The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 12, 2009


No time to waste! Send in your nominations now!

Nominations for the Honored Citizen and Conservationist of the Year awards need to be sent in immediately! Dates to receive nominations have been extended until Monday noon, June 15, so clip out and fill in your nomination forms from the Mosquito (pages 18 &19) or write a note with name(s) and reasons for your nomination. For Honored Citizen mail to Judy Larson at 36 Forest Park Drive or Scott Evans at 299 Heald Road. For the Conservationist award send your nomination to Sylvia Willard, Carlisle Conservation Administrator, Carlisle Town Hall, 66 Westford Street, or FAX to1-978-369-4521.

These awards are presented annually on Old Home Day, this year to be held on Saturday, June 27, at the special ceremony by the flagpole on the Common, at 9:30 a.m. The Honored Citizen Award was established in 1971 to acknowledge “those persons who have given of themselves unselfishly to make our lives richer and Carlisle a place to call home, proudly.” The Conservationist of the Year Award was established in 1988 “to honor the person who has demonstrated a high regard for the environment”. Be sure to include your reasons for nominating your choices.

We live in a town where there are individuals who give their all to town committees and organizations, making this a special place to live. Serving on town boards and committees, working with volunteer organizations, helping preserve open space, working on trails—these and many other activities take a huge amount of time and a sincere commitment to our community.

Send in your nominations now and gather at the flagpole on Old Home Day, at 9:30 a.m. to salute this year’s Honored Citizen and Conservationist of the Year. They deserve all our praise.

Carlisle’s black hole

I cringe as I write this, knowing the enmity I might stir and how easy it would be simply not to say what I’m going to say: I fear that what we did at Town Meeting, agreeing to spend $400k to “stabilize” the century-old Highland Building, is (as some sage suggested) kicking the can down the road again—deeper into the black hole it’s been sucking us all into for two decades now.

Highland is the antimatter of our time.

As a former member of both the School Committee (three years) and the School Building Committee (seven years, I think; about four as chair), I am one of several townspeople who have experienced the time sink that is Highland, which is surely some kind of anomaly in the space-time continuum. Since it stopped being a functioning school building in 1986, Highland has exerted a strange, irresistible force, compelling hours and hours of conversation and consternation far beyond its importance as a town issue—often at the expense of more pressing, real-time matters. I daresay it has been one of the most discussed items in our town’s life. And as a town we have succumbed, again.

I have nothing against the Highland Building. I don’t find it to be particularly attractive or a great specimen of its period, but I respect that some do and that it is an important symbol to some. I don’t mind its being there for the time being — until that space is needed for a modern school building (which it surely will in coming decades). I do appreciate the gorgeous light in those northern rooms, with those vast windows; it shows us what we could do with day-lighting in a new school building.

Successive boards of selectmen, school committees, and building committees have heard at least a dozen “great ideas” of what could be done with Highland — making it into a social center or recreation space, turning it into condos or affordable housing for young teachers, converting it into a grand central entrance for a reconfigured school campus, to name a few.

These ideas have never come to fruition because no one could come up with the funds to do any of these things, all of which would involve bringing the building up to code and accessibility standards. A few people suggested there were ways around the requirement for fire sprinklers—but who would want children, or anyone for that matter, using an old wooden building without such systems? The artists of Emerson Umbrella made fine use of it for several years, providing routine maintenance. But the building continued to age, and, naturally, it deteriorated in ways a single small group would be hard-pressed to address.

Now the Recreation Commission says it would like to use a refurbished Highland as a community center, which seems a good enough idea to me. But we don’t know the real cost of upgrading Highland to a particular use, nor have we investigated what it will cost to maintain it as it keeps aging. Or who will pay. Somehow, Highland has worked its willies on us again.



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© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito