VIDEO: Belmont Resident Discuss Airplane Noise in Belmont, Region on NECN

Photo: Belmont’s Adriana Poole and Michael McLaughlin of Medford tell how a protest movement was born after a change in takeoff patterns at Logan Airport.

“Too many, too low, too loud,” Belmont resident Adriana Poole told host Sue O’Connell during an interview on New England Cable News’ “Broadside,” the network’s daily news analysis show, on Tuesday, Dec. 1, as she discussed how noise from planes taking off from Logan Airport has increased markedly over Belmont in the past three years due to changes imposed by the FAA.

A member of the activist group Boston West Fair Skies, Poole and fellow member Michael McLaughlin of Medford discussed the campaign to reduce the noise pollution that is creating a number of health issues for residents in communities impacted by the changes.

On Thursday, Dec. 3, US Rep Stephen Lynch (D-Boston) will host a public forum with the FAA and US Rep Katherine Clark at Milton High School to address growing complaints about the frequency and increased levels of airplane noise in local towns and neighborhoods that are impacted by Logan Airport air traffic.

See the video of the interview:


School Committee OK’s Land Survey for Possible Rink/Rec Center

Photo: The varsity softball field.

The promise of a new ice skating rink and multi-purpose recreation center serving Belmont’s residents and sports teams took a baby step forward as the Belmont School Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday, Dec. 1 to allow a survey of school-owned property near Belmont High School by the non-profit seeking to build the facility.

The decision gives permission for the Belmont Youth Hockey Association to hire a firm to perform evaluation work on school property currently occupied by the Belmont High Varsity Softball field to determine if the surface is suitable for the construction of a recreation center and ice surface. 

“It’s a small step forward, but it is forward,” said Bob Mulroy, who has become the association’s point person for the project, that would include an NHL-sized skating rink, a second “half” skating surface that transforms into a field house for half the year, modern locker rooms, a community fitness center, and many more amenities.

According to Belmont School Superintendent John Phelan, the land survey will allow the association to return to the committee with a more detailed and concrete feasibility study. 

The $6.5 million complex – which would include off-street, on-site parking – would be overseen by a non-profit public/private partnership that would incorporate a wide array of town departments, the school committee, youth hockey and funders on the board.

In exchange for the land to build the center, Belmont schools, and high school teams will have use of the facilities at no cost. 

Back Again: Cushing Village to Seek More Changes to Development Permit

Photo: The proposed Cushing Village development (left) and what is currently at the location (right).

Only three weeks after receiving an extension allowing it an additional year to construct its long-stalled project, the developers of the troubled Cushing Village residential/commercial/parking complex at Common Street and Trapelo Road will be back once again before the town’s Planning Board on Thursday, Dec. 3, as the project’s money backers are expected to demand modifications to the agreement to provide them even more legal and financial cover in the event the deal falls apart.

While neither the developer, Smith Legacy’s Chris Starr, nor the town’s point person on the project, the Office of Community Development’s Jeffrey Wheeler, would indicate what section of the extension requires altering, the one-year deadline of the special permit itself would not be affected, according to Sami Baghdady, chair of the Board of Selectmen. 

Baghdady led the Planning Board when it awarded the special permit to Starr in July 2013 to build a 164,000 sq.-ft. three-building development with 115 units of housing, shops and underground parking in the heart of Cushing Square.

This time, it’s the developer’s financial backers who are demanding the changes.

“It is my understanding that the proposed modifications to the one-year extension of the special permit are at the request of the developers’ lenders,” said Baghdady, who said the thrust of the revisions is to allow the lenders the opportunity to protect their interests in the event that the developer does not meet the time deadlines of the conditions.

But even Baghdady said the public will know the exact implications of the changes when the agenda item is taken up by the Planning Board.

“It is difficult to comment any further without the benefit of the developer’s presentation at the hearing,” said Baghdady.

Thursday marks the third time since August that the development team requested and received extensions and modifications to the special permit issued nearly 30 months ago. 

