The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 29, 2010

Opinions

What is next for the Highland Building?

At the May 2009 Town Meeting, Carlisle voted to preserve the Highland School Building. Now it is the end of October 2010 and we have learned that the Highland Stabilization Committee (HSC) “has deferred actual project work until next summer” (See Carlisle Mosquito October15, 2010 “Highland on hold until spring”).

The Highland Building is a stately old schoolhouse, now 102 years old. The last students to attend Highland were fifth and sixth graders who left in 1986, moving on to other classrooms in the school complex. At first the building was used mainly as cold storage, but in 1994 the building was leased to Concord’s Emerson Umbrella for artist studios. By 2007 Highland had fallen into a state of disrepair, and artist leases were not renewed.

When the Town voted 233 to 93 to appropriate $445,000 out of Community Preservation Funds to preserve the building, the Selectmen appointed the HSC to stabilize the building in order to make it safe until a plan for its use and rehabilitation could be developed. But did anyone expect that this project would not even be started for at least two years?

This past summer, as I made my way to the center of town on School Street, I came upon major construction work taking place near the road in front of the Highland Building. At last, I thought to myself, they are finally rehabilitating the Highland School (I still call it school since that is where my sons attended fifth grade). But no, it was the expansion of the utility trench taking place between the school and the Congregational Church. That got me to thinking, if work on Highland is delayed much longer, might the building start to deteriorate like the house across the road from the Gleason Public Library?

We keep reading in the Mosquito about the Highland stabilization project. At the October 12th Selectmen’s meeting, HSC member Bob Stone reported that the HSC’s re-bid package is to go out for the third time, in January 2011. Actual work will be deferred until the summer when school is out. What about fencing off the area around the building and getting on with the job as soon as a bid is accepted? And how much longer will the $445,000 from the Community Preservation funds be available?

The Highland Building project is complicated and the HSC, which has to work with the School Committee and the Selectmen, does not have an easy job. Is it time to hire a professional to take over more of the details which this volunteer group of Carlisle citizens has had to deal with? It is important for the town, which voted to stabilize this historic building and add fire protection, to see the project move forward. Preserving our history is one of the ways that makes Carlisle a special place to live. ∆

Vicariously, for Tom

I presume that when he was growing up in the Bay Area, my father-in-law Tom was a fan of the minor league baseball San Francisco Seals. They won four consecutive Pacific Coast League titles starting in 1943 when Tom was 10, key years for a budding Little Leaguer. In 1958 the Seals moved to Phoenix (as Tom and my mother-in-law Jane did a few years ago) to make room for the new team in town, the major league Giants. The Giants had just moved west from New York, along with the Dodgers, who moved from Brooklyn to L.A., so National League teams from the Mississippi eastward could play two teams, justifying the long trip to the coast. The Giants were exciting, with established star Willie Mays being joined by Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey, Rookies of the Year in ’58 and ’59 respectively.

Thus began Tom’s long-suffering half-century plus of support for the Giants, who haven’t won a World Series since 1954, when they were still playing in the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan. An auspicious year, 1958 was also the year Tom’s first daughter, my wife Karen, was born.

Until 2004 when the Red Sox won the World Series, Tom and I shared feelings only understood by fans of teams that have never won or haven’t won since . . . like, forever. The Giants, as did the Sox, tested their fans’ patience by making it to the World Series occasionally, even losing a heartbreaking so-close-you-could-taste it 7-gamer in 1962 like the tragic Sox loss to the Mets in 1986. This year, the Giants embraced their hard luck history with a new slogan, “Giants Baseball: Torture.” After a roller-coaster regular season, they actually won their division on the final day, after failing to win either of the two previous games that also would have clinched it (but less torturously).

Unfortunately, Tom wasn’t around for that exciting victory. He was diagnosed this summer with cancer that progressed quickly and he passed away in early August in Phoenix. So, in honor of his memory I am now rooting for the Giants to defeat the Phillies for the pennant (with apologies to my nephew Adam, but since the Phillies won it all two years ago, their first win in his lifetime, he’s cool). As the Red Sox are not taking part in this postseason, I’ll even root for the Giants if they make it to the World Series, especially if they face the Yankees, though ideally the Evil Empire will be eliminated by the Rangers.

For a true fan, postseason baseball is stressful. Every play, sometimes every pitch, has a heightened drama. Since the Giants aren’t my team, what I feel for them has just the right vicarious thrill. The games thus far have for the most part been close, so at each instant I imagine the tension that Tom would be feeling. He was a passionate Giants (and Niners) fan: he’d yell at the TV, chew on towels, even leave the room and go outside when things became unbearable. I’m sorry Tom isn’t around to share the experience with his family, but as Karen noted recently in an email to a friend, “He has great seats now and I’m assuming he didn’t have to pay anything for them!” ∆

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