The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 19, 2004

Barbee will run for School Committee

To the Editor:

It could take us years to recover financially from the hits we're taking to public education. But it doesn't have to take us years to find additional ways of teaching and learning that address the needs of all our kids and which support our educators. We need to look now at ways to challenge and engage kids and to keep those at the edge of the proverbial cracks from proceeding into them. I think we can find ways to do better by our growing student population while we work our way back from budget cuts.

That's why I'm running for a seat on the Carlisle School Committee. I look forward to building on the dozen years of leadership and innovation provided us by Davida Fox-Melanson and to working with a new superintendent who also seems to like thinking outside the box.

We have big challenges ahead of us, not least the matter of aging school facilities here in town as well as at the regional high school. Much of our ability to address the building issues will be dictated by the economy.

But learning goes on, and must, in good times and bad. I see a lot of energy and commitment in town to doing what we think is right for our kids. I hope we can work together to build programs that enhance learning and which are also cost effective. Can we harness the ways in which kids naturally learn to ease the pressure on class sizes by allowing more small group activities, perhaps schools within schools? Can we alter the school calendar in ways that benefit students, families, and faculty? I'll say upfront: I don't yet know the answers. But I'm eager to work with parents and teachers to begin finding the answers.

Now is the time to innovate. If not here, where?

Thank you for your support.

Christy Barbee
Cranberry Hill Lane

CEF/CSA fundraiser a huge success

To the Editor:

A delightful evening was enjoyed by everyone at Carlisle Goes Calypso, the CEF/CSA Dinner/Dance Auction on Saturday, March 13. It was a huge success, due to the incredible dedication and support of the Carlisle community and countless volunteers.

We would like to thank Jim Zimmerman and the Middlesex School for the use, again, of its lovely facilities. Thank you also to Wayside Mortgage for generously sponsoring the band, to Al Merry, Carlisle's own auctioneer extraordinaire, and to Anne Wilkes and Currier and Chives for the delicious and elegant meal.

Our heartfelt thanks to all of the community: those who spent countless hours transforming the facility into a tropical paradise, those who donated their services and items so generously, and especially our guests that evening - you showed amazing enthusiasm, generosity, and commitment to the school. We are still counting; however we may have raised over $45,000 for the Carlisle school. Another incredible success!

Thank you everyone.

Michelle Sobin and Laura Snowdon
Carlisle Education Foundation

RecCom chair writes about Parcel A

To the Editor:

Over the past few weeks the Mosquito has published articles and viewpoints about the acquisition of the Benfield Parcel A. As the Chair of Carlisle Recreation, I would like to specifically address the issue of active recreation. Active recreation is a way to classify land so that when a need arises for active recreation, for example, a playing field, the land is designated for that purpose. The one property in Carlisle that fully supports this designation is the Banta-Davis Land. There is the potential to place two more fields on that property once the Carlisle Public Schools do not need the property for school expansion. There may be the opportunity to utilize Foss Farm and Recreation plans to work together with current user groups and Conservation to determine the possibility.

Carlisle Recreation's future need is based on work from the Municipal Land Committee and input from town residents at last year's planning day. This information concluded the need for 12 to 20 acres of land over the next 15 years for active recreational use.

For the past five years I have participated in town government. I spent three years on the Municipal Land Committee, two years on the CPC, and five years on Recreation and have used my experience from these committees to come to a recommendation for the acquisition of this piece of land. The acquisition of Parcel A makes sense if there is a designation of housing, recreation and open space in the closing documents.

I urge you to attend Town Meeting to vote.

Maureen Tarca, chair
Carlisle Recreation Commission
Partridge Lane

Sudbury Valley Trustees write on Parcel A

To the Editor:

Last August I had the opportunity to tour a beautiful piece of land in southwest Carlisle. A dazzling meadow, teeming with goldenrod, Joe-Pye weed, and Black-eyed Susan, was abuzz with the activity of pollinators. Spencer Brook meandered at the bottom of this meadow, and poplars and aspens shimmered in the late summer sun. A red-tailed hawk circled above before alighting on the bough of a white pine. The walk was a poignant reminder of the critical importance of open space to our well-being.

At Special Town Meeting on March 23, Carlisle residents will have an opportunity to protect this meadow using Community Preservation funds. Known as "Parcel A" of the Benfield land on South Street, the 45-acre property has been offered to the town by the Carlisle Conservation Foundation (CCF). For $2 million, the town will be able to immediately devote 26 acres to open space, and master plan the remaining 19 acres for up to 26 units of affordable housing, a ballfield, and additional open space. A well-designed plan could cluster housing on as little as four acres, leaving 41 acres available for active and passive recreation.

At a price that's well under market value, purchasing this parcel will allow the town to protect open space while meeting other community needs.

Parcel A and much of the area around it was recognized as an area of high diversity in the 2000 Sudbury, Assabet and Concord River Watershed Biodiversity Protection and Stewardship Plan. It was also noted in the 2000 Greenways Plan for the SuAsCo Watershed as an important link in a network of protected land and wildlife and recreation corridors. Town purchase of Parcel A, along with the imminent protection of other portions of the Benfield land, would create a protected corridor stretching from Acton's Spring Hill Conservation Area to Estabrook Woods.

Sudbury Valley Trustees applauds the hard work of CCF in structuring a creative and cost-effective plan that protects land and fulfills multiple community needs. We urge Carlisle residents to support this effort at Special Town Meeting on the 23rd.

Ron McAdow
Executive Director,
Sudbury Valley Trustees

South Street residents' views need to be heard

To the Editor:

I believe residents of the South Street area hold a wider range of viewpoints regarding the Benfield Land than you have reported in your pages. In hopes of informing town opinion I have tried to summarize some of them here.


Residents question the prudence of this expenditure and are skeptical about estimates of costs presented; CPA funding is not "free," it's taxpayer's money. Why are we spending such money at a time of fiscal crisis in the Commonwealth? Do the highly privileged children of Carlisle need another ballfield while underprivileged children in Lawrence, Haverhill and Brockton have no textbooks? Is it prudent to blow the entire CPA fund in one wad leaving zero for other potential needs?

Planning process

Residents are dismayed by the helter-skelter process behind the hurriedly formulated Town Meeting motion. Neighborhood perspective has not been sought on this proposal that will seriously affect our daily lives, and expressions of concern have been strongly discouraged by the CPA Committee chairperson. The planning task force scheduled to follow purchase of the land, and vaunted as the neighborhood's chance to participate, is in fact a sham, with one member at a recent CPAC meeting opining that the task force would determine the placement of shrubs. No serious estimates have been presented of the traffic impact connected with ball games and 26 new housing units, nor the other extensive development proposed for the area.

Some will portray this as an anti-affordable housing stance. In fact, many neighborhood residents, including me, agree that Carlisle needs affordable housing and are willing to do our part in our neighborhood. What brings many South Street residents together in opposing the purchase, however, is the conviction that South Street is being asked to shoulder too much of Carlisle's common load, not just for affordable housing but also for ballfields. The price will be the despoliation of one of the town's designated scenic byways.

As the motion gives us a take-it-or-leave-it choice, I and others in this part of town will vote against it.

Frank Rigg
South Street

CPA committee represents a diverse swath of community interests

To the Editor:

I would like to clarify some misinterpretations in recent letters to the Mosquito.

Community Preservation Act (CPA) is state legislation that the Town of Carlisle approved (not once, but twice) following open discussion and Town Meeting votes. The first election included a town discussion and vote concerning the composition of the CPA committee (CPACom) [also called the Community Preservation Committee, or CPC.] Three of the members are actually elected officials (a member from each of the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, and Housing Authority) and the other four members are all appointed by elected officials (the Selectmen). Those four members are, in turn, members of the Historic Commission, the Recreation Commission, the Conservation Commission and one member "at large." Therefore, the membership of the CPACom is specifically constructed to represent a wide and diverse swath of community interests.

The committee's role is to review proposals submitted by individuals, organizations or boards that want to utilize CPA funds. The CPACom reviews the proposals to be sure that they are 1) consistent with the CPA laws and 2) reflect the needs and priorities of the town. How does the committee do this? There is in fact an established set of town goals and objectives that have been formulated over time via a number of public forums and hard-working town committees. For example, just a year ago, the Planning Board held an open planning day, complete with professional facilitators, as part of a master planning process.

The discussion during CPA meetings concerning the Benfield land has been extensive. The final version of the proposal reflects many changes resulting from this input.

Some examples include the minimum number of acres to be devoted to open space; the maximum number of ball fields to be allowed; and the maximum number of housing units that can be built.

As anyone who has volunteered to serve on a town committee knows, these processes are never perfect and will never please everyone. However, the CPA committee members have done their best to make a proposal that is consistent with public input, the state laws, and the overall strategic goals of the town. I urge everyone to come to Town Meeting on March 23 where your vote will be counted.

Caren Ponty, chair,
CPA Committee

Benfield purchase is an issue for all taxpayers

To the Editor:

The Benfield land purchase with CPA funds is not just an abutters' issue; it is not just a South Street issue — it is an issue for all taxpayers in Carlisle.

