Friday, April 2, 2004
Selectmen to ConsCom: It's no-go for Greenough
Carlisle Conservation Commission (ConsCom) chair Tricia Smith brought their Greenough cottage dilemma to the Board of Selectmen meeting on March 30 and created an hour of discord and dissension. ConsCom proposed to use $15,000 of their conservation fund along with $5,000 from the town's General Fund to "jumpstart habitation of the cottage and provide critical repairs to the barn." When the dust finally settled, the Selectmen refused to support the use of any town money, leaving the commission to make do with their $15K conservation funds and present their appeal to Town Meeting.
Cottage needs many repairs
The cottage has become increasingly derelict over recent years and suffers from asbestos in the cellar, lead paint, a failed furnace, 20-year roof with curled shingles and missing gutters, windows with loose frames, no weather stripping and loose putty, water leaks from radiators and plumbing, and general lack of maintenance. "Tear the place down!" responded Selectman Tony Allison. Other Selectmen similarly saw the house and barn as a black hole sucking up town funds for many years to come and offering little in return. Building Inspector Bob Koning had similar disdain for the rotting buildings and lack of access. Because the dam is too weak to support fire apparatus, Koning explained that any emergency response would be forced to access the buildings via Billerica with unavoidable delays. The fear of town legal liability only added to the misgivings of everyone on the board.
ConsCom outlines rehab plan
But Smith was not to be denied. She expects that the $20,000 of requested funding will allow the commission to select among tenant candidates and provide building materials in order to make use of student labor donated by the Minuteman Regional High School (MRHS). They will then have an occupied property, minimizing liability, and can reduce further deterioration of the building through services provided and largely funded by the tenant. The jumpstart funding would allow ConsCom to immediately eliminate the health hazard posed by the asbestos ($2,000), repair the furnace ($4,500), begin the deleading process by correcting urgent lead hazards ($5,000), allow for a contingency fund of $3,500 for unanticipated repairs, and speed rehabilitation by providing building materials for the MRHS labor ($5,000).
ConsCom's long-term ideas
Clearly ConsCom envisions the preservation of the farmstead site as a scenic vista with the cottage inhabited and the barn maintained by a tenant. Smith even went so far as to suggest the site for creation of affordable housing units through conversion of the barn and rebuilding or renovation of the cottage. She appeared to be least interested in demolition of the house and barn.
At a seeming impasse, Selectmen considered the installation of an alarm system to protect the property while it is vacant, but even that proved to be ineffective due to the remoteness of the location and long response time. Finally they just threw up their hands and said, "No town funds." ConsCom is free to use the interest accumulated in their conservation fund to do as they wish (with Town Meeting approval), but as far as the Board of Selectmen is concerned, it's no-go for Greenough.
© 2004 The