The latest extension, for 12 months, issued on Nov. 17, also stipulated the developers meet three strict deadlines as part of the agreement:

  • The developers must close on the deed for the municipal parking lot at a cost of $850,000 by Friday, Dec. 11,
  • Begin initial demolition on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, and
  • Seek a building foundation permit from the town by Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. 

The meeting’s timing is also somewhat interesting, as it will occur at the same time thousands of Belmont residents will be attending the annual “Turn on the Town” Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony taking place in Belmont Center, a block from Town Hall. 

Belmont Police has issued traffic bulletins advising residents of road closures in the Center including Leonard Street being closed at 5:30 p.m., making travel to Town Hall difficult. 

Traditionally, the Planning Board holds meetings on Tuesday evenings.

Nomination Papers Are Now Available For Town-Wide, Town Meeting

Photo: Town Clerk’s Office.

Nomination papers for the election of Town Meeting Members and Town-wide offices taking place at Belmont’s annual Town Election (Tuesday, April 5, 2016) are now available at the Town Clerk’s Office, located on the first floor of Town Hall.

The papers are due back to the Clerk for certification by Feb. 16, 2016 at 5 p.m.

Fifty certified signatures of registered Belmont voters are required for Town-wide office, 25 certified signatures of Belmont registered voters dwelling in the appropriate precinct are required for Town Meeting. It is always wise to obtain and provide at least 20 percent more signatures than the requirement to meet the certification minimums.

Getting Your Name on the Ballot

Running for election is simple. Have your neighbors and friends who are registered voters sign your papers and submit the signed forms to the Town Clerk by the deadline.

Town-wide Offices

To be considered a candidate for Town-Wide Office, you must be at least 18 years old and a registered voter of the Town of Belmont.

There are many Town-wide elected offices that will appear on the annual Town Election ballot. If you’re interested or want to share your skills in this way, you may file Nomination Papers until Feb. 16, 2016. 

The following is a list of elected Town-wide offices that will appear on the April 5 ballot:


elect one person for one year

Board of Selectmen

elect one member for three years

Board of Assessors

elect one member for three years

Board of Cemetery Commissioners

elect one member for three years

Board of Health

elect one member for three years
Members of the Housing Authority

elect one member for five years

elect one member of three years

Trustees of the Public Library

elect two members for three years

Members of the School Committee

elect two members for three years

Town Clerk

elect one person for three years

Representative Town Meeting: Representatives from Each of the Eight Voting Precincts

The elected term of a Town Meeting Member is three (3) years, though should a resignation occur, there may be openings for one (1), or two (2) year periods.

In addition to the Twelve Representative Town Meeting Members that are elected for three-year terms from each of our eight voting precincts, there are also several partial terms available.

  • Precinct 3 – elect one person for one year
  • Precinct 5 – elect one person for one year
  • Precinct 7 – elect three people for one year

Incumbent Town Meeting Members

Incumbent Town Meeting Members who intend to run for re-election must notify the Town Clerk by signing and returning the Intention Letter that is mailed to them by Jan. 26, 2016. Missing the return deadline means having to collect signatures on nomination papers.

New Candidates for Town Meeting Member

To be considered a new candidate for Town Meeting Member, you must be at least 18 years old and a registered voter of the Town of Belmont. If you are currently serving as a Town Meeting Member, who was elected at a caucus, not by Town ballot, you will need to submit nomination papers as a new candidate.

Signatures of at least 25 registered voters of your precinct are required on the nomination papers. The Town Clerk must certify these signatures, so we always suggest obtaining about 20% more just to be safe.

Withdrawing Your Name From the Ballot

If you have taken out nomination papers and the signatures have been certified, but you change your mind, you may remove your name from the ballot by notifying the Town Clerk in writing by the deadline.

Remembering Teddy Lee & Donny Ray: BHS Class of ’65 Donates $4K to Its Classmate’s Fund

Photo: From left, Classmate Bill Skelley, BHS  Class of 1965  50th Reunion Co-Chair David Crocker, Belmont High School Principal Daniel Richards, Assistant Police Chief Jamie MacIsaac, BHS  Class of 1965  50th Reunion Co-Chair Richard Semerjian and Town Treasurer Floyd Carman.

