Cushing Village: Demolition of Structures Completed, Dewatering To Begin

Photo: The site of the future Cushing Village.

The future location of Cushing Village has been cleared of the former buildings, and in-ground work will begin in the next few days, according to an update from a spokesperson for Toll Brothers, the developer of the 164,000 square foot multi-use project.

Otto Weiss, the project manager for Toll Brothers Apartment Living which is building Cushing Village, reported the first major phase of the project had been completed with the demolition of all but one of the structures at the construction site at the corner of Common Street and Trapelo Road.

The only remaining building is the one housing the Starbucks Cafe. But that will be tumbling down in about three months.

“We expect Starbucks will remain open until late spring [or] early summer this year,” said Weiss.   “The date of the closing has not yet been established.”

Next up will be the placement of dewatering equipment which is already placed along Trapelo Road. It will be used to remove the ground water to allow for the construction of the garages and foundations of the three buildings to be constructed at the site.

And the first building to be excavation and the foundation construction will be for the Winslow Building which will be built on the former municipal parking lot. That will take place in the late spring. 

In other news, the firm anticipates to be responding to public comments to the Release Abatement Measure (RAM) Plan in early March and uploading the plan to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection once these comments have been addressed, said Weiss.

Once the RAM Plan is uploaded to DEP, “we anticipate further excavation will begin. We anticipate this work will start by mid-March.”

Sports: Boys’ Hockey Takes on St. John’s Prep Wednesday in Playoff’s First Round

Photo: Belmont ice hockey

Belmont High Boys’ Ice Hockey knew they were heading to the Division 1 North playoffs for the past fortnight.

But like every other team in the same pool, the team needed to wait until late Monday night – only after a pair of games to determine the final teams entering the “Super Eight” tourney –  to find out exactly who they would be playing.

Now it knows and the team they suit up against on Wednesday, March 1 in Chelmsfored won the 2015 state champions and runner’s up last year which plays a highly-competitive schedule and comes in on a hot streak.

The ninth-seed St. John’s Prep School of Danvers will take on eighth-ranked Marauders at the Chelmsford Forum at 5 p.m. A bus for Belmont High students is being provided to bring fans to the rink.

While ranked ninth, the Eagles (11-7-2), which competes in the tough Catholic Conference, are on a roll winning its last six games and going 8-2 in the final 10 games scoring 24 more goals then its opponants. 

Last year, St. Johns’ Prep was defeated 2-1 in overtime to Malden Catholic in the top ranked “Super Eight” state championships. In 2015, the team won it all, defeating MC 2-1. 

Belmont comes to the match with a 10-7-4 record, winning three of four games.

Same Time: Freshmen Pair Push Against Later BHS Start


When Belmont High School freshmen Ella Serrano-Wu and Kate Devitt recently heard there was a growing chorus of students and parents singing the praises of starting the school day later in the day, the friends had one common thought.

“Oh no!”

While it may appear counterintuitive – especially to parents – that you would find any teenager willingly reject the option to lounge in bed for an extra hour on a school day, Serrano-Wu and Devitt are asking the Belmont School Committee not to screw up the current schedule they believe is working just fine, thank you.

“When it was brought to our attention that a later start time for [Belmont High School] was under consideration, as student-athletes we became very concerned,” said Serrano-Wu, who is a gymnast and honor roll student while Devitt is a runner and a class officer.

“We realized the consequences that a delayed start time would have on after-school sports and extracurriculars and decided to take action,” she and Devitt said. 

So the pair of ninth graders decided to do what any social media savvy kids would do: They mounted an online campaign against it. The students’ petition – Belmont Same Start Time (B.S.S.T.) – states there are “many dire consequences to delaying school start time.” Just under 100 people have signed up supporting the students’ cause.

For the pair and many other Belmont High students, a delayed start date will throw a shoe in the schedule have things to do and places to go during their busy day.

“Some other students were talking about the petition to delay the start of school, and we were surprised to learn that the [School Committee] had already discussed this issue,” they said.

“We decided to make sure people heard both sides of the argument. We haven’t discussed this with our teachers and administrators, but we certainly plan to reach out to them and hear their thoughts,” said Serrano-Wu.

The counter effort to a later starting day comes as a popular campaign called Belmont Start School Later will come before the School Committee for a possible vote to create a task force to begin the process of installing a delayed start in the school day at the high school.

The problem with the later start time includes the loss of free periods which students used to do their homework or just relax;  the new hours will disrupt existing drop-off times for parents and make it difficult for high school students to pick up siblings in elementary schools; and discourage students taking extracurricular as scheduling practice hours for sports, the arts and clubs will be even more competitive

Just as the supporters of a later start time has scientific evidence that shows benefits of a delayed start, the opponents have collected its own evidence.

