No Big Surprise: Snow Storm Closes Belmont Schools Thursday; Townwide Parking Ban Starts At Midnight

Photo: Remote snow day

No big surprise here: There will be no school for all students on Thursday, Dec. 17, as a result of the winter storm.

“This means that there will be no remote learning and no in-person learning tomorrow and our buildings will be closed,” read a press release from Belmont Superintendent John Phelan.

Parking ban for Thursday

Due to the foot of snow expected from the storm, a SNOW EMERGENCY PARKING BAN has been declared for all roadways and municipal and Belmont Public School parking lots.

The ban goes into effect at midnight, Dec. 17, and will last until further notice, according to Michael Santoro, assistant director of the Department of Public Works.

All vehicles parked in violation of the ban will be towed at the owner’s expense.

Snow Storm Delays Thursday Trash/Recycling Pickup to Friday

Photo: Delayed a day

The approaching snowstorm set to dump more than a foot of snow onto Belmont Wednesday and Thursday has forced the town’s rubbish vendor Waste Management to delay by one day the trash and recycling collection scheduled on Thursday, Dec. 17, according to the town’s Department of Public Works.

The new pick up date is on Friday, Dec. 18.

The DPW is also asking residents to please keep trash and recycling barrels clear of roadways and sidewalks until snow removal is complete.

With A Foot Forecast On Thursday, Belmont Schools Ready For Return Of Snow Days

Photo: Snow heading our way.

The first significant storm of winter will buffer Belmont with upwards of a foot of wind-driven snow starting Wednesday night, Dec. 16, and lasting until the early afternoon Thursday.

And while there had been discussions during the summer that school closures due to snowstorms were a thing of the past – every student has demonstrated they can learn in the remote phase – the Belmont Schools are preparing for the return of the snow day.

First, the forecast: The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for Belmont and eastern Massachusetts that will go into effect from 7 p.m. Wednesday until 1 p.m. Thursday as southern New England can expect heavy snowfall with accumulations of 8 to 12 inches with some locally higher totals. The storm will be accompanied by wind gusts as high as 35 mph.

The NWS warned that travel could be “very difficult to impossible” during nighttime hours Wednesday with the hazardous conditions impacting the morning commute.

In a message released Tuesday by Belmont Superintendent John Phelan, a school cancellation notification for Thursday will be issued by Wednesday early evening. In that event, all classes, both hybrid and remote-only, would be canceled.

“Families will receive an email and “robocall” if there is a school cancellation,” said Phelan. “If you do not receive an email or call, school will open as normal.”

In addition to an email and a call, the Belmont Public School website will list weather closures. The local television and radio stations will also list cancellations. See below for some helpful links:

WBZ Radio (1030 AM) and TV (Channel 4)

WRKO Radio (680 AM) and WHDH TV (Channel 7)

WCVB TV (Channel 5) 

The BPS Website

With COVID Cases Rising, Belmont Town Buildings Will Be Closed Through Jan. 3 If Not Longer

Photo: Belmont Town Hall

Due to the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts, all Belmont town buildings with the exception of the Police Headquarters will be closed to the public effective Monday, Dec. 14.

The closure will last into the New Year until Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, and may be extended.

The Belmont Public Library will continue to serve patrons outside of the building as well as virtually.

In an email to residents, town officials said “the town will continue to provide the same high level of service that our residents and businesses have come to expect.”

A directory of the Town Departments can be found online at and the phone numbers of all offices have been posted on the doors of the Town Hall and Homer Municipal Building.

Belmont’s FY’22 Property Tax Rate Jumps To $11.55 per $1,000 Driven By New School Borrowing

Photo: The second $100 million borrowing for the new Middle and High School has driven the property tax rate higher.

Belmont taxpayers will see their property tax rate increase by four bits and a nickel as the Board of Assessors recommended a rate for fiscal year 2022 during its annual presentation before the Select Board on Thursday morning, Dec. 10.

“This [coming fiscal] year the tax rate will be going up 55 cents … from $11 to $11.55,” Reardon told the board. According to the assessors, the impact on a residential property valued at $1,285,000 – what the average single family house in Belmont is worth – will be $706. The annual tax bill for that average house comes out to $14,842.

While property values calculated by the assessors cooled off from the past years of double digit increases – this year single families are up 3 percent (as opposed to 18 percent last year), condos 5 percent, two and three families increased by 4 percent and commercial property was flat – the biggest impact on property taxes is the second phase of borrowing for the Middle and High School project. The new $100 million borrowing added 56 cents to the tax bill, said Reardon.

As in past years, the assessors recommended and the selectmen agreed to a single tax classification and no real estate exemptions. Reardon said Belmont does not have anywhere near the amount of commercial and industrial space (at must be least a minimum of 30 percent, said Reardon) to creating separate tax rates for residential and commercial properties. Belmont’s commercial base is approximately four percent of the total real estate inventory.

As for exemptions, the administrative costs to run such a program would be prohibitive for a revenue neutral imitative. And as with the split rate, the majority of taxpayers would see little in reductions or increases in their tax bill.

The Board of Assessors will officially set the fiscal year ‘22 property tax rate on Friday, Dec. 11.

‘Not Sexy’ But Important: Public Meeting On Future Of Belmont Light Governance Dec. 14

Photo: The future of Belmont Light’s governance will be discussed on Dec. 14.

Select Board Chair Roy Epstein said the discussion of the future of how the local electrical utility will be overseen is hardly the most alluring of topics to the general public.

But that shouldn’t prevent residents from avoiding a Zoom-based public forum hosted by the Municipal Light Board – made up of the members of the Select Board – and staff from Belmont Light to discuss and obtain public input on the governance of Belmont Light. The forum will take place on Monday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m.

“This maybe not the sexiest subject but it’s a very important [one] and I hope people who are interested in town governance and in the Light Department in particular will attend,” said Epstein.

There has been much discussion over the past few years as to whether the current structure is configured correctly. This public forum has been set up to discuss and evaluate potential options for steering Belmont Light in the coming years.

There are a couple possibilities being discussed, including:

  • an independent elected board,
  • an independent appointed board, and
  • a hybrid elected/appointed board.

The Light Board is seeking all points of view so join in to discuss options and bring your own ideas and input.

To join via your computer, tablet, or smartphone:

Join from the Zoom app by entering meeting ID: 827 4987 5800

Or call in by telephone: 1 (929) 205 6099. When prompted, enter: 827 4987 5800 #

‘Good Chance’ Belmont Will Have A Role In COVID Vaccine Distribution

Photo: Vaccinations are underway for COVID-19. (Wiki Commons)

With the need to provide approximately 600 million doses (two per person) of the COVID-19 vaccine in the US, it’s likely that Belmont’s health infrastructure will be part of that massive effort in 2021.

“There’s a good chance we will play a role in the local distribution [of the vaccine],” said Wesley Chin, director of Belmont’s Health Department when he spoke to the Select Board on Monday, Dec. 7.

Chin said the state has informed cities and towns the vaccination protocol will have three stages with local boards of health involved in the final phase which is be focused on jabbing the general public.

On Wednesday, Dec. 9, Gov. Charlie Baker announced that the state’s first shipment of approximately 60,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be delivered on Tuesday, Dec. 15 going directly to 21 hospitals across the state.

At Wednesday’s press conference, Baker announced the state’s distribution plan, saying the first phase of 300,000 doses will be distributed in mid-December through mid-February to health care workers, those employed in long term care facilities, first responders and people working in congregate care settings.

The second round of nearly two million vaccinations will take place starting in mid-February and lasting through mid-April. That supply will go to those individuals with two or more comorbidities – high risk for COVID-19 complications – a group including teachers, transit personnel, grocery and food workers and public work employees, and those over 65.

Beginning in mid-April, the vaccine will be available to the general public.

Nomination Papers For Town Election, Town Meeting Now Available

Photo: Nomination papers are ready to be picked up at Town Hall

Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman announces Wednesday, Dec. 9 that nomination papers for town offices are available for those who are interested in running for office in Belmont.

All candidates must be registered voters of Belmont.

In addition to many town-wide offices, 12 representative Town Meeting Members are elected for three-year terms from each of the eight precincts. This year, there are also some partial-term openings for Town Meeting; vacancies are created by Members moving or resigning.

Stop by the Town Clerk’s office to pick up nomination papers; have your neighbors and friends, who are voters, sign your nomination papers and submit the signed forms to the Town Clerk by the deadline, Feb. 16, 2021, at 5 p.m.

The Town Hall is still closed to the public so we’ve set aside specific times for candidates to pick up and return nomination papers, no appointment necessary:

  • Monday 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Friday at 9 a.m.

Upon arrival at Town Hall, a quick call to 617-993-2603 will bring a staff member out to start the process.

Here’s the list of offices that will be filled by the April 6, annual Town Election as of Dec. 9:

  • Moderator, Vote for One, 1 year
  • Board of Selectmen, 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
  • Members of the Housing Authority, Vote for One, 4 years (to fill a vacancy)
  • Trustees of the Public Library, Vote for Two, 3 years
  • Members of the School Committee, Vote for Two, 3 years

Town Meeting Members for Each of the Eight Precincts, Vote for 12, 3 years.

Partial-Term Town Meeting  Members to Fill Vacancies

  • For Precinct 1, Vote for One, 1 year
  • For Precinct 2, Vote for One, 1 year
  • For Precinct 2, Vote for One, 2 years
  • For Precinct 4, Vote for One, 2 years
  • For Precinct 8, Vote for One, 2 years

The 12 Town Meeting Members from each of the eight voting precincts are elected each year to three-year terms, a limited number of additional partial-term seats are available as well.

