Friday, January 12, 2007
2006: A year of creatures, culture and controversy
• After a quarter-century, Marilyn Harte retired as the Mosquito's feature editor. New feature editor Ellen Miller brought prior experience as a professional editor and an extensive knowledge of Carlisle's history.
• The Board of Selectmen (BOS) voted to approve a one-year license to sell wine and beer at Ferns Country Store, contingent upon completion of a proposed expansion of the store. However, water and septic issues have postponed construction.
• The Carlisle School Building Committee (SBC) voted "The Highland Building is not a viable school building." The next month the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) concurred, and decided to leave the 1908 building out of the school's new master plan.
• The Carlisle School held community meetings on the master plan. An enrollment projection based on current birth rate and an aging population predicted a falling school population, but did not include effects of future 40B affordable housing projects. The master plan explored various options, including phased upgrades of school facilities.
• Obituary: Walter "Jake" Flannery, 84, a disabled veteran of WWII, a retired mason, and a long-time familiar face at the Transfer Station, passed away.
• The town was surprised by the resignations of Carlisle School Principal Dr. Steven Goodwin and Assistant Principal Michael Giurlando. Goodwin had worked in Carlisle for five years, while Giurlando had been at the school for two years. Public attendance at Carlisle School Committee (CSC) meetings rocketed as parents sought to voice opinions.
• Principal Steve Goodwin explained the new World Language program, with Spanish offered in grades K-5, and a choice of Spanish, French or Chinese in middle school.
• The BOS organized a task force to revise town bylaws, draft guidelines and develop incentives for property owners to create low-cost accessory apartments to help increase the town's stock of affordable housing.
• The Carlisle School Committee approved a new three-year teachers' contract, giving a 4% pay increase the first year and 3.9% increases the following two years.
• The Community Preservation Committee (CPC) heard a request from the Recreation Commission (RecCom) for $80,000 to fund the design of two multi-function athletic fields to be built on the town's Foss Farm on Bedford Road. The land, managed by the Conservation Commission (ConsCom), was bought in 1971 for the dual purposes of conservation and recreation. ConsCom did not support the request. The next month the CPC asked both RecCom and ConsCom to resolve their differences and return with a joint request. The ConsCom's Land Stewardship Committee is in the process of studying all the uses of Foss Farm.
• Carlisle's Indian-American community gave the cultural presentation, "Glimpses of India," in the Corey Auditorium. The public event was sponsored by the Carlisle Cultural Council.
• Four Carlisle firefighters completed a difficult six-month state Firefighting I/II course and exam at the Massachusetts Fire Academy. Completing the course were Captain J.J. Supple, Matt Svatek, Bryan Sorrows and Erik Moseley.
• The Finance Committee recommended a $150,766 budget override for FY07, including $75,766 for CCHS and $75,000 to fund the Carlisle School.
• Selectmen approved a RecCom plan to expand recreation facilities at the Banta-Davis Land, including construction of three playing fields, four tennis courts, paths, and parking, with artificial turf on one field. Also included was the conversion of the existing town's two tennis courts to basketball courts.
• The Carlisle School hired two new principals: Elementary Principal Patrice Hurley and Middle School Principal Paul Graseck. Hurley had been assistant principal at the Ephraim Curtis Middle School in Sudbury, while Graseck was the curriculum director for English and social sciences in Hudson.
• The Middle School Choir, directed by music teacher Megan Fitzharris, earned gold in its first trip to the Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association (MICCA) Festival. Music teacher Tom O'Halloran directed the Senior Band which also won gold. At the Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS), the Concert and Repertory Bands also received gold, while the String Orchestra and Select Choir won silver and the Mixed Chorus and Women's Ensemble won bronze.
• Carlisle School Business Manager Steven Moore resigned after four years. Dr. Linda Stapp, Director of Student Support Services, resigned after 13 years in Carlisle.
• The CPC recommended $200,000 in Community Preservation Act monies be used to pay Coventry Woods Developer Mark O'Hagan to make 12 rather than 10 units affordable in the 41-unit 40B development planned for Concord Street. The 12 units will allow Carlisle to get a one-year moratorium on other 40B high-density developments.
• The long-term cost of implementing the new Master Plan to improve the Carlisle School was estimated at $57 to $66 million.
• Town Meeting approved:
- A $150,766 override.
- $2,044,900 for the Banta-Davis athletic facilities, including artificial turf for one field.
- A wireless bylaw revision to allow the Planning Board to grant waivers to the 900-foot setback requirement for cell towers.
- A new Town Hall employee to coordinate housing issues and particularly to assist the Town Administrator, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Housing Authority.
- A Housing Trust to help with the town's creation of affordable housing.
- Bylaw changes, and up to $90,000 in incentives to homeowners, to facilitate the creation of affordable accessory apartments.
- Payment of $200,000 to the Coventry Woods developer.
- $500,000 to purchase a new fire truck and $200,000 to build fire cisterns.
• The imminent failure of a small dam in Chelmsford threatened the town's cranberry crop. Cranberry farmer Mark Duffy, the Carlisle ConsCom and Selectmen had little success in convincing Chelmsford to make needed repairs.
• Carlisle participants in the Boston Marathon included: Karen Ringheiser (3:27), Ronald Kmiec (3:54), William Lewis (4:47) and Michele Van Leer (5:09).
• Angela Smith became the new Council on Aging Outreach Coordinator. Prior to that, Susan Evans had held the post for six years.
• Town Election results included:
- The Banta-Davis athletic field plan failed at the ballot by 11 votes.
- Alan Carpenito joined the Board of Selectmen and Doug Stevenson was reelected.
- Chad Koski joined the School Committee as David Dockterman retired.
• The CSC gave Superintendent Marie Doyle a positive annual evaluation, commending her leadership during a difficult year.
• Obituary: Floyd B. Taylor died at age 91. A resident of Carlisle during the years 1967-2003, he was a member of the Congregational Church. He worked in the field of public health and generously volunteered his expertise to the town on water-related issues.
• The 133-acre Westford Street property long-owned by the Wilson family was readied for possible development as the wetlands mapping was brought before the ConsCom for approval.
• Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) rated the conditions of school buildings on a scale of 1 (best) to 4 (worst). At the Carlisle School, the Spalding Building was rated 4; Wilkins, Robbins and Corey Buildings were rated 2; the Grant and Brick Buildings were rated 1. Concord-Carlisle High School facilities were given a rating of 4.
• Teacher retirements at the Carlisle School included music teacher and band director Tom O'Halloran, seventh-grade science teacher Sara Bysshe, physical education teacher Phil LaPalme and sixth-grade language arts teacher Carolyn Platt.
• After 20 years in Carlisle, Great Brook Farm State Park Superintendent Ray Faucher left for a new post as District Manager in the state's Department of Conservation and Recreation's Atlantic District.
• Fees for full-day Kindergarten were raised from $575 to $775 for the coming school year. Bus fees for seventh and eighth-graders were kept at $395 per year, while sports fees fell about $10 per sport, to $175 per student for a varsity-level sport and $85 for a junior varsity-level sport.
• A dam in Chelmsford failed, flooding Carlisle's Cranberry Bog. Cranberry grower Mark Duffy made emergency repairs to protect his crop from further damage, and in August the Chelmsford DPW made permanent repairs, including the installation of a new flume and culvert.
• Biologist Sarah Haggerty, of the state Natural Heritage Endangered Species Program, met with town officials and explained how the habitat for the rare blue-spotted salamander must be preserved, restricting development of portions the 45-acre town-owned Benfield Land on South Street.
• After a hiatus of several years, the black bear returned to Carlisle. Damaged bird feeders and bee hives were common over the next several months until the bear (or bears) became inactive in November.
• The Vivian Chaput Memorial on the town's Conant Land was formally dedicated on Old Home Day. Chaput volunteered in town government for 25 years and was a Selectman when an auto accident ended her life in 2004.
• The Water Quality Subcommittee noted continued declines in the levels of the gas contaminant methyltertiary-butylether (MTBE) in town center wells. For one well on Lowell Street the level was 39.4 ppb, down from 330 ppb in the 1990s, while another well had readings drop from 83 ppb to 11.1 ppb.
• Jane Williams resigned and Kathy Mull became the new director of the Council on Aging (COA.)
• Carlisle's first cell tower was built on the Anderegg property at 871 Bedford Road. It can accommodate equipment from several personal wireless service providers. Cingular was expected to be the first company to install equipment, but had not yet begun transmission by year's end. According to site development manager Carey Diehl of Bay Communications, his company purchased the tower from Cingular. Sprint has also leased space on the tower, which Diehl said can hold equipment from up to six carriers. In September T-Mobile requested a special permit to install an antenna on the tower.
• New administrators joined the Carlisle School. Heidi Zimmerman was hired as the new Business Manager and Karen Slack was hired as the new Director of Student Services. Formerly Zimmerman worked as the administrator of operations and finance for the Beverly Public Schools. Slack had worked for 20 years in the Greenfield Public School system, most recently as their Director of Student Services.
• The Center Park improvement project received final approval from the Selectmen. Former Carlisle resident Sabrina Perry shepherded the project through the lengthy approval process. Currently the lot, located across the street from the Police Station on Lowell Street, is used primarily for public parking.
• Obit: Janice Hensleigh, 80, was an active community member in Carlisle for 30 years. Over the years she had operated an antique store in the old Congregational Church on School Street, had served on the Historic District Commission and was co-chair of the Carlisle Republican Committee. She was married to former Carlisle Selectman Howard Hensleigh.
• Enrollment in the Carlisle School dropped by 26 students to 789, while the Concord-Carlisle High School saw 20 additional students, bringing the total enrollment there to 1264.
• Carlisle received a state grant of $282,735, matching dollar for dollar the funds collected by the town during the previous year under the 2% property tax surcharge authorized under the Community Preservation Act. Since 2002 the town has received a total of $1,269,264 in state matching funds.
• The Board of Health created a local Medical Reserve Corps, enlisting medical professionals and other volunteers to help in the event of a future wide-spread medical emergency such as a pandemic.
• Town Meeting October 30:
- The Banta-Davis Phase II plan for expanded athletic facilities lost by two votes.
- The town agreed to protect the salamander habitat on the Benfield Land and voted 219 to 38 to move the location of the future housing development closer to the road, in the field near South Street.
• Town Election:
- The plan for new playing fields on Banta-Davis Land on Bedford Road lost again, this time by a larger margin.
• In the concurrent state election:
- Deval Patrick (D) won in the governor's race.
- Voters again approved the sale of beer and wine. To permanently change the "dry" status of Carlisle, voters must pass the question one more time.
• Carlisle School reexamined the issue of security after police questioned a man found loitering near the school. All staff members are asked to wear newly created ID badges, and more doors are kept locked.
• Selectmen gave the Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie a new three-year contract. However, they did not complete and sign-off on her annual performance review until December. Selectmen felt that two unresolved letters of complaint by Board of Health employees concerning McKenzie were not sufficient reason to further delay an otherwise "Good" performance review.
• Selectmen agreed to give a 3.5% wage increase to non-contractual town employees.
• The police contract may head for arbitration in January of 2007, after 18 months of unsuccessful negotiation between the town and police union Local 201. Wages were cited as the main area of disagreement.
• The new tax rate was lowered from $12.99 to $11.96 per $1,000 of property valuation. The rate was changed to compensate for the recent real estate revaluation. The average home value rose to $822,100 from $738,100, and land value rose roughly $87,000 to $435,600.
• The public hearing on the 41-unit Coventry Woods 40B development on Concord Street neared completion. Proposed water use remained a primary concern of abutters, particularly the use of well water for lawn irrigation, discussed at the last meeting. It was estimated that if allowed, watering the lawns would permanently remove about a million gallons of water from the local aquifer each year.
• The Carlisle School Committee voted 3-2 to offer Superintendent Marie Doyle a new contract. They then voted 3-2 to set the new contract term at three years.
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