Triple ‘A’ Play: Belmont Again Receives Highest Credit Rating

Photo: Town Treasurer Floyd Carman

On April 14, Belmont once again received the coveted Triple A (Aaa) credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service.

Belmont joins some select company, being one of only 14 Bay State municipalities (out of approximately 350 communities) with a triple-A ranking, including Bedford, Boston, Cambridge, Lexington, Wayland and Winchester.

The reason Belmont continues – now in its second decade holding a Aaa rate – to secure the gold standard of credit ratings is relatively straightforward, according to the official in charge of Belmont’s fiscal health.

“Hard work and solid prudent disciplined financial management is the recipe” for earning the top ranking, said Floyd Carman, the town’s treasurer and tax collector.

In Moody’s view, the rate derived from the town’s strong fiscal foundation.

 “The Aaa rating reflects the town’s healthy financial operations and reserve position, a moderately-sized tax base with strong wealth levels and close proximity to New England’s largest employment center, and manageable debt burden. The rating also incorporates aggressive funding of its moderate pension liability,” Moody’s wrote in April.

A municipal bond rating is a measure of the creditworthiness of a town or state, similar to credit ratings for individuals. The better the bond rating, the lower the interest rate.

For Belmont residents, maintaining the top rating will be crucial as the town moves closer to renovate and building new construction at Belmont High School and other debt-heavy capital projects in the near future.

“Maintaining this rating through the [High School] financing timeline of fiscal                                                                                                            2019-2021 is important,” said Carman. 

“The financial benefits depend on the interest rates and reoffering premium payments could save the town $2 million over 30 years.”

While Moody’s forecasts Belmont’s fiscal future as being “stable” over the near term, it points out factors that could lead to a downgrade including:

  • Multi-year trend of operating deficits resulting in reserve declines,
  • Substantial growth in the debt burden, and 
  • Failure to address long-term liabilities.

Sports: Trey Butler Breaks School LAX Career Scoring Mark

Photo: Trey Butler and his teammates after Butler broke the school’s scoring record

It took four years to accomplish but finally on a wet, cold Saturday afternoon, Belmont High School’s senior Richard “Trey” Butler became the top career points scorer in Boys’ Lacrosse when he racked up his 267th point – an assist – in a 12-5 loss to Brookline.

“I wish we could have competed better today, but it’s pretty awesome,” said Butler after the game which saw Belmont’s record slide to 5-7.

Known for his work rate and a deadly shot from mid-distance, Butler said he could not have accomplished his goal without the work of his teammates “who really stepped up this year.”

“Other teams know that I’m a dodger [an offensive player who drives to the opponent’s goal with the ball while evading and passing defenders] so this year I’ve been making more assists,” he said.

“I think he’s the hardest working player on the team, and that’s a testament to his tirelessness,” said Head Coach Josh Streit, who said Butler is the first player he coached who has started varsity in every game of his four years in the program.

“[Butler] is truly an outlier,” said Streit, referring to the book written by Malcolm Gladwell. “He puts in hundreds of hours of practice in the fall and winter so that he can be the elite player.”  

Belmont Town Meeting Rejects $144 Million Minuteman Funding Proposal

Photo: The vote at Town Meeting.

With many members expressing a great amount of frustration with the process and the school’s administration, Belmont Special Town Meeting voted down the $144 million bond issuance plan for a new Minuteman Career and Technical High School building, 141-81, Wednesday night, May 4.

The overwhelming rejection of the project now places the future of the 628 student school in jeopardy as Belmont appear likely to be the only one of 10 communities in the Minuteman School District to vote against the plan.

“[T]his is the wrong school at the wrong time,” said Belmont Board of Selectmen’s Chair Mark Paolillo, who spoke against the plan which would have saddled Belmont with an annual bill of $350,000 to $500,000 to pay for its portion of the nearly $100 million to build the school.

Paolillo said approving a new school among the ten communities would end any meaningful incentive for cities and towns, including Watertown, Waltham, Medford, and Everett, outside the district that sends nearly 45 percent of the student population to join the district and help pay for the building.

While voicing its disappointment with the vote, leaders of the Minuteman administration contend they will move forward with the project and will push for the final two towns – Arlington and Needham – whose Town Meetings vote on Monday, May 9, “to stay the course” and approve the funding proposal, said Dr. Edward Bouquillon, Minuteman’s superintendent.

The Town Meeting vote – coming after two hours of presentations and debate – indicated that Minuteman could not close the deal with Belmont voters, as it was already starting behind the 8-Ball after the Board of Selectmen (unanimously), the Warrant Committee (8-6) and Capital Budget Committee (6-1) recommended “unfavorable action” in the article. 

Jack Weis, a Town Meeting Member from Precinct 1 and Belmont’s representative to the Minuteman School Committee, presented the case for accepting the plan for replacing the deteriorating existing facility that has aged since it was built in 1974.

Since 2010, the school has been conducting a feasibility study that resulted in the administration would not support building a school for less than 600 students as it would limit the number of fields of study which they contend is critical to attracting students to fill the building. Weis told the assembly that building a school for about 400 students would cost about $120 million, which is not much savings. 

While Weis admitted he believes the building is too big, “I get tripped up” when asking himself “will be better off if we vote ‘no?’” With nothing on the horizon in alternatives for Belmont students now and in the future, the better path, said Weis, was to seek approval of the new school funding.

Paolillo countered Weis and Minuteman, saying while he was prepared to vote ‘yes’ for a facility that met the needs and demands of the ten member districts, a 628-student building proposal was far too big for the municipalities who would be backing the bonds to fund the structure.

“I just can’t get to yes with a $144 million building,” said Paolillo, noting that the funding would need to be paid for via a debt exclusion vote, likely on the same ballot in 2018 as the possible $100 million debt exclusion for the renovation and new construction of Belmont High School. 

Paolillo did not believe a “no” vote would kill a new building, just allow communities to continue negotiations.

“Maybe I’m an optimist, but I think that we can strike a new deal,” he said, rejecting the call by some that Belmont leaves the district and find an alternative school or program to educate the 26 students currently attending Minuteman.

When the floor was opened to residents, most speakers spoke of a frustration born of wishing to support vocational and technical education yet being unable to back the only project placed before them.

Bob McLaughlin, of Precinct 2 who with Paolillo and Weis worked on Belmont’s task force to the district, hammered the deal accusing the Minuteman administration of building a “Cadillac” school – it would become the most expensive vocational school in the Commonwealth if built – which could cost Belmont as much as $36,000 per student tuition but only if the school reaches the 628 maximum. 

Long a critic of a larger high school building, McLaughlin said assertions by the Minuteman administration that out-of-district communities would pay their fair share of the capital expenses with a surcharge or by joining the district will not occur after the funding is OK’d.

“We are going to repeat history. The non-member towns are going to get a free load or a much cheaper load on the backs of the member towns,” he said.

Some members defended the proposal for the sake of all the students “who want more than doing college prep courses,” said 

Roy Epstein, Pct. 6, and Warrant Committee member (who was one of the six “yes” votes) said there is no contingency plan [if it leaves the district] and we will have 60 days to decide to leave and then to do what? No one knows.”

Epstein said the town should take the risk that out-of-town communities will want to secure student spots in a brand new school by joining the system, “and build a new school.” 

Carolyn Bishop, Pct. 1, said she had not heard any options for Minuteman. “What do we do with the students we can’t send because we didn’t approve a new school?”

“How can we meet the needs that Minuteman currently provides?” Bishop said, adding that she would “rather see something too large, we never erred on the side of too large. There are always ways to fill the spaces.”

But it soon became apparent that even members who were inclined to back the building plan due to the numerous questions that could not be answered.

Some pointed to the declining enrollment at Minuteman – a steady fall from 1,200 district students in the late 1970s to only 331 today – while other technical schools around the state are filled. Others focused on the non-member communities and their lack of cooperation in paying for the school. 

“It’s starting to feel like this whole concept of member towns is totally ludicrous,” said Suzanne Robotham, Precinct 2, suggesting the town leaves the district and send the 26 students at the reduced rate. 

Then there was the concern of which school the town should

“We may have only one realistic opportunity to go to the till of Belmont voters and ask for money, and my laser focus is on the 1,200 than the 26,” said Peter Whitmer from Precinct 6.

In the end, the combination of what many believed to be an oversized school without the assurances that it could be filled sent the proposal to a crushing 60 vote defeat. 

A ‘Pitch’ For Mother’s Day Flowers in Belmont Center

Photo: The girls, the flowers.

What better way to brighten up a rainy Mother’s Day than with a bouquet of flowers, a bunch of roses or a pot of color. And you don’t have to travel further than Belmont Center as The Friends of Belmont Softball are hosting their annual Mother’s Day Flower Sale at the Belmont Lions Club at the foot of the MBTA Commuter Rail station just off Common Street in Belmont Center.

Come by to purchase some beautiful flowers and support the Belmont High School varsity and junior varsity teams.

The tulips and mix bouquets are $8 for a bunch, $15 for two, the roses are $12 and the potted plants are priced as marked.

The flowers will be on sale starting today, 

  • Saturday, May 7 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 
  • Sunday, May 8, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Get them now as they will sell out by Sunday.

Shakespeare On Sunday: ‘Twelfth Night’ For Kids, By Kids

Photo: Boston Theater Company’s Teen Touring Troupe.

What better way to introduce your children or teens to the greatness of the Bard than with a performance from their peers? 

Boston Theater Company’s Teen Touring Troupe will stage a free production of William Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night” at the Belmont Public Library this Sunday, May 8 at 2 p.m.

Join the troupe of teenage actors in Illyria, the setting of this classic comedy, where a shipwreck, a disguise, multiple mistaken identities, a clever trick, a challenge to a duel, and many mixed messages create one hilarious tale.

In a production directed by former Belmont resident Sophie Rich and features Belmont High School 9th grader Abby Mohr, the company of actors in 6th through 11th grade will perform an hour-long version of this Shakespeare masterpiece. The show is recommended for ages 8 and up.  


LIVE: Special Town Meeting, May 4

Photo: Proponents of the Minuteman Tech School funding out in force.

7:30 p.m.: It’s time to convene the Special Town Meeting in which members will discuss and vote on three articles:

  1. funding for a new Minuteman Regional High School,
  2. conveying $1.75 million from the sale of Woodfall Road to the Belmont High School Building Committee for a feasibility study
  3. Take $1.45 million out of free cash to pay for six modular classrooms to be placed at the Chenery.

But first recognition of Richard Betts’ contribution to the town.

The $144 million Minuteman funding project is not finding any love among town committees: voted unfavorably by the Board of Selectmen, Warrant Committee, and the Capital Budget Committee. 

The articles will be heard in reverse order with Minuteman to end the night. 

7:42 p.m.: The proclamation for Dick Betts, “Mr. Belmont.”Passionate of Belmont’s history, author of several books on this town, and Town Engineer. 

7:47 p.m.: Article 3 is up, the modular classrooms. Selectmen, Warrant, and Capital Budget all unanimously approves the transfer. Superintendent John Phelan explains that enrollment continues to skyrocket, and it was decided that modular will relieve pressure on the school where rooms not built for learning are being used. 

Mike Lebinson, chair of the Warrant Committee, gives a talk about free cash. The town should have on hand about three percent of the last year’s budget or about $3 million. The town has about $7.6 million of free cash as of July 1, 15. So in June during the budget Town Meeting, the town is looking to spend $1.45 million on the modular, $1.7  on fiscal ’17 budget allocation and $317,000 for OPEB, which leaves $4.1 million, well above the recommended amount. 

Chris Doyle, Pct. 1, with nothing said about a permanent fix, are modular a long-range solution. Phelan said with the building of the new high school; it will give an opportunity to find a long-term solution throughout the system. David Alper, Pct. 6, said this will not increase the number of teachers, just make learning easier.

The vote is taken and … the article passes 237-5.

8:02 p.m.: Now Article 2: This will give the $1.75 million that came from the sale of town-owned property off Woodfall Road to the BHS Building Committee so it can have a feasibility study performed. Selectmen, Warrant, and Capital Budget all voted unanimously to pass the article. William Lovallo, the chair of the BHSBC, gives an overview of what the committee will be doing over the next two years. The amendment, by Selectmen Jim Williams, would change the funding source to the Kendall Insurance Fund. Williams said there were three options to fund the feasibility study with a short-term bond, free cash or the Kendall fund which is from the insurance settlement from the Kendall school. The Woodfall Road money would go into free cash. Williams said the article was only presented to allow Town Meeting a choice what to use.

Mark Paolillo, selectman chair, said the $1.75 million is one-time money which would have been placed into a Capital Stabilization Fund, which supports capital needs of four major capital needs: the new High School, DPW, Police, and Library. Back a year ago, Ann Marie Mahoney, chair of the CBC, said the Woodfall Road money would be going into these funds anyway. Paul Roberts, Pct. 1, said since there are two accounts performing the same task, why not take funds from Kendall fund and place it in the Capital Stabilization Fund. Paolillo likes that idea. 

Back a year ago, Ann Marie Mahoney, chair of the CBC, said the Woodfall Road money would be going into these funds anyway. Paul Roberts, Pct. 1, said since there are two accounts performing the same task, why not take funds from Kendall fund and place it in the Capital Stabilization Fund. Paolillo likes that idea. 

Paul Roberts, Pct. 1, said since two accounts are performing the same task, why not take funds from Kendall fund and place it in the Capital Stabilization Fund. Paolillo likes that idea.

Julie Crockett, Pct. 5, said why not pay for the feasibility study with the Kendall fund and then place the Woodfall Road money into the Debt Stabilization Fund. 

Williams once again reiterates that we wanted to give the Town Meeting the chance to decide and place the Woodfall Road money into free cash. 

Jack Weis, Pct. 1, said by placing in the money into free cash, it preserves how the fund is used in an aggregate way.

The vote of the amendment by Williams is taken, and it is defeated 176 to 76. 

Back to the main motion. Chris Doyle, Pct. 1, asks what is the scope of the feasibility study; can it include eighth graders in a new school. Phelan said the study would have the opportunity to ask for several architectural plans that will ask those questions.

The vote of the main motion takes place and passes, 237-7.

Now the Minuteman vote: buckle up and let’s go. 

Jack Weis, Pct. 1, who is Belmont’s rep on the Minuteman School Committee, said he will make a neutral presentation “so you can decide.” Weis said the reason for a new building is due to age – it was built in 1974 – and overuse. The condition of the building could force the school to lose its accreditation. Since 2010, the school has been undergoing a feasibility study since 2010. One thing that it will not do is build for less than 600 students. While Weis believes that the building is too big, “but I get tripped up” when asking himself “will be better off if we vote no.” The better path, said Weis, is to seek approval of a new school. 

“But this is the wrong school at the wrong time” said Mark Paolillo. “The building is too big.” 

“I just can’t get to yes with a $144 million building for 630 students,” said Paolillo, who suggested taking “option 2” which is taking a second look at the project.

Bob McLaughlin, Pct 2, makes a passionate plea against the new school, noting that there are too many questions left unanswered.

Now the questions and opinions from the members. 

With many members expressing a great amount of frustration with the process and the school’s administration, Belmont Special Town Meeting votes down the $144 million funding plan for a new Minuteman Career and Technical High School building, 81-141.


What’s In Store For Tonight’s Special Town Meeting, Wednesday, May 4

Photo: Rendering of the new Minuteman High School.

Three articles will be before the 290 Town Meeting Members as a Special Town Meeting convenes tonight, Wednesday, May 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the Belmont High School auditorium.                                                                                                              

Topping the agenda will be a vote to authorize the issuance of $144 million in bonds to finance the construction of a new Minuteman Technical High School. Last week both the Board of Selectmen and the Warrant Committee voted “unfavorable action” on the article, contending the building constructed to house approximately 630 students is far too big for the roughly 360 students who attend from the 10 district city and towns.

Last week both the Board of Selectmen and the Warrant Committee voted “unfavorable action” on the article, contending the building constructed to house approximately 630 students is far too big for the roughly 360 students who attend from the 10 district city and towns.

