Friday, November 21, 2003
Town votes $1.3M for wastewater plant
Less than 10% of Carlisle's 3,282 registered voters showed up at the polls on Tuesday to decide the fate of a $1.5 million wastewater treatment plant for the Carlisle Public Schools. The single question on the ballot passed by vote of 278 to 45. Earlier in the month, a Special Town Meeting had approved the appropriation by 195 to 1. A key factor in the strong "Yes" vote was the promise of a 60% reimbursement for the project from the state, available only if construction begins by the summer of 2004.
The total estimated cost for the system is $1,499,000, which includes the wastewater treatment plant on the Spalding Field slope behind the Corey Building and a leaching field on the Banta-Davis land. The school has approximately $220,000 available from funds previously set aside for a septic system in the 1996 school link building expansion project. This brings the estimated cost of the current project to $1,279,000, 60% of which will be reimbursed, although payback may take many years.
Voter stream very slow
Despite the pleasant fall weather, voters trickled into Town Hall at a very slow rate all day. Carlisle's antique ballot box was fed only 35 ballots in the first hour, 130 by noon, and 223 by 4 p.m. There were no lines at the check-in stations and plenty of open spaces in the parking lot. One resident arrived at Town Hall on horseback and tethered his mount at the front door. (The Town Clerk was unsure whether either the horse or the rider voted.)
The first Town Election for new Town Clerk Charlene Hinton was a breeze. Volunteer poll workers with time on their hands munched on Warden Harriet Fortier's cookies and looked up the voter count in past Town Elections: 319 in the State Primary in 1996, 233 in a Town Election in 1997, 300 in the State Primary in 2000.
With only one question on the ballot, the hand-count of the paper ballots was finished quickly. Clerk of Elections Connie Metivier announced the results at 8:20 p.m.
History of a septic problem
The existing school septic system failed a Title 5 inspection in 1996, at the time of the school link building expansion. Since then the school has been operating by pumping its septic tank monthly at a cost of $1,000. According to school officials, the state would not tolerate this patch-up solution indefinitely.
A new septic system for the school was designed in 1996 to be built on the Banta-Davis Land off Bedford Road, but was delayed by litigation and by endless testing of other town-owned lands in hopes of finding some alternative location, far from the litigious abutters. Over the intervening seven years, the school enrollment has grown, now requiring a more expensive wastewater treatment plant.
The state School Building Assistance Bureau (SBA), which reimburses schools for capital improvements, has allowed Carlisle to date this project back to the link building expansion, and to honor its 1996 promise of a 60% reimbursement. However, the SBA has warned Carlisle that further delays will require a new application. Currently the SBA is not accepting any new school building applications.
© 2003 The