Celebrating A Bunny’s Author’s Birthday At A ‘Re-energized’ Homer House

Photo: Belmont Children’s Librarian Liz Fraser telling a tale of Peter Rabbit.

Liz Fraser stood before more than three dozen tots in the main room of the historic 1853 Homer House with a simple story to tell about a rabbit with floppy ears. 

“Here is a bunny with ears so funny. 

And here is a hole in the ground.

When a noise he hears, he pricks up his ears.

And jumps in the hole in the ground.

The Coordinator of Children’s Services at Belmont Public Library, Fraser was the featured storyteller at the Belmont Woman’s Club inaugural “Literacy on the Lawn” celebrating the 150th birthday of author and artist Beatrix Potter, the creator of Peter Rabbit. 

Despite occurring in late July at the height of vacation plans, the lawn was full of children and parents painting, playing croquet and hanging out with a small collection of farm animals – including a baby goat who kept escaping from the enclosure – as the Belmont Woman’s Club, Belmont Public Library, Habitat and Belmont Center businesses sponsored the day’s events.

For the Woman’s Club, the aim of this event and others is to “draw more families into the history of the house and its beauty,” said Nancy Sarris, the club’s co-president along with Belmont resident Wendy Murphy.


The Club is looking to “re-energize” the organization, attempting to dispel the stereotype of “old ladies drinking tea and playing bridge” which was the case 90 years ago when the club began, said Sarris.

By opening the house to events, outside tours and functions, the club is seeking to highlight the house, a rare example of antibellum residential architecture still standing in greater Boston.

“I fell in love with the house when I first visited it 22 years ago, and I hear the same thing from others,” said Sarris, who was a senior vice president of Belmont Savings Bank. 

The Club has begun a $250,000 capital campaign towards making the house – built by the uncle of artist Winslow Homer who visited and painted in Belmont in the 1860s – more accessable to outside groups, focusing on repairing the driveway and including parking along with exterior architectural improvements including restoring the overhangs. The campaign is in addition to $100,000 in Community Preservation Committee funds approved by Town Meeting in 2015 for the House’s rehabilitation and restoration.

Possible future events could include a Taste of the Town in the fall where restaurants would provide samples, a holiday house tour and educational forums focusing on women and girls. Currently, Susan Smart, the Homer House Curator, is leading private tours of the house through September on Sundays at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

“The Woman’s Club and the Homer House want to be re-involved in a big way with the town,” said Sarris.


Belmont Yard Sales: July 30–31

Photo: Yard sales around town.

Here are this weekend’s yard/moving/garage sales happening in the 02478 zip code:

• 76 Albert Ave., Saturday, July 30 and July 31, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• 4 Broad St., Saturday, July 30. 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

• 80 Davis Rd., Sunday, July 31, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• 22 Park Rd., Saturday, July 30, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• 10-12 Woodland St., Saturday, July 30, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

With Asphalt Being Laid, End To Belmont Center Reconstruction In Sight

Photo: The Center under construction.

Just a little bit longer.

That was the word to the Belmont Board of Selectmen Monday afternoon, July 25, as town officials expressed hope that nearly all the work associated with the Belmont Center Reconstruction Project will be complete by mid-August.

When the project’s financing was approved in November 2014 at a Special Town Meeting, the project was expected to be completed in the fall of 2015.

After having the roadway milled last week, Leonard Street and adjacent roads – including Concord Avenue under the commuter rail tunnel and running to the Post Office – will have their road surfaces paved beginning Friday, July 29, three weeks ahead of the original starting date. 

The spreading and compacting of asphalt will continue through Tuesday, Aug. 2.

As with the milling, Project General Contractor Charles Contracting of Watertown will be performing the paving operations.

Leonard Street, Channing Road, and  Concord Avenue will remain open. However, traffic will be limited to one lane of traffic in one direction with detours expected for some travel lanes. 

Residents should expect delays and plan accordingly. On-street parking on both sides of Leonard Street, Concord Avenue, and Channing Road will be unavailable during paving. 

Kale said one segment of the reconstruction that will take a bit longer to finish is the “delta” in front of the Belmont Savings Bank at the corner of Leonard and Concord. Due to the need for turf and vegetation to take hold on the triangle-shaped common, that section will not be open to the public once the roadway is finished. 

After the roads are paved, the town will begin implementing a comprehensive parking plan that will include metering stations for vehicles parked on Leonard Street. Kale said a plan is being devised to help generate turnover in parking spaces. 

“We are organizing the parking so at the extent possible we can have available spots for patrons and utilize the parking areas to generate parking turnover,” said Kale.

High on the board’s concerns about the $2.8 million project is its impact on employee parking in the town’s commercial hub. Business owners are worried the cost of permits and the prospect of a reduced number of parking spaces after the former Macy’s location on Leonard Street opens this fall could make it difficult to retain workers. 

