The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 7, 2005


Remembering 2004: flashes of passion in a quiet town

Daisy's Market closed, and reopened in January 2004 as Ferns Country Store, which now brightens Carlisle center. (Photo by Ellen Huber)

Architect Russ Dion is a member of the Benfield Task Force which was created to plan for affordable housing and a playing field on the Benfield Property on South Street. (Photo by Ellen Huber)
What Carlisle lacks in racial and economic diversity, it makes up in diversity of opinion, which is readily expressed. While life in town remained orderly, safe, and largely quiet, a number of polarizing issues elicited vigorous debates in 2004, including development of the Benfield Land, CCHS teacher contract and political campaigns.


• Grace Edie Versaggi was the first baby born in the Boston area in 2004.
• Daisy's Market closed in late December 2003 and reopened as Ferns Country Store in early January, under new owners Larry Bearfield and Robin Emerson.
• As sub-zero temperatures gripped the area, a pipe burst at the Carlisle School severely damaging two first-grade classrooms.
• The non-profit Carlisle Conservation Foundation announced that it had an option to purchase 45 acres of Benfield family property, off South Street, and would offer the property to the town for purchase.
• The Selectmen approved the formation of a new Finance Department, headed by former Finance Committee chair Larry Barton, to take effect on July 1.


The original 1849 house at the corner of Concord and South Streets has been undergoing major renovations since March by This Old House. The structure is now featured on PBS on Thursdays and Saturdays. (Photo by Ellen Huber)
• The public television program This Old House announced that it would renovate the 1849 farmstead at 730 Concord Street.
• Citizens and town officials and South Street neighbors debated the costs and uses of the Benfield Parcel A in anticipation of a vote to purchase the land at a Special Town Meeting in March.


• Marie Doyle, the principal of the Bigelow Middle School in Newton, was named the new Superintendent of Carlisle Schools, succeeding Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson, who planned to retire in June.
• Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry won big in the Carlisle Democratic primary, with John Edwards a distant second. There was no contest on the Republican ballot.
• Selectman Vivian Chaput was killed in an automobile accident in Hollywood, Florida. A 30-year resident of Carlisle, Chaput had served on the Planning Board from 1978 to 1994, and on the Board of Selectman since 1996.
• A heavily attended Special Town Meeting approved the purchase of the 45-acre Benfield Parcel A for $2 million, to be partially paid for with CPA funds. Twenty-six acres were designated for open space and 19 acres for up to 26 affordable housing units and one playing field.


In March the town lost Carlisle Selectman Vivian Chaput in an automobile accident in Florida. (Photo by Midge Eliassen)

• A preliminary estimate for upgrading the heating/cooling system in the seven-year-old Town Hall, which had been inadequate from the start, came in at $360,000.
• The seventh grade, supported by a large team of parents and teachers, presented the musical Dear Edwina, Jr.
• The Carlisle School senior band performed at Symphony Hall on April 10, after winning their seventeenth gold medal at the annual MICCA (Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors) festival the week before.
• Heavy rains washed out a section of North Road near the canoe launch.
• The U.S. District Court ruled that the town must permit the construction of a 189-foot cell tower on the Andregg property at 871 Bedford Road. This settled multiple lawsuits over decisions on cell tower variances made by the Board of Appeals in 2001-02.
• The Benfield Task Force was formed to create a master plan for affordable housing and a playing field on the Benfield Parcel A. After considerable debate, neighborhood representation was increased from one to two members.


Jake Dockterman performs in Dear Edwina, Jr., the seventh grade play. (Courtesy photo)

• A poorly attended Annual Town Meeting approved all Articles, including two small overrides, $82K for CCHS programs and $24K for town departments, and two debt exclusions, $112K for capital equipment for the Carlisle School and town departments and $153K for Carlisle's portion of renovations at CCHS. After a long debate, citizens approved a resolution calling for the repeal of portions of the USA PATRIOT Act.
• The Conservation Commission withdrew an Article requesting funds to repair the cottage on the town-owned Greenough Land after Selectmen refused to support the proposal.
• Several gay couples, all long-term partners and Carlisle residents, applied for marriage licenses as Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.
• Contract negotiations between the CCHS teachers union and the Regional School Committee heated up as teachers picketed Town Meetings, refused to approve re-accreditation documents, and delayed college recommendations for juniors.
• The CCHS orchestra and concert band performed at Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood. Both groups were invited to play after they earned gold-medals at the MICCA festival in April.
• St. Irene Church was left intact as the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston announced the closing of over 80 parishes, including merging the two churches in Concord.
• Iraq correspondent John Berman, who grew up in Carlisle, spoke at Carlisle's Memorial Day ceremony.


New Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle began work at the beginning of the school year.

• CCHS teachers and the Regional School Committee reached agreement on the teachers' contract after long negotiations. Teachers retained their four-class per week limit and 90:1 student teacher ratio, which had been a difficult issue during the negotiations.
• Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson retired, with many festivities and tributes praising her 13-year track record in Carlisle. Other Carlisle School retirees included long-serving teachers Linda Clark, Paula Ewers, David Negrin and Jim Trierweiler, and Co-Principal Andy Goyer.
• Minuteman Regional High School appointed William Callahan as its new superintendent-director, upon the retirement of 28-year superintendent Ronald Fitzgerald.


