Friday, January 9, 2009
A look back at Carlisle in 2008
National events such as the presidential election, continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the deepening economic crisis made Carlisle seem like a quiet place in a storm. Nonetheless, the town experienced its share of changes during 2008, including new roadside pathways, a green light for the new 35-house Hanover Hill subdivision and a final vote permitting the sale of wine and beer.
• Retirements. After working as the Concord-Carlisle Regional School District Superintendent since 2003, Brenda Finn announced she would retire at the end of August. Bob Koning retired as Building Commissioner and Electrical Inspector. He served in the two positions 27 and 46 years, respectively. Prior to 2002, Koning served 25 years as the town’s Fire Chief.
• Illinois Senator Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won Carlisle’s presidential primary held February 5.
• A wind turbine permit issued to Keith Therrien of Berry Corner Lane was revoked when Acting Building Inspector John Minty determined that it is not permitted under the current bylaws. The plans had called for a three-blade propeller on a tower 100 to 120-feet tall to have been located on a ten-acre lot. The town later established a committee to propose bylaw revisions governing alternative energy generation structures such as wind turbines and solar collectors.
• Willy Wonka, Jr. is a sweet success as the seventh-grade musical
• Town pays $300,000 court settlement in case of disputed roll-back taxes collected in 2002 for property on West Street owned by the South Street Nominee Trust. State Law Chapter 61 allows for reduced real estate taxes while land is used for forestry or agriculture, but roll-back taxes are often due when the land is removed from the restriction. The Trust won an appeal of the roll-back tax.
• New hires. Dr. Joyce Mehaffey is hired to replace interim Middle School Principal Jim Halliday. Her previous position was as Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Greenfield Public Schools. Long-time Recreation Co-directors Cindy Nock and Jan Deyoe left and the Recreation Commission hired Holly Hamilton to serve as Carlisle’s first full-time Recreation Director. Also new is Assistant Recreation Director Marcy Guttadauro.
• Selectmen announced that the Coventry Woods 40B development proposed for Concord Street would not go forward, as the developer, Coventry Woods Carlisle, LLC, represented by Mark O’Hagan of MCO Associates, had let an option to buy the property expire, ending the project. The original proposal would have located 56 units of housing on 22.6 acres, with 14 of the units qualifying as affordable housing. State statute Chapter 40B allowed the plan to bypass most local zoning regulations, but during roughly three years of meetings, local officials sought ways to limit the project’s environmental impacts and protect groundwater resources. Later in the year, state regulations were tightened to force towns to shorten the 40B permitting process.
• Concord-Carlisle High School students perform the crowd-pleasing musical Crazy for You, by George and Ira Gershwin.
• Environmental issues were on the minds of many Carlisle residents. About 75 attended a “Green Forum” with Massachusetts Climate Action Chair Rob Garrity and State Representative Cory Atkins (see photo, page 8). Later in the spring the Mosquito hosted a panel on alternative energy technologies where residents Paul Carpenter, Keith Therrien, Katharine Endicott and Leslie Thomas spoke about their experiences with geothermal, solar and wind energy systems.
• The grassroots group called A Liveable Carlisle Community sponsored a community planning event at the Carlisle School on April 5.
• The Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee decided to forego a national search and chose Assistant Superintendent Diana Rigby to replace retiring Superintendent Brenda Finn. Both school staff and outside references gave her high praise.
• Annual Town Meeting approved an operating budget of $22,130,344, including minimal increases for areas outside of the local and regional schools. A levy limit override of $251,610 to fund the high school passed. Also approved were $569,500 in requests for Community Preservation Act funds: $425,000 to support infrastructure on the Benfield Land; $98,000 to upgrade the Veterans Honor Roll on the Town Green; $40,000 to assess the water damage to the Gleason Library façade; $4,000 to clean the Liberty Statue in the rotary; and $2,500 for tools and storage materials for archiving and displaying historical artifacts. Town Meeting granted the Board of Health the power to issue fines of up to $300 per day for violations of local sewage disposal and water supply regulations.
• After years of planning and preliminary work, new pathways along Concord Street, East Street and Lowell Street became reality when they received a first layer of asphalt this month (see photo page 9). The Bedford Road pathway was also converted from crushed stone to pavement, in order to alleviate weed control problems.
• Carlisle School Committee (CSC) turned down a $4,698 donation offered to obviate a new $45 fee for students participating in evening band and chorus programs. The committee noted a concern about setting a precedent if they had accepted a gift that replaced a fee. In December the School Committee added the following to their policy on gifts: “Any gift of cash, whether or not intended by the donor for a specific purpose, will be handled as a separate account and expended at the discretion of the committee, as provided by law.” (see “CSC shorts,” page 6).
• Christy Barbee was named an Unsung Heroine by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. A member of the School Building Committee and past-member of the Carlisle School Committtee, Barbee also serves on the board of Communities for Restorative Justice, volunteers for the disaster relief group, Citizen Action Team and writes for the Mosquito Forum.
• The Carlisle Animal Hospital, the town’s only veterinary clinic, closed after 40 years.
• Obituary. Phyllis Zinicola, 52, of Sunset Road. After moving to town in 1997 she became an active community volunteer: first writing for the Mosquito, and then serving on the Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Board, Community Preservation Act Committee and Benfield Land Task Force.
• The Planning Board approved the 35-lot Hanover Hill subdivision off Westford Street. In the summer, road construction was temporarily halted while local beekeepers rescued a hive found in a fallen tree.
• The Carlisle School Committee presented recommendations of management consultant John Littleford, who was hired in 2007 after the Carlisle Teachers Association voted no confidence in Superintendent Marie Doyle. Littleford met with groups of faculty, administrators and School Committee members and returned in January 2008 to hold private interviews and a final workshop. Subgroups later met to discuss implementation of his suggestions. Littleford, who was paid $35,973, submitted his final memo of recommendations on May 1.
The School Committee supported Superintendent Doyle’s work through this period and praised her at the annual performance review in May. After initially approving her raise during a closed-door session, in August the CSC announced that the Superintendent’s FY09 salary would include a raise of 3.9% to $143,160.
• Teachers Daryl Greenwood and Lynn Walker retired after teaching for many years at the Carlisle School.
• This year’s Most Honored Citizen was Susan Emmons of Baldwin Road. Selectman Doug Stevenson called her “a woman with quiet grace and competence” who works behind the scenes as “a leader, an educator, a giver: someone who exemplifies the very fabric of our town.” Emmons has served as General Manager of the Mosquito for over 20 years. Steve Spang, David Freedman and Mary Zoll shared this year’s Conservationist of the Year Award. All three have been active in conservation and volunteered many hours to produce the most recent edition of the town’s Open Space and Recreation Plan. in 2008.
• Obituaries. Dr. James T. Sparks, 72, of Woodridge Road, lived in Carlisle since 1972. He served on the Carlisle School Committee and as a writer for the Mosquito Forum. Roberta A. Wessell, 66, of Laurelwood Drive, taught special education in Boston and served as president of the Carlisle Garden Club.
• Selectmen approved plans for an expansion of Ferns Country Store to join the existing store with the former garage next door. Proprietor Larry Bearfield had spent months discussing the project with town boards.
• State aid for Concord-Carlisle Regional High School increased $216,000 in FY09.
• The Reverend Diane Miller began work as the new minister at the First Religious Society.
• Obituary. A coastal geologist, Susie Zielinski, 38, formerly of Acton Street, grew up in town and graduated from CCHS. Her family created the Susan Zielinski Natural Science Fund at the Gleason Library to benefit the people and environment of Carlisle.
• Anticipating little growth in local revenue and possible cuts in state aid, the Finance Committee asked town departments to prepare zero-growth budgets for next year.
• Blaming last winter’s unusually long-lasting snow cover, farmer Mark Duffy estimated that this year’s cranberry crop from the town’s bog off Curve Street would bring in less than 10% of the average yield. Other than the lack of berries, the plants appeared to be in good condition.
• Three firms submitted bids to construct and manage senior affordable rental housing on the town’s Benfield Land. In December, the Housing Authority chose the proposal submitted by the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (see article, page 1.)
• The Selectmen scheduled a Special Town Meeting for mid-January to vote on the schematic design phase of a Carlisle School building project, estimated at about $500,000. Selectmen also agreed with the School Building Committee’s choice to hire HMFH Architects for the design work.
• The question of whether to join the Eastern Middlesex Mosquito Control program was added to the Special Town Meeting Warrant at the request of the Board of Health. They had not yet themselves voted on whether they favored mosquito control. The program would include monitoring and the aerial application of Bacillus thuringiensis, a mosquito larvicide, to about half the town’s wetlands. Bacillus sphaericus and methoprene would be applied manually to catchbasins. The cost would be about $30,000 during the first year.
• Carlisle received $250,300 in state matching funds under the Community Preservation Act (CPA). Because of more participating towns and decreased dedicated revenue, this was the first year that the state was unable to provide a 100% match of local CPA receipts.
• Obituary. Attorney Marshall Simonds, 78, formerly of School Street, served as Carlisle’s Town Moderator for 33 years. As a hobby, he and his wife, former Carlisle Selectman Katharine B. Simonds, owned and trained Labrador Retrievers. He judged and also competed with his dogs in field trials for many years and received a lifetime achievement award from the American Kennel Club.
• Carlisle sheds “dry” status, voting a third and final time to allow the sale of beer and wine. Ferns Country Store has held a provisional license since the first positive vote in 2004. The license is contingent upon the completion of the store expansion.
• The Veterans Honor Roll Committee held a public presentation of three options for a redesigned Honor Roll memorial on the Town Common. After receiving public comments, the group selected a scaled-back final design and hopes to have the work completed in time for Memorial Day, 2009.
• After months of research and review, the Gleason Library Building Restoration Committee recommended the selection of Lerner, Ladds and Bartels to assess water damage in the 150-year-old building.
• It was revealed that the Carlisle dispatchers voted late in 2007 to unionize, joining the Massachusetts Coalition of Police labor union as Local 201a. Since then, they have been negotiating their first union contract with the town.
• Obituary. A WWII veteran and retired school principal, Kenneth L. Bilodeau, 82, helped found the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School and served as the town’s representative for over a decade. He was a communicant of St. Irene Church, and in years past volunteered as a Little League coach.
• Selectmen postponed the January Special Town Meeting at the request of the School Building Committee. The state has sent written confirmation that it will reimburse 40% of approved project expenses, however further details, such as enrollment projections have yet to be solidified. The Board of Health also wished to delay a Town Meeting until they could learn more about mosquito control’s safety and effectiveness.
• In response to the worsening economy, a Carlisle Neighbor Fund was created, with an independent account at each of the town’s three churches, to be administered by the clergy to provide food, energy or other short-term, emergency assistance to Carlisle residents, regardless of religious affiliation.
• A major ice storm hit Carlisle unevenly and created confusion as some students were dropped off and stranded at the school after classes had been canceled. The closing was announced on TV. However, the town’s fire horn, which normally signals school closings, was not used, nor was the school’s phone notification system. The DPW, Police and Fire Departments handled extra calls and up to nine NSTAR trucks at a time worked in town to repair power lines brought down by damaged trees. ∆
© 2009 The