On the Market: A Time Tunnel to the Past, That New Townhouse Smell, With a Veiw

Photo: The interior from the 1960s at 95 Longmeadow Rd. 

A sample of Belmont homes “on the market” ranging from the affordable, the average and the quite expensive.

95 Longmeadow Rd. Large Cape (1960). 3,184 sq.-ft. of livable space: 8 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths. Two-car garage. Just under a half-acre lot. Price: $1,399,000.

What’s special: This house is about as interesting for the interior decorating as for the building that is a great expanded Cape up on Belmont Hill. The photos on the variety of real estate sites are like walking through a time tunnel back to the 1960s. You could comfortably see Don Draper sitting on the couch as Betty Francis asks if he’d like a scotch with his Lucky Strike. From the heavy drapes, the Louis XIV dining room chairs, the over-the-top upholstery, the heavy wood panels (especially in the converted basement), the overriding salmon-pink color scheme, wall-to-wall carpet; it’s a wonderful historic record of what upscale homeowners sought from a half-century ago. If you are interested in the history of interior decor, it’s worth a trip. It’s almost certain the new owners will need to wait a few weeks before moving in so the interior can be updated. 

The first sentence of the sales pitch: “Prominently sited on close to half an acre, this impeccably maintained and expansive home is located in the picturesque Hillcrest section of Belmont Hill.”

23 Russell Terrace #23. Townhouse Condominium (2011). 2,418 sq.-ft. of livable space: 7 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths. One-car space. Lot? Just a small backyard? Price: $869,000.

What’s special: The exterior? Not so special, it’s more bland then boring. The interior on the other hand. This townhouse still has that new construction smell, with hard-wood floors, enough detail so not to overwhelm and a practical kitchen (although it does have granite counter tops – ugh!). It has three floors with some unusual angles in the stairways and rooms with bay bump-outs. There is also a finished attic which means anyone taller than 6 feet tall will be required to bend over a lot. Interesting point: it’s on one of the few cal-de-sacs in Belmont.

The first sentence of the sales pitch: Newly constructed in 2011, this beautiful townhouse offers you style & convenience within walking distance to the commuter rail, shopping and more.

68 Unity Ave. #2. Second-floor condominium (1924, renovated 2005). 1,152 sq.-ft. of livable space: 6 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1 baths. One-car space. Shared one-eighth of an acre. Price: $490,000.

What’s special: To start, you’re blessed to be the top unit. But there’s more then just the location of this town house. It was renovated just about 10 years ago and has kept its airy feel. OK, the kitchen space is a bit narrow but the person who did the renovation did spent a bit of money on the upscale glass cabinets and counter. There is also panel detail, central air, a really nice dining room and two bedrooms. But the real selling point for this condo is the multitude of windows, French doors and your very own porch. Nice way for a young couple or retired pair to spend the after work hours. And for Belmont, a great price. 

The first sentence of the sales pitchPeaceful, clean lines, flooded with natural light, move in ready-just what you are looking for.

Belmont Yard Sales on April 25-26


• Rummage sale, Plymouth Church, 582 Pleasant St.(Rt. 60), Saturday, April 25, 9 p.m. to 2 p.m.

25 Aberdeen Ave., Saturday, April 25, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

22 Brettwood Rd., Saturday, April 25, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 51 Slade St., Saturday, April 25, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, April 26, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Indoors

37 Stewart Terrace, Saturday, April 25, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Estate sale.

‘This Weekend’: American String Quartets, Rummage Sale, Taking on Homelessness

Photo: The Arneis Quartet (photo by Eugenia Chung)

• The Arneis Quartet will perform Anton Dvorak’s “The American” and other American music (Gardel’s Por Una Cabeza and Wallace’s pale reflections…) for string quartet in the Assembly Room of the Belmont Public Library on Saturday, April 25 at 3 p.m. as part of the Music on Saturday program sponsored by the Friends of the Belmont Public Library.

“As a relatively young quartet, they have already achieved something it often takes years to develop: a unique, collective sound which is as warm and full of sparkle as liquid gold.” said the Boston Musical Intelligencer.

Playfully named after the Arneis grape – a varietal that is difficult to grow, but which yields an exquisite white wine – the Boston-based quartet was hand-picked by the St. Lawrence String Quartet for its inaugural John Lad Prize.

The Arneis Quartet is made up of violinists Heather Braun and Rose Drucker, violist Daniel Dona, and cellist Agnes Kim. The Arneis Quartet is the faculty ensemble in residence at the Dana Hall School of Music.