A vote "Yes" for the Benfield purchase with CPA funds means that we will keep the 2% CPA surcharge on our real estate taxes for at least another ten years — the length of the bond.

In the next two years, when the major high school project comes due, the only recourse will be to raise real estate taxes for all Carlisle residents.

The Benfield land purchase with CPA funds is unnecessary and unwise — and is a very important issue for all taxpayers of Carlisle.

Come to the Special Town meeting and say "No" to continuing unnecessary high taxes.

Ray Kubacki
South Street

Addressing Carlisle's need for affordable housing

To the Editor:

Carlisle needs affordable housing. Carlisle does not need more town land. The purchase of Benfield Parcel A exhausts financial resources that should be applied directly to the construction of affordable housing.

Proponents of the plan to purchase Benfield Parcel A for affordable housing and athletic fields have emphasized the need for affordable housing in Carlisle and the need for action now to protect against private Chapter 40B developers. In fact the purchase of Parcel A diverts needed resources away from the construction of housing and provides a very weak and temporary defense against private 40B development in comparison with other options available to the Town.

What is needed to is for the Town to immediately undertake affordable housing contruction rather than acquiring additional land. The goal is to construct 100 to 150 affordable units or stop short of that number when the market is satisfied. Probably something less than 150 units will satisfy the market.

Consider a building program of 26-unit modules, with two modules completed to occupancy every three to four years, at a cost to the town of $1,000,000 per module, on land currently owned by the Town. Placing up to two modules per site would seem reasonable. Certainly Foss Farm could accommodate two modules (50 units). Other sites may only be able to support a single module. Athletic fields can also be sited at these same locations.

After, say, eight years, the Town would have sponsored I 00 units of affordable housing which would certainly provide a test of the market and keep private 40B developers at bay for that period of time. If the last of the three modules sold in a reasonable time, additional modules could be undertaken. If sales proved to be very sluggish, further construction could be deferred. Private 40B developers would also be wary of such a soft market.

All of the above is accomplished at only $4,000,000 cost to the Town, no borrowing or interest costs being incurred, and leaving funds for other purposes such as renovation of the Greenough house, barn and dam.

Purchase of Parcel A is not the best way to address our affordable housing needs.

David B. Trask,
Finance Committee Member
Log Hill Road

[Ed. note: The writer adds that "the views above are Mr. Trask's own and do not represent the Carlisle Finance Committee.]

Selectmen divided on Parcel A

To the Editor:

Contrary to recently published mailings we would like to certify that at this point in time the majority of the Board of Selectmen do not support the draft motion for the Benfield Parcel A purchase as it is represented to us on March 16, 2004.

At this time the Board does support the purchase and sale agreement as a method to bring the Article before Town Meeting.

Douglas A. G. Stevenson
John Ballantine
R.A. Allison

[Ed. note: Tim Hult recused himself from the vote.]

CCF on Selectmen's votes

To the Editor:

Carlisle Conservation Foundation members recently received a letter, which stated that the Board of Selectmen agreed on the form of motion to be presented to Town Meeting for the purchase of Benfield Parcel A.

Despite consistent 4-0 support by the Board of Selectmen for the purchase of Parcel A for multiple uses, two of the Board members do not support certain details of the motion developed by the Community Preservation Committee and Town Counsel.

Art Milliken
President, Carlisle Conservation Foundation

Number of housing units questioned

To the Editor:

Over the course of the last several weeks, we have heard many opinions from town committees and area residents about the best use for the land called Parcel A that has been generously offered to the Town by the Benfield family (via CCF). On March 23 the town will vote on whether or not to use CPA (Community Preservation Act) funds for this purchase. The CPC (Community Preservation Committee) which has control over the CPA funds has set some very troublesome requirements for this land and the planning process to date (eight weeks) has been far too brief to produce thoughtful results.

The number of housing "units" to be considered for this spectacular piece of property has not been sufficiently debated. Our understanding is the CPC is insisting on a minimum 26 units* because this figure will temporarily (two years) satisfy the town's state-mandated obligation to provide affordable housing while 13 units would only satisfy a one-year obligation.

We would like to suggest that there are better ways to determine the appropriate number of units. There are currently no projects in Carlisle that come close to the size proposed by the CPC. Because of this, the project runs the risk of becoming "institutional," a quality that is outside the current fabric of Carlisle. In fact, in years past and for good reasons, the town has supported the concept of "more/smaller" developments scattered throughout the town rather than "fewer/larger" such as the one before us. Carlisle has two good examples of smaller cluster housing that should be used as a model. Finally, if the economics don't support a smaller project, then perhaps the price for the land is too high for this purpose.