Nearly 140 former classmates came back to Belmont last month to celebrate their senior year at Belmont High now a half-century in the past.

The Belmont High School Class of 1965 held its 50th reunion at the Newton Marriott Hotel over the Columbus Day holiday. Along with the music, dancing and socializing, the leaders of the get-together wanted the class of nearly 350 members to help leave a lasting mark at its alma mater by honoring two of their own who gave their lives in Vietnam only a few years after graduating.

On Monday, Nov. 30, David Crocker and Richard Semerjian, the reunion co-chairs, presented a check for $4,000 in the name of the Teddy Lee & Donald Ray Scholarship Fund to Belmont High School Principal Daniel Richards and Belmont Treasurer Floyd Carman at a ceremony at Belmont Town Hall.

Joining them were a classmate and former Selectman Bill Skelley, who initiated the scholarship fund and Belmont’s Assistant Police Chief James MacIsaac, who son, Kyle, was a recipient of the award in 2013.

After his son had accepted the award, MacIsaac researched and wrote the biography of the two Belmont residents, who were also teammates on the undefeated 1964 Massachusetts Class B State Champions, and would later both enlist in the US Army, only to lose their lives within three years. The biography is below the article.

“Many sponsors and individual classmates were involved in this effort initiated by the original Maroon Marauders,” said Semerjian, of the football team that carried home a championship.

Teddy Lee and Donald Ray

by James MacIsaac

In 1964, a remarkable Belmont High School undefeated football team captured the Class B State Championship. This upcoming season will mark the fiftieth anniversary of that team’s run to greatness.  The ‘64 team is also historically significant for reasons that reach way beyond the hard work and preparation that goes into building a winning team.   

At a spring awards ceremony at Belmont High School this year (2013), my son, Kyle, was awarded the Teddy Lee and Donald Ray Memorial Scholarship. Knowing nothing of what these two young men had done or why there was a scholarship in both their names we set out to learn who they were.  

Edward “Teddy” Lee and Walter ”Donny” Donald Ray grew up in Belmont, were teammates on the 1964 Class B State Championship football team, graduated in 1965 and joined the army and were eventually sent to Vietnam.  As so often is the case when individuals join ranks and form teams there is always an individual who appears larger than life. Someone whose character and charisma sets him apart from the rest and Edward “Teddy” Lee was that someone.

Teddy grew up on Bradley Road with his two sisters. When Teddy was 10-years-old, his father passed away. According to Teddy’s younger sister, Barbara Hanley, Teddy took his father’s passing to heart and felt he needed to become the protector of not just the family but everybody.  Barbara said that even though Teddy took on the additional responsibilities, he did everything with a smile on his face.  Teddy spent his summer days working for Skippy Viglirolo and playing a variety sports with friends on Town Field.  When I began to ask those that knew Teddy in his youth, the adjective “legend” was used to describe him. He was physically imposing and good at everything but most of all he was a true friend and this made Teddy a very popular kid around Belmont. 

When Teddy was a freshman, he was a mere 5’3” 115-pound kid who was not allowed to play football. By his senior year of high school, Teddy had worked himself into a physically imposing stalwart on defense playing linebacker.  Teddy’s tenacity on defense helped the 1964 football team to go undefeated and win the Class B State Championship title. 

Teddy’s teammate and former Belmont Selectman Bill Skelley described Teddy as tough as nails and recalls that he had a never quit attitude that displayed itself at the end of the season when teammates learned that Teddy had played and finished the season with a broken foot. 

After graduation, Teddy could have gone on to play football at Northeastern University but instead chose to enlist the Army and serve his country in Vietnam.  During his first tour in Vietnam, Teddy was severely wounded in the leg and received two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star.  The wound was his ticket home, but Teddy reenlisted, this time joining a newly formed, volunteers only, Long Range Patrol (LRP) Field Force attached to the 101st Airborne.

It was September 1967 when fellow LRP Rick Ogden met Sgt. Edward Lee. Ogden was not aware that Edward Lee was called Teddy in Belmont.  In Vietnam, he was known simply as Lee.  According to Ogden, Lee was still fighting infection in his leg when he joined his unit. Ogden, who resides in Oklahoma, said Lee was one of the bravest and most fearless men I have ever known and a day does not go by that I don’t think of Lee. Ogden went on to tell me that on two separate occasions he found himself in dire combat situations along with Lee. He said on both occasions that Lee disregarded his personal safety and did what had to be done to tip the scales in their favor. In the eyes of the men that served with him, Lee was the ultimate combat soldier.  Rick paused and said, “I don’t like the term but for lack of better words, he was like. John Wayne-ish.” 

Having just a few months left to serve in Vietnam, Teddy Lee was set to embark on another stage of his life at Northeastern University in the fall of 1968. On May 13, 1968, Lee and his men were on a long-range patrol deep in the jungles of Binh Dinh Vietnam when a sniper’s bullet found him. 

I asked Ogden how the men in his outfit took the news of Lee being killed.  Rick said, “To be honest, in May 1968 a lot was happening in Vietnam.  More soldiers were killed in May 1968 than any other month, but Lee getting killed; that shocked all of us, and we were not easily shocked at that time.” 

When discussing Teddy’s death, his sister Barbara said, “Teddy lived life to fullest, and though he died young, he died full of life.” 

I asked Ogden if Lee was one to brag about his exploits or if being called “Hulk,” due to his muscular physique, led Lee to believe he was somehow above his fellow soldiers. He paused and said there were very few guys like Lee.  There were plenty of good soldiers that were not good people or friends, but Lee was special. He never bragged and was always counted on by his fellow soldiers. 

He said everybody in the outfit had “Lee” stories.  Mr. Ogden wanted the people of Belmont to know that Lee cared deeply about his friends and relatives in Belmont.  After one mission Gen. William Westmoreland happened to visit their area and Lee, and the General had quite a talk about their hometowns. Ogden also wanted us to know that Lee cared deeply for the Vietnamese people and took the time and interest to learn their language. 

I spoke with Paul MacAuley, who was a friend of both Teddy Lee and Donny Ray.  Paul also went to Vietnam as a soldier. Paul told me Donny Ray grew up on Oak Avenue and after graduating from Belmont High, Donny enlisted in the Army and joined the 173rd Airborne. Paul MacAuley said he was heartbroken when in November 1967, he learned that Donny Ray had been killed in a week’s long battle in Kontum, a bloody battle that would ultimately claim 158 soldiers Killed in Action and another 33 missing. When Paul learned that Teddy had been killed, he was shocked. To this day, he ponders how these two strong, tough kids were killed over there and he made it out. 

I had a conversation with Bill French, who grew up around Town Field and knew Teddy though he was younger than Teddy. Bill said Teddy was a legend to the younger kids.  He was strong, friendly and a great athlete. Bill told me a story about how his friends were playing baseball at Town Field when Teddy stopped by in full uniform on his way to his second tour. Bill said Teddy dropped his duffle bag, hopped the fence and asked if he could hit a couple and then went on the hit two monster home runs.  Teddy hopped back over the fence, picked up his bag and told the kids, “I’ll see you in a few months.”   That was the last time Bill French and his friends ever saw Teddy Lee.  

Skelley, former Belmont selectman, and teammate of Lee and Ray founded the scholarship in their name. Fifty years ago, Skelley, Lee and Ray played on a team that the Belmont Herald labeled “The finest team in history.” 

I’m glad Bill has been able to keep the scholarship going all these years and it demonstrates how competing in team athletics brings people together and often provides the opportunity for communities and individuals to connect across generational lines. Lee’s and Ray’s name are joined with seven other Belmont citizens on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. If you’re planning on visiting the Washington DC area this summer, please stop by the Vietnam War Memorial and take the time to touch the names of two Belmont’s residents who were teammates, friends, and heroes.   

Other Belmont residents killed in Vietnam:  Robert Larson, Allen John Eastman, David Hugh Holmes, John Clifford Chaves, Creighton Rooney Grant, Taher Fathi Ghats.

