The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 12, 2007


Highland artists to be evicted, building mothballed

The Higland Building (photo by Betsy Fell)
The Carlisle School has begun the process of evicting the artists renting space in the Highland Building because they did not sign the one-year lease extension that had been offered to them. The Highland Building, built in 1908, is located on school property and is under the control of the Carlisle School Committee (CSC).

Since 1994 it has been rented to the Emerson Umbrella artists cooperative for $1 per year and in exchange, the artists were to pay utilities and maintain the building. Emerson Umbrella fixed the roof initially and the artists have done some work since, including interior painting. However, in recent years the maintenance has not been adequate. The front steps, for example, have deteriorated. The first lease was for ten years and it was renewed for a period of three years, ending this September. The one-year lease offered by the school contains new language clarifying the tenants' building maintenance responsibilities. Emerson has been reluctant to agree to significant repairs without a longer-term lease. Instead of signing the one-year lease, Emerson has offered to pay utilities and act as property manager.


On September 25, Carlisle School Business Manager Heidi Zimmerman announced at the Selectmen's meeting that she was drafting a letter to Emerson giving them formal notice that, without a new lease in force, they had to leave the building within 90 days. At the October 3 CSC meeting Superintendent Marie Doyle showed a letter that had been sent to the Emerson Umbrella notifying them of the impending eviction deadline. "We are trying to be as accommodating as we can for the artists that are in there now," said CSC member Michael Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald and Zimmerman met with Emerson's Carrie Flood and Kris Toomey on October 2, "regarding transitioning them out of the building due to their reluctance to enter into a one-year lease and our reluctance to having them just become property managers," Fitzgerald said.

Requested repairs that had been a source of contention between the school and Emerson included work on the front porch, windows, roof and fire escape. However, during the discussion, the interest in repairs was inconsistent. Burkel asked if Emerson was being required to repair the porch, but Fitzgerald said, "given the fact that the ultimate destination for that building is not going to be to repair it or renovate it, why are we going to ask people to put money into it?"

Another option

Burkel asked why the tenants could not stay as "tenants at will." Fitzgerald closed the discussion by speaking for the tenants, "They don't want to continue to heat that massive building and we don't either."

He said, "It makes sense to begin to put pressure on the Board of Selectmen to come up with a final resolution to the problem." He noted that the Selectmen were not yet aware that the eviction plan had crystallized since the meeting with Emerson representatives.

The CSC did not take a vote regarding the Highland Building at their public meeting.

Heading for mothballs

Fitzgerald suggested the school "mothball Highland at this point; shut the heat off, drain the pipes, and do anything else that is necessary to make sure that we don't have to operate the building, especially during the peak heating season." Zimmerman said that fire and security systems would be needed to secure the building.

CSC member Wendell Sykes was concerned that kids would get into the empty building, and Fitzgerald suggested that the police would need to watch the building.

Fitzgerald said "We still need to have further discussions at the committee level and get more information from Carlisle School Buildings Grounds Supervisor David Flannery on what would be involved in the mothballing."

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito