And, They’re Off! Contested Race for Belmont Selectman’s Seat

Photo: Incumbent Andy Rojas submitting his nomination papers to Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman.

With incumbent Andy Rojas turning in his nomination papers for re-election for a second three-year term on the Belmont Board of Selectmen today, Tuesday, Feb. 3, it’s now official there will be a contested race for a seat on the three-member board.

Rojas joins Glenn Road’s James Williams on the April 7 Town Election ballot.

Williams is also the first candidate seeking any town-wide office who has put up a campaign sign, along Bright Road. (see below)

A third person, recent Belmont High School graduate Brian Liddell has taken out nomination papers but has yet to turn them in to the Town Clerk’s office.

Will Snow Stop Long Enough For Belmont Girls’ Hoops to Qualify for Tournament?

Nine and three.

That sounds pretty good to Belmont High School Girls’ Basketball Head Coach Melissa Hart coming off the court after her squad used its trademark blanket defense to defeat Reading Memorial High, 67-32, Friday, Jan. 30 at Belmont’s Wenner Field House. 

Now if Hart’s players would be a little more … selfish.

“They are so humble and generous that they’re passing when they should take the shot,” said Hart, recalling one of her players dishing the ball to a covered teammate rather than taking an uncontested layup. 

Yet Hart’s sees a silver lining to the team’s “need” to share the rock. 

“That’s not a bad situation to have because they are always looking for the open player,” said Hart.

With nine wins in twelve games, this season’s Marauders are in the midst of the best run in more than a decade. The team is a single win away from automatically qualifying for the MIAA Div. 2 North Sectional tournament.

But will the weather finally cooperate? In the past 10 days, Belmont has seen three games cancelled due to dual snowstorms that settled over eastern Massachusetts including Tuesday’s game away at Arlington. Belmont will get their chance on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at Arlington in a rematch of an earlier game in which the Marauders came from nine-points down in the third quarter to defeat the SpyPonders, 62-54, on Jan. 6.

On Friday, both teams came out a little worst for wear after their storm-related layoffs, with Belmont taking a 5-4 lead after the first eight minutes. In the second quarter, sophomore Sara Stewart (4 points) got the Marauders going with a pair of buckets between a fast-break layup from freshman Jenny Call (9 points including another 3 point shot from the outside threat) put Belmont up by 7 (13-6).

At this point, Belmont’s spotlight defense took over as the Marauders created four consecutive steals, three by senior forward Elena Bragg, in 90 seconds leading to five points (four by Bragg) and Belmont was off and running. By the end of the quarter, Belmont outscored the Rockets, 24 to 10, to lead 28-14.

Friday was the third consecutive game Bragg has come up big on the offensive boards and on the score board, scoring 14 points against Reading.

“The team is working well, our energy level was been high so its so easy to take the lead and get those points,” said Bragg.

The Marauders’ defense limited Reading to 5 points in the third to seal the win. Hart started using many of her bench players in the third (“They are so valuable for this team because they practice our starters extremely hard,” she said) and they stepped up. Senior guard/forward Sara Lyons (6 points) stroke a pair of threes while junior point guard Ani Maroyan (4 points) hit a jumper and two from the charity stripe. Super junior sixth man Samari Winklaar pumped in 11 of her game high 15 points (along with 6 rebounds and 2 steals) in the second half as spark plug junior guard/forward Meghan Ferraro (3 points) threw in a three from downtown. Running the floor was senior Kayla Magno while fellow senior Lauren Noonan clamped down on the defensive end of the court. 


Belmont will be tested this week facing a tough Arlington team on Wednesday and host one-loss Woburn on Friday that defeated Belmont by three points last month.

Plenty of Town Meeting Positions Waiting for Candidates

With two weeks remaining for residents to throw their hats into the ring, a boatload of Town Meeting positions in several precincts remain waiting to be filled by candidates.

According to Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman, as of the Jan. 27th deadline for incumbent Town Meeting members to announce their intentions to seek election to the 290-member legislative body, there remains several open seats in each of the town’s eight precincts. (see below)

While traditionally-active precincts such as 1, 6 and 8 appear likely to have enough candidates to have contested races – more than 12 candidates for the dozen seats up for election – others are in serious need of residents willing to run to represent their neighborhoods.

“Right now, we have deficits of three candidates in Precinct 3 and six in Precinct 7,” said Cushman on Friday, Jan. 30. Precinct 3 is west of Concord Avenue and east of Trapelo Road, around Town Field and along Pleasant Street and up Mill Street. Precinct 7 is the Grove Street Playground neighborhood east to the Cambridge town line between Washington and Belmont streets.

If there remains a deficit of candidates on the Town Election ballot on April 7, the remaining Town Meeting slots will be selected with “write-in” candidates.

Cushman hopes to remind residents of the importance of Town Meeting as it is the legislative body of Belmont that approves or rejects new bylaws and determines the annual town budget.

“I would remind residents in Precinct 7 that their precinct is where a citizen’s petition to limit the height of residential houses will be voted at Town Meeting needing a two-thirds vote,” said Cushman.

Next deadline is Feb. 17, at 5 p.m. for all nomination papers for town-wide offices and Town Meeting members.

PRECINCT 1: 10 candidates for re-election, 2 residents took out nomination papers, 12 three-year seats available.

PRECINCT 2: 9 candidates for re-election, 4 residents took out nomination papers, 12 three-year seats available.

PRECINCT 3: 7 candidates for re-election, 2 residents took out nomination papers; 12 three-year seats available.

PRECINCT 4: 10 candidates for re-election, 3 residents took out nomination papers; 12 three-year seats available.

PRECINCT 5: 11 candidates for re-election, 2 residents took out nomination papers; 12 three-year seats available AND 1 one-year seat available with 1 person taking papers out for that position.

PRECINCT 6: 10 candidates for re-election, 3 residents took out nomination papers; 12 three-year seats available AND 1 one-year AND 1 two-year seat available.

PRECINCT 7: 7 candidates for re-election, 3 residents took out nomination papers; 12 three-year seats available AND 4 two-year seats available.

PRECINCT 8: 10 candidates for re-election, 6 residents took out nomination papers; 12 three-year seats available AND 1 one-year seat available.

After Statement Win, Belmont Boys’ Hoops Tumbles to Reading, 76-73

At the beginning of the 2014-15 season, Belmont High School Boys’ Basketball Head Coach Adam Pritchard said the Middlesex League was so competitive “any team, no matter their record, can win on any given night.”

Pritchard’s words were particularly prophetic on Friday, Jan. 30, as his tournament-bound Marauders were taken down by a  three-win Reading Memorial High School squad, 76-73, in Belmont’s Wenner Field House.

The loss came just six days after Belmont defeated one of eastern Massachusetts’ top-ten teams and 2013 State Champions, Boston’s Brighton High, 79-65, on Sunday, Jan. 25, at the Martin Luther King Invitational at Boston’s Wentworth Institute.

With big man senior Adam Kleckner (22 points) and junior sixth-man Cole Bartels (9 points) back in the squad, the Marauders’ blew the game open in the third quarter as Belmont behind speedy junior shooting guard Matt Kerans (26 points, 10 assists) rained five three point shots (three from senior forward Seth Altman who finished with 14 points) to outscore the Bengals, 28-15, while its smothering defense kept Brighton’s 6-foot, 6-inch senior center Jason Jones (23 points) to 4 points in the quarter.

So it was not unexpected Friday night that Belmont would rush out to a 24-13 lead (10 points from Kleckner) on a Bartels three-point shot with two minutes left in the first quarter. In their earlier encounter this year, Belmont increased its lead throughout the game and cruised to a 58-41 victory at Reading.

Then, as if the team was sent outside to play, the Marauders’ shooting fell into the deep freeze, just as Reading began hitting the first of five three-point buckets in the half. Led by junior guard Chris Merullo (14 points – who hit three of his four three pointers during the run) and junior strong forward Jared Thorpe-Johnson (8 of 18 points in the second quarter), the Rockets went on a 27-3 run to take a 40-27 lead with 3:47 remaining in the half.

A Kerans three pointer (16 points) started a mini comeback that cut the lead in half by half time, 44-37. Yet with the exception of Kleckner (24 points) who had eight points in the third (6-6 from the charity stripe), Belmont simply could not find the basket with many in-close shots rimming out. Bur at the same time, Reading’s hot-hand cooled off considerably – thanks to a tight, suffocating full-court press – and Belmont was able to cut the lead to one, 50-49, with a minute remaining in the third.

But on its next trip down the court, Reading’s senior captain Mike Algeri (20 points) came to life, hitting three free throws after being fouled attempting a three point shot. Kerans’ late drive and hoop cut the Reading lead to two points, 53-51, at the end of three.

Early in the fourth quarter, a pair of free-throws from Kleckner and two baskets from Kerans gave Belmont a one-point lead at 59-58 and it appeared the Marauders’ had final found a way to victory. Two in-close baskets by Thorpe-Johnson and a three-point shot from Algeri gave the Rockets a 64-61 lead until senior Ben Lazenby’s (10 points) three tied the score at 64.

The game then swung back and forth with a Kleckner hook shot getting Belmont within a single point, 69-68, with 2:24 left. Seconds later, senior guard Jaemar Paul stole the ball but three shots from under the basket failed.

It was another senior, Reading’s Algeri, who did come up big, hitting an three from NBA-distance with less than a minute to give the Rockets, 74-71. A Kerans driving two pointer and a defensive stop gave Belmont the ball with less than 30 seconds remaining. But a long-distance, three-point shot by Kerans hit the rim and Algeri made both free throws after he was fouled to put Reading up by three with 2 seconds left. All chances for a last ditch shot ended for Belmont when the inbound pass hit a Belmont player in the foot and it went out-of-bounds.

Belmont’s next opponent will be at league leading Arlington on Wednesday, Feb. 4.

Belmont’s Partial Parking Ban Is An Odd Situation

Due to the higher than predicated snowfall from Monday’s Groundhog Day snowstorm, Belmont has modified its snow emergency parking ban as Department of Public Works crews and private contractors play catch-up on clearing the more than foot of new snow that blanketed town streets and roads.

According to Belmont Police and town officials, vehicles will be allowed to park on the odd-numbered side of the street beginning at 7 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 3. and will remain in effect until revoked by the Town Administrator David Kale. This rule is for most secondary and side streets in Belmont.

During the new rules, town and private crews will begin removing and move snow on major roads, intersections and around schools that has been piling up since last week’s blizzard. 

“If cars park on both sides of the street, then the street may become too narrow for a fire truck or ambulance to get by on the way to an emergency call,” said a notice on the town’s web site. 

There are exceptions to this rule:

• A small number of streets have posted signs NOT allowing parking on the odd-numbered side at any time. On those streets, parking will still be allowed on the even side of the street.

• On roadways with “No Parking” signs, parking will NOT be allowed on the odd-numbered side.

• The following public and private streets and roads are exempt from this emergency parking rule and remain subject to normal parking rules:

  • Belmont Street (entire street)
  • Bright Road (entire street)
  • Brighton Street (Cambridge line to Flanders Road)
  • Concord Avenue (Cambridge line to railroad bridge)
  • Channing Road (Leonard Street to Claflin Street)
  • Claflin Street (Channing Road to parking lot)
  • Claflin Street (Alexander Avenue to barrier)
  • Common Street (Belmont Street to Payson Road)
  • Cross Street (Broad Street to Waterhouse Road)
  • Grove Street (entire street)
  • Leonard Street (entire street)
  • Lexington Street (Church Street to Trapelo Road)
  • Moore Street (entire street)
  • Park Avenue (Knox Street to Frontage Road)
  • Pleasant Street (Concord Avenue to Leonard Street)
  • Trapelo Road (entire street)
  • White Street (Sycamore Street to Trapelo Road)

In addition, the town wants residents to be aware that drivers must park their vehicles so that the tires are no more than 12 inches from the curb or the edge of the road, even when snow piles make it impossible to get your car that close to the curb. Police officers apply some discretion with this rule during the winter and don’t usually ticket people for this violation during the winter, but during parking bans, the rule will be enforced. 


No School Tuesday Due to Snow, Partial Lifting of Parking Ban at 7AM

The larger-than-expected snow fall from the Groundhog Day storm has forced the Belmont Public Schools to be closed once again tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb3. This marks the fourth snow day to be called in the past week.

According to the Belmont Police Department, the snow emergency parking ban will be partially lifted at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 4. Belmont Police reported that parking will be allowed on the ODD side of most street in town. Exceptions will include business centers such as Waverley and Cushing squares and Belmont Center.

Town Offices will be open and trash and recycling will be picked up on Tuesday as scheduled.

The Belmont Public Library and the Beech Street Center will be closed.

Belmont to Experience Flash Freeze Conditions As Snow Totals Best Predictions

An arctic blast in the midst of today’s snow storm will cause any slush or standing water in Belmont and eastern Massachusetts to rapidly freeze causing hazardous road and pavement conditions, according to the National Weather Service in a Special Statement it released at 3:10 p.m.

In addition moderate to occasionally heavy snow will continue, at times up to an inch an hour can be expected into the evening hours. This means that some areas could receive another 3 to 5 inches of snow. This will bring storm totals closer to 15 to 18 inches in areas of the Mass Pike northward with local 20 inch amounts possible.

Motorists and pedestrians are urged to slow down and use extreme caution this afternoon and evening due to reduced visibilities and the flash freeze conditions.

Schools Closed Monday, Parking Ban In Effect at Midnight, Trash Will Be Collected

The Belmont Public Schools will be closed on Monday, Feb. 2, due to a pending snow storm that is expected to drop up to a foot of snow on the town. In addition, the Belmont Public Library and the Beech Street Center will be closed on Monday.

Beginning at midnight, Monday, Feb. 2, the town is declaring a snow emergency during which there will be a parking ban on on-street parking and in the three town municipal and six public school parking lots.

Trash and recycling pickup will occur on Monday despite the storm. Also, Town Offices will be open on Monday.

Not Again: Belmont Under Third Winter Storm Warning in 10 Days

In the English children’s song, “I’ll Tell Me Ma,” the lyrics declare “Let the wind and the rain and the hail blow high/Snow come shovelin’ from the sky.”

And for the third time in 10 days, Belmont will witness another blast of shove-able snow as the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the area, beginning at 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 1, until 1 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 3.

The warning, issued at 1 p.m. today, Sunday, Feb. 1, is calling for between 8 inches to a foot of heavy snow falling in Belmont and points north of the Mass Pike. Accompanying the snow will be moderate winds of between 5 to 15 mph with gusts up to 35 mph.

The possible foot of snow comes just days after the town and region dug itself out of more than 20 inches of snow that fell during a blizzard that occurred this past Tuesday, Jan. 27.

Snow will fall heavy at times Monday morning, Feb. 2, at 1 to 2 inches per hour, impacting the morning rush hour making for hazardous travel on snow covered roads.