• The annual Spring Rummage Sale at Plymouth Church on Pleasant Street will get underway Friday, April 24 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and continue on Saturday, April 25 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• The Tricommunity Coalition to End Homelessness is sponsoringThe Many Faces of Homelessness, a forum to discuss homelessness in the communities of Belmont, Waltham and Watertown on Sunday, April 26, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at St. Joseph Parish Hall, 130 Common St.

Belmont Softball Finds the Going Tough Against Established Teams

Photo: Junior third base Lia Muckjian.

After a quick start to the season, the Belmont High School Softball team took on the crucible of playing the better established softball programs in the Middlesex League which, it turned out, was a bit more than this young team was able to handle.

But unlike past years, the Marauder were competitive in each of most of the games during its four-game losing streak, including a 3-2 loss to non-league visitor, Cambridge Rindge and Latin, on a cold and breezy Thursday morning, April 23.

Belmont started off quickly with junior right fielder and lead off hitter Ani Hackett coming home with the game’s first run on junior shortstop Julia Rifkin‘s ground out.

Freshman pitching standout Christine MacLeod cruised through the CRLS Div. 1 squad in the first three innings, facing the minimum nine batters. But a two-out single in the fourth scored a pair for the Falcons in the top of the fourth to put them out ahead 2-1. 

On the Belmont side of the plate, despite singles by MacLeod, junior catcher Meghan Ferraro and second base Katrina Ruzzuto, the Marauders came up empty getting those players around to score.

In the bottom of the fifth, consecutive singles by junior third base Lia Muckjian, senior captain and first baseman Lauren Noonan and MacLeod brought in Belmont’s second run as Muckjian scored. But what appeared to be Belmont’s third run when Kate Lester, running for Noonan, seemingly beat out a wild pitch was taken back as she was called out by the umpire. (see photo here)


Cambridge would retake the lead on two singles and a fielders choice and Belmont could not muster a challenge in their final at bats. 

The team is currently 3-6 with games on Friday, April 24, away at Lexington, and Monday, April 27, home vs. Winchester. 

Belmont Commemorates Centennial of Armenian Genocide

Photo: The proclamation commemorating the Armenian genocide, April 21, (from left) Jim Williams, Jirair Hovsepian, Mon. Atamian, Sami Baghdady and Mark Paolillo. 

It’s remembered as “Medz Yeghern,” the “Great Crime”, the genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in present day Turkey in the midst of World War I. 

Historians said the mass extermination of Armenians began on April 24, 1915, the day Ottoman authorities arrested and later executing 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople.

To recognize the events of a century past, the Belmont Board of Selectmen issued a proclamation, the seventh in as many years, on April 21, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the deaths of more than a million Armenians. 

“It is an event that should never be forgotten,” said Selectmen Chair Sami Baghdady.

Before the proclamation was signed, a Belmont resident spoke out on why the town’s declaration was important.

“We will altogether stand up and raise our voices in a well-tuned unison,” Jirair Hovsepian, a Chandler Street resident, told the selectmen.


“We will continue to proclaim loud and clear that the organized annihilation of 1.5 million innocent people, our ancestors, is not the fruit of one nation’s imagination or a leisurely invented brutal fairy tale,” said Hovsepian, a member of Boston Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee

Home to generations of residents of Armenian heritage, Belmont has been a hub of expatriate activity and life, where survivors of the genocide – including Pastor Vartan Hartunian of the First Armenian Church in Belmont – would keep the experience alive. 

Monsignor Andon Atamian, the pastor of the Holy Cross Armenian Catholic Church in Belmont, said a prayer for the “martyred saints and our homeland.”

Hovsepian said the survival of the Armenian people “is a proclamation in itself,” ending by recalling the words of William Saroyan:

“Go ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a new Armenia.” 

Record Quarter Sends Belmont Savings Stock Soaring to All-Time High

Photo: A branch office of Belmont Savings Bank. 

It was a record-setting quarter for the holding company of Belmont Savings Bank as the Belmont-based state-chartered savings bank saw net income more than double compared to the same first three months in 2014. 

BSB Bancorp reported on Thursday, April 24, net income of $1.4 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2015, compared to $680,000, for the quarter ended March 31, 2014.

“We experienced a solid quarter across the bank and are well positioned for further improvement in profitability.” said Robert M. Mahoney, the bank’s resident and CEO. Since coming on board in 2010, Mahoney has lead the bank in tripling its assets under management.

After the report was released, the bank’s stock (BLMT) reached an all-time price high of $20.81. 

And that activity has grown the bank’s balance sheet to where total assets reached $1.47 billion as of March 31, a jump of $43 million (about three percent) in the past three months.

