Friday, January 11, 2008
A look back at Carlisle's progress and challenges in 2007
Massachusetts had an eventful year in 2007: the state saw its first black governor, Deval Patrick, take office, the Red Sox won another World Series, and the New England Patriots followed with a record-breaking 16-0 winning season.
However, for Carlisle, most of the year's story lines have not yet reached conclusions. The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) issued a permit for the Coventry Woods development, but the project now faces appeal. Amid recurring administrative controversy, Carlisle School building plans moved forward with encouragement from the state and the school grappled once again with the future of the old Highland Building. Consideration of new building plans for the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS) were postponed. Town Meeting gave the pathways project a cash infusion and construction is expected in 2008.
The year did include a few milestones: After the town spent years debating its first wireless communications facility, the Planning Board granted special permits for three more with little neighborhood opposition. Emerson Umbrella artists, tenants since 1994, were told to leave the Highland Building after lease extension negotiations stalled. Peter Badalament became the new CCHS principal in July. In the spring, the Mosquito found a splendid new home at 662A Bedford Road, the move made easier by generous donations from many town residents. In the summer, a town-owned lot across from the Police Station was transformed into the new Center Park, largely through the efforts of Sabrina Perry, who spent hundreds of hours to create the park in memory of her late husband.
· After a year and a half of negotiations, the town and Carlisle Police Union Local 201 reached
· The Planning Board opened a hearing for a new conservation cluster development, Chestnut Estates, proposed for 400 Rutland Street. Plans called for eight of the 25-acres of land to eventually be deeded to the town for conservation. The six-lot development plan was approved in May.
· Obituaries: Carlisle lost long-time residents: Inga (Larsen) MacRae, Nancy (Hanson) Hague and Edward Jenny. Mrs MacRae, 93, moved to town at the age of four. Her parents ran a poultry farm on South Street. Mrs. Hague, 81, lived in Carlisle between 1956 and 1993, raising her family here. She served on the Finance Committee, and in 1963 she participated in the Selma-to-Montgomery march with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mr. Jenny, 70, had been a resident of Brook Street. In his youth, he attended Northeastern University and served in the Air Force.
· The Regional School Committee (RSC) approved a plan to build two artificial turf fields behind the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS). The plan was financed and constructed by the Town of Concord. The high school is to use the fields weekdays, while Concord recreation programs are to use the fields evenings and weekends.
· The Fire Department saved the 1780 Jonathan Heald House at 68 South Street. Carlisle had help from neighboring towns in putting out the multiple-alarm blaze.
· Omnipoint Communications, Inc. sought permission from the Planning Board to build two wireless communications facilities, both of which were approved over the coming months. One antenna system is to be located in the cupola of Erikson's Farm at 886 Lowell Street. The second proposal is for an 80-foot monopole on Sorli Farm at 1022 Westford Street.
· The ZBA accepted an April 27 deadline for issuing a decision on the Coventry Woods comprehensive permit application. Later, applicant Mark O'Hagan of MCO Associates withdrew his 41-unit plan and submitted a 48-unit age-restricted version. (The applicant originally asked for 56 units.) The April 27 deadline was maintained.
· The Carlisle School decided to postpone a request for design funds for a school expansion
· Obituary: Irvin M. Puffer, 86, of Bellows Hill Road grew up in Carlisle. He served in the Navy as a machinist and later worked as a metallurgist and inventor.
· The Selectmen's study group proposed leasing selected town lands as sites for wireless communications facilities (concealed antenna monopoles or distributed antenna solutions). May Town Meeting endorsed the plan, but the town had not leased any land by year's end.
· The crushed stone surface used on the Bedford Road footpath had maintenance problems, and the Pedestrian and Bike Safety Advisory Committee (Pathways Committee) asked for additional funds to redesign the entire footpath project. The existing Bedford Road path is to be resurfaced and paths along Concord and East Streets and Lowell Road are to be constructed using asphalt. A natural stone top-coat is to be added within the Historic District. Selectmen requested using Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding.
· John Ballantine spoke and wrote to the Selectmen of efforts by a private group of residents to form a not-for-profit corporation which would build up to 24 units of affordable housing within the Hanover Hill development. The development-within-a-development would comprise mixed-income rental units, but all would count toward the town's 10% affordable housing target.
· The Carlisle School Committee signed a new three-year contract with Superintendent Marie Doyle.
· The Union Hall Coffeehouse opens March 31.
· Black bear foraging increased and posed problems for some homeowners. Barns on Concord and Russell Streets were broken into. Townspeople debated co-existence with large predators. Bear reports diminished and then ceased after the state's environmental police were called.
· The Recreation Commission voted to stop use of all non-organic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers on Spalding and Banta-Davis playing fields.
· The Mosquito moved to a new home at 662A Bedford Road.
· The ZBA closed the year-and-a-half-long hearing on Coventry Woods and granted a comprehensive permit for at most 30 housing units.
· The groundbreaking ceremony for Center Park was held April 23. At the July dedication, Selectman Tim Hult calls the new park, located on Lowell Street across from the police station, "a splendid little oasis of calm and tranquility."