We can imagine that there is a feeling by the supporters of the larger scheme that this opportunity may not be available again for some time so they must "make the most of it." That point alone is no reason to force this scale of project upon us. Let the planning process determine the appropriate number of units and urge the CPC to relax their seemingly rigid position.

Chip and Debbie Dewing
South Street

* Ed. note: As of March 12 the CPC-supported motion for Town Meeting stipulates a maximum of 26 units, not a minimum.

Threat of 40B developments needs to be heeded

To the Editor:

Several recent letters and comments at public meetings have suggested that the threat of large developers using 40B to avoid our zoning and local environmental regulations and to build large, dense, profitable developments, is a "bogeyman."

In fact, there is a disturbing and increasing number of exactly such large 40B projects throughout our region, all reported at length in The Boston Globe or local newspapers.

At the "smaller" end of the spectrum there is the 60-unit development proposed on 21 acres in Boxboro where there is no town water or sewer (just like Carlisle). Additional examples include a 139-unit development in Bedford, a total of 672 units in seven approved and proposed developments in Billerica, and the 43-unit and 100-unit developments proposed in Littleton. Last but not least, there are the 162 units proposed for the troubled golf course in Acton (again in a location without town sewer), where the developer's polite demur to comment about 40B is deafening.

As the current issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly states, "Soaring demand for housing combined with a dwindling stock of available land across the commonwealth has resulted in a sharp increase in the use of comprehensive permits under G.L. c. 40B, Sections 20-23 — the State's Anti-Snob Zoning Act."

The Town's Finance Committee has publicly stated it believes the danger of large 40B developments to our zoning and our public school is real.

We are reminded of Ronald Reagan's 1984 campaign, which framed such a debate on another important issue this way:

"There is a bear in the woods. For some people the bear is easy to see. Others don't see it at all. Some people say the bear is tame. Others say it's vicious and dangerous. Since no one can really be sure who's right, isn't it smart to be as strong as the bear?"

Charles E. Parker, III
Log Hill Road
Greg Peterson, Carlisle Conservation Foundation
Indian Hill Road

Amend the USA PATRIOT Act

To the Editor:

The town knows me as a photographer, but in an earlier career, I was a librarian. I have always been a reader, and a steady user of libraries and customer of bookstores. Recently, I've transferred a lot of my research use of libraries to the Internet, using my computer at home.

It is as a reader and Internet researcher that I am writing. I do not like elements of the USA PATRIOT Act passed by Congress in the wake of the attacks of 9/11/2001, which lessen my privacy rights under the First and Fourth Amendments. Among other powers, that act gives the FBI authority to search "business records" including my purchases in bookstores and my borrowing and computer use in libraries, without a warrant and without showing probable cause, and without my knowledge. The FBI can also monitor my web surfing, again without a warrant, without showing probable cause, and without my knowledge.

While there is nothing potentially nefarious in my recent research on the woolly adelgid, for instance, frankly, it is my business what I am reading and what I am researching. If there is probable cause to demonstrate that my research may be dangerous or unlawful, then the government should have to go through established routines to prove the necessity of a search of my reading and web browsing records.

There are many petitions asking Congress to amend sections of the USA PATRIOT Act including those impacting libraries and bookstores, and bills have been filed to make changes that would reduce the potential invasion of privacy. Some of the provisions affecting library, bookstore and computer users are slated to expire in December 2005, but the Administration is seeking to continue them.

Carlisle citizens will have a chance to express themselves about these aspects of the USA PATRIOT Act at Town Meeting in May. A Warrant Article, similar to that already passed or being considered in many communities nationwide, encourages legislators to work for repeal of those sections of the USA PATRIOT Act which encroach on personal freedom. I urge you to support this article.

Midge Eliassen
Virginia Farme

Defend equal rights for all families

To the Editor:

In contrast to Madeleine Prendergast's view expressed in her letter in last week's Mosquito, I applaud the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the words of Chief Justice Marshall. I also support the voting records of Susan Fargo and Cory Atkins at both sessions of the constitutional convention considering the marriage amendment. I encourage every citizen to contact our legislators and ask them to continue to defend equal rights and protections under the law for my family and other families like mine in Carlisle and across Massachusetts.

Claire Wilcox
Prospect Street

Information is appreciated

To the Editor:

We would like to thank the Board of Health for their recent mailing of information regarding the hazards of pesticides and herbicides.