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 617-993-2603, or email at

Running for election is simple

To be nominated for Town-wide office

Signatures of at least 50 registered voters of Belmont are required on the nomination papers. The Town Clerk must certify these signatures so we always suggest obtaining about 20 percent 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 percent 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, plus any partial term seats.

Running for re-election to Town Meeting:

Current Town Meeting Members whose term of office expires in 2021 have already been mailed a letter asking if the person will seek re-election. The deadline for returning the signed response letter to the Town Clerk is Jan. 26 at 4 p.m.

Impact of COVID-19: During 2020, Belmont’s Town Meetings and meetings of boards, commissions, and committees have been held via remote access using video conferencing technology. In the case of the Town Meeting, we also deploy our secure electronic voting system. All signatures on nomination papers for local elections must be original, no electronic signatures are permitted. Candidates will need to consider different ways to obtain the necessary signatures; the Town Clerk’s website offers some suggestions.

Annual Town Meeting takes place in the spring and typically lasts for six evenings, (customarily Monday and Wednesday) in early May and early June for another two to four evenings. Town Meeting makes all of the decisions about the Town’s budgets and local Bylaws. Belmont’s government is a Representative Town Meeting, which means that only Town Meeting Members can debate and vote at Town Meeting, unlike the Open Town Meeting form of government. Video of past Town Meetings is available for viewing on .

Questions can be directed to or 617-993-2603

Belmont Public Library Moves To A More Contact Free Model (New Pickup Times)

Photo: Belmont Public Library,

In response to the rising COVID-19 numbers in Massachusetts, and Gov. Charlie Baker’s request for increased safety measures, the staff of the Belmont Public Library has determined starting this week, the library will be moving to a new service model which will reduce the amount of physical contact between staff and patrons.

“We wish things were going in the other direction, but the reality is that what we care about most is the safety of you all, and of our library staff,” said Peter Struzziero, Belmont Public Library director, in an email.

Beginning on Wednesday, Dec. 9th, out of an abundance of caution the library will be taking steps to move towards a more contact free model.

On the lower level, the staff will serve children’s patrons out the window of the Children’s Room, just off the parking lot and to the right of the main door.

On the main floor, the library will have all materials available for pickup in the vestibule area. Patrons will be allowed to pickup materials and museum passes on hold, which will be left under their name. 

The library is asking that patrons call a few minutes ahead of their arrival time and their materials will be prepared and left for you under your name in the vestibule.

  • For pickup of children’s materials, please call the Children’s Room at 617-993-2880
  • For adult and YA materials, call Circulation at 617-993-2855
  • For pickup of print outs and museum passes, call Reference at 617-993-2870

Pickup hours remain as follows:

  • Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Available virtually: The library will continue to offer its digital library from the comfort of a patron’s home. Reference librarians will be available via live chat, email, and phone to help residents with reference questions during pickup hours. The library will continue to issue museum passes for those institutions that are open.

In the coming days, the library will work to begin a new service allowing patrons the ability to securely email personal documents for printing and pickup, please keep an eye on the library’s website for this announcement.

We do not plan to change our hours at this time, we simply will be serving patrons out the window for children’s materials, and in the vestibule for circulation/reference. We will continue to waive library fines for the time being, so if you need any extra day or two with that book, please know that you will not be charged,” said Struzziero.

Belmont Schools Name Ruane Interim Athletic Director

Photo: Matt Ruane

Matthew Ruane, a Belmont High School counselor and assistant baseball coach, was named Belmont Schools interim athletic director for the next four months on Friday, Dec. 4. Ruane will fill in until the first week in March for long-time AD and Director of Physical Education Jim Davis who is expected to return at that time. Belmont Superintendent John Phelan did not provide a reason for Davis’ temporary departure.

Ruane will be responsible for managing the athletic department during the Winter Sports season and what is being called Fall II beginning in February during which football is to take place. He will be facing sports which will be playing a limited schedule and possibly without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all the while promoting participation and the health and safety of students.

While Davis is away, his physical education duties will be split between three “lead” teachers.

  • Ted Trodden: elementary students
  • Dena Cocchiola: Chenery Middle School
  • Stacie Marino: Belmont High School

Before Davis left, he took care of the team’s schedules, transportation needs, and gym registrations.

Ruane is no stranger to Belmont High athletics. As a student (Class of 2007), Ruane was named Boston Globe Division 2 Baseball Player of the Year (going 7-0 as a pitcher and batting .521 to lead the Marauders to a sectional title) and was named a Middlesex League’s first-team all-star at quarterback. He played baseball for four years at Bowdoin College compiling a .324 average with 12 home runs.

Ruane has been a high school counselor in Belmont since April 2016. He holds a Master of Education from Cambridge College and earned an economics degree from Bowdoin.