Friday, September 23, 2005
Time to get back to work
Autumn is best known as the time when the growing season ends, but it is also a time of beginnings — when town boards and committees refocus their energies on the challenges of the year ahead. There are a number of expensive projects being considered, and the town will face difficult spending decisions.
Already the Carlisle Finance Committee (Fincom) is preparing preliminary guidelines for planning next year's budget. Using this year's $23 million in new building growth as an estimate for FY07, they will research expenses and state aid, and distribute budget guidelines during the week of October 24. To simplify the budget planning process this year, the Fincom will not examine departments' draft budgets until after the winter holidays. During late fall they will concentrate on those proposals requiring new capital or operating funds.
Outside of the normal annual budget there are three large projects looming on the horizon that involve capital spending. The Carlisle School Building Committee (SBC) is investigating the feasibility of a major school renovation in the next few years. How much will it cost?
What about the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School? The high school feasibility study committee recently recommended constructing a new building, at an estimated cost of roughly $90 million. Will Carlisle be able to afford two new schools at once?
Also, development of affordable housing on the town's Benfield Land will probably have a sizable impact on taxes, even if much of the costs are recouped later through sales or rental of the housing units.
Another question that may stir debate is whether Carlisle should build cell towers in the town center. The town has given approvals for the construction of one tower on private land, and is now considering changes to Carlisle's wireless communications bylaw to facilitate additional structures. The Selectmen have formed a subcommittee to study tower placement and draft bylaw revisions in time for next spring's Town Meeting. One cell tower site being seriously considered by the committee is in the center of town on school property, but many people still do not understand why this is a desirable location.
High school construction was discussed on September 22 at a joint meeting of Concord and Carlisle's Selectmen, Fincoms and the Regional School Committee, and news from this meeting will be reported in next week's paper. The wireless bylaw committee's next meeting will be Wednesday, September 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the Clark Room at Town Hall. The next meeting of the SBC will be October 19 at 6 p.m. in the school library. A lot will be happening in the coming year that will affect the future of our community. Now is the time to join in the discussion on these important issues.
Now or then
How would you answer the question, "Are you a Now person or a Then person?"
Probably the most revealing part of your answer lies in how you interpret the question. I'm a Then because I look forward to the future. A colleague at work is a Now because he never looks back on decisions he could have or should have made differently. I would bet that most gardeners are Thens because they see their garden not the way it is but the way it will be when the peonies bloom, when the lilies fill in or when the corn finally ripens. My mother, who lived through the years of scarcity following the Depression, considers herself a Now because of the abiding sense that she must deal with each day as it comes. My husband jokes that he is a Then because he's still waiting for his ship to come in. Sadly, an older friend says she's a Now because she's afraid to look too far into the future. My oldest daughter plans to take a year off between high school and college and has a book on her nightstand entitled, Delaying the Real World: a Twentysomething's Guide to Seeking Adventure. I'd say that, for now, she's a Then.
With so many different interpretations of the question, there's certainly no right or wrong answer. Circumstances demand certain types, however. Based on my unscientific research, most people think emphatically that great leaders should be Nows and not Thens, but also for different reasons. Some feel that leaders must be the "just do it" types who are not stymied by hard decisions. Think how much human suffering from Katrina could have been avoided if the people in charge were the type of Nows who did not put off for tomorrow the actions that needed to be done yesterday. I also think that inspirational leaders may appear to be visionary Thens, but are in essence very effective Nows who can focus their energy on the moment and clearly communicate the best path to tomorrow.
Even literary characters could be classified as Nows or Thens. Elizabeth Bennett appears to be the consummate Now, keenly aware of her family's social limitations and actively playing the cards she was dealt. Emma Woodhouse, on the other hand, is a Then with her head in the clouds, oblivious to the social interactions around her. Scarlett O'Hara is definitely a Now, seizing every opportunity to lure Ashley or regain Tara while pushing to tomorrow what was too unpleasant to consider today.
As the above examples illustrate, of course, it's over-simplistic to categorize anyone as just a Now or just a Then. So many of the decisions we make involve a trade-off between the two. Every time we address immediate needs we sacrifice part of the future, whether temporarily, say by diverting funds from the purpose originally allocated to rebuilding New Orleans, or permanently, for example by using open space for another civic purpose. The degree to which we feel comfortable with these decisions originates with how we answer the Now or Then question for ourselves.
© 2005 The