The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 14, 2003


45-minute Town Meeting approves all Articles
$1.3 millon for wastewater plant approved 195 to 1

Those who came to the Special Town Meeting Monday night apparently had their minds made up. After only one question, voters approved the nearly $1.3 million for a new wastewater treatment plant for the Carlisle School, by a vote of 195 to 1. Now the capital project needs approval by a majority of voters at the ballot box at Town Hall next Tuesday, November 18.

Many were surprised by the speed of the meeting. From its start, when a 150-person quorum was reached, to finish it took less than 45 minutes to approve all Articles. The meeting will be remembered for having almost no audience discussion.

School Building Committee chair Paul Morrison read Warrant Article 1, requesting $1,278,918 for the school wastewater plant. The Selectmen and FinCom gave their unanimous support for the Article and then Moderator Tom Raftery asked if there were any town committee or citizen comments. After a long pause, Recreation Commission member Mark Spears asked a question about the specific location of the wastewater plant. After Morrison described the siting, on the slope behind the school, there were no other questions or comments.

Seeing that Raftery was ready to call for a vote on the question, School Committee member Michael Fitzgerald asked that Morrison be given time to show a presentation on the project. Morrison showed one slide showing the three questions he thought many might be asking.

Can we continue pumping?

With the current septic system under Spalding Field in technical failure since 1996, the school can't keep pumping it out monthly forever. "We can't ignore it," Morrison said, predicting that eventually the state Department of Environmental Protection could take action.

Why not a cheaper septic system?

Increased enrollments at the school have increased wastewater flow rates beyond 10,000 gallons per day. Consequently, the school is now required by the state to put in a wastewater plant rather than a septic field.

Why now?

Finally, the state School Business Assistance department's (SBA) promise of a 60% reimbursement for the project will disappear if work is not started by the summer of 2004, said Morrison, referring to a letter from the SBA to the school in September.

The school expects reimbursement payments to start in five to seven years, once the wastewater plant is completed and in operation, and after the entire project is audited by the state. However, because the school is currently receiving payments from the SBA for the 1996 school link building expansion project, which includes the wastewater plant, there is "some chance" the town may see reimbursements earlier than expected, said Morrison after the meeting.

A STITCH IN TIME. Kay Woodward sews while listening to Monday night's Town Meeting. (Photo by Lois d'Annunzio)
A total of 212 people attended the meeting, a mix of those with and without children currently in the school system. The lack of discussion was unusual for a Town Meeting. "It's common to see no discussion and a lopsided vote when there is a 'housekeeping' issue, such as a transfer of funds, but not on a major issue such as this," said Morrison. "I think part of it was the Mosquito," said Raftery. "People read about the Articles ahead of time and seeing it in print helped them along. They came knowing basically how they were going to vote."

Raftery oversaw the meeting from the Moderator's podium for the first time since his election last spring. The Moderator previewed all presentations before the meeting and commented that the computer PowerPoint presentations shown at the meeting were easier for the audience to read than the old-style overhead projector slides that require focusing.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito