Friday, May 20, 2005
Task Force asks to delay Benfield vote to June 8
With the archaeology study still in progress, The Benfield Task Force has asked that the Annual Town Meeting, which starts next Monday night, be continued to June 8 to allow additional time to prepare their formal recommendation and request for design funds. Given the complexity of the Benfield project and the lengthy Town Meeting agenda, an additional Town Meeting night is needed for a full presentation and discussion.
Last Saturday, the full eight-person Task Force met to deliberate refinements to the plans and vote on the recommendations. During over two hours of discussion, many of the same points that have been raised for the last year were again considered. But this time, the vote was 6-2 in favor of Plan B, which places both the playing field and the housing in the back of the property with no permanent structures allowed on the front field.
Plan B proponents reiterated their preference for the field in back, including:
• greater safety with the playing field well off South Street,
• less impact on wetlands,
• less impact on all neighbors, especially since the field is used for only about 12 weekends per year,
• similarity in costs,
• intrinsic value of an integrated design combining playing field and housing.
Plan A proponents argued that putting the playing field in the front would disturb fewer neighbors. They also suggested that there may be a future need for additional housing units. With more space available in the back, the town would have the option of expanding into that space.
The archaeological dig will establish the authenticity of claims that the site has sacred Indian significance. A compromise was reached by adding a qualifier to the basic Plan B recommendation: If the Native American claims are determined (in court) to be valid so that no playing field can be put in the area designated on Plan B, then the playing field may be put in front.
On June 8, if the Town Meeting is indeed continued, the Task Force will present a map with lines drawn around the areas that will be reservedor deed restrictedfor distinctive uses: housing units, playing field, open space, and conservation land. The recommendations will be supported with a presentation illustrating the pros and cons of the various options considered.
Commenting on how the project would be presented to the town, Dan Holzman said, "This project stands on its own. It is Carlisle's little effort to build affordable housing and add a playing field. We need to explain it but it doesn't need defending."
© 2005 The