Linda and Steve Lerner
Brook Street

Civil rights for all

To the Editor:

I've always thought of Carlisle as a welcoming community, so I was sad to see a letter in the Mosquito urging that we insert discrimination into our state constitution.

The concept of marriage is neither unchanging, "primordial" (an odd word), nor in need of restrictive "definition." Over the millennia, marriage has been understood to mean any of the following: one man and several women (or, in a handful of cultures, the reverse); one non-slave and another non-slave; a man and a woman of the same skin color; and, in fact, a man and a man or a woman and a woman. ("Berdache" traditions, common throughout North America, involved a man living as a woman marrying another man. In many African cultures, including the Nuer of Sudan, women took on the legal roles of husband and father.)

The American Anthropological Association recently issued a statement that "more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. ... research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies."

I am especially sad to see yet another argument urging discrimination to defend "the well-being of children." If marriage was really all about "bring[ing] children into the world," there would be an outcry to forbid the elderly or infertile from marrying. Yet our culture encourages them to do so — if they're of opposite sexes. (Four states even allow first cousins to marry only if they're infertile.)

At present, same-sex couples trying to protect their children by marrying are turned away — in every state but Massachusetts. I want to see my friends' families protected and supported in the same way that mine was when I married in Massachusetts. And I'm grateful that my state legislators stand in favor of civil rights for all.

Ellen Seebacher
Heald Road

The real issue is morality

To the Editor:

The issue of gay marriage has received much attention of late. Proponents of denying same-sex couples invariably claim A) that the institution of marriage would be severely weakened if not ruined and B) that society and children in particular would be harmed.

Both claims are homophobic.

I've read arguments that marriage is about child rearing and procreation. Many two-sex couples are unable to have children. Should they be denied the right to marry? In today's world couples have many options including adoption. Wouldn't it be better for children of gay couples to have married parents? Wouldn't that strengthen the institution of marriage or shouldn't homosexuals be allowed to parent?

To say that gay marriage is about sexual love is to miss the point completely. It is about acceptance. It is about recognizing that homosexuals are not second-class citizens, that they are a valued part of our community. It is about real love and charity, not fear.

I respect religious beliefs regarding homosexuality. However, our constitution is based on the principle of separate Church and State. Marriage in the Church and civil marriage are not the same. One group's religious beliefs should not be forced on the whole. This protects all to worship according to their faith and in particular to not perform gay marriages.

It is the Supreme Judicial Court's duty to ensure that all are treated equally and we should applaud them for their courage. Just because slavery existed for millennia does not mean that it shouldn't have been abolished. There is nothing primordial or sacred about the civil institution of marriage.

Let's be honest: The real issue is morality. There is a belief/perception that homosexuality is immoral. The real fear is that once morals go, then society will fall in to anarchy. Some real threats to marriage and children are violence, abuse, anger, despair, but certainly not loving people.

I repeat, I have not heard a single argument against gay marriage which is not based on homophobia.

Michael Schmidt
Pilgrim Path

Cars like the Dodge Viper are dangererous

To the Editor:

I was terribly saddened to learn of Vivian Chaput's death. I had the good fortune to work with her on more than one occasion on community matters. She was an enormously effective force for good in our town, and a charming, intelligent woman personally.

I write, though, to take note of the picture that is emerging as we begin to learn the details of the collision that took Vivian's life. According to the Lowell Sun, the Chaputs were "broadsided by a Dodge Viper driven by a 24-year-old man who police say was speeding." I invite you to have a look at and ask yourself what the purpose might be of owning a 500 horsepower two-seater with the super-aggressive look of the Viper, advertised to "turn Main Street into a blur." To drive 55 mph on Route 128? Hardly. I think many of us will agree on the answer: to break the speeding laws.

We need to reserve judgment about guilt or innocence in the Chaput case until the criminal justice system has had a chance to perform its function, but I don't think it's premature to ask ourselves if machines built solely for speed, of which the Viper is just one example (these are thinly disguised racing cars, truth be told), belong on our roads. Deluded by advertising and our car-centric culture, some of us forget (or choose to ignore) the fact that automobiles are not toys and can become deadly missiles when misused. This needlessly takes innocent lives in ways we are all too familiar with. Vivian's death may be just such a case. I would urge you to write to our state and federal legislators, asking them to investigate the appropriateness of machines like the Viper on our roads, and to introduce legislation if it is found that they represent a disproportionate danger to the general public, as I suspect (but do not know) is the case. If Vivian's death is just one example of a deeper problem, we do her memory a disservice by failing to try to extract some good from her tragic death.

Don Allen
Pilgrim Path

2004 The Carlisle Mosquito