Friday, April 11, 2008
LCC Planning Day reaffirms Carlisle’s values, seeks community gathering place
On Saturday morning, April 5, over 50 people participated in a community planning forum, hosted by the group, A Liveable Carlisle Community (LCC). Attendees reaffirmed that conservation and education are top priorities of many townspeople, and shared ideas about issues, values, and how to foster a greater sense of community. They concluded that there is “a need for a multi-generational, multi-use, cost efficient way to bring people together,” according to David Freedman, one of the LCC event organizers and an associate member of the Planning Board.
The forum was held in the Carlisle School’s Corey Dining Room and was funded by the Planning Board. Additional financial support had been offered by the Council on Aging, Carlisle Conservation Foundation, Community Preservation Committee and Gleason Library, but was not needed. The LCC is a private organization of about nine members who are working to improve Carlisle’s sense of community and help plan for the future (see “Bring ideas to A Liveable Carlisle Community forum on April 5,” in the March 28 Mosquito.)
After opening remarks by LCC chair Marlene Fine, LCC member and former Selectman John Ballantine summarized long-term trends including higher taxes and an aging population. Freedman reviewed a timeline of past community planning efforts, and people then divided into small groups of eight or nine to address the question: “What do we need and what should we do as a community to provide more of a sense of connectedness?” Many suggestions were offered and the ideas generated were later shared with the entire group. A brief list of the ideas appears in Table 2
New priority for “green” energy
LCC organizers summarized many of the priorities that had been voiced in previous years, and to this the participants added new topics such as alternative energy use. The items were listed on posters around the room and participants used seven stickers to vote for those topics which they felt were most important. The top ten results are listed in Table 1. Less important issues that were mentioned included: historic preservation; 40B; taxes; the need to involve young families; the need to provide connections for local business/professionals; new schools; better coordination; and active debate of issues. Participants also voted on a list of possible things that would improve the town (see Table 3).
While organizers wished that more people had attended, Freedman felt that the results were useful. A number of town officials came, including five from the Planning Board, two Selectmen and Library Director Angela Mollet. In addition, Freedman said that nine members of the private Carlisle Conservation Foundation attended.
Using the ages given by those who completed an event survey, roughly a third of participants were between the ages of 50 and 59; a third were older and a third younger. It was felt that more might have attended if it were not for scheduling conflicts with the Mosquito Trash Party and performances of the Carlisle School band and chorus at the Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors’ Association (MICCA).
Participants enjoyed the process, look to the future
Freedman shared a sample of comments from the 37 people who completed surveys distributed at the forum. One person wrote, “I am excited to see that the community is addressing these issues for young and old and everyone in between, as it is important to maintain a diverse community.” A person new to town wrote, “I feel I got a whole other perspective from the K-8 world I typically live in with young children. Really enjoyed hearing and participating in cross-the-board discussion.”
Several wrote that they would like concrete actions towards the ideas discussed at the community planning event. One stated, “We need some focused actions to come out of these meetings; otherwise they aren’t much use.” A person wrote that he/she “would like to understand how the town officials take these opinions into account.”
Ballantine said that the LCC will meet soon to discuss how to continue the dialog. The group plans to work on the Council on Aging (COA) survey. The survey was funded by Town Meeting last spring, and is to poll residents on the recreational and other needs of seniors. Ballantine points out that Carlisle’s senior population is growing and the number is expected to increase 60% state-wide between 2000 and 2020. He said the trend should be considered in the context of other town issues and expenses. One event participant asked, “What is the connection between these meetings and actual change?” Freedman said the LCC will look at ways to translate some of the ideas into actions. ∆
© 2008 The