Opinion: Influence MBTA on Waverley By Writing to Gov’t Officials

Photo: Commuter rail leaving Waverley Station.

We last left off with Belmont Board of Selectmen Chair Sami Baghdady offering to the MBTA representatives a design charette with the Selectmen and an appointed  group of residents around the idea of making the Waverley Station handicapped accessible given the overwhelming public sentiments expressed at the “grande charette” held on Nov. 15 at the Beech Street Center.

Despite this apparent public response, I have a lingering notion that it will be of no consequence because the “fix is in” for a new station to be built on Pleasant Street as proposed by the MBTA in 2010 and now again in 2015.

So, I decided to personally tour each station on the Fitchburg line to see first hand what the accessibility status is of each station with the goal of trying to discern why the Waverley Station options under consideration by the MBTA are so extreme. 

(As a reminder,  they are currently simply closing the Waverley Station or building a new station on Pleasant Street, concurrently  closing Waverley and eventually closing the Belmont Station. Here are the results of the survey:)

There are sixteen stops between and including Fitchburg and Belmont

  • One (Kendall Green) has a locked station in disrepair with a rudimentary platform, no handicap access and no parking 
  • One ( Hastings) is a railroad crossing with no station, shelter, platform or parking.              
  • Two (Littleton and South Acton) have the full build out high platforms and handicap access proposed for the “new” Pleasant Street station. Both have extensive parking (300 spots plus) lots, but not garages. 
  • Two (Fitchburg and North Leominister) have “mini-high” platforms with ramps for handicap access and four story parking garages with elevators.
  • Three (West Concord, Brandeis/Roberts, and Waltham)  have “mini-high” platforms with ramps for handicap access, but limited parking
  • Three (Shirley,  Ayer, and Silver Hill)  have a station-like “shelters,” limited parking and rudimentary platforms with no handicap access,
  • Four (Lincoln, Concord, Waverley, Belmont)  have stations and platforms with no handicap access and limited parking

Briefly, we can summarize:

  1. Two of the stops on the Fitchburg line between the Fitchburg and Belmont Stations have the full buildout proposed for the Pleasant Street location or $30 million Waverley and both have 300-plus parking lots that are not possible at either the Pleasant Street or Waverley locations.
  2. Five stations have mini high platforms and ramps for handicap access. 
  3. Four stations including Waverley and Belmont could have mini high platforms and ramps providing handicap access at the platform level.
  4. Five stops are just stops and are unlikely ever to be upgraded to stations.  
Briefly, we can conclude:
  1. Practically speaking,  there are only 11 stops that could be considered for the station upgrade the MBTA is proposing for the Pleasant Street location or Waverley Station.
  2. However, large-scale parking lots or garages are required to justify such stations, and neither Pleasant Street nor Waverley meets this hurdle.
  3. Alternatively, the MBTA could install mini high platforms with ramp access at the platform level at the Lincoln, Concord, Waverley, and Belmont Stations.
  4. Platform access would have to be provided at the Waverley and Belmont Stations, but not at the Lincoln or Concord stations as the platforms are at street level in these locations.  
  5. As a result, 100 percent of the 11 stops between Fitchburg and Belmont would be handicap accessible at the platform level.  

So, what can be done?  

As stated in my opening comments, I’m not optimistic that a governmental response will rule the day on this question.  However, it is given that handicap access is a civil right, not an option and using the above approach we can see that the MBTA could achieve a 100 percent handicap access coverage of the Fitchburg line by simply changing the approach to installing mini high platforms in the four remaining stations and providing platform access for Waverley and Belmont. 
I urge concerned residents to organize a coalition of Watertown, Waltham, and Belmont residents to influence the MBTA to move in this direction by writing your municipal representatives, state representatives, Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito, Congressional representatives, the MBTA and the Mass AAB. I think it will take, at the least, 2,000 letters to be successful.
Disclaimer:  This is my opinion and I have not discussed the content of this letter with either Sami Baghdady or Mark Paolillo.
Jim Williams, Selectman
Glenn Road