Friday, December 10, 2004
Selectmen invite "discussion, not decision" on recreational fields
"Recreational fields are a land-intensive activity and land in Carlisle is very expensive," said Tricia Smith of the Conservation Commission. In a nutshell, that's why the town is having such a difficult time providing playing fields for the growing number of Carlisle boys and girls who want to use them. And some people are eyeing town-owned conservation land as a solution.
In a packed meeting attended by over 40 people on Tuesday night, November 30, Tim Hult, chair of the Board of Selectmen, framed the topic as a "discussion, not a decision, about the recreation needs and the sites available in town for fulfilling those needs."
Hult acknowledged that Carlisle has a tradition of protecting conservation lands for passive recreation. In the past ten years, however, growth in the school population has driven a need for active recreational fields. The town has been looking carefully at all options for meeting this need.
The recreational land demand
"More kids, more sports per kid, more seasons per sport, and increasing numbers of girls who want to play have created an urgent need for more fields," said Allen Deary of the Carlisle Recreation Commission in his opening remarks. "There's very little practice — the kids just go out and play games. The real problem is that there are kids who want to play, but the teams can't be put together because of the lack of fields."
Carlisle partners with Concord for most sports. And that's a good thing since Carlisle provides 30 percent of the children but just 15 percent of the fields.
The president of the Concord Youth Soccer Association said that, of the 916 youth soccer players in Concord this year, 219 are from Carlisle. Due to renovations at Alcott and Thoreau Schools, several fields have been taken out of use. Next spring there will be a desperate need for six fields in Concord, even without an increase in the number of children who want to play. Carlisle has approximately 5-7 fields and Concord has 25-30 fields.
And the potential supply
According to Deary, there are four possible places the town might look for recreational space: Banta-Davis, Foss Farm, Bisbee Field, and the Benfield Land.
Addressing Banta-Davis, Marie Doyle, Carlisle School Superintendent, said she did not think the school would relinquish the space for playing fields since it might be needed for school expansion. A suggestion was made, however, that a 'temporary field' be built right away with the school retaining the right to take it over for expansion if needed.
RecCom Chair Maureen Tarca gave an overview of Foss Farm and a discussion ensued about the suitability of using the field closest to the road. Tricia Smith and Roy Watson, speaking for the Conservation Commission, would like to see a plan developed that takes into account all the existing uses of the land.
Like Foss Farm, the Bisbee Land is a field close to the road. Tarca said that a plan was presented several years ago for using this field for active recreation but that the Conservation Commission discouraged it because of the loss of vista, the agricultural usage, and the need for a parking lot.
Ballantine reported that a multipurpose field was already in the planning stages on the Benfield Land.
Hult then asked if there were any additional sites to add to the list for further research. Two possibilities were mentioned: the five-acre parcel behind the Congregational Church and the O'Rourke Land. The Selectmen will appoint a committee to study all the possibilities and make recommendations.
© 2004 The