Fed Grant Allows Belmont Fire to be Fully Staffed Since 2010

Just before the start of summer next year, the Belmont Fire Department will return to a position it hadn’t been in since 2010: being fully staffed.

Thanks to a federal grant aimed at increasing the number of “front line” firefighters to meet national staffing and response standards, “[the BFD] will be budgeted for four shifts of 13 personnel for fiscal year 2016 and 2017,” said Belmont Fire Chief David Frizzell told the Belmont Board of Selectmen on Monday, Sept. 29.

“This is good news for the department,” said Fizzell, who came with BFD Assistant Chief Angus Davison who wrote the grant.

The $285,020 SAFER grant award to BFD from the Department of Homeland Security will allow the department to cover the salary and benefits of a pair of “fire suppression” personnel for two years, said Frizzell.

While budgeted for 50 employees, the department currently has 48 firefighters on staff after a recent retirement and the departure of another.

The additional staff comes just in time as the department prepares for a “significant turnover” among its ranks in the coming years, Frizzell told the selectmen. While he can’t specifically say how many personnel will be departing as they only need to provide two weeks notice before retiring or leaving, Frizzell said several department members will become eligible for retirement.

“Because there is a lag of sometimes four to six months between the time we have an opening and when [new employees] complete the hiring and training process, it will be important [the department has] these two new members staffed when we go through our staff reductions,” said Frizzell.

Belmont OKs Commuter Pass Program, Price Hikes for Town Lots

Straphangers using Belmont Center to catch buses or the commuter rail to work will soon lose most of their free parking options as the Belmont Board of Selectmen approved a plan Monday, Sept. 29 requiring commuters to purchase of a monthly pass to park along streets and town lots near the transportation hub.

The recommendations from a committee of the Financial Task Force is predicting the commuter pass along with an increase in the fees at the three municipal parking lots will generate an additional $40,000 a year for the town, according to Floyd Carman, the town’s treasurer who is a member of the Task Force’s Other Revenue Committee.

The selectmen decided to defer from expanding the commuter plan to the “turn around” road across from Cottage Street and the Underwood Pool that is used for parking for residents and visitors attending events or using the school playing fields or the ‘Skip’ Viglirolo Skating Rink.

The new parking regulations will go into effect on Jan. 1.

Residents and out-of-towners who use the three town-owned lots in Belmont Center (on Claflin Street), Cushing Square and Waverley Square will be paying 40 cents more an hour and $2 a day to park, which will cover the costs to maintain the lots and operate the parking program, said Carman.

The parking fees will become $1 per hour and $5 for an all day ticket on Jan. 1. Parking passes will jump from $60 to $90.

The big change will be the new commuter parking plan, an idea proposed in the past but never implemented, said Carman. Currently, about 65 percent of the vehicles parked adjacent the Belmont commuter rail station are from out-of-town, said Carman.

“Sometimes, it’s 100 percent. There are no places for residents to park,” he told selectmen.

Under the recommendations, ten spaces in the three municipal lots as well as 13 spaces along Royal Road in front of the Belmont Lions Club will be reserved for commuters who purchase passes for $90 a month. The pass will allow commuters to use the spaces from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The ten commuter spots in the Belmont Center lot will be located near the former Macy’s location as its unlikely the site will be leased “until next year,” said Carman.

“So for the short term we can develop a revenue stream,” said Carman.

He also said there is some risk to the plan as the Belmont Center lot is used by the town’s Farmers Market five months during the summer and fall while the Lions Club sells Christmas trees in December.

Carman told Selectmen that businesses whose employees have been using lots and the street could begin a shuttle service from other locations.

The approved recommendations come as the November Town Meeting will discuss approving the $2.6 million reconstruction of Belmont Center’s roads that will include the introduction of a parking plan that calls for meters along Leonard Street. Selectman Sami Baghdady said he wanted to promote the commuter lot in a way “to encourage turnover along Leonard Street” to promote shopping and not all-day parking along the town’s “High Street.”

Selectman Mark Paolillo brought up the running concern of workers using on-street parking spaces by suggesting employee designated parking spaces in the three municipal lots with the remaining spaces limited to four hours or less.

“Let’s start thinking about this now before the Macy’s site opens,” said Paolillo.



Belmont’s DPW Chief Peter Castanino Stepping Down

Peter Castanino, the long-serving director of the Belmont Department of Public Works, is retiring after 33 years of service, according to Town Administrator David Kale at Monday’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Sept. 29.

“Too bad we can’t lock his door and keep him here,” quipped Selectman Mark Paolillo who said Castanino’s departure is “a significant loss” to the town and that replacing him “will be very difficult.”

Kale, who said Castanino will be leaving his position before the end of the year, said the director of the approximate 65 employee department with a budget of $21 million is “irreplaceable” due to his significant institutional knowledge of the town.

Every resident have had some direct involvement with Castanino and his department which maintains streets and sidewalks, plows the roads after snowstorms, oversees garbage and recycling collection, takes care of Belmont’s playing fields and parks and runs the Recreation Department. One of the most significant responsibilities under the DPW’s wing is water and sewer maintenance and construction.

In addition, Castanino has helped shepherd town projects and proposals – the two most recent being the new Underwood Pool and the restoration of the turf field and running track at Harris Field – through the planning and construction process.

Castanino’s departure will end his family’s long tenure of service to Belmont. Castanino’s father, James, was Belmont’s highway superintendent – when the public works and highway departments were separate divisions – until he retired in 1988, working for the department for a total of 42 years.

Volunteers Needed for Scharfman Run on Sunday

Organizers of the Dan Scharfman Memorial Run are seeking volunteers to help manage the race this Sunday morning, Oct.  5.

Here are a few details:

  • The shifts are about two hours long and you can pick the time that works for you.
  • The jobs are easy, the people are great and the race is fun.
  • You’re helping to raise money for Belmont schools.
  • There is a real need for volunteers to set up (7 a.m. to 9 a.m.) and course monitors (8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. or 9:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.), but really all of the jobs need to be filled.
  • Even if you are running, you can volunteer for the set up or clean up.

Please the organizers if you can help. You can sign up at www.SignUpGenius.com/go/4090845ACAC2E5-20141

More information about the run at www.fbe-belmont.org/race

And if you could encourage a friend to sign up with you, that would be even better.

Belmont Health Collaborative Set to Begin Wellness Conversation

For Stacey Hammerlind and Lisa Gibalerio, the health of a community is based on what it knows not just how it feels.

The founders of the newly-formed Belmont Health Collaborative are hoping their organization will become a clearinghouse for all things related to wellness in Belmont.

“Our motto is ‘to inform, empower and engage,’” said Hammerlind, who is a registered nurse and certified care manager.

“The main goal is to be collaborative, to work with any organization in town that is interested in partnering up or to invite people who would like to speak about an issue they are passionate about,” said Hammerlind.

The pair saw a growing gap in health education services as traditional avenues from the town’s Health Department to the school department’s health employees are being stretched thin with greater responsibilities placed on their time.

“It seems that we are not providing information on subjects like nutrition, stress or AD/HD in kids in a thorough manner,” said Gibalerio, who earned a master’s of public health at Boston University and has a long background in health education.

“There’s an amazing amount of resources and sometimes it takes a little bit of hunting to find them,” said Hammerlind, saying the BHC’s web site will hopefully become the local resource on all health issues.

By leading interactive seminars, small group discussion and expert instruction, “we can address … issues that impact everyone in town from the young to the [elderly],” said Hammerlind.

She and Gibalerio will be looking to nearby centers such as McLean Hospital for mental health and Mt. Auburn Hospital and other sites for medical issues, solicit local residents with health or medical backgrounds or discover people who simply are passionate about a subject.

“There are people who have been affected by a health issue, such as suicide, and [might] be willing to be part of a panel discussion on the effects a suicide had on their family,” said Gibalerio.

The collaborative can also quickly pivot to answer questions when there is a flare-up of a disease or a rise in mental health issues in a targeted community.

“If there is an outbreak of, let’s say meningitis, we could begin the discussion as well has find experts on the subject,” said Gibalerio.

The partners have been working on a calendar with each month dedicated to a wide-ranging idea, such as loss whether it be the death of a loved one or if a spouse is suffering from dementia.

“We want to keep it fairly broad, so we don’t eliminate anyone from the discussion,” said Hammerlind.

The BHC’s first event is Wednesday, Oct. 1 when hip hop artist Juma Inniss will talk to Belmont High School students on media literacy at the Belmont Media Center. On Thursday, Oct. 2, Erin McNeill, President of Media Literacy Now, will talk to parents concerned about their children, the internet and other forms of media.

In determining future topics, the collaborative will focus on the answers to a short online survey on the BHC’s website.

“The whole impetus for the survey was to hear what the community wants to focus on and learn more about,” said Gibalerio.

While advocating for health education, the collaborative will likely take the role of being a facilitator including hosting events on emotional issues – such as the need for childhood vaccination – “where people of differing opinions can get together and have a discussion that is moderated,” said Hammerlind.

Second Annual Scharfman Memorial Road Race this Saturday, Oct. 5

Belmont and area runners who are looking for a great race to participate this fall need only look as far as their nearest town street as the second annual Dan Scharfman Memorial Road Race will take place this Sunday, Oct. 5.

The 5 kilometer (3.1 mile) race will start at 9:30 a.m. at the Harris Field track adjacent to Belmont High School. A one-mile run/walk for kids and slower adults will take place at 10:30 a.m.

Race route can be found here.  Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 1.39.40 PM

“What’s great about this race is this is becoming a new tradition in Belmont; our fall race to go along with Brendan’s Home Run in the spring,” said Paul Roberts, who is the race co-chair.

“Our community support is amazing from the sponsors (CitySide Subaru, Belmont Orthodontics, Lightwire and Belmont Savings Bank are the main backers) to the police and all the volunteers we have,” said Roberts.

Last year, more than 700 runners and walkers registered and the event raised $30,000 to help the Foundation for Belmont Education with its Innovative Teaching Initiative

Roberts, a friend and sometimes running partner with Scharfman, said Dan, an IT professional for most of his working life, was passionate on bringing teachers and technology together to help better implement educational subjects.

“While most people think that the money buys technology (the funds helped provide iPads to all ninth grade students last year) for the classroom, that’s just part of it. Actually a big part of it is giving teachers the professional development to learn how to implement and use technology,” said Roberts.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 2.03.53 PM

The Week to Come: Selectmen on Increasing Parking Fees, Football at Home Finally

• On the government side of the week, the Belmont Board of Selectmen will be meeting on Monday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall will be discussing a recommendation on increasing parking meter (I’m guessing that includes the cost to be in the municipal parking lot as the town has not parking meters) and commuter parking fees along with a discussion concerning the Underwood Pool and a public meeting on storm water and erosion control. The Warrant Committee is meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Chenery Middle School with a preview of warrant articles on the Special Town Meeting agenda in November.

 Join Belmont Public Librarian Joanna Breen in the Flett Room on TuesdaySept. 30, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. for an overview of the authoritative Value Line and Morningstar investment research centers. Whether you’re building your first portfolio, or are a long-time investor, Value Line and Morningstar produce trusted independent market research that is available, free, and online, to Belmont Public Library cardholders.
True Story Theater will perform a magical and inspiring form of improvisational storytelling on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 1:15 p.m. at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St. Volunteers from the audience share important moments from their lives; the actors bring these instantly to life in word, movement and song. The Arlington Council on Aging gave them rave reviews. See for yourself!

• Receive a free hearing screening test at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St. on Wednesday, Oct. 1, from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mass Audiology offers this service – along with changing hearing aid batteries – free of charge to Center participants. Sign up by stopping by the front desk or by calling 617-993-2970.

You know summer’s over when the Belmont Public School invites middleschoolers on early release Wednesday to do their homework with hot chocolate and not lemonade. Stop by the library’s Assembly Room on Wednesday. Oct. 1 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., to do your homework and enjoy some hot chocolate.  This is for middleschoolers only! Provided for free, thanks to the Friends of the Belmont Public Library. Just drop in, no registration required.
Sustainable Belmont is holding its monthly meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 1 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Belmont Public Library’s Assembly Room
• LEGO Club is back! On Thursday, Oct 2 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Belmont Public Library’s Assembly Roomboys and girls in kindergarten through second grade will be creating their own unique LEGO structures. All LEGOs  will be provided. Just bring your imagination.
Belmont High School Football will have its first home game of the season on Thursday, Oct. 2 at 6 p.m. vs. Arlington. It’s Winchester week on the athletic fields as Field Hockey (Monday, Sept. 29 at 6 p.m.), Boys’ Soccer (Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m.) and Volleyball (Thursday, Oct. 2 at 4 p.m.) all host the Sachems. Cross Country says hello to Arlington on Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 3:30 p.m., Lexington visits Belmont golf also on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. and Belmont Girls’ Soccer has a big match with powerhouse Wilmington on Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 6 p.m.
• The Benton Library, Belmont’s independent library, is open the first Friday evening of every month, this month it’s this Friday, Oct. 3, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Make the Benton a stop on your way home or after dinner. See the latest New York Times Best sellers. Browse the collection. Buy some of our reasonably priced sale books with all proceeds going to the Benton. Use our Wi-Fi.
• Yom Kippur begins at sunset on Friday, Oct. 3.

