Friday, April 23, 2004
Neighbors want larger voice on Parcel A Task Force
Members of the South Street neighborhood surrounding the former Benfield Land expressed concerns with the proposed makeup of the Parcel A Planning Task Force as proposed by Chair Tim Hult at the Selectmen's meeting on April 13. The parcel was purchased by the town using Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds at a Special Town Meeting on March 23. An amount of $50,000 was set aside for a planning process to develop affordable housing and a ballfield.
Ray Kubacki of South Street seemed to speak for many neighbors when he expressed reservations that the neighborhood should have "a real voice, not just a token voice" in task force decisions. A group of abutters and neighbors of the Benfield Parcel A, organized as Concerned Citizens of Carlisle, had vigorously opposed the purchase of Parcel A, objecting to a playing field on South Street, as well as an affordable housing development on the parcel.
Hult's plan proposed a seven-member task force consisting of a representative from the Board of Selectmen (BOS), community members recommended by the Conservation Commission, Housing Authority, Recreation Commission, and Planning Board (one member each), a representative of the neighborhood, and a representative of the community at large. With the exception of the BOS and the at-large members, the make-up of the task force is dictated by the CPA law and the motion approved at Town Meeting.
Alan Carpenito of South Street noted, "It wouldn't hurt to have two from the area." Carpenito worried that one person from the neighborhood "would be all by themselves" against the other task force members. Kubacki concurred, "Treatment of the neighbors [in the run-up to Town Meeting] caused a lot of bitterness, and justifiably so." He suggested an abutter be part of the task force, although Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie said the town would have to proceed carefully to avoid running afoul of conflict-of-interest laws. Kubacki responded that he believed no one from the CPA Committee should be on the task force, "Talk about a vested interest!"
David Freedman of the Planning Board expressed concern that, "I sense that this is about a vote." He noted the meetings will be open so neighbors can "give input as a community, not as one person speaking for them." He predicted "a collaborative, hard-working process" and suggested the neighbors concentrate on choosing someone who "works well in that process . . . [and] brings the appropriate skills so the plan can be something we can all be proud of."
Selectman Tony Allison supported the suggestion of two neighborhood representatives, but wondered how they would be chosen. "How do we define the neighborhood?" he asked. There was also discussion of how two neighborhood representatives could be included without the task force becoming too large.
The Selectmen hope to finalize the task force make-up at their April 27 meeting and asked the neighbors to return with a proposal for choosing one or more representatives.
© 2004 The