Friday, May 7, 2010
Why Town Meeting is important
To the Editor
As Town Moderator, I write to encourage all Carlisle registered voters to attend the Annual Town Meeting, this coming Monday, May 10, at Corey Auditorium in the School, beginning at 7 p.m. Parents with children in tow are encouraged to attend, participate and vote, via an audio-visual link from the school cafeteria.
Town Meeting is, in effect, the legislative body for the Town. As explained elsewhere in this week’s Mosquito, Town Meeting this year will debate and decide critical issues, including the Town budget, requests to authorize Feasibility Studies for both the Concord-Carlisle and Minuteman Tech Regional High Schools, allocations of Community Preservation Act funds, and other items that will affect our lives next year and for many years to come.
Copies of the Town Meeting Warrant were mailed to all Carlisle households several weeks ago, and are also available online at the Town’s website, www.carlislema.gov. The Warrant is, quite literally, the warning to the Town of those matters that will come before Town Meeting. At Town Meeting, one or more motions will be made for each Article in the Warrant, proposing the specific actions to be taken. Written copies of the motions will be available at the meeting. The motions will generally be more detailed than the Articles and may, of course, be modified by amendments from the floor. Amendments should be in writing; if you already know you intend to make one, please contact the Moderator in advance of the meeting.
The green Town Warrant booklet contains a further explanation of Town Meeting procedures on page 39, which is particularly helpful for newcomers. The booklet also contains important background information on Town finances.
Please join your neighbors and fellow citizens in this most direct form of democracy.
Wayne H. Davis
Approve funding for CCHS construction
To the Editor:
The Concord Carlisle Regional School Committee has been working to solve facility problems at the Concord Carlisle High School (CCHS) since 1999. A study completed in 2000 identified specific areas of concern: science facilities, arts facilities and athletics spaces. This was confirmed in 2002 and 2005 with studies recommending major improvements on the high school campus, one through renovations and additions and the other through a new building. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) has placed CCHS on Warning Status because of deficiencies in our facilities and we are at risk of losing our accreditation if we do not address these issues. Unfortunately, little progress was made because of a state moratorium on the funding of school construction between 2004 and 2007.
As soon as the moratorium was lifted, the Regional School Committee submitted a Statement of Interest to the newly organized MSBA, seeking funds for major improvements. That application was put in the Hold category. The Regional School Committee submitted a new Statement of Interest again the following year and once again was put in the Hold category. It was apparent that it could be a very long time before funding would be available from the state. Concerned about the deterioration of the high school facility and the potential loss of accreditation, we asked the voters of Concord and Carlisle for funds to support a master planning process so that improvement projects and major repairs could be identified and prudently managed.
Last spring, our communities approved funding for this effort. The Regional School Committee appointed the CCHS Facilities Master Plan (FMP) Committee, hired an architect (The Office of Michael Rosenfeld), and completed the work of visioning the needs of a 21st century high school. This process included evaluating the condition of the existing buildings and grounds, discussing updates to the educational program, and studying options for addressing the identified needs.
Soon after this master planning process began, the Regional School Committee was notified by the MSBA that our Statement of Interest was selected for further action, indicating potential state funding for a high school project. However, before we can proceed with the state process, the towns of Concord and Carlisle must appropriate funds for what the MSBA defines as a Feasibility Study/Schematic Design Phase. Much of the work we have done for the master plan can be used in the feasibility study, and we will further the design to the point that we can get realistic cost estimates and comparisons. The funds approved for the feasibility study will be eligible for reimbursement from the State.
The Regional School Committee is committed to approving a project that is both affordable and meets the needs of the students. To address affordability, the Regional School Committee has endorsed the formation of an ad hoc committee that will be comprised of town officials from both Carlisle and Concord, regional school committee members and the regional school administration. The goal of this ad hoc committee is to share information in a timely manner and build consensus throughout the process.
Under Article 16 at this year’s Carlisle Annual Town Meeting, the Regional School Committee is requesting $1.3 million to fund this feasibility study. Once approved, we can begin working with the MSBA to establish the parameters of the project and determine the level of reimbursement they will contribute. If the Article does not pass, we will be taken off the state’s priority list and will have to make capital improvements without MSBA support. This is a pivotal point in finally improving the high school facility and we hope that the community will seize the opportunity and approve these funds.
Stretch Code clarification
To the Editor:
I would like to offer a clarifying observation to one of the comments attributed to the Selectmen in last week’s Mosquito article by Anne Marie Brako. The Benfield project due to its size and commercial nature will not be subject to the Stretch Code performance testing requirement should the project proceed to construction. Although not mentioned in the article, the other major project under design for the Town, the Carlisle School renovation project, is exempt from the Stretch Code due to the project’s characteristics. Suggestions that either project would be rendered economically nonviable are not based in fact.
Steven W. Hinton
It’s time to pass the Stretch Code
To the Editor
The recent vote by the Board of Selectmen on the Stretch Code was disappointing, but understandable in that they had asked for analysis about new homes similar to the larger homes being built in Carlisle. The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) was tasked to complete the analysis and unfortunately, the data was released the day after their vote. We have sent the complete analysis to the Selectmen and included the analysis in our Public Information Meeting about the Stretch Code April 29 that has also aired on CCTV. The results are very positive as we expected, indicating additional cost for meeting stretch code requirements for a new 4462 square foot home would be $6,476, a small percentage of the overall $892,400 estimated cost of the home in the analysis (See the analysis in this issue of the Mosquito). The annual energy cost savings would be $1,455 suggesting a simple payback period of 4.5 years. If the $6,476 were amortized into a 6% mortgage, a net annual positive cash flow of $984 per year would be realized in year one. With utility State and Federal incentives, this positive cash flow and payback will speed up.
Carlisle Energy Task Force members have traveled to hear presentations in a number of the surrounding towns. We heard builders talk about how they have been surprised to find that blower-door measurement of home energy efficiency shows they are not building as efficiently as they thought they were. As a result of a testing requirement of the Stretch Code, they have been upgrading their building practices. Raising the bar to hold builders to a measurable building standard is good for Carlisle homeowners and is good for future homeowners as well as the real estate market in Carlisle. Towns surrounding Carlisle including Acton, Concord, Chelmsford, Lincoln, Sudbury, Arlington, Lexington, Winchester and Andover and others have already adopted the Stretch Code at their Town Meetings. It is time for Carlisle to do the right thing and pass the Stretch Code for our town as well.
Center Park is blooming
To the Editor:
Daffodils planted among blue vinca provide one of spring’s visual treats in Center Park on Lowell Road. Thanks to a generous grant from the Carlisle Garden Club there are pinky-red knock-out roses near the teak benches, along with other new perennials around the lawn.
Watch the unfolding beauty of perennials and flowering shrubs in the Island, including a river of shimmering blue phlox to be added shortly. Maria von Brincken, landscape garden designer, will describe her five-year plan at the Third Birthday Party, on Old Home Day.
We encourage you to visit or drive by your Center Park soon; newcomers might especially like to look back at the park’s history since 2004 at http://www.carlisle.org/centerpark/index.htm with reference to an article, “How a Parking Lot Became Center Park,” by Ellen Miller.
Susan Pepple, Nathan Lane
LWV recommends adoption of Stretch Code
To the Editor:
Town Meeting is a time for citizens to come together and make democracy work. Town staff, committees and boards have put in countless hours of work preparing for Annual Town Meeting. Town Meeting is the time for regular citizens to weigh in on matters that are vital to our town and even beyond our town borders.
This year the League of Women Voters Concord-Carlisle (LWVCC) held a series of forums called Life In The Balance. One of the forums focused on energy. The United States is far too dependent on high-polluting energy sources of coal and oil. There are five coal-fired power plants in New England and four of them are in Massachusetts. It will take a combination of building clean renewable energy facilities and implementation of serious energy conservation measures to eliminate our dependence on coal-fired power plants and on the foreign oil we use to heat our homes. Adoption of the Stretch Energy Code is one such conservation measure that needs to be implemented.
Many towns in our area have already adopted the Stretch Energy Code. Concord adopted it last week at their Town Meeting with an almost unanimous vote. Even though not many homes in Carlisle will be affected by the building code change, by adopting the change a small town like Carlisle can work in cooperation with neighboring towns to have a larger effect. There will be a demand for builders in our area to build more energy-efficient buildings and to prove that efficiency via testing by a third party inspector. The building owners will save money in the long run with a more energy-efficient structure. Eventually it will become the norm in the state and hopefully in the country for buildings to be the most energy-efficient that they can be and in an affordable manner.