“Yes, there is certainly a lot of evidence saying longer sleep is good for adolescents,” said Serrano-Wu. “However, there is equally valid data showing that the gains in delayed start time are not long-term.”

Serrano-Wu points to research that found after several months of the late opening school system; teenagers fell back into the same hours of sleep they had before and showed little to no change in GPA or mental health.

Serrano-Wu and Devitt said solving the problem of lack of student sleep should include a discussion on making ‘Homework Free Weekend’s actually homework free or capping the number of APs a student can take.

“Sleep is a zero sum game,” said Serrano-Wu.
“More research has to be done on any long-term benefits of a later start, and we have to be careful not to draw conclusions too quickly. In talking with friends and relatives in other school districts, we know there are other good ideas on how to reduce student stress,” she added. 

Belmont’s Hammond Road To Be A TV Backdrop … In China

Photo: From a distance, Wanderer in production in Belmont.

Belmont’s Hammond Road is a mix of century-old wooden single and two-family houses with cement front walks and side driveways. The road that rolls downhill from Palfrey to Gilbert is about as typical as one can come to an established suburban New England neighborhood.

So, you’d think the crew and cast filming a television series on this Boston-area location would likely star someone who’d remind you of Casey Affleck, with a thick Boston accent and four smart-mouth kids who cause the hero grief in weekly half-hour installments. 

But you won’t be able to see the finished product using the front stoop and inside of 95 Hammond as a backdrop unless you pick up transmissions from Chinese television.

According to the letter slipped under the door neighbors received last week from a representative of EnMaze Pictures, a production of “Wanderer,” a Chinese television series, would be filming over two days in Belmont. The show would be aired later this year. 

The crew will finish up filming on Hammond Monday, Feb. 27, working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in and outside the 95-year-old house after have spent last Thursday at the location.

“[T]here are apparently big acting stars in it. Check it out!” wrote one Belmontonian reader.

(Belmont has been backdrops in movies and television, the most recent being a photograph of the town’s police station used to represent a station in upstate New York in the sitcom “Brooklyn Nine Nine.” Films include “The Cardinal” and the original “The Thomas Crown Affair” with Steve McQueen playing at the Belmont Country Club.

A couple of visits to the site by the Belmontonian – Belmont Police kept everyone back 30 yards from the film, not do much to protect the actors but to prevent people from tripping over wires laid up and down the street – was what you would expect from a film production:

  1. The time consuming set up of each shot,
  2. A few seconds of filming,
  3. A director yelling “cut.”
  4. Then repeating steps 1,2 and 3 for the remainder of the day.

As the production staff moves things around, the leading actor – sweating in a winter coat on a 72 degree February day – appeared to either be in character as a pensive serious “wanderer” or just darn uncomfortable. 

A message to EnMaze’s location manager was unanswered to there was no opportunity to discover why Belmont was selected and what exactly is the “Wanderer” is all about. But there is a bit more about the film company. 

EnMaze Pictures is an independent film production and distribution company located in the heart of Queens, NYC that “aim to offer high-quality films to audience in both USA and China.” 

Founded in 2012 by a CUNY-grad, EnMaze also produces and distributes films – mostly short films – helmed and written by Chinese and Chinese-Americans. Recently, EnMaze hosted a movie tour promoting works by US-educated Chinese film directors in North America and China.

Read more about EnMaze here.

Three-Alarm Fire Severely Damages Two-Family on Grove [VIDEO]

Photo: The house at 50-52 Grove St. that suffered severe damage in a fire, Sunday night, Feb. 26.

A late night house fire that spread quickly from the basement to the ceiling severely damaged a two-family at the corner of Grove Street and Unity Avenue on Sunday, Feb. 26.

“Everybody got out safe,” said Belmont Fire Chief David Frizzell at the scene of the fire located at 50-52 Grove St.

Frizzell said a resident called 911 to report a fire in the basement of the circa 1900 rental property just after 10 p.m. When fire equipment arrived minutes after the call, the flames had shot up to the attic via the pipe chase which is a vertical space enclosed by a false wall for the purpose of hiding pipes.

As firefighters were removing ceilings and walls to hunt out any hidden fires, one of the occupants of the building stood looking in the company of a friend. 


The structure, which housed a pair of five room, two bed and a bath rental units, suffered from water and smoke damage as well as flame damage to the chase.

Firefighters battled the flames and thick smoke, using Cambridge Fire Department’s ladder truck to reach the second floor.

Crews from Arlington, Waltham and Cambridge were at the scene assisting Belmont with Winchester and Somerville equipment staffing Belmont’s fire stations, said Frizzell.

Traffic along the busy roadway that borders Cambridge was halted and detoured onto local streets  for several hours. 

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Sports: Belmont Boys’ Basketball Quietly Enters Playoffs After Cathedral Roadrace

Photo: Belmont’s Daniel Yardemian (center) being fouled by Cathedral’s Manny Green.

Can a 16-6 team quietly enter the playoffs?

Belmont High School Boys’ Basketball is doing just that, going about its business mostly under the radar as it enters the Division 2 North sectional tourney play on Wednesday, March 1 against Chelsea High School.

And that might be a good thing for the Marauders as opponents may overlook a team that played undefeated Division 1 powerhouse Arlington High close away to the SpyPonders, defeated City school Boston English, and took apart archrival and Division 3 North top-seed Watertown in the season while finishing second to the aforementioned SpyPonders in the Middlesex Liberty division.

“I really like this team,” said Belmont’s long-serving head coach Adam Pritchard a week ago. “We have an undersized center (senior captain Paul Ramsey) who I think is at least league co-MVP and just a lot of players who work well together. It’s a real scrappy team.”


That gritty style of play – regulars Cal Christofori and Ben Jones starred on the gridiron for the Marauders this season – was highlighted on Thursday when Belmont traveled to the bandbox gymnasium of Cathedral High in Boston’s South End to end the post-league season against the 14-4 Panthers who are the second seed in the Division 3 South sectionals and are expected to win not just the South but the Eastern Mass title.

Why put such an arduous task before his team as the playoffs loom, having ended the season on an impressive 6-1 run with wins over dreaded Watertown and a big tough team from Billerica on Seniors Night. 

“How are you going to get better if you don’t play the best,” said Pritchard before the game as the court rocked with the stands filled with happy parents and classmates on the Panthers’ senior night.


“It’s loud like a playoff game. I want [the Marauders] to experience this atmosphere against a talented team,” said Pritchard.

It was a game that did not disappoint in competitiveness and for just plain ol’ hoops FUN. The first half was played at breakneck speed as both teams resembled Usain Bolt as they sprinted up and down the floor with the ball being heaved the length and breadth of the court and threes raining from downtown. All that was missing was Dick Vitale yelling “Oh baby! It’s prime time in Boston!”  

That wide open play favored Belmont as sophomore point guard Daniel Yardemian used his quickness to open space to make the assist or drilling the J tallying scoring 14 points in the first, joining Ramsey’s 13 to allow Belmont to sprint out to a 29-18 first quarter lead. 

The Belmont trapping defense where two and even three Marauders surrounded the Panthers’ guards bothered the hosts into committing a slew of turnovers and hurried shots which gave the Marauders’ the edge. Yardemian hit two of three foul shots for a foul on a 3-attempt followed by senior Daron Hamparian; the Marauders were cruising by 15, 46-31 with 4:20 remaining in the second.


“He’s really important for us. It’s something special when you have someone who was the freshman [team] point guard playing that position as a sophomore and doing it at this level,” said Pritchard of Yardemian.

But Cathedral wasn’t laying down for the visitors, going on an 11-0 run culminating in a 3 from NBA distance by the Panthers all-star senior guard Calvin Cheek, cutting the lead to 4 at 46-42 with 1:11 left in the half. In the final minute, Christofori scored all five of his second quarter points including a buzzer beating 3 to allow Belmont to hit the half with a seven-point lead, 51-44.

The third quarter saw it rain 3s for both sides as the Panthers’ kept running. Belmont was equal with the spurt as a Ramsey basket, and foul shot pushed up the lead to eight, 59-51, four minutes in the quarter. Cathedral then upped their game and behind Cheek took a 67-66 lead only for Hamparian to throw up his third of four 3s for the night to give Belmont its last advantage at 69-67 with less than a minute to go. 


Cathedral High’s Calvin Cheek scored 31 points vs. Belmont.

But from that point it became the Cheek’s Show as the senior displayed a shooters eye, a command of the floor and a leader’s approach in coaching on and off the court, positioning teammates and yelling encouragement. He dished, drove and drained the key shots, in the first minute of the final stanza draining two from the charity strip and a 3 after stripping the ball to start the transition. 

Before you knew it, the Panthers went on a 14-3 run as the hosts slowed the play and allowed its bump and grab zone defense to stifle Belmont to lead 83-72 with two to go.

