The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 21, 2008


Highland Study Group gathers data

The Highland Building Study Group met on March 12 to discuss the details of the several possible dispositions of the Highland School Building. Alan Carpenito reported that both Phyllis Hughes, an artist who used the building for studio space during Emerson Umbrella’s tenure there, and Wendy Davis, who taught in the building when it was part of the Carlisle Public School, would be willing to address the group and provide some historical information about the building as artists’ studios and as a school and historic site. Aside from options to mothball or demolish the building, the group is investigating several possible renovation scenarios involving public or school use.

Group member Wendell Sykes, also a member of the Carlisle School Committee (CSC), asserted firmly that Superintendent Marie Doyle could see no school use for the Highland Building. However, Dale Ryder, also a CSC member, reported that in a conversation she had had with Doyle, the superintendent said that she would be open to hearing the findings of the Highland group and perhaps compromising on possible educational uses of the building. To better understand the superintendent’s views, group member Ken Hoffman suggested that the committee invite Doyle to come and speak with them and recommended that they draft some specific questions which they would communicate to her in advance.

Working from that recommendation, the group also decided to request time on the School Committee’s agenda, after the Town Election, in order to solicit their input and report to them their findings. They also plan to speak with the School Building Committee. They would then incorporate the information gleaned from these parties into the report to be prepared for the Selectmen.

The discussion of school and public uses for the building also raised the question of necessary Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) law checks that might have to be made on people renovating, demolishing or using a building so close to the school campus. Ryder volunteered to check with the superintendent’s assistant, Claire Wilcox, to find out what requirements, if any, must be met.

In moving through the list of options for the building, the group found themselves discussing fire safety issues and code violations. To be sure that each of the options presented to the Selectmen would be viable if chosen, they elected to ask Bob Koning, as an historical expert on the building, and David Flannery, as Fire Chief, to address them on exactly what would need to be done for each possible disposition of the building, in order for it to pass building code and fire safety regulations. In addition, they will consult Interim Building Commissioner John Minty.

The group hopes to be able to meet with the School Committee in early June. ∆

1990 Opinion Survey

Preferred Highland Uses

Town offices 2.9

Community activities 2.5

Community center 2.4

Classrooms 2.0

Commercial space 1.8

Sell it 1.7

Destroy it 1.3

Survey question: What possible uses of the vacant Highland School Building should Carlisle consider? (4 = most important; 1 = not important)

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