Letter to the Editor: Join Me Voting For Kim O’Mahony on Tuesday

Photo: Kim

To the editor:

On Tuesday, April 5, I will be voting for Kim O’Mahony, a 12-year Belmont resident, for School Committee. Here’s why.

  • First, Kim has a business background and is well equipped to deal with the budget, to oversee the upcoming contract negotiations, and to understand the constraints of managing expenses in a Prop. 2 ½ climate.
  • Second, Kim has professional experience in early childhood education. In fact, she runs a child care center.  She clearly understands the diverse needs of Belmont’s children.
  • Lastly, Kim is an energetic, committed, and approachable member of the community. She will deal with the matters at hand in a civil, balanced, and heartfelt way.

When I think of the ideal candidate to serve on the School Committee, I think of Kim. A business background, an expertise in education, and a long-standing member of this community.

Please consider joining me in casting a vote for Kim! Thank you.

Lisa Gibalerio

Chandler Street

Candidate’s Final Pitch: Andrea Prestwich for School Committee

Photo: Andrea Prestwich

Belmont schools are world-class. I’m in awe of our teachers, the achievements of our students and families who support them. I hope to serve on the School Committee because I’m committed to maintaining excellence in our schools. Belmont schools face tough challenges over the next few years, including a space crunch, increasing enrollment and a new high school. The school committee needs to make smart decisions and look for creative solutions to these problems. Most importantly, the school committee should be unanimous in maintaining funding and take a leadership role in advocating for a new high school. 

Another important issue is school start times. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control both recommend that middle and high schools should start later to allow kids to get the sleep they need. Recently, superintendents in the Middlesex Athletics League, including Belmont, signed an agreement to transition to later start times. I totally support the superintendent’s initiative and, If elected, I will work very hard to make later start times a reality. 

My day time job is in astrophysics. I am a member of the team that manages the Chandra X-ray Observatory. I have learned how large organizations work, how to negotiate, how to work with diverse people with different perspectives. I understand how to work through the ramifications of policy decisions while keeping focused on critical goals. I have overall responsibility for a $10 million dollar budget. I believe that my policy and budgetary experience will be invaluable on the School Committee, which sets policy for Belmont schools and approves the school budget.

I would be honored to serve on the school committee and if elected will work hard for our schools and the health and well-being of our children. I respectfully ask for your vote on April 5. 

Sold in Belmont: Pricey Per Square Foot in Waverley

Photo: How much per square foot?

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33-35 Lawndale St Unit 33, Condominium (1921). Sold: $462,000.

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51 Stella Rd., Mid-century contemporary (1961). Sold: $1,250,000.

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28-30 Lewis Rd., Arts & Crafts two-family (1924). Sold: $1,065,000.

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2 Lambert Rd., Colonial (1930). Sold: $1,300,000.

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159 Beech St. Condominium (1913). Sold: $415,000.

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45 Dartmouth St. Unit 2, Condominium (1900). Sold: $380,000.

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8 South Cottage Rd., Unit 63, Townhouse condominium (2008). Sold: $1,320,000.

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79-81 Waverley St., Barracks-style two family (1974). Sold: $1,320,000.

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

• 33-35 Lawndale St Unit 33, Condominium (1921). Sold: $462,000. Listed at $425,000. Living area: 1,182 sq.-ft. 6 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1 baths. On the market: 31 days.

• 51 Stella Rd., Mid-century contemporary (1961). Sold: $1,250,000. Listed at $1,250,000. Living area: 1,162 sq.-ft. 6 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths. On the market: 199 days.

• 28-30 Lewis Rd., Arts & Crafts two-family (1924). Sold: $1,065,000. Listed at $959,000. Living area: 3,326 sq.-ft. 14 rooms, 7 bedrooms, 3 baths. On the market: 54 days.

• 2 Lambert Rd., Colonial (1930). Sold: $1,300,000. Listed at $1,475,000. Living area: 3,825 sq.-ft. 10 rooms, 5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths. On the market: 66 days.

• 159 Beech St,, Condominium (1913). Sold: $415,000. Listed at $419,000. Living area: 1,005 sq.-ft. 4 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1 baths. On the market: 72 days.

• 45 Dartmouth St. Unit 2, Condominium (1900). Sold: $380,000. Listed at $329,900. Living area: 695 sq.-ft. 4 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1 baths. On the market: 72 days.

• 8 South Cottage Rd., Unit 63, Townhouse condominium (2008). Sold: $1,320,000. Listed at $1,359,000. Living area: 2,857 sq.-ft. 8 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. On the market: 74 days.

• 79-81 Waverley St., Barracks-style two family (1974). Sold: $1,320,000. Listed at $1,359,000. Living area: 2,857 sq.-ft. 8 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. On the market: 74 days.

It’s a tiny place, a condominium that is half the size of most apartments. Just under 700 square feet. And on a square foot basis, one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in Belmont.

The condo on Dartmouth Street has five rooms, two bedrooms (the living room can be transformed into a third bedroom) and a single full bath. They squeezed a clothes washer in the kitchen, which also serves as a dining room. This is less cozy that really tight. It has been pretty much gut rehabbed, so it doesn’t feel like you’re living in an 115-year-old structure. Oh, and you’re on the second floor. 

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The Dartmouth location is nothing like the condo that sold in the Woodlands this past week, one of those townhouses that is better situated outside of Houston with its vast open spaces – do you need a 20-foot ceiling? With approximately 2,900 sq.-ft., there’s enough room to park an RV inside.

But when comparing how much to get for the price you paid, the upscale home has nothing on the Waverley Square condo as its $380,000 price tag brings the dollar-per-area ratio to $547 per square foot or about $90 more per square foot than the South Cottage Road unit. Belmont, Mass. is catching up with a Silicon Valley bedroom community named Belmont, California for similar-sized property.

Compare that to the condo on Lawndale, which is roomier – nearly 500 more square feet and two extra rooms – with a fireplace, central air and is on the first floor. The ratio: $395 per sq.-ft. 

And unlike the South Pleasant Street condo, which sold for a $39,000 discount off its initial listing price, the Dartmouth condo saw a nearly $20,000 increase from the first asking price. 

The story here is that unless there is a way to bring more affordable housing to Belmont – new construction, incentives to developers or through a total collapse of the housing market – people will be paying a greater percentage of their income for whatever is available, especially someone looking for good schools and safe community.

Letter to the Editor: Why Belmont Should Vote for Kim O’Mahony

To the editor:

Belmont voters should head to the polls on April 5, 2016 and remember to vote for Kim O’Mahony for School Committee. 

Kim is qualified to serve on the School Committee for several reasons. First, as a mother of three students, she has a deep understanding and commitment to the schools. Second, running her own early childhood education business provides a genuine understanding of budgeting and expenses associated with education. Finally, she has been attending school committee meetings and understands the role of the school committee in overseeing the budget, superintendent and establishing policies for the schools.

I first met Kim when she was one of several candidates for an appointment to the School Committee in the fall of 2014. Kim answered the questions posed by the School Committee and Selectmen well and understood the role of the school committee in town government at that time.  During this election season Kim continues to provide thoughtful answers that truly show her understanding of the functions and role of the school committee. 

While I will gladly serve with any of the three candidates, the one who I believe will thrive as a member is Kim O’Mahony.  I hope you all head to the polls and vote for Kim O’Mahony. 

Susan Burgess-Cox

Radcliffe Road 

Why I’m Running: Paul Rickter for Housing Authority

Photo: Paul Rickter
My name is Paul Rickter and I’m running for Belmont Housing Authority. I’m a Town Meeting member and I live with my wife on Cross Street. Professionally I’m a programmer and I work for a software company called MEDITECH in Westwood.
There are three reasons why I’m running for Housing Authority.
One is my commitment to safe clean affordable housing. Affordable housing is an important part of the fabric of our community.
Two is my depth of experience serving on non-profit boards. I’ve served for 25 years on various boards, including 10 years on the national board of the Unitarian Universalist Association. I’ve chaired boards; I’ve chaired finance committees; I’ve chaired staff search committees. My board experience has taught me several lessons about leadership. One is that, especially on a small board like the Housing Authority, every member can and needs to take a leadership role.
Three is that I can forge creative solutions that make a difference in people’s lives. Writing software is about assessing problems, breaking down the issues into their component parts, and devising solutions for them. Low-income families trying to make ends meet are not ones and zeros, but the discipline of working through a problem and finding a creative solution is a skill that is definitely applicable to the Housing Authority. 
I am sure that my commitment, experience, and ability to forge creative solutions make me an ideal candidate for Belmont Housing Authority. I ask you for your support on April 5.

School Committee Question of the Week: Should Schools Adopt A Naming Rights Policy

Photo: from left, Murat Bicer, Kimberly O’Mahony, Andrea Prestwich

This week’s Question of the Week for the School Committee:

Many school districts have embracing naming rights on school district-owned property. Naming rights occur when a company or firm purchases the right to place its name and/or logo on a facility or event for a defined period of time. The TD Garden – the sports arena in Boston where the professional teams play – is a nearby example. School districts around the country are moving in this direction – recently Aspen, Colorado – with some agreements reaching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, mostly to name athletic facilities (or ads on the side of school buses) after a local firm. The money from the namings is mostly targeted towards long-term financial goals. Q: Where do you stand on establishing a naming rights policy for Belmont and would you promote it?

Murat Bicer

The question of selling naming rights to companies to bring in revenue to our district deserves strong consideration. The Financial Task Force report published in early 2015 points to naming rights as a possible source of funds, and lays out a number of critical questions that need to be answered satisfactorily either in by-laws or in any contract with corporate sponsors. I agree that each of these questions is important. I also believe the process by which we develop by-laws and consider sponsors should be transparent and include community participation. The people of Belmont want a healthy school district.  The Committee and district need to have open, cordial, and continual discussions with residents on how to make that happen.  We’re lucky to have generous local businesses who already support our schools through partnerships with the Foundation for Belmont Education, through the performing arts, and on the athletic fields. I commend the FTF for thinking carefully about expanding these partnerships.

Kimberly O’Mahony

Establishing a naming rights policy for Belmont could be a creative way to increase revenue for the District. That being said, specific rules would need to apply to ensure the sponsor’s message agrees with the message of the schools. There are certain categories of companies that would not be suitable such as alcohol or tobacco. Belmont would need to recognize the incredible value it would be providing the sponsor by offering exposure to a new generation of consumers, and realize the proper compensation for that exposure. There would be many other considerations to take into account when creating such a policy, but I would not be against investigating it as an option for Belmont.

Andrea Prestwich

Belmont schools face significant financial challenges in the next few years, including construction of a new High School. Given this reality, I think we should be open to “name rights” deals on big-ticket items. However, before we go down this road the School Committee needs to craft careful policies pertaining to naming rights.  We obviously do not want to name a facility for a tobacco company or gun manufacturers. We also need to protect ourselves from so-called first amendment lawsuits if we reject a sponsor, for example, the Klu Klux Klan won the right to be included in an “Adopt a Highway” program in Missouri. We need to be able to withdraw from a deal if it turns sour. What if we named the new new High School gymnasium for a sports clothing manufacturer who later was discovered to be using child labor? 

One of the most significant downsides to commercial naming is that we lose a sense of community ownership. Think of Joey’s Park or the pool. We could have “sold” the naming rights to these facilities.   Thanks to the vision of a few local leaders, they were rebuilt with the participation of the whole community, including local businesses. The impact of such “barn raising” efforts goes far beyond a new pool and playground. They contribute to a sense of pride in, and ownership of, our town. They encourage us all to be good citizens. My preference is to keep Belmont schools owned by a partnership of citizens and local  businesses rooted in our community.

Letter to the Editor: Variety of Reasons to Support Prestwich for School Committee

Photo: Andrea Prestwich.

To the editor:

We are writing in support of Andrea Prestwich for a three-year term on the Belmont School Committee. Her professional background makes her eminently well qualified for that position; among other responsibilities, she oversees projects and manages a multimillion dollar budget for the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and she serves on the committee that advises the Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute on policies about the Hubble Space Telescope. In these roles, she has demonstrated an ability to work in a committee context to formulate policy and to think critically about the implications of that policy.

We have known Andrea, husband Steve, and their twins for more than six years through singing in our church choir and many happy hours in various activities at our church. We have thoroughly enjoyed workshops she has led on aspects of astrophysics, where we have experienced first-hand her excellent communication skills in making complex topics accessible.  

Having two children in our schools, she has always taken a keen interest in issues before the school committee; she is passionately committed to Belmont kids. We believe Andrea’s depth of experience and skill in working with others, as well as her excellent communication skills, warm personality and understanding of current educational issues would make her an invaluable member of the Belmont School Committee. We will be enthusiastically voting for Andrea on April 5 and urge you to do the same.

David Warner and Mary Beekman

Kilburn Road  

Sports: Belmont Rugby Starts Season With Win Over AC, 43-0

Photo: Before the game Friday.

The young men and women of Belmont High School Rugby Club started its 2016 season with a convincing win over Arlington Catholic High School, 43-0, on the pitch at Harris Field on Friday, April 1.

The most successful Massachusetts public school playing rugby XV – Belmont won a Division 1 state championship in 2013 and a Division 2 title in 2011 while going to three consecutive state finals from 2013-2015 – Belmont will have a special Saturday matinee (Saturday, April 9 at 2 p.m.) when the team takes on an always strong Needham High squad at Harris Field. 

And set aside “Tax Day” Friday, April 15 as the team hosts Boston College High in a rematch of last year’s state championship. The game is at 7 p.m. and will be a humdinger. 


Why I’m Running: Murat Bicer for School Committee

Photo: Murat Bicer

Hello, I’m Murat Bicer and I’m running for School Committee. My family and I deeply value public school education and I’m grateful that my children will benefit from Belmont’s excellent schools.

Over the next term of office, the School Committee will be faced with a number of important challenges.

Primary among these challenges are:

  • The need to manage rapidly increasing enrollment
  • The opportunity to build a new high school and share the costs with the Commonwealth
  • Teacher contract negotiations

Some of these challenges are structural which means we need to find long-term, sustainable solutions, and not just short-term fixes. We need to stretch our override dollars as far as they will go and question all the assumptions in our budget.

As an experienced venture capitalist and a father of two, I believe I’m uniquely qualified to do just that. And that’s why I am running.

I have over a decade of professional experience in financial management, strategic planning, and contract negotiations. Specifically, I have served on the boards of over a dozen companies. I routinely review and approve financial and operational plans. I have negotiated numerous employment contracts, as well as investment deals. And finally, I’ve served as the Treasurer of my children’s preschool for the last five years.

It is this range of experience that I can bring to the School Committee to make a difference for the future of Belmont’s schools.

I appreciate your support and, if elected, look forward to working hard for Belmont.

Belmont High’s Art Show Saturday Night at Beth El Temple

Photo: Art that will be presented on Saturday, April 2.

Artist from Belmont High School are presenting their Second Annual Art Show this Saturday, April 2, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The show will take place at the Beth El Temple Center, 2 Concord Ave. and feature work from students in Advanced Placement, Art Honors, photography, sculpture and ceramics. 

The night will include performances by Ben Jones, Jack Merullo and Nic Neves, Kail Pelicane, slam poetry by Francesca Pellegrini and more.

Bring your kids for fun activities, free art, music, poetry and food.

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