Friday, February 10, 2006
CPC hears RecCom request for athletic fields at Foss Farm
With less than two months until this year's Town Meeting and a stack of preliminary applications for review, things are starting to pick up for the Community Preservation Committee (CPC). At their February 2 meeting, the CPC began reviewing proposals for projects relating to playing fields, the Rail Trail, affordable housing and historical resources.
The seven-member CPC is responsible for reviewing all requests for spending town funds collected under the Community Preservation Act (CPA) 2% real estate surcharge. Proposals will be refined over the coming weeks, and the CPC will make recommendations at Annual Town Meeting in May, when voters will make the final decisions.
First on the table was the Recreation Commission (RecCom) request presented by RecCom member Maureen Tarca for $80,000 to design two multifunction athletic fields on Foss Farm located on Bedford Road. The land was purchased by the town in 1971 for the purposes of conservation and recreation, and is currently managed by the Conservation Commission. It is estimated the playing fields and possible additional parking will require about five acres on the 57-acre site. After discussion, the CPC recommended that a usage plan be completed before choosing the field locations to better understand how the new activities will affect current uses of the property. Foss Farm supports community gardens, equestrian training (pony club), dog sledding, and use by farmers among others. The second phase of the project would be to implement design of the fields on this land. It was suggested that a landscape architect, and possibly a facilitator, would be appropriate guides in making these decisions.
The RecCom is also designing new athletic facilities on the town's Banta-Davis Land off Bedford Road, and at Annual Town Meeting plans to request money to construct two Little League fields, one multi-purpose field and four tennis courts.
Bruce Freeman Rail Trail
The CPC next heard from Allen Cameron, member of the Selectmen's task force for the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail proposal. Sponsored by the Board of Selectmen, this project would bring a very small piece of land in Carlisle into a system of trails connecting Lowell and Framingham. Like the Minuteman Trail, stretching from Bedford to Cambridge, the system makes use of land left abandoned by railroads so it may be enjoyed by hikers, joggers and bicyclists. (See "Bruce Freeman Rail Trail project gathers steam," Mosquito, January 20, 2006.) The trail extends through several towns, but Carlisle lays claim to only about 768 feet of the trail.
Grant requirements specify each town contribute about 10% of design funds for the trail. Acton is planning a $450,000 design contract and, as a town, will take responsibility for designing Carlisle's small portion. They are asking Carlisle to share the design cost by means of consensus on "a fair contribution." Cameron reported that an upper limit of $20,000 has been established. Commenting on response from the crowd, he said, "I think it's high." He believes the figure will slowly converge to meet an accurate and appropriate contribution for the project. The process of agreement with the town of Acton itself will also have to be crafted.
Bruce Freeman was a state representative from Chelmsford who, in 1987, first envisioned an inter-connected system of walking and cycling trails along the old rail lines. Freeman died soon after conception of his idea, and the project has continued along this far in the 19 years since.
Two affordable housing requests
Both the Carlisle Housing Authority (CHA) and the Board of Selectmen (BOS) submitted preliminary applications relating to affordable housing. After discussion, they decided to coordinate their efforts and perhaps bring a combined proposal back to the next CPC meeting.
The Housing Authority's preliminary application was for CPA funds to fund a proposed Housing Trust (see "CHA to request Affordable Housing Trust Fund," Mosquito, February 3). Ten percent of the money collected under the CPA is ear-marked for community housing, and it was suggested that this allotment might be used by the Housing Trust to facilitate projects during the year.
The Selectmen's Affordable Accessory Apartment (AAA) Task Force brought a preliminary request for $90,000. This would be used to provide $15,000 conversion incentives for owners to create accessory apartments meeting affordability criteria. The program would be administered by the CHA.
The Historical Commission has submitted an application for $41,000 to create a detailed Historical Resources Survey. Anne Forbes has been chosen as the consultant. Last year they were allocated $8,000 for initial survey work.
© 2006 The