The Library Book That Returned Home Four Decades Late

The book returned to the front desk of the Belmont Public Library last week was like no other waiting to be placed in the stacks; “Lorenzo De’Medici & The Renaissance” by Charles Mee did not have a bar code or a classification number.

When the librarian opened the book, there were two pieces of documentation. The first was printed on a single sheet of paper: “It appears that I am late returning this book. My apologies.” The other was an old-style library slip with the due date stamped on the top: Oct. 15, 1979. The book was overdue for 34 years, 5 months and 12 days or 12,582 days.

“We have no idea who returned it and no way of finding out because we haven’t used the ticket system for years,” said Reference Librarian Corinne Chan, who said every library has a book that shows up sometimes decades later.

And if you are trying to calculate the fine on the tardy borrower, the library would have fined the scofflaw the maximum $5 for overdue books despite the lateness of the return.

“We’re just happy that it’s back,” said Chan.

Wet Start for Girls’ Lacrosse

The good news from Friday’s season opener for the Belmont High School Girls’ Lacrosse against a talented Newton North team on March 28 was that the Marauders played the Tigers to a draw in the second half – in fact, outscoring Newton until a Tiger goal in the final 10 seconds of the 30 minute half.

The bad news was that a young Belmont team dug themselves a 10 goal deficit in the first half, trailing 12-2 at half time, ultimately losing 17-7 to Newton North in the first game of the season.

One bright spot for the Marauders was a willingness of the forwards to take goal scoring shots as six players scored with Elena Bragg pocketing two goals.

The team takes on Newton South today, Monday, March 31, at 4 p.m.

The Week to Come: Town Election, Great Music,
So Long Mr. Jones

It’s a busy week ahead for Belmont residents as voting, music and sporting events crowd the calendar:

• The annual Town Election is Tuesday, April 1 with polls opened from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. There are competitive races for Selectman, the Board of Library Trustees, in most of the precincts for representative to Town Meeting and there is the $2.9 million debt exclusion vote for a new Underwood Pool. Stay connected to the Belmontonian for up-to-the-minute results and analysis of the vote on Tuesday after 8 p.m.

• Music lovers, rejoice! Two great events are occurring this week: Tonight, Monday, March 31 at 7 p.m. at the High School is “Jazz Night” featuring the Belmont High Jazz Collective along with the Chenery Middle School Jazz Ensemble. The special guests at tonight’s concert is the Quintessential Brass and tenor sax extraordinaire Jim Repa.

Cruzamente (which means “crossroads” in Portuguese), a Boston-based, all-female band led by lead singer Maria ‘Lutchinha’ Neves will be preforming a variety of musical styles of Cape Verde as part of the Library’s  free “Music on Saturday” series on Saturday, April 5, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the library’s Assembly Room sponsored by the Friends of the Belmont Public Library.

• The Powers Music School is celebrating its half century of providing musical education to Belmont and Boston with the 50th annual Mildred Freiberg Piano Festival Student Concerts, Each concert will feature a special short performance by a regional teaching artist. The concerts are 

Saturday, April 5 and Sunday, April 6 at 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and  7:30 p.m.

The concerts are free and will take place at All Saints’ Church, 17 Clark St.
Concert admission is free.

• The town will be holding a retirement ceremony for Selectman Ralph Jones today, Monday, March 31, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Town Hall’s Board of Selectmen’s Meeting Room. There will be cake.Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 1.48.00 AM

Selectmen Candidates State
Their Positions In One-Minute Increments


But at the Belmont League of Women Voter’s annual Candidates Night held at the Chenery Middle School on Monday, March 24., the charges being hurled at the end of the Q&A session between Board of Selectmen candidates Sami Baghdady and Roger Colton did not come from the candidates themselves but from a segment of the audience which felt that Colton was not receiving his full 60 seconds to answer questions and from Baghdady supporters who took that charge as a slight to their man.

While the ever-so-slight uproar was going on in the   on the stage, the men – who were quite cordial – seeking to replace the retiring Ralph Jones on the three-member board were quite cordial who did have one common advisory: the stern hand of moderator Anna Whitcomb Knight who kept answers under a strict one-minute limit.

Knight’s proclamation: “Stop please!” at the end of 60 seconds left many of the candidate’s statements hanging out over the audience mid-sentence to the amusement of some attending.

With eight days before the town election on April 1, the question and answer session – there was no chance for the pair to debate issues facing the town – did reveal at times differing approaches each man would bring to the three-year term.

While stating that Belmont is a wonderful place to live, “[it] has many serious problems that need to be fixed,” said Colton, the co-chair of the Energy Committee, in his opening remarks.

The biggest issue facing the town is “we simply must start planning for the long run both by improving the existing ways we do services and finding innovations that save money and improve the quality of services,” Colton said.

Baghdady, who is a current and past chair of the Planning Board, is on the Warrant Committee  said that he was “running for selectman to maintain what we love about our town and change what we don’t.”

” … but Belmont also faces challenges. We must find the means to revitalize our [town] squares, repair our streets and sidewalks, renovate our high school and keep Belmont a place where we can all afford to live,” he said.

Both candidates highlighted their skill sets and accomplishments along with practical accomplishments during their tenures on town committees and boards; the reuse of surplus fire houses and promoting affordable housing by Colton and Baghdady including public concerns into the planning decisions of the Cushing Village development and the Wellington Elementary school.

During their 45 minutes on the stage, the candidates agreed on several topics – a reluctance to increase the commercial real estate tax rate as being harmful to small business creation, being supportive of greater “green” initiatives, and finding resources to repair the town’s notoriously poor side streets – including what will likely become the hot button issue later in 2014; the possibility of a Proposition 2 1/2 override to assist in financing the town’s long-term obligations. Baghdady said an override to meet the capital needs facing the town “is on the table with me” while Colton said an override would be “in the tool box” that the selectmen and town must have to resolve the “undeniable fact” of revenue shortfalls to resolve maintenance issues.

Yet there were times when the candidates took diverging directions on topics of general concern among residents.

Increasing student population: Baghdady would accommodate increases in student population temporarily with modular classrooms but his long-term solution would be increasing the size of a renovated High School to accommodate five rather than four grades – 8th to 12th – with the Chenery Middle School taking in 4th to 8th graders with renovations to two of Belmont’s four elementary schools; the Butler and Burbank, that will house the 600 new students expected in the schools in the coming decade.

Colton said the primer issue to come up with a long-term plan to “bring the town’s financial house in order” that will allow the hiring of teachers and support staff (such as the return of librarians) to fill rooms that are empty due to an insufficient number of teachers.

Affordable housing: Colton is supportive of using $375,000 in Community Preservation Committee funds to help up to three families whose incomes are below the area’s medium rate to subsidize the purchase of  homes in Belmont, noting the effort Belmont had committed to affordable house in the past decade, despite the relatively small number, allowed the town to receive $16 million in state funding for the Trapelo/Belmont Corridor reconstruction.

Baghdady noted that Belmont will need to create 624 units of affordable housing to reach the state’s mandated 10 percent level of moderate housing to be exempt from the state’s 40B requirement allowing developers to construct housing sites that sidestep town zoning restrictions as long as they have a certain number of affordable units set aside. He does not believe the subsidize blueprint is not a wise use of taxpayer’s money. Rather he hopes the state would give Belmont credit for the hundreds of below-market cost apartments in the Waverley Square district towards meeting the state’s affordable housing mandates.

Town Planner: When asked if Belmont should replace Planning and Economic Development Manager Jay Szklut who resigned in 2012, Colton was respective to the proposition noting that the sites of many former businesses have been replaced by financial institutions,

“Belmont is becoming not only a town of homes and potholes, it’s becoming a town of banks,” he said.

Baghdady said as Planning Board chair, he had asked the town’s Community Development Director, Glenn Clancy, and the Planning Coordinator Jeffrey Wheeler, if a planner was required and the answer came back as no.

The New Underwood Pool: Baghdady said while “strongly supporting” an Underwood Pool which is an important community resource. However, he said, the $5.2 million being spent on the pool “is a lot of money” and he has been hearing a lot of questions on the pool’s design, the cost and the required debt.  If elected, Baghdady said he would “try to find a way to give residents options when they are asking so many questions on a project like this.”

Saying the options are clearly voting yes or no, Colton is in the affirmative, saying the facility will not simply be a pool “but a community gathering spot … that will be an asset to the town.”

The 15th annual Foundation for Belmont Education Fundraiser

The theme of the 15th annual Foundation for Belmont Education Fundraiser was “Light Up the Night” and that was accomplished Saturday night, March 22 at the Belmont Hill School as hundreds enjoyed a night of dining, dancing and the auction of some very impressive packages, all in benefit of the Foundation’s four-year Innovative Teaching Initiative that funds training for educators in new technology – the addition of iPads into district classrooms – and programs to provide more enriching and engaging instruction.

Waverley Square Municipal Lot/Church Street to be Closed April 14

The Belmont Police Department and the town of Belmont will be closing the municipal parking in Waverley Square and the portion of Church Street running from Trapelo Road to Lexington Street from April 14 to May 30 as part of the reconstruction of Trapelo Road/Belmont Street.

Contractor Newport Construction advised the town that it would be necessary to close the including Church Street for curb and resurfacing work beginning April 14. The anticipated re-opening of both Church Street and the Municipal Parking lot is May 30.

Church Street will remain closed to traffic during construction hours and will be open to one-way traffic in the evening. Local businesses will remain open throughout the construction work.

