Friday, November 3, 2006
Town Meeting: YES on Benfield but NO on the ballfields
As I came away from the Special Town Meeting on Monday night, walking across the plaza towards our car parked in front of the Spalding School, I had conflicted feelings about the vote we had taken that night. I was relieved that Article 3 rearranging usage of the Benfield property had passed and the town has now taken a big step towards controlling our (40B) affordable housing growth. No, siting the housing up front, closer to the road on South Street isn't what most of us had wanted, but when the blue-spotted salamander was found on the property, housing sites were limited.
What bothered me most was the fact that the town voted No on the Phase II development of the Banta-Davis Land (Article 1), by a slim margin of two votes (Yes-197 to No-101), two-thirds required. Alan Deary gave a fine detailed presentation of what the RecCom was proposing. Certainly it was clear that the Town of Carlisle needs new ballfields and the best place to locate them is on the Banta-Davis Land, near the Carlisle School. Three new playing fields do not seem extravagant since Carlisle has only 6.5 fields compared to Concord's 20 fields. The number of Carlisle players on Concord-Carlisle teams make up 27% to 31% of the players, depending on the sport. So isn't it time for Carlisle to increase its fair share of ballfields?
Some of the thoughts expressed after the meeting were: "The RecCom went wrong by scaling up, instead of scaling down." "They tried to have something for everyone." "It was too extravagant, too grandiose."
I think the town would support the RecCom's request for new ballfields if they came back with a simplified proposal, without a pavilion, a huge parking lot, tennis courts, and other amenities. Just as the artificial turf proposal was separated out, so should the amenities be. I believe the town would approve a bare-bones proposal for three new fields, perhaps including the path through the woods. Other parts of the grand plan could be offered à la carte, based on incremental costs. Meanwhile, until RecCom can get town approval for new Banta-Davis playing fields, it makes no sense to think about developing a playing field on the Benfield Land, or anywhere else in town.
Eat dessert first
I've turned the magical age of 65, chosen to retire, and am now entitled to many new benefits
· Social Security
· Having time on my hands
· Following my bliss
· Not wearing a wrist watch
· Not having a cell phone, let alone a Blackberry
· Savoring the hours spent doing what I want to do
· Using my pill box as a calendar
· Adopting "mañana" as my new favorite word
· Planning and doing more traveling
· Having a "personal trainer" to help me get into shape
· Fishing at the Cranberry Bog with my grandson
· Fishing off Chappaquiddick with Steve Kirk
· Becoming more serious about the health and welfare of others
· Becoming less serious about almost everything else.
The view through 65-year-old eyes does change somewhat. I just returned from a long weekend at my alma mater. We've done it every year for the past 16, along with 12 other couples — sorority sisters of my wife and their spouses, many of whom are also alums. It's a quintessential fall weekend, complete with rooting for the home team with 100,000 other rabid football fans, dining and drinking at the same hangouts we frequented as undergrads, and generally re-living many great past memories. One of the spouses at the Friday night seafood buffet went to the dessert table for his first course. I said, "John, I've heard many speak jokingly of eating dessert first, but never saw anyone actually do it." John replied that he began doing it when he turned 68 as a strategy for eating less, especially at buffet dinners. He filled up on a large piece of pie and had little room for anything else but a cup of coffee. I thought to myself, "very practical." I also thought about the more metaphorical meaning of eating dessert first. The fact that two couples of our group did not make it back this year was testament to another hard fact about "turning 65;" both had spouses who were back home fighting for their lives.
Most of the pundits who engage in financial planning services tell us we may need to work longer than we had hoped so that we won't run out of money before we run out of time. While it's certainly true that we are living longer than our parents and grandparents, it is also true that life is unpredictable. Longer on average; less predictable in each individual case. How old are you? I'll bet you think you'll beat the averages. I hope you will. I also hope you have ample time to savor the minutes and hours spent doing what you want to do. If working full time is not your passion, don't put off retiring a minute longer than you absolutely have to. In fact, my advice is to take that magical planned-for retirement age and backdate it a few years. Get a head start on eating dessert first. I doubt you'll ever regret it.
7 p.m., Clark Room, Town Hall
7:30 p.m., Heald Room, Town Hall
© 2006 The