• The Old Home Day (OHD) organizing committee threatened to cancel rather than permit the Carlisle Democratic Town Committee to participate in the festivities. The committee withdrew their request, but asked for reconsideration prior to OHD 2005.
• Former Selectman Vivian Chaput and former Town Clerk Sarah Andreassen were named posthumously as Most Honored Citizens at Old Home Day. Art Milliken, a director of the Carlisle Conservation Foundation, was presented the Conservationist of the Year award.

Conservationist of the year 2004 Art Milliken receives his award surrounded by his family: wife Lee (left), daughter Sally and her family. (Photo by Ellen Huber)

• The Recreation Commission's Carlisle Summer Fun Camp 2004 provided tennis, swimming, arts and crafts, theater and summer frolic for children kindergarten to seventh grade.

There was a lot of action outside Town Hall on Election Day. (Photo by Mike Quayle)


• The Carlisle Board of Appeals denied an application for an affordable housing project on 4.3 acres off Maple Street, as property lines were incorrectly drawn and access to the parcel, over a paper road that lies half in Carlisle and half in Billerica, was questionable.
• Repairs on North Road were completed.

Native son John Berman, now a CBS news correspondent reporting on the war in Iraq, was the Memorial Day speaker in May. (Photo by Ellen Huber)


• The Benfield Task Force hosted two planning days to present their vision of affordable housing and active recreation on the Benfield Parcel A and get feedback from residents. Neighbors expressed concerns about noise, traffic, and loss of the rural vista if a playing field is placed adjacent to South Street.
• Unsuccessful in obtaining funds for repair of the Greenough cottage, the ConsCom tried to give the property to the Board of Selectmen — unsuccessfully.


• The Acton-Boxborough football team broke the 52-year-old record of 40 consecutive wins established by then Concord High School. Ironically, their 41st win came in a game against CCHS.
• The CCHS musical Forever Plaid was performed in Carlisle with a cast of four, including Carlisle students Alex Brewer and Michael Johnson.
• Grade 4 MCAS math scores slipped from their expected high levels, prompting a review of staffing, programs and class size. A Middle School Task Force was appointed to review the needs of the class as it enters the Middle School in 2005-06.
• Beaver dams on the Greenough Pond and Pages Brook caused water levels to rise in Brook Street and Maple Street backyards, threatening to flood septic systems and wells. The Board of Health issued a short-term permit to trap the animals and breach the dams.
Ernie Huber takes his daughter and grandchildren down the newly constructed footpath along Bedford Road. (Photo by Ellen Huber)
• The Selectmen cancelled a Special Town Meeting scheduled for November 9 when it became clear that one of the Warrant Articles, a request for additional funds for the school wastewater treatment plant, could not be firmed up.
• The Board of Appeals "clarified" a controversial decision — to permit building a large house on a 1.3 acre non-conforming lot Westford Street — by adding conditions limiting the area of new structure to no more than 50% greater than the area of the existing house. The owner of the property subsequently challenged the amended decision in court.
• Races for the state house and senate heated up as Election Day approached. The state Republican committee prepared political mailings for its candidates, many very negative. Democratic candidates responded with their own flyers, flooding local mailboxes. Signs supporting Democratic candidates were vandalized nightly, but the perpetrators escaped detection.


• On Election Day, November 2, all Democratic candidates won in Carlisle. In a race for state representative, incumbent Cory Atkins (D-Concord) defeated Carlisle favorite son, Republican challenger Doug Stevenson. Carlisle voters approved a ballot question to permit the sale of beer and wine in town, but not other alcoholic beverages.
• The 40B application for affordable housing on a 4.37 acre parcel off Maple Street returned to the Board of Appeals. The Massachusetts Housing authority told the town that it was "sympathetic to the applicant" and requested a decision by January 13 (later extended to January 31; see page 9).
• The Trails Committee with an army of volunteers built a 200-foot boardwalk and a 130-foot bridge on the River Trail in the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge.


A 200-foot boardwalk and a 130-foot bridge were constructed in November on the River Trail in Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge by an amazing group of volunteers. (Photo by Bert Willard)

• Less than a week before a Special Town Meeting was to vote on additional funds for a wastewater treatment facility for the Carlisle School, bids came in 50% higher than anticipated, with the lowest at $2.2 million. Although worried that another delay may compromise state reimbursement for the project, the Selectmen and the School committee decided to pull the Article, pending a review of costs and options.
• A Special Town Meeting on December 6 was delayed for over an hour waiting to reach a quorum of 150. The Meeting then approved all Articles in 20 minutes, including a request to transfer $142K from free cash for the refurbishment of the Town Hall HVAC.
• And Santa Claus arrived on time with a sleigh full of toys, even though Christmas was not white.

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito