Friday, February 11, 2005
Selectmen prioritize issues with "dramatic long-term effects"
As a community, Carlisle is currently facing several important issues that will have dramatic long-term effects regarding the future development of our town. The Board of Selectmen recently met in a special session to review these issues and prioritize our attention as we attempt to respond. I thought it might be appropriate in this forum to summarize the issues which the Board deemed to be of the highest priority and outline those initiatives which have been or will be undertaken in response.
As a consequence of our shortage of affordable housing units versus the state-established target of 10%, we are currently vulnerable to private developments which can circumvent many of the local controls and regulations which have historically guided the nature of residential development in town. At this point, the question of whether we will have increased affordable housing is now behind us; we will. The critical issue before us is how to ensure that we maintain as much control as possible as to how affordable housing is implemented. To accomplish this we need an approved affordable housing plan and controlled registration of housing units in the years to come. The following initiatives are of highest priority.
• The timely production of an affordable housing plan for the town. A group, led by the Planning Board, but including representation from the Selectmen and Housing Authority has been tasked with the completion of such a plan this spring.
• Adequate support for the Board of Appeals with regard to strategy, procedures and tactics in dealing 40B applications as they are received.
• Support for the ongoing planning and development process for the Benfield Land. The current thinking is for consideration of the development plan at spring town meeting and perhaps consideration of the actual development in the fall.
• A coordinated, cooperative and thoughtful response to initiatives that will be forthcoming in the affordable housing plan.
• Continuation of the efforts to creatively work with landowners with regard to limited development and conservation of large parcels.
Long-term financial management
Over the last few years, great progress has been accomplished regarding the professional financial management of the town. Our tax rate continues to be high which concerns us greatly as we attempt to retain empty nesters. We have, however, come through the recent recession in reasonably good shape. As we look forward, there are potentially large expenditures on the horizon for both the Carlisle School and the regional High School. While we believe that there exists reasonable debt capacity for the support of these projects, they will need to be carefully managed in regard to both timing and size. The following initiatives are of high priority.
• Continued support of the efforts to implement and maintain a long term capital plan for the town, allowing us to provide early information regarding levels of funding that may be available and affordable.
• Active participation in the development of the current feasibility study relating to the renovation or replacement of the High School. Carlisle Selectmen, School Committee and residents are currently participating.
• Coordination and cooperation with the Carlisle School Committee in the development of the plan for future school development.
• Support of the School Building Committee in their efforts to present a revised plan for the wastewater treatment facility to the Spring Town Meeting.
The town currently has a compelling need to increase the number of fields that are available to support recreation activities. The Recreation Commission has presented information indicating that given the increased participation in an expanding number of sports, we have a current need to perhaps double the number of fields available. Given understandable concerns relating to conservation, preservation of vistas, appropriate land use plans, etc, however, it has been difficult to determine the potential siting for such fields on available land. It is very important that we undertake a cooperative process to determine a prioritized siting plan for the development of additional recreation fields. The following initiatives are of high priority.
• Work with Recreation Commission to establish a prioritized statement of needs.
• Work with appropriate committees to review the potential use of Banta Davis, Foss Farm, Bisbee and Benfield Lands.
• Present a potential recreational field siting plan to the town in the late spring/summer timeframe
This by no means is the full list of issues that the Selectmen currently face. It does, outline, however, those areas that we deem to be critical given their huge potential future impact to the town. These are difficult issues on which there will be a wide variety of opinion. They are important enough, however that we all must cooperate and the Selectmen must take a leadership position. We welcome input from all of our neighbors and friends in town as we continue to grapple with these issues. We are all fortunate to live in a beautiful town with a great sense of community. Working together we will find solutions to the issues we face.
© 2005 The