The Selectmen also noted Belmont would be required to pay between $350,000 to $500,000 annually to fund its share of the building’s cost, money that would require the town seek a debt exclusion to fund the building.

Supporters counter this “right-sized” building will quickly attract both students who are increasingly seeking practical educational options and towns that will join the school district to ensure their students will have a place at the table.

While the second article – taking the $1.7 million the town received from the sale of town-owned land adjacent to Woodfall Road to fund the feasibility study and other expense of the renovation/new construction at Belmont High School – appears straight forward, Selectman Jim Williams has filed an amendment. He is seeking a debate on whether there is a more appropriate funding source for this venture.

For example, Williams points to the approximately $3 million Kendell Fund – established with money from the insurance after the Kendell School building burned down – which was specifically created to pay for feasibility studies of municipal projects. Williams’ amendment received a 2-1 “unfavoriable action” vote from his fellow Selectmen. Williams had said he will support Article 2 whether his amendment is accepted.

The final article would appropriate $1.45 million in free cash – some call the line item the town’s “savings account” – to the purchase of six modular classrooms to be constructed on the tennis courts of the Chenery Middle School to help elevates the ongoing enrollment crunch.

Hotel Developer Sues ZBA After It Rejected Pleasant Street Proposal

Photo: Michael Colomba at the April ZBA meeting.

Saying it’s a “matter of principle,” the Waltham developer whose proposal to build a European-style boutique hotel at the corner of Pleasant Street and Brighton Road was rejected last month by the Zoning Board of Appeals, has filed a lawsuit in Land Court to reverse the board’s decision, calling the decision “an erroneous application of the law and constitutes an abuse of [its] discretion.”

Michael Colomba said he reversed his decision to place a small grocery store at the location – the former Mini Mart convenience store – after the board’s judgment on April 4 after reviewing the board’s ruling in detail. 

“After the dust settled, I really questioned the board’s process coming to its 3-2 decision,” Colomba told the Belmontonian. 

Colomba is seeking to renovation of the two-building, two-story structure at 334 Pleasant St. –  and offices – into a boutique hotel consisting of 19 guest rooms, a cafe for guests, a fitness room, a business center and offices on the 14,400 sq.-ft. site. Columba purchased the site in September 2015 for $1.9 million. 

Also, Colomba said for days after the verdict, “I received so many phone calls from residents and officials. They said, ‘Michael, this is nuts. How can they say you can’t come here? You need to appeal this’.”

The heart of Colomba’s complaint lies in the board’s view that the town’s zoning bylaws don’t explicitly mention “hotels” as an acceptable application.

“There is nothing in the bylaws that says a hotel can go anywhere in Belmont because there is no reference to a hotel use so how can we even hear arguments for the special permits,” said ZBA Chair Eric Smith in April, ending the meeting before hearing any appeal for four special permits Colomba was seeking to build the hotel. 

In the lawsuit filed April 22 in Land Court, a department of the Trial Court based in the Suffolk County Court House, Colomba claims that while there is no stated use for a hotel, “under the use category of ‘Business’ there is a catch all entitled ‘Other retail sales and services’ which requires a special permit.” 

Colomba told the Belmontonian that the ZBA could not “100 percent say what ‘others’ mean” suggesting this section of the bylaws was taken “word for word” using regulations from other municipalities as a template. 

“It is the town that need to spell out what ‘other’ mean, not me,” he said.

And, in fact, the town bylaws’ general regulations regarding off-street parking includes the phrase “hotels, motels, room and board, other commercial accommodations” thus confirming the town does allow hotels as a use. 

By closing down the process before hearing Colomba’s defense for the special permits was “an erroneous application of the law and constitutes an abuse of discretion” as the ZBA exceed its authority in a “whimsical, capricious or arbitrary” way causing him to suffer damages.

Colomba is urging the court to “issue a declaratory judgment” in his favor, “declaring that the hotel use, with the issuance of a Special Permit, is a permitted use in the town” in addition to “such further relief as justice requires.” 

For Columba, who filed the suit just under the time permitted to appeal such rulings, he hopes the courts will at least allow him to present his case for the hotel.

“I say let the state now decide. I believe that we will get a fair ruling,” he said. 

State Readies Sale Of Incinerator Site to Town; Special Town Meeting To Accept Land

Photo: The entry to the former incinerator site. 

It’s been nearly two years in the works but this week, the state is preparing to hand over a former trash incinerator closed for the past five decades back to the town.

The Belmont Board of Selectmen will vote on a date, likely in June, to hold a Special Town Meeting where members will vote whether to accept or reject the conveyance from the state to the town of the nearly 16-acre parcel sitting adjacent upper Concord Avenue and Rock Meadow Conservation about 1,500 feet from the Lexington town line.

“We have received communication that this conveyance is in the process of being executed by [the state] depending on what we have to execute,” said David Kale, Belmont’s town administrator. 

IMG_3471 IMG_3473

Once accepted, the town is required by the state to remediate the site which includes removing or “capping” the contaminated soil polluted by the ash produced by the burned garbage. As part of the agreement, the state, through the Department of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance which is responsible for the disposition of state-owned property, will subtract the amount the town spends on remediation from the assessed value of the property.

Belmont in 2006 created a special stabilization account to fund the future “clean-up” of the site. There is currently $4.2 million in the account, according to Kale. 

“The total cost will also depend on post-closure uses,” he said.

The sale has been years in the making. In 2012, as it was considering using the site for athletic fields or other uses, the town discovered ownership of the site had reverted to the state once the incinerator was formally shut down in the early 1980s.

In January 2014, former Gov. Deval Patrick signed legislation sponsored by State Rep. Dave Rogers  authorizing the sale of the state-owned land to the town at a “fair market value.” An important provision of the transfer is the land is limited to recreational or municipal use; it can not be sold or leased for commercial or business operations.

Built in 1959, the incinerator operated until 1975, then becoming the town’s transfer station for two decades. It is currently used by the Belmont DPW for equipment storage, leaf composting and debris.

In November 2014, the selectmen held a meeting with  Town Meeting members and the public on possible uses for the former incinerator which included a solar “farm,” sports fields, open space and a future home for Police headquarters or the DPW.

Belmont Town Meeting, First Night, Session One

Photo: Mike Widmer, Town Moderator

7 p.m.: Welcome to the first night of Belmont’s annual Town Meeting. We are waiting for Town Moderator Mike Widmer to open the town’s legislative body.

We are at Belmont High School’s Auditorium. The 290 members will spend Monday discussing and voting on non-budgetary articles on the warrant. All budget and financial reports will be discussed and voted on in the June session.

Tonight, Monday, Town Meeting will tackle Articles 1-7 in the Town Meeting Warrant. They include:

  • Article 1: Reports (there will be no reports this evening.)
  • Article 2: Authorize, the Board of Selectmen, to represent the town’s legal interests.
  • Article 3: Authorize the town to abandon an existing utility easement along Trapelo Road and Common Street.
  • Article 4: Extend the Demolition Delay Bylaw by one year to allow for the completion of the Historic District Commission Town-wide survey of historic properties.
  • Article 5: Remove the “sunset” provision from the Residential Property Snow Removal Bylaw.
  • Article 6: Limiting the size and mass of dwellings in the Single Residence C Zoning District. This article could be tabled.
  • Article 7: Individual votes on the eight projects put forward by the Community Preservation Committee.

7:22 p.m.: We are underway with the Articles. This is abandoning the utility easement in Cushing Square. Pretty straight forward. Glenn Clancy of the Office of Community Development gives his usual folksy explanation; this easement is to allow Cushing Village to move forward. No discussion? Darn, two questions. Sue Bass, Pct. 1 asks where the Cushing Village development now stands. Town Administrator David Kale says Toll Brothers, the large national developer, have until August to make a purchase and sale of the property. They are doing its due diligence to execute the sale. Don Mercier, Pct. 8, asks if the easement has economic value and why to give it away without getting paid for it. Clancy said town didn’t actually own it to sell it. The vote is unanimous yes.

7:36 p.m.: Now up is to extend the Demolition Delay Bylaw by one year. Selectmen, Warrant and Joe Cornish of the Historic District Commission said the extension would give sufficient time to complete updated town survey of historic properties and work with stakeholders in the community to draft a new bylaw by Spring 2017 Town Meeting. He said that only two properties were subject to the demolition process.

Funny moment: Just as questions are underway, the High School jazz band began to practice. “We’ll have a little interlude,” said Widmer,

No real questions, it passes 227-13.

7:40 p.m.: Now up is extending the snow removal bylaw. It’s been around for three years and let’s make it permanent. Joe White, Pct. 4, said some people have asked if a resident breaks a finger or have a heart attack while shoveling, who is liable? There is no shift of liability on civil claims if the bylaw was or was not in effect. If the sidewalk was defective, then you might have a claim, but not if the bylaw is in force. And yes, the bylaw also holds the town to shovel public walks. Mark Paolillo, Selectman chair, tells Don Mercier, Pct. 8, that the bylaw was created to change behavior, and it’s been successful. The vote is underway the bylaw is now permanent by a 230-9 margin.

7:53 p.m.: Article 6, which will limit the height and mass of single family homes in many sections of town, has been tabled due to technical changes that still need to be made. It will be brought up at the June meeting. It passes 226-8. 

7:55 p.m.: The Community Preservation Committee projects are up. Margaret Baily, CPC chair, gives an overview of what the CPA does. 

Jim Stanton, Pct. 3, made a comment saying that he knows of no grant program that approves 85 percent of applications. The town would be better served if twice as many applications were presented to the CPC and there would be a competition of ideas rather than just approve what is presented.  

For this coming fiscal year, the six projects seeking Town Meeting approval are:

  1. Construction of Intergenerational Walking Path at Clay Pit Pond: $228,350
  2. Preserving Belmont’s Original Vital Records: $80,000
  3. Digitizing Belmont’s Town Meeting Records: $85,000
  4. Town Hall Exterior Railings Improvements: $75,000
  5. PQ Park Playground Project: $25,000
  6. Winn Brook Tennis Courts: $325,000

TOTAL: $818,350

Mary Trudeau gives an overview of the Clay Pit walking path. The path will have a 6-8 foot wide compacted stone pathway, have a restored entrance to the Veteran’s Memorial Area from Concord Avenue to the flag pole and have brick pavers at points with the water’s edge. Kevin Cunningham, Pct. 4, asks what official “hoops” would this project need to pass to get an OK. Trudeau said the construction would need to get state approval because it is within wetlands protected the land. But she does not see it as a problem. Stanton, Pct. 3, said since the plans for the community path were developed, the renovation of the High School has been approved, and there could be a community bike/walk path included in the area. More comment than a question. Janet Kruse, Pct. 3, ask if the path will be wheelchair user accessible. It will be with ramps at all entry points. The Vote: Unanimously adopted.

Up now is PQ Park. It will be focusing on the one-acre playground area. A landscape architect would be hired to include a preliminary design, construction documents and position the group asking for the money to move to Phase 2, which will be actual construction. Joe White, Pct. 4, wants to know if the area will be fenced off from dogs. He then went off to doggie daycare. Jack Weis, Pct. 1, asked if approval of this article will require the town to pay for work proposed if the next phase is not done. Selectman Sami Baghdady said any Request for Proposal will go through the Selectmen’s office, and they would make sure the town isn’t liable for such non-work. The vote and the motion was adopted with a few nos. 

Winn Brook tennis courts is being debated. Lots of questions on the hole in the fence. Maryann Scali, tennis lover, Pct. 2, said since courts are disappearing, the town has to protect what’s left because tennis is a sport that people who of her age can still play. Yes with a scattering of nos.

Town Clerk Ellen Cushman said she hoped that she wouldn’t take that much time presenting her request in preserving Belmont’s original vital records and digitizing the town meeting records. Only one question, both articles passing unanimously. 

Gerry Boyle, Facilities Director, presents the town’s request to replace and refurbish the ornamental railings on the Concord Avenue side of Town Hall. Ed Kazanjian, Pct. 6, asks why weren’t this type of improvement done during the Town Hall renovation about 15 years ago. Is this the end of this sort of work? Boyle said he could not say if this was the final project at Town Hall “because all buildings are living and breathing things” which grow old and need repairs. Passes with a few nos.