· Town Meeting approved a $21 million operating budget and $245,682 override. The footpath project was given $300,000 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding. The Pathways Committee spent the rest of the year lining up a contractor and seeking required town and state permits. Another $25,000 in CPA funding was voted to demolish the cottage on the Greenough Conservation Land. The cottage was torn down in late fall.
The only spending motion defeated at Town Meeting was $22,000 to renovate the Veterans' Memorial Honor Roll which failed after Selectmen opposed the style of renovation proposed. An advisory committee was formed in June by the Selectmen to suggest a design suitable for renovation or replacement.
· Town Election approved all spending questions. Contested races were won by: Dale Ryder and Wendell Sykes for the School Committee, and Bill Risso and Christopher Deignan for the Board of Health.
· Obituary: Marjorie Virginia Sorli, 83, was a long-time resident of Sorli Farm on Westford Street.
· The Coventry Woods abutters sued the ZBA and the town, while the applicant appealed the ZBA decision to the state Housing Appeals Committee.
· The Carlisle Teachers Association (CTA) announced a vote of "no confidence" in Superintendent Marie Doyle. The vote was 54 - 3 with five abstentions. When asked if the teachers had made such a vote in the past, CTA president and eighth-grade social studies teacher Michael Miller said, "not in my 14 years" at the school.
· CCHS teachers signed a new three-year contract providing basic salary increases of 3 to 11 percent.
· The Carlisle School offered the artists renting studio space in the Highland Building a one-year lease extension, and clarified requirements for maintenance work. The 6,400 square-foot Highland School Building was built in 1908 but has not been used by the school for many years. Since 1994 it has been rented for $1 per year to the Emerson Umbrella artists cooperative.
· On Old Home Day Harriet Fortier is chosen as the 2007 Honored Citizen. Louise Hara is
· Carlisle's Republican and Democratic Parties work together toinvite six congressional candidates to speak during "Politics on the Piazza" at Ferns prior to the September 4 primary for the Fifth Massachusetts District post vacated by Marty Meehan. Nikki Tsongas wins the election in October.
· Harry Potter once more captured the imagination of readers young and old. The Gleason Public Library held a Hogwarts-themed party for witches, wizards and Carlisle middle-school children, ending with the midnight distribution of J. K. Rowling's seventh book.
· Carlisle School Principal Paul Graseck resigned.
· James Halliday was hired as interim Middle School principal to replace Graseck.
· The Carlisle School Committee hired facilitator John Littleford. In September he met with the School Committee and administrators. Plans call for meetings with teachers during January.
· Obituary: Susan W. Smith, 95, was a town resident for over 50 years and the former owner of Great Brook Farm.
· The Housing Authority received the deed to its portion of the Benfield Land. After discussion, they voted to build 26 units of senior housing on the Benfield Land.
· The School Committee (CSC) pressed for a decision on the future of the Highland Building and asked the Selectmen to form a committee to recommend by June 30, 2008, either moving or demolishing the structure.
· The Carlisle School discussed three options for replacing the 50-year old Spalding School
· The Planning Board began hearings for the Sprint Nextel special permit to construct a wireless communications facility at the First Religious Society at 27 School Street. The plan locates antennas within the church steeple.
· Marcella Pixley, eighth-grade Language Arts teacher at the Carlisle School, published her first novel, Freak. The main character is a 12-year-old middle-school student.
It was approved in December.
· The Bruce Freeman Rail Trail Phase 1 groundbreaking ceremony was held after two decades of planning.
· Highland Building artists were told to leave by the end of January because Emerson Umbrella did not sign a one-year lease extension when the old lease expired in September.
· The Recreation Commission hired Holly Hamilton to fill the new position of full-time
· Carlisle's FY08 tax rate was set to $12.86 per $1,000 in property valuation, up from $11.96 the previous year.
· Selectmen heard that the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School had incurred roughly $850,000 in special education costs which were unanticipated when the FY08 budget was drafted.
· A conservation restriction and trail easement on 5.6 acres off Bingham Road was offered to the town by the Stalker/Keskulla family.
· The Selectmen established a charter for a Highland Building Study Committee — to investigate options including to preserve, sell, move or demolish the building.
· The Conservation Commission approved the Pathways Project after the Carlisle Conservation Foundation decided not to oppose the use of asphalt on the stretch of the Bedford Road pathway that crosses land under a conservation restriction held by the Foundation. The Historical Commission gave approvals for the pathways which lie within the Historic District.
· Comet Holmes was visible to the naked eye.
· A nine-acre site was cleared and leveled as construction progressed for the creation of two new athletic fields behind CCHS. Tree clearing had been halted temporarily during the summer when the non-profit group Friends of Thoreau Country filed litigation in Superior Court to stop the project.
· An Ash-throated Flycatcher was seen by many birdwatchers in town, well outside its normal range of Mexico and Texas to Arizona and Southern California.
· The Board of Health (BOH) considered revising its supplemental regulations on septic systems to allow construction closer to wetlands and wells. No decision was reached.
· The Planning Board received traffic impact data for the proposed 35-house traditional development, Hanover Hill, to be located off Route 225 near Cross and Curve Streets.
· One of the snowiest Decembers on record consumed half of the DPW's winter salt budget.
· The Finance Committee set a guideline of zero growth for next year's school and town department budgets.
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