Friday, April 27, 2007
BOS support weak on CCHS debt, Honor Roll project
On April 24, concern with spending millions fixing up a high school slated for replacement and disappointment with plans for the Town Common Honor Roll prompted the Selectmen to defer voting on whether to support Article 11 and Article 17 Motion 5 for the April 30 Town Meeting. Other Articles were supported unanimously, with the exception of Article 6 (override), which was opposed by one member, Alan Carpenito, who felt the tax increase would be too high. A Selectmen's meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Monday before Town Meeting to consider and vote on the other two items.
The Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) Article 11 would approve a debt exclusion of $1,245,000 to be shared between Concord and Carlisle for critical improvements and renovations to the school, including heating systems, cafeteria, science labs, and fire alarms. CCHS is slated for replacement in 2012, but $10 million in repairs over five years are planned to keep it limping along in the meantime. Concord has approved the debt exclusion, but both towns must agree to it, so if Carlisle were to vote it down, the improvements would not take place.
Doug Stevenson noted, "I struggle with spending money . . ." "Fixing up a teardown?" interjected Bill Tice. The Selectmen considered the repercussions of not supporting the Article. "Maybe it would make the case to move forward on the new building," said Alan Carpenito. "Or at least develop a real plan for the existing building rather than a patch-it-up plan." Concord has deferred action on a new high school in order to give priority to replacing elementary schools in that town. As Selectman Tim Hult was not present, it was felt a vote should be deferred until Monday.
Honor Roll plan
The Article 17 recommendations of the Community Preservation Act Committee (CPC), including one for $300,000 in pathways, were unanimously supported, with the exception of Motion 5 providing $22,000 for the Town Common Honor Roll renovation. Previously, the Selectmen had asked the Town Common Committee to look into a memorial of stone or other permanent material. Instead, the Committee, with the input of the CPC and the Historical Commission, proposed refurbishing the existing memorials and moving them back, eliminating the benches and landscaping in the original plan.
Carpenito said the original memorial of "wood, paper, and glass" was not meant to be permanent, and "I don't think it's an appropriate memorial." Added Stevenson, "This board was outspoken that the veterans memorial be done at a high level to show support for service. I'm disappointed. It feels like a temporary fix . . . and is not appropriate as far as I'm concerned." He proposed supporting the motion as "the best we're going to get" or denying support and getting more actively involved. But he noted that members of the Town Common Committee and the Historical Commission have strong opinions that "wood and glass are historically appropriate and accurate." On the other hand, "We [the BOS] were unanimous we wanted something in stone. This is not going in that direction."
Before denying support, the BOS will review the proposed plan, which has changed significantly from what was presented to them in November. They will vote on the Motion just before Town Meeting.
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