The LWVCC recommends a yes vote of Article 28 - Adoption of the Stretch Code at Carlisle Town Meeting on Monday May 10, 2010. Come to Town Meeting and experience democracy in action.
Cindy Nock, Vice President
Support CCHS study and design fees
To the Editor:
Recently a copy of the Regional Concord Carlisle School District “performance Report Spring 2010” arrived in the mailbox. Even the most perfunctory glance reveals statistics that both Concord and Carlisle communities should be proud of. Both CCHS and Minuteman are wonderful places for our children to grow and learn how to learn.
The back-story however, is that the physical facility of CCHS is not in step with the excellence for which the high school is known. It is time, in fact, it is overdue, for us to address the physical deficiencies of the high school facility. The citizens of Concord last week voted overwhelmingly to take the next step towards getting the CCHS facility improved. Carlisle citizens should do likewise.
When our two daughters were in the Carlisle Schools several years ago, I remember that my husband and I knew very little about CCHS. By what we read and heard by word of mouth, we knew of its reputation to be a superior public high school. Like many parents of young active children, we were too busy to get first hand information about the place. Consequently, in 1999, when our oldest started at CCHS, we were startled at the shabby conditions of the building(s). Now, over a decade later, not much has changed with the physical conditions. There are still only two electrical outlets in science classrooms, not enough capacity in the library for students, and exterior walls and roofs that let the heat out and the water in. And how comfortable are we in this day and age with 74 doors into the place?
I was honored to be a member of the CCHS Masterplan Facilities Committee over the past several months and once previously in 2002-3. I take away from these experiences that we need to go forward with the next step to realize improvements to our beloved public high school. Please vote in favor of the Warrant Article to fund CCHS Study and Design Phase fees. This is a required step if we wish to receive any financial assistance from the State.
Who’s that knocking at your door?
To the Editor:
The U.S. Census Bureau is now conducting door-to-door Census-taking for households that have not yet returned their Census Questionnaire. Residents should understand that their responses to the ten-minute interview will be used to determine the allocation of Federal funds for Schools, Roads, Libraries, etc. More town residents counted equals more Federal money allocated and increased financial benefits to the Town.
Not to be confused with the local Carlisle Town Census, the U. S. Census has been conducted every ten years since 1790.
All responses are confidential and are used for statistical purposes only. This information can not be shared with any other governmental agency.
The folks conducting the Census in Carlisle are all residents of Carlisle. They will be displaying a U.S. Census badge, and carrying a Black and White shoulder bag with the words U.S. Census Bureau. Residents may find a Notice of Visit left at their door, if a Census Taker found no one at home. Their identification and contact information will be printed on the notice. They will provide each respondent with an information sheet describing the confidentiality and a list of persons to be included in their responses.
The interview can be conducted in person or any resident may opt to call the Census Taker and answer the questions over the phone. Residents may also schedule a convenient appointment time for the interview by contacting the Census Taker.
If a Census Taker is unable to obtain information from a household, they may ask a neighbor, a realtor, or other knowledgable person for household members.
Residents having any questions about the ten-year Census can call the Bureau Office in Lowell at 1-978-905-3200.
Thank you so much for your help in alerting our residents to a potential visit from our Census Takers.
Democracy in the balance, part II
To the Editor:
On January 21 of this year, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in the Citizens United v Federal Election Commission case giving corporations the right to spend unlimited funds on political ads. The decision threatens both the bi-partisan, federal McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance law as well as laws of 24 states limiting corporate involvement in state and national elections. Many are concerned about the implications of this decision for our political process and the role of citizens in relation to corporations in our society.
n March, a forum about the Citizens United case, “Democracy in the Balance,” was held in Concord. The presentation by attorneys Jeffrey Clements and John Bonifaz provided historical context for the decision and information about national efforts to address concerns through a constitutional amendment to protect the free speech rights of people, not corporations: http://freespeechforpeople.org. This presentation can be viewed on CCTV beginning May 12 and will run for a month: www.concordtv.org.
Part II of Democracy in the Balance will take place in Concord on May 19, 7 to 9 p.m. at First Parish Church, 20 Lexington Road. This forum will continue the discussion of the decision with presentations by State Representative Cory Atkins and State Senator Jamie Eldridge regarding current measures underway in the Massachusetts legislature in response to the Supreme Court decision. Mary Zepernick, a researcher and board member of Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom will present on the national movement to address concerns through a broad constitutional amendment strategy: http://movetoamend.org.
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