The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 10, 2010


Good news for CCHS

The towns of Carlisle and Concord have reason to celebrate after receiving verbal agreement from the state last week that the regional high school’s condition warrants a major renovation rather than merely repairs (see article, page 1). It is hoped this will be followed soon by a formal commitment to support the project from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).

School planners have been seeking to improve the facility for many years. Portions of the school are over 50 years old. In 2006 the MSBA conducted a Needs Survey of 1,817 school buildings and the CCHS facility was ranked in the bottom 3%. According to the survey (available online at, CCHS was rated in poor condition.

Last spring a new CCHS Facilities Master Plan prepared by the architectural firm The Office of Michael Rosenfeld recommended an extensive renovation with a rough cost estimate of $108 million. The final size and cost of the project may change during the planning process and as a result of discussions with MSBA, which at first had CCHS in the MSBA “capital pipeline” for a more modest repair project, rather than a renovation.

Spring Town Meetings in both communities approved $1.3 million to fund a feasibility study and schematic design for renovations. Since then a CCHS Building Committee has been formed and last week members were able to give MSBA Chairman Timothy Cahill and Executive Director Katherine Craven a tour of the school. After viewing the facility, Cahill spoke in favor of a major renovation on the existing site. Cahill also serves as State Treasurer and is running as an independent candidate for governor.

Once MSBA indicates the size of the project they will support and the percent reimbursement they may offer, an important next step for the two towns is to discuss what size project the taxpayers can afford and will support. There will be pressure to address this quickly in order to proceed with the design work. However, the CCHS renovation will be one of the largest projects the towns have been asked to fund and it is worth the extra effort needed to have a thorough discussion of finances. Hopefully the numbers will work, and with state assistance, a CCHS renovation will be designed that will meet the needs of students and accommodate evolving educational trends and technology for decades to come. ∆

A New York State of Mind

Tomorrow will mark the ninth anniversary of 9/11 and, almost to the day, the fifth year since I started writing for the Forum. I probably wouldn’t have even made an immediate connection between both calendar events if it weren’t for the fact that they ended up meshed together into that first essay, which, as suggested by the footnote to every Forum column is supposed “to provide independent commentary on matters … of interest to Carlisle citizens.”

Situated at the top of the Opinion page, the Forum is surrounded by other columns carrying more of the same independent commentary – from the weekly wink of the Carlisle Capers, to the Editorial, and the Letters to the Editor – which all reflect on the community’s collective state of mind and can potentially cultivate a dialogue.

Back in early September of 2005, between typical end-of-the-summer nostalgia and familiar back-to-school routines, between daily commute across town on Bedford, Concord or Westford roads, and many often out-of-town trips… New York seemed as close as could be. Back then, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina filled newspaper headlines and people’s hearts, and local news of a wild moose found a prime spot next to an article about the zoning permit to the animal hospital and the town’s 40B debate.

Luckily, last week’s hurricane Earl left us only with much-welcomed rain but nothing much to write about, and there were no exciting sightings of any moose on the loose. However, the headlines offered enlightening perspectives on the Historic District as well as on the Mosquito’s first footprint.

Some 200 miles away, recent New York Post headlines quoted Mayor Bloomberg defiantly stating that “We must do what is right, not what is easy,” while columnist Andrea Peyser reflected on the heated inner city conflict by boldly blending journalistic reporting with a dose of her private opinion – “A mosque rises over Ground Zero. And fed-up New Yorkers are crying, ‘No!’ A chorus of critics – from neighbors to those who lost loved ones on 9/11 – to me feel as if they’ve received a swift kick in the teeth.”

But as they say, yesterday’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper, and anything “nine-eleven” has largely faded away from the news headlines and from the public awareness anywhere else outside of Ground Zero. At first glance, nine years later, it seems to offer diminishing relevancy, if any, to general town affairs and life style in our “city in the woods,” So, once again, thinking about my next Forum assignment, I found myself in a New York state of mind.

The shockwave of 9/11 – which forever scarred so many lives and changed the skyline of the city – made us all New Yorkers as it goes beyond that one-mile block at the lower tip of Manhattan. And as issues of civil liberties are now at the heart of the public debate, a New York state of mind is once again relevant regardless of the zip code.



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