully the project will continue to get financial support from Concord and Carlisle citizens and their organizations. In the future, I look forward to a 15 minute drive into Concord for a much-needed weekly swim.
These are just a few of the issues that we will be talking about in the months ahead. (If you'd like to take an active part in the discussion, consider becoming a Mosquito reporter. Send a note to mail@carlislemosquito if you are interested.)
Arranging a house exchange
We were glad to be away during the most wet and humid period of the most wet and humid summer in memory. August in Carlisle may not seem like the ideal summer vacation, but we found a previously unknown family from Europe, who had never before been to the United States, eager to spend their summer vacation in Carlisle. We did a house exchange vacation.
I first came across the concept of house exchange vacations a couple of years ago, somewhat by chance, while browsing the web. It looked intriguing, but I assumed one had to live in a tourist resort-type area to find anyone interested in exchanging. Then, encouraged by friends, I began to look further into it last fall.
We wanted to go to Germany, since we have relatives and friends there, and our children are learning German. But the friends could not offer us lodging for more than a couple of days, and the relatives were either too distant or too old. So, a house exchange seemed like an ideal way of extending our stay and having a base from which to travel. House exchanges may also include a car exchange, as ours did.
A number of Internet-based house exchange agencies exist, some of which have been around since long before the Internet. I chose the agency with the most members in Europe. I filled out a form, wrote a nice description, uploaded a photo of our house, and then began looking for potential partners to contact. Browsing the potential home exchange offerings can actually be quite addictive. Families with children the same ages as ours offered the exchange of bicycles, use of computer and Internet connections, modern appliances, pianos, quiet neighborhoods within walking distance of shops, etc.
We began searching for a suitable exchange family in October. Some of the initial recipients of our e-mail queries replied that they had already made their arrangements for the following summer! But we came to an agreement with a family from a village near Stuttgart by mid November. The parents were teachers, with children aged 5, 8, and 10 (ours are 5 and 7).
Despite the long lead-time, there were lots of preparations to make. A six-week trip to Europe with children takes plenty of planning, and we also had to get our home in shape for the guests. Because they were a family of five, we had to buy an additional bed. And we needed to convert our storage room back into the master bedroom it was intended to be (move out boxes, install curtains, paint). Then we had to document the use of our home, nearby services, etc. While we would meet our exchange partners at their home, they would arrive at ours without us to explain anything. We had to create written instructions for everything · how to select CDs on the stereo's CD changer, how to sort and take recycling and trash to the transfer station, where to go grocery shopping, etc. Finally, we had to make adjustments in our car insurance and add guests to our AAA membership.
I'll describe more about how this exchange actually went in my next Forum essay in December. But here's a hint: We definitely plan to do it again.
© 2003 The