Friday, March 3, 2006
Town explores plan to bury utility lines in center
A recurring dream in Carlisle over the years has been to bury the utility wires in the town center. The Town Common Committee (TCC) has taken up this cause and they presented their progress to the Board of Selectmen at the February 28 meeting. Reverend Tim Jensen of Church Street and Al Cameron of School Street, members of the committee, distributed photos of the historic district with before and after shots to show the aesthetics of the buried wiring. Reverend Jensen was preaching to the choir, so to speak, as the Selectmen enthusiastically embraced the idea.
During the past year, the TCC has been busy caring for the town common by applying lime and fertilizer, and aerating the turf. They have received a preliminary plan from a landscape architect for beautification of the green, and have worked with the pathways people to coordinate sidewalk issues. But it is removing all the ugly overhead wires draping the town center that has captured their imagination. Unfortunately, Carlisle does not have the deep pockets of a Laurence Rockefeller, who footed the bill for removing all overhead wires in picturesque Woodstock, Vermont a few decades ago.
That has not stopped the TCC, however. First they determined the scope of the project and decided to limit the area to all wires within 100 feet of the common and 200 feet of the traffic circle. Jensen explained, "This involves 15 poles and 2,500 feet of electric, telephone, cable and fire alarm wires." Underground wiring would extend to just beyond the police station on Lowell Street and the library on Bedford Road. Years ago the utility company had estimated a cost of $700 per foot, or about $1.75 million. The TCC went out to obtain a pro bono new rough estimate from a engineering firm, Coler and Colantonio. Costs are listed below:
New lighting fixtures are not included. The TCC estimates that there could be 12 to 20 lamposts around the circle and town center, naturally at a lower height than the current streetlights.
How to pay for this? "Possible financing sources include Community Preservation Act funds, property taxes, and a utility bill surcharge," said Jensen. Service connection costs might be borne by the individual owners (approximately $15,000 per connection). Since the entire town benefits from the enhanced vista, a utilities surcharge on each resident's monthly bill is a possibility. There is more work to be done, beginning with gathering more details, and evenually drafting a proposal to hire a design engineer, but the Selectmen were delighted with the TCC's work and encouraged them to continue and keep the board informed of their progress.
© 2006 The