Due to the loss of more than two dozen parking spaces at the Waverley Square commuter line stop and the MBTA’s popular 73 bus route to Harvard Square, the Belmont Police will not be enforcing parking time limits on the following streets for the period that the Municipal lot is closed:
• Thayer Road
• Sycamore Street (from the Watertown line to Lexington Street)
• Chandler Street
• Trapelo Road (from Sycamore Street to Church Street)

Belmont’s Own Speakers’ Corner

A cold Saturday wind played havoc with signs and banners in what has become an annual tradition prior to Belmont town elections: supporters crowding the sidewalks across or next to the MBTA commuter rail bridge at the corner of Common Street and Concord Avenue.

While there has yet to be an appearance by sign holders for the three residents seeking the two seats on the Board of Library Trustees, supporters for Roger Colton and Sami Baghdady – including family members and one candidate – who are running to succeed retiring Selectman Ralph Jones on the Board where out in force at what has become Belmont’s own Speakers’ Corner, an open-air space for free political “speech” where all sides can come and advocate.

Are You an Inactive Voters? Be Prepared To Show ID at the Polls

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 6.10.58 AMScreen Shot 2014-03-24 at 6.10.58 AMWhen you didn’t return your 2014 Belmont town census form, the Belmont Town Clerk will declared you an “inactive” voter at the Town Election on April 1.

When the Town Clerk declares you an “inactive” voter, you feel down.

When you feel down, you decide to watch a funny movie on Netflix instead of voting.

When you see a funny movie instead of voting, your best friend loses his Town Meeting seat by a single vote to your crazy neighbor.

When your crazy neighbor attends Town Meeting, he leads an movement passing a bylaw allowing residents to construct a moat around their house.

When your neighbors build moats around their homes, Vikings will camp out in your backyard waiting to attack the “castle” next door.

Don’t let Vikings camp out in your backyard. Return your Town Census to the Town Clerk.

The 2014 Town Census forms were mailed to every household back in mid-January. Returning them will keep residents on the active voting list and keeps non-voting residents, including children on the list of Belmont residents for registration in schools, veteran’s bonus, subsidized housing and related benefits, as well as providing information to the 911 emergency system.

Unfortunately, the deadline has passed for residents to return their census to remain active voters which means that those voting on April 1 will still be able to cast a ballot but first must provide adequate identification proving the voter’s identity and current place of residence.

What’s Up this Week in Belmont: Candidate’s Night Monday, Shopping at Wilson Farm

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 9.09.01 PMWith many residents apprehensive that the nor’easter anticipated mid-week will bring another blast of snow and with it a chance of a snow day for district schools and snow shoveling, there are several interesting events happening that should pique the interest of many Belmontonians:

• On Monday, March 24 at 7 p.m. at the Chenery Middle School, the Belmont League of Women Voters is holding its annual pre-Town Election greet and meet with the candidates for town-wide office and Town Meeting representatives. The town-wide candidates – including those in the contested seats for Board of Selectmen and Board of Library Trustees – will be asked questions by League members.

• Tuesday, March 25, the Belmont Public Schools will be holding its annual “Shop at Wilson Farm Day” in Lexington. Download the online flyer and present it at checkout on the date listed above and Wilson Farm will donate 20 percent of your pre-tax subtotal purchase to your Belmont school. Last year’s event raised $1296, making Belmont one of the top performing schools in the program. And that money was spent on:
– Supplies, equipment & materials such as computers, books & tablets.
– Plantings & school grounds improvements like additions, gardens & trees
– School field trips
– Clubs & extra-curricular activities
– School bands
– Sports teams & cheerleading squads Your school principal will decide how to allocate any funds earned through Shop at Wilson Farm Day so you know the money will go where it’s needed most. Wilson Farm is at 10 Pleasant St., Lexington. Call 781-862-3900 or go online to

• At the Belmont School Committee’s scheduled meeting on Tuesday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m. the committee will vote on school choice within the district as well as discuss this year’s statement of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority to renovate the High School and create a science wing.

• If you are a high schooler looking for a job, head on down to the Belmont Public Library on Wednesday, March 26 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. for a Teen Interview Workshop. Join Gary Gekow in this interactive workshop and hone your interview skills. Space is limited & registration required so head to the library’s web site to sign up.

• The Belmont High School Band and Orchestra will be in concert at the High School’s auditorium beginning at 7 p.m.

• While there will likely be snow on the ground – you could film a documentary on living in the Alaskan outback in many Belmont backyards – spring is nearly on us as the Belmont Food Collaborative’s Stephen Pinkerton will be giving a Pomona Small Fruit and Bramble Plant Clinic in the Flett Room (across from the Children’s Room) at the Belmont Public Library at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, March 27. It’s free and open to the public. So come by to be reminded that the season’s do change, even in New England.