Sports: Lynch Pins Belmont Field Hockey’s Big Win Over Lexington

The collective mindset of Belmont High School Field Hockey was on one salient fact as it took the field against host Lexington on a sunny and hot Saturday morning, Sept. 27.

“We knew this was a big game,” said Belmont’s junior forward Kerri Lynch, as Belmont, Lexington and Winchester were in a logjam for second in the Liberty Division of the Middlesex League behind undefeated Reading Memorial High School.

“This could solidify our place going into the playoffs, so, yeah, it was huge,” said Lynch.

And at the end of the hour of play, Belmont left the pitch with a statement victory as the Marauders put in a pair of second-half goals – both part of Lynch’s first career hat trick – to take down the Minutemen, 4-2, to set their place as a top team in the league.

“My team is awesome,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Jessica Smith after the game.

“So far our wins have been against teams that are under .500. But to show that you’re a good team, you have to beat the really good teams and we just proved it,” Smith told the Belmontonian after the game.

Belmont took the lead just four minutes into the game as Lynch hit her first by rounding Lexington’s goalie and doubled the lead midway through the period with a quick shot from forward Kate McCarthy. Despite being tied up, 2-2, early in the second half, the Marauders went out in front with Lynch’s second tally less than three minutes later.

“Everyone on the field touched the balls that led to our goals. They are stringing passes from the back to our forwards,” said Smith.

The victory was a complete team effort as Belmont won most of the individual battles on the field as they took the game to the Minutemen who defeated the Marauders last year in the first round of the Div. 1 playoffs.

One such match up occurred with 12 minutes remaining in the game with Belmont leading 3-2. A Lexington pass down the Belmont left wing sent a pair of Minutemen towards Belmont goal with senior defender Emma Pejko the last line of defense.

Pejko left the player she was marking to attack the forward baring down on goal. Pejko lowered her stick horizontally to both stop the attack and then, after several seconds of a one-on-one duel down close to the turf, win possession.

“[Pejko] is the smartest player on our team academically and she seems to make the right choices on the field. She cognitively and innately knows what she has to do. That would have been a goal if she had not made that decision,” said Smith, who lavished praise on the back line of Pejko, Lauren Noonan, Molly Thayer and Annemarie Habelow.

“They work very well because they don’t just count on one person and that’s what you need to have a good defense,” Smith told the Belmontonian.

Dominating the midfield was senior stalwart Suzanne Noone who tracked down Lexington’s players attempting to move through the center of the pitch while Habelow, playing a high center defense, was quick to transition the attack with long passes deep in the Minutemen end.

The game’s final goal – which gave Belmont a two-goal cushion with four minutes left in the game – “was just a nice tip that was probably all luck. But they’re always good so we’ll take what we get,” said Lynch.

It’s going to be another tough challenge for the Marauders as they welcome Winchester to Harris Field for a Monday evening game, Sept. 29, at 6 p.m.


Sports: Boys’ Soccer Back to Winning Ways with Somerville Victory

Second half goals from seniors Nick Frigo and Ben Lazenby put Belmont High School Boys’ Soccer team back in the win column as the Marauders defeated Somerville High School, 2-0, in an early morning matinee Saturday, Sept. 28.

Belmont’s goals – coming five minutes apart mid-way in the second half – gave the Marauders the edge in an entertaining contest in which the Highlanders’ quick counter offense was matched with Belmont’s ball control and midfield play.

Frigo – who missed Belmont’s best chance in the first half by kicking an open shot from 15 meters – scored on a soft shot to the near left side of   after a series of passes that found Belmont’s leading scorer alone in front. Lazenby scored on a header from a corner.

The win puts Belmont record at 7-1-0 as the Marauders come off their first loss of the year, a 2-1 defeat to the hands of hosts Lexington on Wednesday, Sept. 24.

Next up for the Marauders will be arch-rival Winchester (4-1-1) on Tuesday, Sept. 30.


Belmont Yard Sales on Sept. 27-28

Here are this weekend’s yard/moving/garage sales happening in the 02478 zip code:

54 Elm St.Saturday, Sept. 27, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m

8 Jeanette Ave.Saturday, Sept. 27, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Lexington Street at Ripley RoadSept. 27, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

354 Payson Rd.Saturday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• 176 Washington St.Saturday, Sept. 27 and Sunday, Sept. 28, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m

285 Waverley St.Saturday, Sept. 27, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.