“Reaching $1 billion in deposits was a significant milestone for Belmont Savings. It was achieved through a consistent focus on relationship selling and targeted marketing by our retail, business banking, municipal banking and commercial real estate teams,” said Hal Tovin, the bank’s executive VP and COO.

In the past year, Belmont Savings has the distinction as being the fastest growing Massachusetts bank regarding asset growth without acquiring another financial institution. 

Net loan growth increased by $52 million, or 4.4 percent, in the first three months of 2015.

  • Residential one-to-four family loans, $26 million,
  • Commercial real estate loans, $16 million,
  • Construction loans, $9 million, and 
  • Home equity lines of credit, $3 million.

Long an institution in Belmont, the bank provides financial services to individuals, families, municipalities and businesses through six full-service branch offices located in Belmont, Watertown, Cambridge, Newton and Waltham. 

Poems, In Film, Novel: Trio of Belmont Authors In the Spotlight

Photo: A trio of authors are in the spotlight.

Three Belmont authors are in the spotlight for works being recognized, in progress and transformed into another art form.

Stephen Burt‘s collection of poems, “Belmont,” is named one of the 50 best American Poetry Books of the decade so far by editors of Flavorwire, which covers “the best in cultural news and commentary.”

“Known principally as a brilliant and generous critic, Burt also released one of the decade’s finer collections,” said the editors of the Harvard professor. 

• The first trailer from the upcoming movie, Black Mass,” has been released and is causing considerable buzz for the film based on the bestseller of the same name by Dick Lehr and co-author Gerard O’Neill. The 2011 book chronicled mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger’s alliance with the Boston office of the FBI and how he manipulated that relationship.

Here is the trailer with Johnny Depp as Bulger: 

• It’s been less than half a year since his last novel – “The Medallion” – was introduced, but nearly next month, Len Abram will see his latest book released.

Debris” focuses on the sinking of the Lusitania, the sister ship of the Titanic, by a German U-Boat off the coast of Ireland, the passengers on board and the three spies who coordinate the attack. 

The publication date of the novel, May 7, corresponds with the centennial of the Lusitania‘s sinking.

Noise Alert: Belmont Will Have a Voice on New MassPort Committee

Photo: Air traffic at Logan Airport. 

Belmont, along with Watertown and Arlington, will now have a seat on a new regional committee which will advise the operator of the airports in Boston, Bedford and Worcester on matters such as noise and air quality control. 

But it took a bit of legislative back tracking for the communities to be put on the committee.

With the support of several colleagues in both branches of the legislature, State Sen. Will Brownsberger passed an amendment to the supplemental budget adding representatives from the three town onto the MassPort Community Advisory Committee (MassPort CAC).

The Massport CAC is planning its first meeting later in the spring.

Residents have expressed their frustration on the growing amount of air traffic noise over the community since the Federal Aviation Authority re-routed air traffic patterns in which aircraft taking off from Boston’s Logan Airport proceeded over Belmont.

The Massachusett legislature voted to establish the Massport CAC in 2013 which will supersede the Logan Community Advisory Committee, which was created in 2002 as part of the Boston Logan Airport Noise Study and is about to end.

But when the MassPort CAC was created two years ago, Belmont, Arlington and Watertown were not included in the original list of represented communities. 

That misstep was rectified last week through the work of Brownsberger and State Reps Dave Rogers, Jonathan Hecht and Sean Garballey.

The MassPort CAC will be able to make recommendations to the governor and legislature, hold hearings, make recommendations to the MassPort Board of Directors and appoint a member to the MassPort Board.  

Although the Federal Aviation Authority has control over air traffic, MassPort controls airport operations and “the inclusion of Arlington, Belmont and Watertown on the CAC will ensure that our communities have a seat at the table,” said Brownsberger’s Legislative Aide Andrew Bettinelli.

Sold in Belmont: The Blue Colossus Colonial of Dalton Road

Photo: The Colossus of Dalton.

A weekly recap of residential properties sold in the past seven-plus days in the “Town of Homes.”

21 South Cottage Rd. Townhouse condominium (2010). Sold: $1,400,000. Listed at $1,499,900. Living area: 3,700 sq.-ft. 9 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths. On the market: 204 days.

185 Dalton Rd. Colonial (2014). Sold: $1,435,000. Listed at $1,450,000. Living area: 4,040 sq.-ft. 10 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. On the market: 72 days.

15 Albert Ave. Antebellum “Old Style” house (1853). Sold: $567,500. Listed at $649,900. Living area: 1,608 sq.-ft. 6 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths. On the market: 78 days.

11 Rayburn Rd. Ranch (1952). Sold: $950,000. Listed at $969,888. Living area: 1,983 sq.-ft. 7 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 3 baths. On the market: 82 days.

