The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 8, 2009

Opinions

Don’t miss Town Election on May 12

Though Town Meeting participants did the heavy lifting when they considered and approved over 30 Warrant Articles on Monday evening, an important task remains for Carlisle voters. Cast your ballot at Town Election on Tuesday, May 12, to help decide four ballot questions and elect this year’s candidates to local offices.

In each ballot question, bonding permission is sought for a capital project already approved by Town Meeting. Ballot passage is needed because the debt is to be excluded from the limits of Proposition 2-1/2. The projects cannot go forward without a positive vote at Town Election.

Ballot question 1 allows bonding for design work for the Carlisle School renovation project (see article, page 1). Town Meeting appropriated $450,000 under Article 11, with the anticipation of 40% reimbursement from the state, for an expected final bonding of $270,000. Once designs are completed, the town will vote whether to proceed with construction.

Ballot question 2 authorizes Carlisle to pay its share of $750,000 in bonding by the Concord-Carlisle Regional School District for improvements to the regional high school facilities as well as planning for future renovations. Town Meeting approved this measure under Article 12 (see article, page 5.)

Ballot question 3 involves bonding for a new roll-off truck for the Department of Public Works, expected to cost $154,000, and question 4 covers bonding for Fire Department cisterns costing $60,000. Town Meeting approved these under Articles 13 and 14 (see article, page 8.)

Serving on town boards and committees is a significant time commitment and a gift to the community. Compared to last year, which saw three contested elections, this year there is only a single contested race (Larissa Shyjan and Jay Luby are running for Library Trustee) and the ballot lists no candidate at all for one of two open positions on the Planning Board. However, there is still time for someone to step forward and run as a write-in candidate. To learn more about the candidates, see coverage in last week’s issue, including “Town election candidates field questions at LWV Forum” and the candidate’s statements. ∆

In with the Old; In with the New

Last Monday the voters at Town Meeting did the right thing when, despite the contrary recommendations from FinCom and the Long-Term Caps Committee, they voted to transfer ownership of the Highland School to the Board of Selectmen and to appropriate CPA funds for its initial renovation. They did this even though uses for the building were not made explicit and substantial additional funds will be needed to make the building usable. As a school building, Highland was finished, but as an historic landmark, an elegant example of the care and caring that once went into school buildings, and a building potentially valuable for other purposes, it deserves to live on.

Many a building has been torn down at the end of its original useful life when it seems a burden, but the few that survive can become revered for their virtues. A century ago, when the Highland School was built, the criteria for a decent school included high ceilings so that students had plenty of air, high windows that opened so that students had plenty of natural light and fresh air, and classical columns and wide stairways that lent the buildings a touch of grandeur suitable for the important task of education. Highland has all of these things. Like most school buildings of its time, it is built of wood with its own innate beauty, which lends itself to the elegant moldings, soffits, and window casings that grace the building.

Schools of Highland’s time have a distinctiveness that modern schools – most built with restricted budgets that limit grace and grandeur – lack. It is hard to imagine writing in the vein of this article for any of the newer buildings that compose the current Carlisle Schools, or indeed for nearly any other modern school building.

For many people still in town, Highland is their alma mater, containing those vivid memories of childhood – before their minds became cluttered with the details and worries of adult life – where one knows that the fifth step squeaks, that Room 2 always smells of Miss Smith’s perfume, that the foot of the stairs is where your best friend would be waiting, that clapped erasers would leave a satisfying mark on the foundation.

Though no longer useful as a school building, Highland could have many other purposes. Until recently, artists and artisans used its spacious classrooms for work and show. The Council on Aging and other organizations could use it as a social center. The Historical Society could use it to display some of their collections. It could serve for a variety of meetings. One can think of revenue-producing uses such as day care, preschool classes, adult and other supplementary education.

The Study Committee did us a great service to delineate possible courses of action, recommending ultimately that the building be preserved. The voters did the right thing in supporting this recommendation. This is an instance of democracy and community spirit working well.

 

 

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