The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 29, 2005


Weed eradication on town paths raises concerns

With Selectmen Tony Allison and Tim Hult present, members of the Board of Health at the July 19 meeting expressed their thoughts on the use of pesticides and herbicides on the public pathways and showed concern that the Selectmen had authorized a test of herbicides without their input.

On July 12 the Selectmen voted to allow the Pedestrian and Bike Safety Committee (Ped/Bike) to perform a test along a short section of the pathways to compare the efficacy of the Roundup herbicide versus Burnout, an organic formulation of citric acid, for controlling weeds.

At that meeting, Ped/Bike member Nancy Szczesniak noted that although the Board of Health had raised concerns about the use of Roundup, her research of the EPA website and other internet sources indicated acid application is not effective in weed control because it kills foliage, not roots. In addition, she found some concerns that acid application is not necessarily safer. On the other hand, "there was not a lot of support for Roundup being dangerous. . . It is a safe, approved product with high efficacy at low cost." The test was proposed to determine if the organic alternative could be effective. It has since been put on hold as it was discovered application of chemicals in a town right-of-way must be approved by the state.

According to the Board of Health, the Selectmen had been asked to delay any decisions until the July 19 meeting to which the Pedestrian and Bike Safety Advisory Committee was invited to discuss the issue of pathway maintenance. That discussion was chaired by member Michael Holland as Bedrosian excused herself as a pathways abutter.

Holland registered his concern with the Board of Selectmen and their lack of dialogue with the Board of Health. "While we do have specific jurisdiction over a certain distance from a drinking well, I believe the people in the community expect the Board of Health would seek to protect their health on public property." Delaine Williamson of the Carlisle Pesticide Awareness Group (CPAG), stated she had attended the Ped/Bike meeting and "had understood the chair to say nothing would go forward without Conservation Commission and Board of Health approval."

Conservation Commissioner Tricia Smith stated she would "strongly like to see an alternative" to Roundup. "As a citizen I would like to see pathways that are ADA compliant and don't require chemical maintenance." The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined a tolerance level for Roundup but has exempted citric acid formulations from a requirement of a tolerance level.

Member Bill Risso cited the research done by Chris Chin of CPAG sent to board members regarding Roundup Herbicide and other chemical herbicides. Risso said, we should "Let people in Carlisle know about her research."

"Everyone knows Roundup is going to work" stated Member Kari Doucette, "The question is what is the unintended consequence of the use." Holland noted the proposed test could as easily be done with citric acid alone.

"We don't want to be bumping heads," stated Selectmen Tony Allison. "Look at the pathways, someone has to do something." It was noted at the selectmen's meeting that the current surface is being undermined by weed roots and will eventually be destroyed if a solution isn't found. In addition, there is considerable poison ivy.

"The real discussion is what is the right surface" summed up Selectmen Tim Hult "maybe the right thing to do is to revisit the surface." The Ped/Bike Committee had told the selectmen a new surface is being marketed that should be impermeable to weeds.

Currently the Ped/Bike Committee plans to clean up as many weeds as possible through mechanical means and will revisit the issue of chemical application at a later date.

East Street path extension

The Planning Board approved the removal of six trees and 180 feet of stone wall as part of construction of a path on East Street, designated as a scenic road. The Pedestrian and Bike Safety Advisory Committee had requested the hearing. The area where the stone wall will be removed will be graded and a retaining wall of varying height will be built, but not higher than four feet and approximately 100 to 120 feet in length.


Great Brook Path. Board of Health extended the septic permit for Lot 5 in Great Brook Path until October 1, 2005. The septic system was started last fall but halted due to weather.

Carlisle Farmstead Cheese. Carlisle Farmstead Cheese represented by Patricia Smith of Indian Hill Road was issued a pasteurization license by the Board of Health pursuant to a site visit by Health Agent Linda Fantasia and receipt of state inspection and state permits.

Wastewater plant. Carlisle Public Schools were granted an exemption from the requirement of a well permit prior to building the sewage treatment plant. The well will be drilled at a later point in the construction of the wastewater treatment facility. The future well will provide water for the wastewater treatment equipment building.

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito