Friday, April 7, 2006
Town growth tops candidates' concerns
How Carlisle deals with growth in general and affordable housing in particular are among the most important challenges facing the town right now, according to nearly all of the candidates who appeared at the League of Women Voters (LWV) Candidates Forum on Sunday, April 2, at Town Hall.
Unhindered by a relatively small audience turnout (about 25 people attended, including candidates) and an even smaller appearance by candidates (of the 11 uncontested races this year, five candidates appeared at the forum), the LWV hosted the event complete with rolling television cameras and the intention that the forum would be aired on Channel 9 (See schedule on page 3.)
Two-way race for Carlisle School Committee
Lori Tucker (Goldberg) of East Riding Drive and Chad Koski of Nathan Lane are vying for the only contested race in Carlisle this year: a three-year seat on the Carlisle School Committee (CSC). There was little debate between the two candidates on issues, but the forum did provide them each with the opportunity to present their different backgrounds and display their own personal styles of leadership, communication and organization.
Tucker has resided in Carlisle with her family since 2001. Her three children attend the Carlisle Public School. She is an attorney who moved here from Florida, where her work as a prosecutor focused on juvenile delinquents. She said that her work as a litigator has given her good experience as a negotiator that helps qualify her for a position on the CSC. In order to effectively advocate for her youngest child, who has special needs, Tucker said that she has become very familiar with special education laws and statutes.
"I'm active in the school. I go to all the meetings," said Tucker. "I want to help maintain the excellent school we have in Carlisle."
Koski has lived with his family in Carlisle for 10 years. Three of his children are in the Carlisle Public School and his fourth moved on to CCHS this year. As a software engineer who works at home, Koski says he is able to be very involved at the school his children attend. His schedule allows him the flexibility to visit the school during the day as a parent, he says, and would afford him the same opportunity if elected to the CSC.
"I want to ensure that we get our money's worth [from the Carlisle Public School]," said Koski. "We've replaced the top three people there in the last two years. We need to ensure that our kids get the services they need."
After giving opening statements, the candidates were asked questions by the LWV and then by audience members. LWV moderator Sara Rolley posed the following question to each candidate at the forum: "What do you think is the most important issue facing Carlisle now?"
"The most pressing issue in Carlisle now is growth," Tucker said. "We need to maintain the quality of life we have now in Carlisle as well as the high standards of our school."
"More students mean a greater burden," agreed Koski. "We have the challenge of maintaining the quality of our schools as we face more demands because of growth."
Rolley followed with a question to the CSC candidates about what they felt was the most important issue facing the Carlisle Public School.
"Curriculum," responded Tucker. "We see serious deficiencies in the school curriculum. There is not much uniformity across classes within the same grade. I know that some parents feel that the curriculum is not reaching their children."
She also said that she is concerned about how the curriculum is monitored and how changes are communicated to parents. For example, when a task force determined that a world language would be introduced to the school, Tucker said she could not get an answer to her question: "What will be taken from the school curriculum to do this?"
Koski said that growth is the most important issue facing the Carlisle School. "It's important that Carlisle moves into the 21st century," he said. "We need to share ideas and bring some ideas in from other towns."
"What is your opinion about the Highland School building," queried a member of the audience.
Tucker said that this is a "tough issue" about a "great building." Noting the great expense that has been estimated to update the building, Tucker said that the building's future should probably be decided by the Board of Selectmen or by the townspeople. "The school already has a lot on its plate," said Tucker. "This should probably be handed over to the town, or decided by referendum."
Koski agreed. "If it's not usable as a school building, then it should be determined by the town."
"We definitely have building needs," Koski said in response to an audience question about facilities. He noted that in the past even closets have been converted into classroom space. "I don't think we can find any more closets to convert," he said. "I guess we need to build more."
Tucker noted that a recent study has projected that the Carlisle Middle School student population will dip from its current peak and then increase again over the next 10 years. "Maybe modular units could be used," to help accommodate these changes, she suggested. She stressed the need to plan ahead, especially in light of expected building needs at the high school. "If CCHS needs a new building, we don't want taxpayers to be hit with both "We want seniors to be able to afford to live here," she said. "They have offered so much to the town, and they need affordable housing so they can stay and live here."
Also running unopposed is Dale Ryder of Lowell Street, who is seeking a three-year term as Library Trustee. She has lived in Carlisle since 1992 and she says that every member of her family is an avid user of the library. She is an "passionate reader" and a member of the Friends of Gleason Library.
Ryder said that she believes the biggest problem facing Carlisle and the Gleason Library is the impact of growth. "Growth of the town puts greater demands on the library," she said.
When asked by an audience member what she thought of having the library open on Sundays, Ryder said that she would want to look into the issue with the two other trustees. "We would have to research how much it might be used versus the cost of keeping it open," she said. "Personally, I don't think my family would use the library on Sundays."
Greg Peterson of Indian Hill is running unopposed for a three-year term on the Planning Board that was vacated by Louise Hara. He has lived in Carlisle for 12 years and his youngest child attends CCHS. He has served on the Carlisle Conservation Federation, where he was very active in the preservation of the O'Rourke Farm and the town's acquisition of the Benfield property.
Peterson said that one of the biggest challenges to the town of Carlisle and the Planning Board is retaining a sense of community in the face of increased growth. "How do we maintain our viability as a community and our sense of place with the outside pressures of growth?" he asked. "We have an almost exclusively residential tax base. Affordable housing is important. There are families where both parents work until 7 p.m. just so they can afford to buy a house here."
Other candidates running for town office, who did not participate in Sunday's forum (all unopposed) are: Tom Rafferty for Town Moderator; Jeff Brem, Michael Holland and Leslie Cahill for the Board of Health; and David Freedman and Brian Larson for the Planning Board.
© 2006 The