Friday, May 11, 2007
Smooth sailing most of the way
Most of those who attended Carlisle's Annual Town Meeting on Monday night, April 30, were pleased to be taking part in a meeting which was well attended (445), where each Article was clearly explained by the appropriate town official, and citizens who spoke from the floor, for the most part, appeared to be well-informed on the topic under discussion. Also, the use of the cafeteria next door for voters with children meant they could hear what was going on in Corey Auditorium and be able to speak by microphone if they so wished. For those in the auditorium, this arrangement eliminated distracting noise from very young children, an annoyance in years past.
Town Moderator Tom Raftery made it clear from the beginning of Town Meeting that if there was a motion to reconsider an Article, the motion must be made by someone who had been on the winning side of the original vote. He pointed out that Concord operated under different rules, a reference to Concord's Town Meeting on April 24, when the Article to allocate funds for ballfields on a wooded parcel behind CCHS initially failed, but after 327 voters had left the Town Meeting, a request for a reconsideration vote was made and the Article passed. As the evening progressed at Carlisle's Town Meeting, the motion to use a paper ballot for voting on the Article 6 override was defeated by an overwhelming hand vote.
Selectman Tim Hult gave a frightening but convincing presentation of the need for higher taxes, relative to income, in the coming years. This year's override, $245,682 to help support town departments and Carlisle school, was supported by a large majority vote. What will happen in the years ahead is anyone's guess. Personally, I was disappointed that the restoration of the Veterans Honor Roll on the Town Green didn't pass. How long will it take to erect a granite monument and how much longer will a deteriorating Honor Roll be gracing our Town Green? And who says Carlisle has to get so fancy?
Moving along to this week's Town Election on Tuesday, a steady stream of voters, 1,020 out of the 3,374 of the registered voters eligible for this election, passed through the Clark Room at Town Hall to cast their votes. With so many more signs placed along the roads by those candidates running for the School Committee than in past years, it was clear there would be a tight race for that office in this year's election. Also the two openings on the Board of Health, with three candidates, had drawn much interest.
As a long-time poll worker, part of my job on Tuesday night was to count votes, and it was there I was able to observe a problem for those voting for write-in candidates. As Town Clerk Charlene Hinton had noted in her election information letter in the Mosquito last week: "The candidate's first and last names and at least their street name is necessary." Unfortunately, those voting for Kevin Smith for School Committee often did not include his street or his middle initial, and since there are two Kevin Smiths in town, one of these "identifiers" was absolutely necessary. As Assistant Town Clerk Irene Blake emphatically stated at the end of the evening, "People are supposed to come to the polls prepared to vote. Poll workers are not allowed to coach them."
Speaking of poll workers, there is a need for more volunteers to work at the polls on Election Day. If you can give four or five hours during the day or several hours in the evening to count votes, please call the Town Clerk and she will connect you to the Election Warden. This is a great way to contribute to the civic well-being of our town.
Where the sidewalk ends...
...there starts Carlisle, and the public debate over sidewalks and walking paths which is as old as that poem and children's book by Shel Silverstein.
People are drawn to the town's highly regarded educational system just as much as to its bucolic vistas. While many choose to live here for its relative proximity to industry and high tech ventures, many more live elsewhere but drive through town every day for the very same reason.
As our town keeps growing, there are more carports and multi-car garages than working farms. Our supermarkets, shops, banks and restaurants are all at least five miles away in every direction from the town center, as are many other services. Driving is a necessity and a way of life for town folks.
Still, recent black bear sightings aside, recreational opportunities have always been abundant, literally in our own backyards. However, a leisurely walk down some of our town's roads can swiftly turn into an act of extreme sport, survival more than recreation.
Persisting, ever growing, safety concerns were the driving force behind the town's vote to finally approve the school loop path around town center and its further expansion into a town-wide pathway system.
The current path connects all the major sites which turn any town into a community: Starting with the school and the library, it crosses to the general store with its refurbished front which now offers a "downtown" view, then down to the post office and the playing fields, and — to top it all — at its other end is our ice cream Mecca with its adjacent mini farm-animal zoo and flower garden.
I am one of those who still has to drive (or walk at my own risk) over one mile to the center and its newly established accessibility, but, taking it one step at a time, this is already a good start for all.
Driving down Bedford Road on one of these beautiful spring days, the path was almost unnoticeable, meandering alongside stone walls and early blooming daffodils, blending harmoniously with its idyllic surroundings. With rush hour traffic at its usual late afternoon peak, it was the sight of a jogger, a few school children — perhaps on their way to Kimball's, and a couple walking their dog that created an immediate sense of a real community.
Looking down the road, the possibilities for improving our community are almost endless — from the sight of a public amphitheater filled with families enjoying an evening performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream, to the sound of fans cheering their home team during an Over-the-Hill Soccer League match at a new town playing field, to the hubbub of crowds flocking to a new exhibit at the local art gallery, you get the idea.
It may take more than a village to turn Carlisle into a vibrant, dynamic community, and possibly more than a single loop of a sidewalk to bring us out of our sheltered garages. But it's worth thinking about.
© 2007 The