The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 17, 2006


Do you have a dump sticker?

Over the past few months the Mosquito has published several articles about the Carlisle Transfer Station. On November 11 an article appeared about the Swap Shed featuring interviews with some of the people who use it. This was followed by a four-page feature in the March 3 issue, which included a guide to the Transfer Station, interviews with Transfer Station workers, information on recyclables and a recycling map.

As interviewer for many of these articles, and from discussions with others in town, I have come away with the strong impression that there are people in Carlisle who use the Transfer Station without purchasing a dump sticker. There are also people from out-of-town, as well as builders from out-of-town with truckloads of construction trash, who are using the Transfer Station illegally. Over and over again I heard a familiar complaint: "People without dump stickers are using our Transfer Station."

Dump stickers for the year 2006 went on sale in December. Dump stickers (Transfer Station permits) are available at the Police Station and cost $15 per year and $10 per year for a second car. There are approximately 1,500 households in Carlisle. As of March 13, 1,418 dump stickers, have been sold. It should be noted that often more than one sticker is sold per household. A year or so ago, then-Lt. John Sullivan of the Police Department spent the day at the Transfer Station checking dump stickers and remembers finding 100 to 200 cars without stickers.

In my recent interviews with Saturday's Transfer Station workers, Chris Sireen and Jim Young, I learned some interesting facts. "We check [stickers], occasionally I ask people to leave," said Sireen. "Many people don't want to put stickers on their car...." Young thinks people in Carlisle, where dump stickers cost $15, have a good deal. "Where I live in Pepperell a dump sticker costs $37. We [also] have to pay $1 for each bag of trash."

To see what others in surrounding towns must pay for dump stickers, I called Sudbury and Wayland. In Sudbury, residents are asked to pay $125 for the first sticker and $10 for the second. In Wayland, the yearly fee is $220, for the second car $25, and for senior citizens $165.

Several questions need to be asked. How do we keep unauthorized people from using our Transfer Station? Should the DPW workers at the Transfer Station be the ones to check for dump stickers and then ask those without stickers to leave? Should the town charge, say, $65 for a dump sticker and then hire someone else to be on duty full-time during Transfer Station hours to make sure those using the facility are town residents with stickers? I urge the Selectmen and FinCom to come up with answers to these questions.

Carlisle: the final portrait

I recently spoke with a Concord resident who mentioned that Concord had something like 200 house lots left before the town would be fully "built out." Concord today is very close to its final form. Carlisle has farther to go, I suspect, but we too are relatively close to our final definition.

Our first inhabitants were nomadic people who established seasonal campsites in several locations throughout Carlisle's 9,856 acres. In 1650 the first white settler, James Adams, of Carlyle, England, built the first permanent shelter in Carlisle on South Street, a house that still stands. One hundred thirty years later, the area held 102 families, who relied mostly on agriculture. This period probably saw the most radical change in the land: the felling of forests, the clearing of fields, the damming of streams for grist and saw mills.

After the Revolution, granite quarries and copper mines were operated in Carlisle for a time, and a cranberry bog was added on Curve Street. Agriculture was dominant through the first half of the 19th century, but began a steady decline thereafter. Trees returned to abandoned fields. The development boom following WWII hastened its end. Now, Great Brook Farm has the town's last dairy herd.

During the early part of the 20th century, city dwellers used Carlisle as a vacation getaway. Small summer cottages began to crop up under mature pines, or by ponds and streams. The small, white cottage with a distinctive fieldstone chimney on Acton Street near Route 225 is a particularly lovely example.

In the 1930s the town passed a two-acre zoning requirement. This restriction probably had the greatest effect on the final shape of Carlisle. Significantly, the town also has nearly 30% of its acreage in conservation.

The housing boom, the conclusion of which we are currently witnessing, began in earnest in the 1960s. Many homes along Acton Street, for example, were built in the mid-'60s, in old fields whose stone walls still lace the woods behind the houses. Deck House bought many prime real estate parcels at this time, and erected their distinctive, split-level glass-and-wood structures.

By the mid-'80s the housing boom was in full swing: cul-de-sac developments with houses featuring three-car garages, additions to smaller houses, four- and five-acre lots, subdivided. The high-tech bubble of the '90s produced only a few developments of showcase mansions starting at more than a million dollars. Smaller houses continued to be torn down to make way for larger, grander homes. Throughout this period the school added classrooms and an auditorium. The town also erected new Fire and Police Stations, a new Town Hall, and an expanded library. Playing fields began to appear near the town center. The cemetery opened new lots.

Now, the town's architecture is changing once more. State legislation mandating affordable housing has introduced apartment units into the Carlisle mix: clusters of townhouses, set in old meadows or forests. How many of these will Carlisle absorb before it is finally built out? A dozen?

A colonial center and a number of outlying farms with colonial houses and meadow vistas will characterize the finished Carlisle. Town and state forests will be hemmed in by various developments, from apartment complexes to clusters of mansions. The town will have a new school. The final population? — 7,500 by the time all is said and done? And what about water? Trash? Transportation? Retirement? Schools? Taxes?

Because we are small, we have a chance to shape our future. Just maybe, when the last builder departs, we will still recognize our town.


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2006 The Carlisle Mosquito