Give Belmont credit for marshaling a spirited comeback. As Cathedral missed free throws to extend its lead, Ramsey and Yardemian hit driving hoops while Hamparian swished his final 3. 

With Cheeks on the line and the Panthers up by 3, the game’s star faulted on both shots giving Belmont a final attempt to tie it up with a 3. But Yardemian’s contested fling was short with less than 10 seconds, and the Marauders fate was sealed, taking the fall, 86-81.

For Pritchard, the trip to the parking-challenged South End (hint: next year bring the Panthers to Belmont) was well-worth the effort and disappointment.

“For us, it was a really good preparation for tournament-wise and being in this atmosphere where you have to play through adversity. I thought our effort was there, so I’m not unhappy.

“We have things to work on, and we’ll have time to do those,” said Pritchard.

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Sports: Girl Hoopsters Top Seed In Sectionals, Boys’ In At 6th

Photo: Game against Melrose two months ago.

The Belmont High Girls’ Basketball team has secured the coveted number one seed in the coming Division 2 North sectional playoffs that begin next week. 

The Boys’ squad has garnered the sixth seed and a first-round home game on Wednesday, March 1 at 7 p.m. against the Chelsea High School Red Devils.

Belmont Girls finished the season at 16-4, the same record as Wakefield High. The Marauders took to top spot via a coin toss.

With its .800 winning percentage, Belmont has earned a bye in the first round and will play its quarterfinal game at home on Friday, March 3 at 7 p.m. against the winner of the Triton Regional Vikings and the Marauders’ Middlesex League rival Melrose. Belmont defeated Melrose 42-31 in the first game of the season in mid-December.

If successful next Friday, Belmont’s semi-final match will take place early in the week of March 6. They would play one of four teams in the lower part of the bracket: #4 Pentucket, #5 Arlington Catholic, #12 Danvers and #13 Newburyport. 

Belmont’s final loss of the season was a “heartbreaking” 37-35 defeat to Pentucket – the only Division 2 tream they lost to this season – on Feb. 19, according to Head Coach Melissa Hart.

The “one seed” is the highest playoff position Belmont has held in the past decade. The previous record were a pair of five seeds in 2015 and 2008. Last year, Belmont as the 10th seed made a heroic run to the sectional finals, defeating the 7th, 2nd and 3rd ranked teams before falling to Watertown (this season’s 3rd seed) in the finals. 

Belmont Boys come into the playoffs with a 16-6 record (with a 15-5 counting towards the tourney) playing tough pressing defense and speedy offense. A win over the 13-7 Devils will see Belmont take on the winner of the third ranked Lynn Classical (18-3) and 12th seed Salem (10-8) later in the week.

Be Counted: Belmont Town Census In the Mail This Week

Photo: Belmont census in the mail. 

It’s been delayed by a couple of weeks, but residents can anticipate the annual town census will be in their mailbox any day now, according to Ellen Cushman, Belmont’s town clerk.

And Cushman encourages residents to complete and submit the census as Massachusetts General Laws require an annual listing of residents as of Jan. 1, 2017.

By filling out the annual census, residents provide proof of residence to protect their voting rights, can register children in schools, apply for veteran’s bonus, and subsidized housing and related benefits.

Registering is an important task since most town programs require proof of Belmont residency for enrollment and emergency response personnel will know for whom they are looking in the event of a 911 call.

Failure to respond to the census mailing will result in removal from the active voting list and may result in removal from the voter registration rolls. Those removed from the active voting list will result in residents being prevented from voting until they sign up.

Foodie’s Opening Set for Early March

Photo: The rear/main entrance of the new Foodie’s

Get ready for Belmont Center’s newest food destination.

Foodie’s Urban Market, the Roxbury-based supermarket chain, will open its doors to its new 15,000 square foot store “in the next few weeks,” said Angela Braun, director of Belmont’s Health Department on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Braun and her assistant, Wesley Chin, were inspecting the market at 75 Leonard St. on Tuesday afternoon as the firm ramps up acquiring the needed permits to open the location.

“They told us it would be in early March. They are almost there,” said Braun.

A call Tuesday to Victor Leon, Foodie’s spokesperson, was left unanswered.

Foodie’s is known for prepared dinners and lunches, specialty departments, beer, and wine selections as well as home delivery service.

The news comes almost two years to the month since Belmont’s Locatelli Properties signed an agreement in March 2015 with the firm which opened its first store in Boston’s South End in 1999. It has expanded in the past five years into Duxbury and South Boston.

At the time of the agreement, it was expected the store would be open in late summer/fall of 2016 but work on the circa 1940 building required more extensive structural work.

The opening marks the return of a grocery store in Belmont Center two decades after the previous retailer, J. Bildner & Sons, closed its doors at 69 Leonard St.

Sold in Belmont: $3.5M For Slice of Former Pizza Mogul’s Homestead

Photo: A highlight of smart, architectural sensitive renovation in a split level in the Winn Brook.

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


• 27 Willow St., Old-style (1903). Sold: $1,075,000. Listed at $1,075,000. Living area: 2,557 sq.-ft. 8 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. On the market: 81 days.


• 7 Sherman St., Prewar Cape Cod (1940) Sold: $736,000. Listed at $769,000. Living area: 1,391 sq.-ft. 6 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths. On the market: 79 days.


7 Sumner Ln., Something huge. Sold: $3,400,000. Listed at $3,350,000. Living area: 5,800 sq.-ft. (est). 12 rooms, 6 bedrooms, 5.5 baths. On the market: 685 days.


• 141 Claflin St., Brick and cedar shingle old-style (1933). Sold: $1,075,000. Listed at $925,000. Living area: 2,184 sq.-ft. 8 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 1.5 baths. On the market: 42 days.


• 80 Douglas Rd., Colonial (1940). Sold: $925,000. Listed at $849,000. Living area: 2,121 sq.-ft. 8 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. On the market: 60 days.

An expensive slice in Belmont

Do you think that your children should strive for a career in STEM? How about health care? Finance? Forget all those loser jobs mentioned above. I want to say one word to you. Just one word. 

Pizza! As the actor, Kevin James said, “There’s no better feeling in the world than a warm pizza box on your lap.”

If there is an occupation with more than its fair share of ultra-wealthy entrepreneurs, it’s those who can build a better pie. Mike Ilitch, the owner of  Little Caesars Pizza, was worth $6.1 billion and owned two major sports teams when he died last month, Domino’s Pizza’s Tom Monaghan sold his business to Bain Capital for $1 billion, John Schnatter of Papa John’s Pizza is worth $750 million and the list goes on and on.

And Belmont has its pizza mogul. Joey Crugnale decided to start his pizza shop in Davis Square, Somerville in a storefront he bought in 1981 to prevent a competitor from opening a shop two doors from Crugnale’s first big hit, Steve’s Ice Cream. Out of that almost accidental piece of good fortune began Bertucci’s Brick Oven Pizzerias with its first-of-its-kind open-hearth brick ovens, specialty topping pies and cool, youthful vibe (the Somerville location had a bocce court in the basement). By the time he was outbid by the NE Restaurant Co. for his company in 1998, Crugnale had built an empire of 84 Bertucci’s worth millions.

In 1992, Crugnale used some of his pizza and ice cream money – he had sold Steve’s in 1982 – to purchase for $1.6 million one the largest (8,800 square feet!) residential houses in Belmont located at Concord Avenue and Sumner Lane – the “lane” runs from Concord to Somerset and borders the Weeks family property – from another food-based fellow, David Mugar of the Star Market fortune. (Mugar didn’t move far, just over to Marsh Street.) Not only is the house large – 17 rooms with five full and three half bathrooms! – it sits in the middle of a meadow, to provide maximum privacy. 

After living in his century-old brick manse for two decades, Crugnale decided to do with his property what he did with his pizza; cut it into slices and make a greater profit. 

In 2010, he got together with a development company called Concord Estates LLC run by Belmont’s favorite developer, Joe DeStefano, who paid Crugnale $1.8 million for five “slices” in 2010 at 1, 3, 5, 7 and 10 Sumner Lane.

Concord Estates had taken its time to sell not just the parcels but the custom-made houses with the first homes sold in 2015 with 1 Sumner selling for $3.2 million (6 beds, 5.5 baths, 6,440 sq.-ft.) while DeStefano took 3 Sumner for himself while 10 Sumner was sold in 2016 at $3.4 million.

And last week, 7 Sumner was sold for $3.4 million. So what do you get? From the sales pitch, you’ll live on a “brand new picturesque private road [which] offers in(-)town living in the most coveted exclusive Belmont Hill location” while its “rolling lawns and graceful old trees will give you the feeling of the [O]ld [S]outh.” The “Old South”? Really? On Sumner Lane, as in Fort Sumner? Is this manse being sold in Belmont, North Carolina?  

“This classic turn-of-the-century inspired new home will offer incredible country views, peeks of the Boston skyline and acres of conservation land. All of these homes are one of a kind built with incredible craftsmanship and refined details.” 

Sounds like you’d want to join the club? There’s one slice left on the plate at 5 Sumner according to the Belmont assessors.