As State, MBTA Ease Community Path Obstacles, Final Decision On Route Set For Feb. 25

Photo: Jody Ray, the MBTA’s assistant general manager, pointing to the Brighton Street crossing.

In a significant concession to help push a final decision on a preferred route for the Belmont segment of a 102-mile bike trail, representatives from the MBTA and the state’s Department of Transportation said they could support a community path along either the north or south side of the commuter rail tracks from the Cambridge town line to Belmont Center.

At a standing room only Board of Selectmen’s meeting on Monday night, Jan 28, the two officials whose statements this past summer highlighting safety concerns at the commuter rail crossing on Brighton Street pushed Selectmen to revisit a north route to the consternation of Channing Road residents, noted their agencies consider the path a “high priority” and want to keep the project moving forward. 

When asked by Selectman Tom Caputo if both potential routes “were both fundable,” Jody Ray, the MBTA’s assistant general manager for Commuter Rail, said while the authority’s focus is on safety, “there’s no fatal flaw” for either a north or south path if a fix could be developed for the Brighton Street crossing.

But while the declarations would appear to allow the path to proceed along a southern route as the board decided more than a year ago, the reemergence of problems with several “pinch” points along the first several hundred feet of the southerly path could eventually keep the route on the north side. 

At meeting’s end, the Selectmen circled Monday, Feb. 25 as the date when it will declare which of the two routes – north or south – will be selected, a decision more than three decades in the making. 

At the Monday meeting, Belmont Town Administrator Patrice Garvin said Belmont would be seeking the maximum $300,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s MassTrails Grants program, to be used for project development and design. Those monies will either supplement or defray the $1 million in Community Preservation Committee funds approved by Town Meeting in May. With a Feb. 1 deadline looming, the town would need to submit a plan that selected either one of the two routes. 

Ray and Michael Trepanier from the state’s Department of Transportation were asked by the board to attend the meeting to provide their view on which path option would receive a more favorable reading. 

The Board of Selectmen voted in Dec. 2017 to adopt the recommendation of PARE Consultants to build a pedestrian tunnel at Alexander Avenue and proceed along the south or High School side of the commuter rail tracks.

But that decision is now in “flux” according to Selectman Mark Paolillo, due to “serious safety concerns” the MBTA presented to the town’s attention in July that bicyclists would cut diagonally from the south side across the rail/road intersection at Brighton Street to engage the existing bike trail to Alewife Station. At the time, town and Belmont’s elected officials were told the state would be “reluctant” to fund a southern route.

In addition to the safety concerns, the MassDOT declared it would no longer require funding for the Alexander pedestrian tunnel to be linked with a south path. With the changes, town officials and elected officials determined the town should pursuit a north route, to the frustration of several Channing Road homeowners who have long complained of a lack of privacy and personal safety with a well-traveled trail.

Ray and Trepanier were asked to speak at the meeting as many residents sought a direct answer from the state and MBTA.

The DOT’s Trepanier put his cards on the table early: the state wants the Belmont section built as it will connect other sections and Belmont has committed sizable funds for design and feasibility studies to the project.

“A high priority corridor”

“The state recognizes this is the Belmont portion of the Mass Central Rail Trail, a high priority corridor for us working at the state level,” said Trepanier which will impact if the project is selected for a grant. But he said that if the MBTA’s issues with bicyclists safely cross the rail tracks at Brighton Street – cyclists would likely travel diagonally across the tracks rather than at crosswalks or sidewalks and would not encounter the safety gates when they close as a train approaches – were not resolved than possible future funding would be “negatively impact the favorability” of the project.

“Bicyclists don’t tend to make right corner turns, they’ll take the shortest distance” which is hazardous when a train is approaching, Ray said. 

Since the MBTA wanted gates to prevent residents from going into the crossing, Selectman Paolillo suggested a system in which additional gates onto the path to cutting all access to the intersection which incidentally is being discussed for an intersection in West Concord.

When asked by Selectmen Chair Adam Dash if such a design addition – which Trepanier called “a really innovated thing to do” – would change the MBTA’s concerns on the southern route, Ray said while the authority always wants a crossing away from the tracks, “we will consider it.” And Trepanier said, “the caveat would be that we’d want … to engage in national best practices on how we deal with these hazardous locations.”

But Trepanier added there needs to be some “amount of practicality and pragmatism inject here” and while the MBTA had “raised the red flag” on their safety concerns, “we recognize people can [cross at an angle] today. The path is there and we don’t want to exacerbate a safety issue because one fatality is a fatality too many.”

“There are details like this that need to be worked out in order to ensure that working with a partner that we could assuage their concerns or make the situation safer,” said Trepanier.

While the state and MBTA may have softened their objection to a southern path, it also brought to the forefront an issue of “pinch points” along the start of the route from Brighton Street towards Belmont Center. While both trails need to contend with buildings and right of ways to have the required width that will allow access for emergency vehicles, a southerly route would require the town to take a portion of two sites, the Purecoat structure and the building housing the Crate Escape, a dog daycare business, through a sale or by an eminent domain taking.

In fact, the analysis of possible routes by the Pare Corp. which conducted a near year-long feasibility study of the community path did not take into consideration the price of acquiring portions of the two businesses. Amy Archer of Pare said she would begin a new study to reevaluate how much the town will undertake in the additional costs.

And the price tag for a southern route could be significant upwards to several millions of dollars, according to resident and path supporter Paul Roberts. Resolving the pinches will be “at least as daunting” as solve the safety problems at Brighton Street. He said there is no such impediment on the north side of the tracks; the only reason the board will not declare its preference for the route has less to do with safety or cost but as a political decision to placate the Channing Road homeowners.

But defenders of the southernly laid out path challenged the price differential by proposing using town streets including Hittinger Road to avoid the buildings altogether.


春 節: Belmont Chinese American Association Holds New Year Celebration At Chenery

Photo: Chao Tu, Adam Dash, May Ye, Xia Zhou, and Sharon Wei at the Belmont Chinese American Association Gala Lunar New Year Celebration.

The Belmont Chinese American Association‘s Gala Lunar New Year Celebration took place at the Chenery  Middle School on Sunday, Jan. 27.

(The Chinese New Year begins on Tuesday, Feb. 5, which is the Year of the Pig, and lasts until Feb. 19.)

The celebration included a Chinese Cultural Festival in the cafeteria. There were small stage performances include a tea ceremony, lantern riddle, hand-crafts, paper cutting, calligraphy, Peking Opera costumes, Hanfu, Sugar Figure Blowing Art, Chinese specialty snacks, musical instruments display, and experiences.
The festivities concluded with a Lunar New Year Performance in the Chenery auditorium. 

Guden, Jones Named December’s Athletes Of The Month

Photo: Dylan Jones (left) and Katie Guden

The Belmont Boosters Club named the December  2018 Athletes of the Month who are:

  • Girls Ice Hockey: Katie Guden
  • Boys Swimming: Dylan Jones

The Belmont Boosters is a parent-run, non-profit charitable organization that is committed to promoting and supporting Belmont High School athletics. The Boosters have contributed towards the purchases and improvements of new football and softball scoreboards, the wrestling clock, the 2014 renovation of White’s Field House, the installation of new flooring for the Wenner field house and the 2017 installation of the Harris Field Press Box. Annually the Boosters provide the jackets awarded at the seasonal athletic awards nights, championship banners in the field house and the team captain leadership program.


Letter To The Editor: An Appeal For Donated Socks For The Homeless

To the editor:
We are all acutely aware of the effects of this cold time of year – and the homeless amongst us even more so. BOSTON HEALTHCARE FOR THE HOMELESS is an amazing agency, caring for those less fortunate in so many ways. Now, they have teamed up with the BOSTON RED SOX to address one of those needs: clean, warm socks. The lack of the ability to keep feet warm and protected leads to many cases of frostbite and amputation  – sad realities that are so easily preventable through distributing clean socks to those in need.
As a podiatrist, I know the importance of proper foot care – and so my office and I are looking to work with you all to help. During this winter season, I have put out a box in my waiting room to collect new white socks (any size, as long as they are new and white.) For every two pairs of socks you all donate, I will add an additional pair. Boston Healthcare for the Homeless will be contacted as they come in, and they will be then distributed to the people that they serve so well.
Bring your socks donations to my office at 1 Oak Ave. between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, come into my waiting room and place the socks in the donation box. You will get a fine greeting and “thank you” from my staff and myself, as you have helped someone in need to stay warm and keep their feet healthy.
Dr. David Alper
Oak Avenue

Get Your Free Tixs Now For Third Annual ‘Talk Of The Town’ Tuesday, March 19

Photo: Meet Belmont.
It’s here! The third annual MEET BELMONT Talk of the Town will be held on Tuesday, March 19 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Chenery Middle School Auditorium.
This yearly community event showcases the diverse and cutting-edge work and views of Belmont residents through presentations that model after the TED Talk format. The event attracts approximately 400 residents each year and is available for viewing on the Belmont Media Center community channels.
This year’s lineup includes:

HOST: Jane Clayson Johnson, Journalist and author


  • Leah Hager Cohen: author and Barrett Professor of Creative Writing, College of the Holy Cross
  • Gianna Burgess: Student, Chenery Middle School
  • Amanda FernandezFounder and CEO, Latinos for Education
  • Brianna Liu: Student, Belmont High School
  • Deb RoyAssociate Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Co-founder and Chair of Cortico

MEET BELMONT Talk of the Town 2019 is presented by the MEET BELMONT Committee with generous support from the Town of Belmont, and is co-sponsored by Belmont Public Schools, with Belmont Books as the book partner and public safety partner the Belmont Police Department. 

Considering Running for Elected Office in Belmont? No Time Like the Present

Photo: It’s getting close to the deadline for nomination papers to be submitted.

Ellen Cushman, Belmont’s Town Clerk, announced this week that nomination papers for Town Offices are available for those running for office.

All candidates must be registered voters of Belmont.

Belmont’s form of government is a representative Town Meeting and we have seven elected boards, commissions and committees. Town Meeting makes all of the decisions about the Town’s budgets, local bylaws and town-wide initiatives. As a representative Town Meeting, only elected Town Meeting Members can debate and vote, unlike the Open Town Meeting some smaller towns use. Annual Town Meeting takes place in the spring, and typically is held for four evenings, (customarily Monday and Wednesday) in early May then early June for another two to four evenings. All sessions start at 7 p.m.

Each voting precinct in Belmont has 36 Town Meeting Members, elected by voters of that precinct at the April Town Election. Twelve Representative Town Meeting Members for each precinct are elected annually for a three year term. In 2019 there are also a few partial-term openings for Town Meeting; vacancies are created by Members moving or resigning. Serving in Town Meeting is a great way to represent your neighbors and neighborhood concerns, get to know other residents and become informed about issues and opportunities ahead of Town.

Stop by the Town Clerk’s office to pick up nomination papers; have your neighbors and friends, who are voters of your precinct, sign your papers and submit the signed forms to the Town Clerk by the deadline, Feb. 12, at 5 p.m. The Town Clerk’s web pages contain quite a bit of information to help make a decision to seek office at  select Town Clerk, then select Running for Elected Office and Campaigning or feel free to call us at 617-993-2600, or email at

Running for election is simple:

  • To be nominated for Town-wide office – signatures of at least 50 registered voters of the Town are required on the nomination papers. The Town Clerk must certify these signatures so we always suggest obtaining about 20% more just to be safe.
  • To be nominated for Town Meeting – signatures of at least 25 registered voters of your precinct are required on the nomination papers. The Town Clerk must certify these signatures so we always suggest obtaining about 20% more just to be safe.  Some current Town Meeting Members will be asking the voters for re-election but all twelve seats are available in each precinct.

Here’s the list of offices that will be filled by the April 2 annual Town Election as of Jan. 24:

Town Meeting Members for Each of the Eight Precincts: Vote for 12 (three year terms)

Partial-Term Town Meeting  Members:

For Precinct 1: Vote for one, two-year term.

For Precinct 1: Vote for one, one-year term.

For Precinct 5: Vote for one, two-year term.

For Precinct 7: Vote for one, one-year term.

Town-wide Offices Number of Seats Term of Office
Moderator Vote for One 1 year
Board of Selectmen Vote for One 3 years
Town Clerk Vote for One 3 years
Board of Assessors Vote for One 3 years
Board of Cemetery Commissioners Vote for One 3 years
Board of Health Vote for One 3 years
Members of the Housing Authority Vote for One 5 years
Trustees of the Public Library Vote for Two 3 years
Members of the School Committee Vote for One 1 year
Members of the School Committee Vote for Two 3 years


Solid Victories For Belmont Boys’, Girls’ Hoops Over Lexington

Photo: Belmont High’s Megan Tan (33) was high scorer with 14 points vs. Lexington.

It was a pair of solid victories for Belmont High’s hoopsters as the Boys’ and Girls’ remain undefeated in Middlesex Liberty league play as they begin their stretch runs to the tournament.

Whatever head coach Adam Pritchard told his team at halftime, he should keep doing so as Belmont’s boys’ basketball team went on a tear in the third quarter to secure its win over visiting Lexington, 91-73, in the opener of Friday night’s doubleheader, Jan 25.

While Lexington (9-4) gave Belmont a match in the first encounter in December – the game which Danny Yardemian broke the school’s single-game scoring record with 46 points – the Marauders (12-1) appeared in control on both ends of the court. Pritchard took out his starters shortly after the game started and put out his role players who kept the Minutemen at bay with sophomore Preston Jackson-Stephens and senior Jake Herlihy combined for three consecutive blocks that transitioned into a Jackson-Stephens bucket. Belmont ended the opening quarter up 18-15 as senior Matt Wu hit a 15-foot line drive buzzer beater off a miss.

Despite having the Belmont starters back on the court, Lexington took the lead, 27-25, off a 3 from senior Dante Ortiz and held it at 31-30 with 2:30 left in the half. But a pair of steals by senior Ben Sseruwagi leading to baskets by himself and junior Mac Annus (12 points in the half, 20 for the game) gave the Marauders the lead 34-31 followed by two more thefts and baskets ending with a 3 by sophomore Tim Minicozzi to finish off a 13-4 run to give Belmont a 43-36 margin at the end of two quarters.

Coming out of the break, Yardemian sprung into action scoring eight points (a bucket and free throw, an NBA 3, and a classic drive to the hoop) in the first three minutes to hike the lead up to 56-47, followed up by Yardemian and senior center Dan Seraderian dominating the inside as Belmont went on a 21-6 sprint to the finish of the quarter, as the Marauders scored 34 third-quarter points with Yardemian (ending with a game-high 31) contributing 16 points to end the third up 77-53.

After a slow start, the Belmont Girls used its trademark half-court press defense (limiting opponents to 33 points per game) to spark a flurry of 3s from a senior leader to a 57-33 win to remain undefeated at 12-0.

As both teams had limited play over the week due to exam week, the girls’ contest needed to shake the rust off in the first quarter – it was scoreless after more than four minutes – when four-year varsity player Megan Tan took her game to the outside, hitting two 3s as senior center Jess Giorgio (9 points, five rebounds, 2 blocks) was able to score inside while quarterbacking the press defense that kept the Minutemen to six points in the quarter.

Leading 12-6 at the start of the second, the Marauders doubled its score and the lead (25-14 at the end of the half) by going beyond the arc with Giorgio and Tan (two more from distance to end as game-high scorer with 14 points) leading the charge while Maiya Bergdorf and off the bench sophomore center Emma McDevitt (2 points) took control under the basket.

With the Minutemen needing to spread the court to find some outside shots, Belmont found its own opportunities as Bergdorf (12 points, 10 in the quarter) and freshman guard Nina Minicozzi (13 points) scored all of Belmont’s 19 in the quarter, nine points coming from downtown with Bergdorf connecting twice from beyond the 19′ 3/4” line.

With its press continuing to clamp down on the Lexington offense, limiting the Minutemen to six over eight minutes to lead 44-20, Belmont was able to turn to its bench early with sophomores Kiki Christofori (2 points) and Reese Sharpazian (2 points), Abby Morin (1 point) and senior center Ella Gagnon (a putback two in the paint) all contributing. 

Two Arrested In Drug Bust On Burnham Street; Fentanyl Seized

Photo: An example of Fentanyl.

A significant amount of opioids was seized and two people arrested in a Belmont drug bust Thursday night, Jan. 24.

According to Asst. Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac, Belmont Police detectives along with members of the Suburban Middlesex County Drug Task Force arrested Albert Altfeder, 29, of Burnham Street and charged him with trafficking 10 or more grams of Fentanyl.

After receiving several complaints that individuals were involved in street-level drug transactions in Belmont, detectives and the Suburban Middlesex County Drug Task Force began to conduct surveillance in Belmont. After a lengthy investigation, a search warrant for Altfeder’s home was obtained.

At 9: 21 p.m. on Jan. 24, members of the Task Force along with Belmont Police Patrol Division and Belmont Police Detectives entered Altfeder’s residence where they discovered 13 grams of Fentanyl along with other drug paraphernalia.

Officers also found Jennifer Francis, 24, Of Danvers, in Altfeder’s home, who was subsequently arrested on two outstanding warrants for drug possession of a Class A drug out of Salisbury and an OUI/drugs out of Watertown.

Reset: Belmont World Film’s Family Festival Movies Moves To Saturday, Jan. 27

Photo: A scene from “The Witch Hunters”

See the New England premieres of two award-winning international films for children, from China and  Serbia, at Belmont World Film’s Family Festival taking place at the West Newton Cinema (1296 Washington St.) on Saturday, Jan. 27 (both have been rescheduled due to cancellation from this past weekend’s storm). Both films also feature English subtitles that will be read aloud through headphones for young readers.

Both films are co-presented by the ReelAbilities Boston Film Festival. ​​For more info, visit​.​​​

Minicozzis Lead Belmont’s Boys’, Girls’ Hoops In Wins Over Woburn

Photo: Belmont’s Nina Minicozzi scoring on a floater in the lane in action at Woburn.

Senior captain Jess Giorgio said the last time she beat a Woburn team in their home gym was as a member of an eighth-grade traveling team. For her first three years at Belmont High, no matter how well the teams she was on played, the Tanners always found a way to hand the Marauders a loss.

So it was no small issue that Giorgio and her fellow seniors wanted to leave Woburn for the final time with the W.

“For the seniors, tonight’s game was really special. We were really motivated to win,” she said of the front end of Friday’s double-bill with the Belmont Boys’ against Woburn.

And the Bowd0in-bound center would go out a winner as Giorgio and her teammates turned in a spectacular defensive performance against a physical Tanner team to prevail, 45-26, as the Marauders held the hosts to four points in both the first and third quarters.

Leading the way to the promise land for Belmont was one of its youngest varsity players as frosh standout Nina Minicozzi struck for 14 points and 6 rebounds.

“It was physical but I had my teammates who helped me get open and that’s why we won,” said Minicozzi.

In the late game of the doubleheader, Minicozzi’s brother Tim joined senior captain Danny Yardemian with 19 points as the Boys’ took the lead early against Woburn and steadily pulled away throughout the first half to build a 49-27 lead at the half to cruise to an 81-65 victory. 

Belmont Girls remain unbeaten at 11-0 (9-0 in the Middlesex League) while Woburn dips to 6-3 (6-3).

Having not won in Woburn for as long as most people could remember, Belmont Girls’ came into the game knowing to throw out the records against a Tanner team that had been holding opponents to 32 points per game. In the first two minutes, Woburn’s smothering defense inside clogged Belmont’s lane to the basket.

Woburn would score the first four points of the game on free throws in the first two and a half minutes. But the rest of the half was all Belmont as the Marauders would go on a 19-0 run as Woburn would not score a basket until 3:13 left in the second quarter. Sophomore forward Miaya Bergdorf’s 3 put Belmont on the scoreboard followed by one of two from the line by senior guard Megan Tan (9 points) and a sweet two off a spin move in the lane by Giorgio (8 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks) who raced down the court to emphatically reject a shot. Tan would give Belmont an 8-4 lead at the end of one with two from the charity stripe. 

The second quarter was all Belmont as Minicozzi hit from downtown as Bergdorf (12 points) dominated the defensive board with 8 rebounds in the half. A Giorgio drive for two and Tan’s bucket stretched the lead to 19-4 before Woburn could respond against a pressing half-court defense that prevented the Tanners from a clean shot or an ability to drive to the hoop.

Sophomore Kiki Christofori presented the Tanners backcourt all sorts of trouble with a smothering presence as she and senior forward Ella Gagnon (2 points) both end up with three steals.

“When I [come onto the court] I want to make bringing up the ball a challenge. That’s a big part of my game,” said Christofori, as Belmont ended the half up 24-10.

Minicozzi started the third with a running scoop shot for a basket as a Tan jumper and Bergdorf’s second 3 put Belmont up 29-14 midway through the quarter. Woburn’s late run to cut the lead to 11 (31-20) was as close as the Tanners would come as Minicozzi’s second 3 and Tan’s 3 restored a solid advantage (37-20) with five to play. Belmont’s Gagnon hit the final basket for the night with less than two minutes to put an exclamation point on the victory. 

“[Belmont] played tough defense and rebounded really well against a team that makes you work for everything,” said Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart after the game. “This was one of our more difficult games and we had to put things together a little bit more than with other teams we’ve played.”

For the Boys’, Friday was another classic example of transition basketball with Belmont capitalizing on their speed and killer shot selection to put the game out of reach for the Tanners early in the second quarter. Belmont hit five 3s in the opening frame with Yardemian and junior shooting guard Mac Annus (16 points) knocking down a pair each to open a 26-16 lead. Senior center Dan Seraderian (16 points) was able to roam under the basket ending up with 9 points (including a 3) in the second to join Yardemian (7 in the quarter) and sophomore Preston Jackson-Stevens (two 3s in the game) to extend the Marauders’ lead to 22 points at the half.

Belmont would put the game out of reach with a trio of 3s in the third from Jackson-Stevens, Seraderian and Minicozzi who has been increasingly becoming an important part of the team.

“My teammates really look for me tonight so I had some open 3s off of assists,” said Minicozzi. “The coaches are very supportive of me and my game and I’m getting more confident on the court.”