Currently, monthly municipal lot passes for Belmont Center business employees are $90. 

“That is something that we need to think about,” said Sami Baghdady, the board’s vice-chair.

Kale said some slots and cost would be determined after the site’s landlord Locatelli Properties signs a lease to fill the second of two large retail spaces in the location. Last year, Locatelli landed Foodies Supermarket, a Boston-based independent grocery chain known for its prepared meals. 

“Depending on what type of tenants moves into … Macy’s property will dictate what sort of patron parking is required,” said Kale.

Among those rumored businesses eager to locate into the building is a new CVS Pharmacy to replace the small outlet in the Center and an independent bookstore – tentatively dubbed Belmont Books – that has created a lot of buzz among residents.


Musical Market Day With Passports for Kids At Belmont Farmers Market

Market Day in Belmont will be filled with music as three acts will perform at the Belmont Farmers Market today, Thursday, July 28.
The market is located behind Belmont Center in the Municipal Parking Lot adjacent Cross and Channing. The market is open from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Also, vendors and market staff will be handing out “Passports for Produce,” a month-long activity for kids of all ages, to encourage trying new foods. The program will conclude on Aug. 25, with a day filled with kids activities including a scavenger hunt, cooking contest, prizes for completing the passport and more.
This week, sweet corn and fresh greens are in season as are peaches with tomatoes rounding out the produce harvest. 
Come check out our new fish vendor: Red’s Best Seafood!

Weekly Vendors

Red’s Best Seafood, Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery, Dick’s Market Garden, Stillman Quality Meats, Boston Smoked Fish Co., Goodies Homemade, Sfolia Baking Company, Hutchins Farm, Kimball Fruit Farm, Foxboro Cheese Co., Flats Mentor Farm, Nicewicz Family Farm, Couët Farm and Fromagerie
Monthly and Occasional Vendors
Turtle Creek Winery, Warren Farm & Sugarhouse, Belmont Acres Farm, True Grounds Coffee House.
Community Table
4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.: State Senator Will Brownsberger
Schedule of Events
2 p.m.: Solomon Murungu – Belmont’s own Murungu will share the history of the mbira from his native Zimbabwe and demonstrate how to play this unique instrument made of wood with staggered metal keys.
4 p.m.: Story Time – Enjoy stories and songs about food and farms, an event for “children of all ages” sponsored by the Belmont Public Library.
4:30 p.m.: Liberty Bones – A nonet brass ensemble composed of semi-amateur trombonists from Belmont and other nearby towns.  
5:30 p.m.: Mystic String Quartet – Made up of members of the Arlington Philharmonic, the quartet is composed of Marianne Brown and Chandreyee Das on violin, Benjamin Miller on viola, and Peg McGirr on cello. 

The Running For The Dogs: Create Escape Seeks OK for 5K Road Race

Photo: Racing with dogs.

Soon it will be the humans doing the chasing.

The general manager of Crate Escape came before the Belmont Board of Selectmen Monday, July 25, to seek a tentative OK for a proposed 5K road race in October that will be for the dogs.

General Manager Nikki Condon said the idea of the doggie daycare business at 30 Brighton St. sponsoring a fundraiser to assist in financing cures for canine cancers came to the facility’s owner, Bradley Hastings after he lost his dog to the disease two years ago. 

Working with RaceWire, a Braintree-based consulting firm, the business is looking at the weekend of Oct. 22 with a hope of having 250 people and for many, their dogs, attend and donate. Condon said Belmont Police had given a tentative OK so she could show her plans to the Selectmen. 

While the board was favorable deposed to the race, the members were concerned the proposed route layout – which would start at the facility and travel north of the commuter rail tracks – included some heavy residential streets such as Broad and Chilton streets in Precinct 8.

“These are busy, populous roads” that would be impacted on a Sunday run, noted Mark Paolillo, the board’s chair.

Condon, who has been the manager for eight years, said she would return to the police for further consultation and work with Town Hall to develop a 3.1-mile course that would not severely impact the surrounding neighborhoods. 

Established in 2004, Crate Escape provides daycare, overnight boarding, van service, grooming, and training in Belmont as well as Cambridge and Charlestown.

Selectmen Discuss Dates for Minuteman Vote And A Possible Escape

Photo: The possibility of an election and a Special Town Meeting.

With a vote in 16 communities to decide the future of the Minuteman Tech Regional High School less than two months away, the Belmont Board of Selectmen unveiled the tentative dates the town will discuss, vote and possibly severe its ties with the vocational school the town has sent its students for nearly five decades.

“This is a first step regarding coming to a conclusion of the Minuteman High School project and its financing,” David Kale, Belmont’s town administrator, told Selectmen on Monday, July 25.

In May, a Special Town Meeting voted against Minuteman’s $145 million financing plan as it was deemed too large for the limited number of students coming from district schools. 

• Monday, Sept. 12: The Belmont League of Women Voters and the town’s Warrant Committee will jointly hold an informational meeting at 7 p.m. at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St., where questions can be asked by voters to town and school officials. It could also be the date the Selectmen can make a recommendation on the plan’s passage or defeat. 

• Tuesday, Sept. 20: The district-wide vote on the project’s financing will take place between noon and 8 p.m. at Belmont’s seven polling stations. When the district-wide vote was first announced in mid-July, Minuteman officials – who are paying for the election – announced that each town would be voting at a single polling location (in Belmont at the High School’s field house) to keep expenses to approximately $11,000. 

But that plan was scuttled after both Arlington and Belmont protested the move, accusing it of an attempt to suppress voter turnout for no real cost savings.

“That was a good solution so not to cause disruptions at the high school,” which would be in session, said Kale. 

If Belmont votes against the bonding scheme, but the district-wide vote is in favor, the Selectmen will have 60 days to call and hold a Special Town Meeting to vote to withdraw from the district. 

• Monday, Sept. 26: 

“You’ll have to make some decisions depending what transpired in September,” said Kale at the first board meeting after the election. 

If the board does call for a Special Town Meeting, Town Meeting member can expect the following October dates to be put into play. 

• The week Monday, Oct. 10: The League of Women Voters will hold an informational and precinct meetings. 

• Wednesday, Oct. 19: Kale said the town has tentatively set the day for the Special Town Meeting, likely at the Chenery Middle School, as the first available date that it can be done. 

If the town votes to remove itself from the district but the other 15 voting member town refuse, Belmont will remain in the group but will not be responsible for the additional debt service, said Kale.

Currently, the town would be responsible for between $350,000 to $500,000 in annual assessments to build the new $145 million school. 

Mark Paolillo, Selectmen’s chair, said as part of the board’s deliberation, it will need to be informed by Belmont’s School Superintendent, John Phelan, “on alternatives for those students now attending Minuteman.”

Car Wash Comes Through As Food Pantry’s Temporary Home

Photo: The new, temporary location on Pleasant Street.

On Monday, July 25, just days before being forced to move the Belmont Food Pantry from its current site at Belmont High School, Patricia Mihelich was still pondering where she would relocate two rooms full of canned and dry food.

“On Saturday [July 30], we don’t know where the food will be,” said Mihelich, the founder and manager of the pantry that helps more than 200 individuals and families supplement their food supply.

She was still seeking a location for temporary use to store and distribute donated food while a new space at Mount Hope Church was prepped to become its new home.

“I’m still looking,” said Mihelich.

On Tuesday, Mihelich wish came through provided by the good people at Belmont Car Wash on Trapelo Road in the heart of Waverley Square.

“Paul Tocci, from the Belmont Car Wash, has generously offered a very large garage space with a bathroom that we can use,” wrote Mihelich. “There is a parking lot but it is also right next to the Star Market parking lot where volunteers can park.”

Now on Saturday, July 30, Mihelich will not be property watching but leading the pantry’s trip to its home away from home.

“See everyone, who can come, bright and early at 8 a.m. Saturday morning. Remember to bring gloves, water and wear light clothes. If all goes well we will be done with the move and set up by noon time,” she said.

The car wash site will now be where those in need will come until around Halloween in late October. 

“We will be able to open for business on the first and third Saturdays and the fourth Sunday. I am still working out something with him regarding the Tuesdays,” she said.

Last week, Mihelich said the church at 51 Lexington St. had offered her approximately 1,600 sq.-ft. in its basement for the food pantry’s permanent new home. She will have visited the location with a contractor who will require about six weeks to “touch up” the location. 

“We had an anxious few months, but we all support you in what you’re doing,” said Mark Paolillo, Selectmen chair. 

Belmont Light Asks Residents/Consumers To Limit Power Usage Thru Tuesday

Photo: Sunny hot days ahead.

Belmont Light and its partner, Woburn-based energy efficiency firm Sagewell, are informing customers that Monday, July 25 and Tuesday, July 26, are expected to be high electricity use days due to continued high temperatures across New England. 

And the town’s electrical utility is asking residents and customers to help it save energy and money by reducing electricity consumption on Monday and Tuesday between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Because Belmont Light is municipally-owned, all savings are passed onto ratepayers. 

Belmont Light is asking consumers to employ at least two actions to reduce the town’s peak electricity consumption including:

  • Adjust the air conditioner a few degrees warmer and turn off the AC in rooms that are not in use. Adjusting the thermostat by two or three degrees makes a big difference.
  • Don’t cook with an electric stove or oven.
  • Shift laundry and dishwasher use until after 6 p.m.
  • If you have an electric hot water heater, wait to bathe or use hot water until after 6 p.m.
  • Run pool pumps or use hot tubs before 2 p.m. or after 6 p.m.
  • Shift other electricity use to before 2 p.m. or after 6 p.m.

Every bit of electricity reduced during peak times will help Belmont mitigate rising electricity costs. If you have any questions or would like advice on how to decrease peak energy consumption, contact Sagewell’s Belmont Light Peak Reduction Program at:
support@sagewell.com or

Sold In Belmont: Condo Quintet A Nice Affordability Sound; Common Million Again


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

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• 135 Slade St., Top floor condominium (1920). Sold: $649,000. Listed at $648,500. Living area: 1,777 sq.-ft. 8 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths. On the market: 74 days.

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• 267 Beech St., Unit 2, Top floor condominium (1928). Sold: $725,000. Listed at $749,000. Living area: 1,965 sq.-ft. 9 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths. On the market: 80 days.

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• 20 Chester Rd. Unit 1, Condominium (1917). Sold: $489,000. Listed at $460,000. Living area: 1,113 sq.-ft. 5 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1 baths. On the market: 32 days.

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• 191 Common St., Colonial (1925). Sold: $1,550,000. Listed at $1,425,000. Living area: 2,488 sq.-ft. 10 rooms, 5 bedrooms, 3 full, 2 half baths. On the market: 53 days.

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• 90 Lewis Rd., Top floor Condominium (1923). Sold: $630,000. Listed at $599,900. Living area: 1,690 sq.-ft. 7 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 2 baths. On the market: 54 days.

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• 274 Washington St., Brick and shingle English Colonial (1930). Sold: $1,040,000. Listed at $935,000. Living area: 2,251 sq.-ft. 8 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. On the market: 54 days.

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• 30 Marlboro St., Unit 1., Condominium (1916). Sold: $527,000. Listed at $499,000. Living area: 1,690 sq.-ft. 6 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1 baths. On the market: 83 days.

There has been a great deal discussed – here in Belmont (through the effort of the Belmont Citizens Forum) and the State Senate – on modifying the town’s zoning bylaws to increase the number of affordable housing units in town and across the Commonwealth. One aim is to make building homes with greater density in residential neighborhoods, specifically allowing two families to be “by right” (and skipping the need for a Special Permit) in more areas of town.

This past week, five condominiums in two families were sold for between $729,000 – a big nine roomer with nearly 2,000 sq.-ft. – and $489,000, far more affordable (but barely reasonable for a couple with middle-class income) than the medium price for a single-family house that is nearly seven figures. 

And the condos have something for many: a great starter home or a place for the empty nester. It would also be a place for a small family to spend the 12 years to get through the school years. Take a look at the detail.

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267 Beech St., Unit 2

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267 Beech St., Unit 2

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267 Beech St., Unit 2

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20 Chester Rd Unit 1

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20 Chester Rd Unit 1

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20 Chester Rd Unit 1

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90 Lewis Rd.

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90 Lewis Rd.

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90 Lewis Rd.

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135 Slade St.

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135 Slade St.

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135 Slade St.

And the star of the quintet of condo is the one on Marlboro Street. A steal at $527,000 for 1,300 sq.-ft. with beautiful wood molding, modern kitchen, renovated bath (in proper white), a quirky layout and space out back. Everything to love.

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30 Marlboro St Unit 1.

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30 Marlboro St Unit 1.

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30 Marlboro St Unit 1.

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30 Marlboro St Unit 1.

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30 Marlboro St Unit 1.

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30 Marlboro St Unit 1.

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30 Marlboro St Unit 1.

It might be harder to develop these economical units in the future after Town Meeting approved a four-year moratorium (expanding on a temporary ban) prohibiting the construction of two-family houses on single families lots in the general residence zone. 

Since the moratorium will sunset in 2018, hopefully, there will not be a prejudice against building two families that are similar to these beauties. 

Common Street, as in “it’s now common to see a million house” on this road. The latest is 191 Common St., which is located near St. Joe’s and the Wellington, a building that just seven years ago barely broke $650,000. Much of that was due to a typical situation in Belmont; a long-time owner who didn’t keep up with repairs and modernizing the systems.

The new owners could see beyond the aging infrastructure and years of neglect and got to work. They threw in $105,000 into a new roof, replacing all 36 windows and all bathrooms were renovated as was the kitchen with a freaky harlequin black and white floor. They also enclosed the porch and built a new deck. They also put a few bucks to landscaping, siding and interior work.

The result: the once-threadbare home was sold for more than $1.5 million, nearly three times what they bought it.