More Than Road At Stake As Day School To (Maybe) Hear Planning Board’s Verdict

Photo: The Planning Board. 

In one way or another, the future of the Belmont Day School’s proposed development of a new gym/classroom structure and a roadway adjacent to the town’s active cemetery off of upper Concord Avenue reaches a critical crossroads at tonight’s meeting of the Belmont Planning Board to be held at the Beech Street Center at 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 31.

It will either be one which the private K-8 school will quickly move forward with a set of restrictions or remedies on the land and road, as it will attempt to have the new structure up and running a year from now.

Or due to a final minute legal roadblock thrown by a resident from across Concord Avenue, the school and town could begin a meandering retracing of what appeared to be agreements on contentious issues including the amount of landscaping along the road and the structure of the road itself.

Less than a month ago, it appeared the Planning Board – reduced to four members due to the recusal of Chair Liz Allison (she is an abutter to the school) and the resignation of Joseph DiStefano – was ready to end the four-month long design and site plan review as interim chair Barbara Fiacco announced that the board would “wrap up” its oversight by Aug. 14.

While the 25,000 sq.-ft. Multi-Use structure – dubbed the Barn – was relatively free of controversy, the same could not be said for the roadway which would allow the school a second avenue of access to and from Concord Avenue. Several residents making up two community groups opposed the road as introducing both traffic and safety problems to an already congested main thoroughfare. 

The school contends the new road would provide ease of entry and exit from the school which currently has just one street, Day School Lane, to access the campus.

In addition, the town’s Board of Cemetery Trustees and several people who own burial plots in Belmont’s Highland Meadow Cemetery contend the roadway will create a myriad of problems to the graveyard, including possible ground water and disturbance of the pastoral environs of peoples final resting places. The school believes that adequate landscaping will resolve the issue. 

But a final decision was rendered moot as the Board was the recipient of a local legal action by Concord Avenue resident Tim Duncan who contends in an Aug. 11 complaint he filed with the Belmont Town Clerk. He states the Planning Board violated the state’s Open Meeting Law by holding what was described as “working groups” with the Day School to resolve technical issues facing the project usually conducted between one person from either side. He contends the agreements hammered out in this setting were not legal as they were done behind closed doors, without adequate notice and without minutes of the meetings kept.

He contends the agreements hammered out in this setting were not legal as they were done behind closed doors, without adequate notice and without minutes of the meetings kept.

Tonight’s meeting will begin with the Planning Board – through the legal opinion of Town Counsel George Hall – answering Duncan’s complaint. If it continues to proceed with the meeting, the Planning Board will vote on any restrictions it believes is warranted to mitigate the creation of the road and building. Duncan has said if he doesn’t think the board or town is willing to answer the Open Meeting Law question, he will file a complaint with the state Attorney General.

But according to some who have reviewed the case, the Planning Board could delay a final resolution on the road and building to “redo” the working group sessions in a formal open meeting session. This would create a further pushing back of final order from the board and delay the building of the Barn and road possibly until the spring. 

Boisterous Gathering Highlights 15th Meet Belmont

Photo: William Lovallo, chair of the Belmont High School Building Committee discuss the process of building a new/renovated high school.

The 15th edition of Meet Belmont was a combination of loud and crowded as a wide swath of town residents came to the Chenery Middle School on Tuesday, Aug. 29 to discover what makes the community run. 

With government, education, local nonprofit and faith groups at tables in the school’s cafeteria, the public had the chance to learn about the vast array of resources, services, and opportunities offered in and around our town.

“I think it went very well and I know that because I’m exhausted.  said Natalie Leino, who as the chair of the Belmont Vision 21 Implementation Committee took over the management of the late summer get together a year ago from Sara Oaklander and Jennifer Paige who held the event at the Belmont Public Library in the early years.

This year saw a greater proportion of racial and ethnic diversity at the event, said Leino.

“I think this year we had a high proportion of first time, just new to Belmont people. We had a nusome groups this year including a South Asian theater group and a Chinese American community group. It feels that as we get more diverse exhibitors it helps makes for a greater variety of people,” she said.

The event was also an opportunity for newbies and, old timers to (re)introduce themselves to local government – a number of folks registered to vote Tuesday while other discussed the latest scheduled blackouts with reps from Belmont Light – and community groups representing everything from residents raising money for PQ Park, intergenerational nature programs, morris dancing, and Belmont history. One of the most visited exhibits was a relief map of the vicinity around Belmont High School which will be the location of a renovated/new school. 

Carrying table placards and answering a myriad of questions from other volunteers, Leino said a small group of volunteers put in a lot of work “but it’s worth it because clearly people love this event,” she said noting the cafeteria was packed for most of the two hours of the exhibit. 

“There aren’t many towns that have something like this to learn about everything in town all in one place,” said Leino.

Last Of The Summer Harvest At The Belmont Farmers Market

Photo: Belmont Farmers Market.
Apples are king at the Belmont Farmers Market; two months into its harvest and the variety continues to grow, while blueberries and peaches are just about done for the year. But if you need a little bit of summer for your kitchen, tomatoes, cucumbers, and corn continues to be available. 
This is the last week of summer hours – 2 p.m. to 6;30 p.m. – at the market. Starting in September, market days will close at 6 p.m. each Thursday to account for the earlier sunsets.
The Belmont Farmer Market is located in the Claflin Street municipal parking lot at the corner of Cross and Channing behind Belmont Center. 
Weekly Vendors
Red’s Best, Stillman Quality Meats, Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery, Dick’s Market Garden, Del Sur Empanadas, Goodies Homemade, Bread Obsession, Hutchins Farm, Freedom Food Farm, Foxboro Cheese Co., Flats Mentor Farm, Nicewicz Family Farm, Brookford Farm
Monthly and Occasional Vendors
Bittersweet Herb Farm, Minuteman Kettle Corn, Pet Wants, Recreo Coffee and Roaster, swissbäkers, Valicenti Pasta Farm. Learn more about our vendors on our website.
Community Table
Green Team: sharing tips for reducing food waste in cafeterias.
Schedule of Events
2 p.m.: Music by Joe Zarro, the coolest pastor in Belmont.
4 p.m.: Story time with the children librarians from the Belmont Public Library. 
4:30 p.m.: Music Together is an internationally recognized program “for children from birth through age seven-and the grownups who love them.” Lenka Zbruz, who directs the Belmont group, says she loves “making music more than anything else.”

Ramp Up: Friends Group Seeking to Raise $35K For PQ Park

Photo: The playground at PQ Park.

The Friends of PQ Park announced that the goal of raising $35,000 in private funds has kicked off and is ramping up. The fundraising efforts are a result of the Town of Belmont’s requirement that the renovation of its public spaces is supported by both public and private funds.

Pequossette Park, established in 1928, is a great open space, a playground, and tennis courts. The Park has been in need of new playground equipment and landscaping for some time. New renovation plans include walking paths, drainage, landscaping, and two new play areas dedicated to the differing needs of children.

“We are thrilled that a large portion of the New PQ Playground will be funded through the Community Preservation Act,” says Julie Crockett, President of Friends of PQ Park.

“When the Town of Belmont required residents to raise $35,000 to bring the project to fruition, we knew we’d need widespread community support. As of today, we have raised almost 10 percent of the required $35,000. With the Sept. 30, deadline looming, it is critical for us to bring in donations, large and small, from individuals, families, and businesses.”

Visit the website to learn more and make your donation. Alternatively, checks should be sent to “Friends of PQ Park,” 31 Walnut St, Belmont MA, 02478

Friends of PQ Park will be at the Meet Belmont community information fair on Tuesday, Aug. 29 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Chenery Middle School to share more details with Belmont residents.


7th Annual Green Belmont Garden Tour Sunday, Sept 10

Photo: Gardening green in Belmont.

Sustainable Belmont is hosting the 7th annual Green Belmont Garden Tour on  Sunday, Sept. 10, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. come rain or shine.

The free, self-guided garden tour highlights a variety of safe and healthy organic garden practices.

See how:

  • gardeners in Belmont have changed practices after last year’s drought.
  • Learn about hearty perennial fruits, annual vegetables, and landscaping plants.
  • See different composting methods firsthand. Talk with the gardeners about all their growing habits.

This year participants can enter a chance to win a rain barrel or composter at each garden you visit. The more gardens you visit the better chances of winning! The raffle is an effort to help reach out to the Belmont community on issues of sustainability and to encourage healthy yards care in Belmont. Those garden viewers already on Sustainable’s mailing list may still enter the raffle and residency is not a requirement.

Garden tour maps can be picked up from the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St. on Sept. 10, from 11 to 3 pm. Those attending can download or follow using Google Maps on the morning of the tour at But note; the page will not be available until then as a courtesy to our participating gardeners)

Belmont Yard Sales: Aug. 26-27

Photo: Yard sales this weekend.

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

• 69 Elm St., Saturday, Aug. 26, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

26 Jeanette Ave., Sunday, Aug. 27, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

54 Sycamore St., Saturday, Aug. 26, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

126 White St., Sunday, Aug. 27, 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. 

Don’t Pass Up Summer’s Favorite Stop; The Local Lemonade Stand

Photo: Belmont lemonade salesperson.

The days are not as long as they were just two weeks ago and the high temperatures just break 80 degrees. High school teams are practicing on Harris Field while kids are loading up on school supplies.

Summer is nearly over.

But in the final two weekends, before school resumes, you can still enjoy one of the joys of summer somewhere in town: freshly-squeezed lemonade from a paper/plastic cup, the creation of a young entrepreneur on a Belmont sidewalk.

So take the time to stop by and visit your local lemonade stand and purchase a glass (along with a side order of cookies if that’s also for sale) in an effort enjoy the last days of summer before heading home to wrestle through your closet to find the sweaters and boots you’ll need to wear soon enough. 

BREAKING: Assistant Police Chief MacIsaac Reverses Course, Will Stay in Belmont

Photo: Belmont Police Assistant Chief James MacIsaac.

After earlier this week making what he called “one of, if not the most, difficult decision I have ever made,” Belmont Police Assistant Chief James MacIsaac has had a change of heart and will not accept the appointment as Chief of Police in Wayland.

“I have made the determination that remaining in Belmont as the assistant Police Chief is in the best interests to me and my family,” said MacIsaac in an email to the Belmontonian earlier this afternoon, Friday, Aug. 25.

The sudden about face by MacIsaac comes just days after he was offered the position to be Wayland’s top cop on Monday, Aug. 21. While saying becoming a chief was a long time goal of his, MacIsaac decision will allow the lifelong resident – who has lived all but two years in Belmont – to remain in his hometown police department which he joined in 1999.

MacIsaac was appointed Belmont’s assistant chief in July 2012.

Gas Line Replacement Begins Friday at Washington and Branchaud

Photo: Road work on Washington and Branchaud.

The prep work has been done, and the work to replace a major utility line a block from the Chenery Middle School is set to begin today.

National Grid is scheduled to replace the natural gas main at the intersection of Branchaud Road and Washington Street. As part of this project, we will also replace the natural gas service piping that connects the main to the customer’s gas meters of nine houses.

Traffic will be affected at the site.

Construction is expected to begin on Friday, Aug. 25 and end approximately on Monday, Sept. 4, all dates weather permitting. The first day of school at the Chenery Middle School is Wednesday, Sept. 6.

We will work hard to complete this project promptly and with minimal disruption to the community,” said Grace Sawaya, Community & Customer Management manager for National Grid in a press release to the town.

National Grid has produced a YouTube video on the gas main replacement process, in addition to a second video explaining the replacement of the service pipe to customer homes at

“We’re here for you if you have any questions about this project. Please contact me at 781-907-3419
We look forward to working with you as we upgrade our community’s infrastructure,” said Sawaya.

Tomatoes, Honey and Yoga At Today’s Farmers Market

Photo: Peaches are in season.
Late August is the perfect time of year at the Belmont Farmers Market open today, Thursday, Aug. 24 from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Claflin Street Municipal parking lot behind Belmont Center. 
Summer produce is very much in season, with an amazing selection of tomatoes, peppers, corn, summer squash, and peaches, and fall produce is just starting to come in. It’s also time to stock up on honey, as this is Tewksbury Honey’s final week at the Market for this year.
Weekly Vendors
Red’s Best, Stillman Quality Meats, Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery, Dick’s Market Garden, Del Sur Empanadas, Goodies Homemade, Bread Obsession, Hutchins Farm, Freedom Food Farm, Foxboro Cheese Co., Flats Mentor Farm, Nicewicz Family Farm, Tewksbury Honey (final week), Brookford Farm
Monthly and Occasional Vendors
Deano’s Pasta, Jaju Pierogi, Japonaise Bakery, Recreo Coffee and Roastery, The Warren Farm and Sugarhouse
Community Table
Boston Area Gleaners
Schedule of Events
2 p.m.: Acoustic Breezes – a progressive, guitar-driven band that fuse jazz, folk, rock, and world rhythms with strong, expressive vocals to create a wealth of unique “free-verse” songs.
4 p.m.: Storytime with the librarians from the Children’s Room of the Belmont Public Library.
4:30 p.m.; Artemis Yoga – The Coolidge Square studio will teach a posture exercise to align the body in an optimal standing position and host a plank challenge.