Drive down Dalton Road from Washington Street and you’ll encounter a familiar symmetry of houses in this typical residential neighborhood of Belmont, which for the past six decades has allowed generations of folks the ability to live in a community with great schools and safe streets.

But now … out of the ground … emerges … the blue Colossus of Dalton! In a community where homes max out at 2,000 square feet, this massive mass squats its 4,000 square feet of livable space down onto a 7,000 square-foot lot, like a fattened goose waiting to become foie gras.

This colonial-style house feed growth hormones lauds over the neighborhood, blocking out sunlight, depriving the neighbors of a view (other than a wall) and dominates the sight line of all the neighboring properties. This sort of house would look great … on a cul-de-sac in a gated community in Atlanta! It’s then appropriate to view the trio of third-floor, front-facing dormers as castle turrets, from where the new owner can view their “common” neighbors from the heights of this eighth wonder of East Belmont.

I have just one query for the architect: You forgot the moat.

And to boot, it’s visually and architecturally boring. It’s a box! I swear the designer must have graduated from the University of LEGO.

Simply put, the Colossus of Dalton is a crystal clear example of what can only be called space pollution – not the debris hovering above the earth, but a builder’s disregard of the neighbors and lot size to cram as much into a space that no one ever thought would be subjected to this level of land abuse.

In the past, big homes were to be placed on big lots, so not to impose yourself upon the community that was laid out with more modest housing in mind. If you wanted to build a big house in Belmont, head over to the Hill or Marsh Street. But not anymore. This construction of mostly shapeless mega-residentials is occurring throughout Belmont. A quick spin around Plymouth, Bradford, Arthur and Brighton will find four super-sized homes including what surely be the poster child of “big and ugly” at the corner of Arthur and Brighton.

Is it any wonder why many in the Shaw Estates neighborhood are rushing to next month’s Town Meeting to have a moratorium placed on similar buildings? (And not that this is a Belmont-centric reaction; the Los Angeles City Council has placed a two-year moratorium on McMansions in several neighborhoods.)

Why is this happening in Belmont? As they say, God isn’t making any more land, and developers are coming in to exploit that fact in a town many people still want to come to live.

Let’s make no mistake, this trend of mega-homes is only based on extracting a big profit without much effort. You need only look as far as the Colossus: The lot was once home to a six room, three bed, 1 and a 1/2 bath Garrison Colonial built in 1952 with 1,600 square feet of space. In 2013, developer Marsh & Oldham Homes purchases the building for $610,000, knocked it down, put up the “box” for $367,500, and takes off for home in Billerica with a tidy $500,000 profit. And the neighborhood is left with a blue Colossus too big for its lot’s britches.

And there’s the rub – they leave Belmont’s established neighborhoods with these oversized McMansions thumbing its noses at the need for privacy, proportionality, and community.

Does that mean there can never be new construction in Belmont. Of course not. In fact, there are three wonderful examples of new construction fitting into an existing neighborhood a two-minute walk from the Colossus on the Cambridge side of Grove Street: architect Keith Moskow’s “Red House” (a bit big at 2,800-square-feet but it could be scaled downward) adjacent to builder-developer Duncan MacArthur’s house detailed with plated copper and the former brick ranch at 161 Grove St. demolished to build a wonderful 2,600 square foot airy modern house.

Any of those would have been a welcome addition to a neighborhood.

The Cost of Too Much: Special Town Meeting To Pay $1.35 Million Snow Removal Bill

Photo: The bill for snow removal is double the allocated amount.

It costs a lot to push aside nine feet of snow.

And the town is setting aside time at next month’s annual Town Meeting to pay the bill for removing the record snow that fell on Belmont’s thoroughfares this season.

The Special Town Meeting article – a meeting within the assembly – will take up the $1,348,000 expense incurred by the town this winter, more than double the $600,000 allocated for snow and ice removal in the fiscal 2015 budget.

“Typically, we expect 45 to 60 inches of snow, not 108 inches,” David Kale, Belmont’s Town Administrator, told the Belmont Board of Selectmen during its meeting, Tuesday, April 21. 

The $748,000 needed to bridge the funding gap exceeds the entire $400,000 general reserve account held by the Warrant Committee to resolve shortages for all of the town’s departments and the schools.

This comes at a time when the school budget is running a $500,000 shortfall in its current budget due to a spike in special education costs and higher enrollment.

The town will resolve both funding deficits with a combination of reserve accounts, the town’s free cash account and stabilization funds, according to Kale.

The snow and ice overage will be paid by using free cash and a portion of the Warrant Committee reserve fund, while the school budget shortage will be taking from the SPED fund with the balance transferred from the Warrant Committee’s fund.