The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 30, 2009

Funds sought to fix three old town buildings

Highland, Gleason Library and Bog House

On January 20, at the first meeting after its January 9 application deadline, the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) began its annual review of community preservation proposals. CPC chair Kelly Guarino announced this year’s list of applicants for funding: the Board of Selectmen has requested $450,000 for base renovation of the Highland Building; the Library Trustees have requested an as-of-yet undetermined amount to repair and restore the façade on the Gleason Public Library; the Conservation Commission (ConsCom) has requested $130,000 for repairs on the Cranberry Bog house and $12,800 for completion of an Open Space and Recreation Report.

Guarino noted that the CPC would use this meeting to examine the four applications to ensure that each was complete and complied with requirements, and then to decide when to meet with each applicant group.

The CPC, comprised of one at-large member and one representative each from the Housing Authority, Recreation Commission, ConsCom, Historical Commission, Planning Board and Board of Selectmen (BOS), administers the distribution of funds collected under the Community Preservation Act (CPA). CPA funds are collected as a 2% real estate tax surcharge.

In previous years the locally collected funds were matched dollar for dollar by the state, but for FY09 the state has decreased its match to 67.6% or $250,303. The current balance in the Carlisle CPA fund accounts is $1,436,950.

By law, funds collected through the CPA process must be used only for historical preservation, community housing and open space preservation/public recreation. The CPC reviews all applications and makes recommendations to Town Meeting, which has final spending authority.

Highland Building base renovation

Tim Hult of the Board of Selectmen, (BOS) also serving as a CPC member, provided an overview on the status of the Highland Building. According to Hult, this has been a “difficult issue for the town for a long time”. Hult explained that the building had been leased to the Emerson Umbrellla and as part of its lease, the Emerson Umbrella was expected to maintain the building. However, over time its condition deteriorated to the point where both the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) and the Carlisle Fire Department see the building as a potential fire hazard. Hult noted that the CSC has determined that the building is not in their plans and that the CSC wishes to transfer the property to the Selectmen.

For this reason, the BOS commissioned a study to examine the advantages and disadvantages of having the building moved, restored or destroyed. Hult further explained that the study committee has recommended bringing the building to a base state of renovation, with basic structural integrity and basic functional operating systems. This work would bring the building to a point where it is no longer a significant fire hazard and would enable the town to determine the appropriate long-term use of the building. (The final report of the Highland Building Study Committee is available on-line at the town’s website:

When asked about possible uses of the Highland Building, Hult responded that it could be used as a community or recreation center. Mark Spears, representing the Recreation Commission, agreed, “This would make a beautiful community center.” Hult noted that although it would require a good deal of investment to bring the building to ADA compliance, “in a time of fiscal constraints, assets you have seem more valuable.” The requested amount is for $409,000 and a contingency of approximately 10%, resulting in a total of $450,000.

Cranberry Bog house

Kelly Guarino, speaking for the ConsCom, explained that the Bog House is situated on town-owned conservation land and therefore the town is responsible for its maintenance and repair. The Carlisle land stewards, together with the Carlisle Building Inspector, have inspected the property and determined that the building is in need of significant repair, including several doors, windows, sills, floors, support beams and shingles. Repairs are necessary both to preserve the historic building and to address several building code issues. The land stewards have compiled a list of needed repairs with cost estimates totaling approximately $130,000.

Gleason Public Library façade

Wind-driven rain and snow have slowly deteriorated the mortar between the brick and granite joints of the old section of the library building. Last year the Library Board of Trustees requested $40,000 to determine the cause and extent of the water damage. At the time of this CPC meeting, the trustees had not yet received the final report on the damage investigation. The trustees plan to provide cost estimates and a time line for the work as the information becomes available, hopefully by the end of February. Several CPC members expressed reluctance to support the application without numbers in place.

Open Space and Recreation Plan

Guarino, once again representing the ConsCom, explained that the state requires each municipality to provide an open space and recreation plan (OS&R) every five years in order to be eligible for a variety of state funding opportunities. Guarino stated that she will investigate further to make sure that the OS&R plan is an appropriate, legal use of CPA funds. This 18-month project would cost approximately $12,800.

The CPC will meet again on February 3 when they will hear presentations from the Board of Selectmen for the Highland Building application and from the ConsCom for the Cranberry Bog House and for the OS&R plan. A second meeting will be held at a later date to hear from the Library Trustees. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito