Promotions and Pinnings: Belmont Fire Celebrates Those Moving Up And Joining The Department [Photos]

Photo: Mila and Brooke Elefteriadis helps pin the badge on newly promoted Ace Elefteriadis at the Belmont Fire ceremony.

Just as Lt. Michael Dayton was being sworn in as a Lieutenant in the Belmont Fire Department by Town Clerk Ellen Cushman, a very loud alarm sounded and many of his fellow firefighters scrambled to a Rescue vehicle and fire engine to rush off to a call.

”You knew this was going to happen,” said Belmont Fire Chief David DeStefano after the oath was given to Dayton during what the chief called a “very special day for the department.

Belmont firefighters (left, background) leaving the promotion and pinning celebration to answer a call.

The bay of the Belmont Fire Headquarters on Trapelo Road was filled with family, friends, colleagues, town officials and children galore as the department acknowledged the promotion of four officers and three new firefighters to Belmont Fire’s roll.

Cushman issued the oath for the promotions and had the new officers sign the town’s new “Big Book” for town officials to acknowledge their pledge to the town coming after children and parents helped place their new badges onto their uniforms.

For the newbies, their mothers had to honor of ”pinning” their badges on their sons.

”This opportunity to get together and acknowledge the achievements” of those being promoted “is a rare occasion for the department and to bring aboard these three brand new firefighters and to have them participate in one of their first events with us makes this occasion even more special,” said DeStefano at the ceremony.

Those promoted include:

  • Asst. Chief Andrew Tobio – appointed 2003
  • Capt. Robert Wollner – appointed 2005
  • Lt. Ace Elefteriadis – appointed 2003
  • Lt. Michael Dayton – appointed 2011

Tobio, Eleftriadis and Dayton are Belmont High School alumni while Wollner is a US Navy veteran.

The newly hired Belmont firefighters are:

  • FFOP Peter Donovan
  • FFOP John Conaty
  • FFOP Matthew McCabe

First Night Of 2022 Town Meeting Saw ‘Meat And Potatoes’ Articles Win Approval

Photo: Mike Widmer at the start of the meeting.

Virtual presentations, virtual line of people at the microphone, virtual voting: Welcome to Belmont’s third annual ZOOM Town Meeting as members came together, once again, in front of laptops and smart phones to conducted the business of town governance on Monday, May 2.

And despite a few technical hiccups – unintended raised hands, unmuted background noise and one or two false starts in remarks and presentations – the night went smoothly taking a tidy three-and-a-half hours to wrap up by 10 p.m. in the first of an expected three nights under Segment A which covers the meeting’s non-budgetary articles.

While the meeting would have the feel of a video conference, it didn’t mean the members would miss out on the traditional moments that precedes each annual assembly: a video flag raising and the Pledge of Allegiance by the Boys and Girls Scouts, an invocation from Dane Helsing of Beacon Community Church along with the acknowledgement of those long-serving members who did not seek or was not reelected – Sue Pew served for 45 years!

And the Town Meeting oath given by Town Clerk Ellen Cushman – “the bestist and nicest Town Clerk” as one of the Boy Scouts attested to – to 50 new members (a record of sorts according to Moderator Mike Widmer) acknowledging their pledge via their wireless voting devices.

During his talk to members on procedure and process, Widmer reminded the first night attendees to not allow discussions to get the better of their emotions

“It’s critical to keep our discourse civil and respectful,” said Widmer. “It is a healthy thing to have a healthy debate. Passion is fine, but let’s keep it civil.”

There was a lot of meat and potato articles on the menu on the first night. After sweeping aside the routine housekeeping articles, the articles

Demolition Delay

The 2017 bylaw established the town’s demolition delay regulations to provide up to a one year reprieve in pulling down 181 significant buildings listed by the town, said Lisa Harrington, chair of the Historic District Commission, in her presentation to the meeting.

The original bylaw has a “sunset” provision that will take effect at the end of 2022. The article would make the bylaw permanent via some minor language changes. The bylaw change will also deleted the appeals provision as the new provision does not add properties to the list. Just how effective the law has been, said Harrington, is that none of the the 181 significant buildings have not been taken down in the past five years.

During the debate, Jason Katola, Precinct 3, opposed the article for some of the same reasons members did five years ago; there is no compensation to the homeowner due to any delay and that it prevents the most productive use (a new structure on the site) of the land. Steve Pinkerton, chair of the Planning Board and Precinct 7, kept his statement brief and to the point: the new bylaw language will not be an impediment to development in town. Vince Stanton, Precinct 3, said that if the bylaw had been on the books at the turn of the century, four historic and architecturally important buildings – the Waverley Square Congregational Church and the Thomas Clark House, as examples – that he described as “real treasures” would have had at least partial protection. Not all that controversial, the article passed easily, 221-31-1.

Membership of Town Committees

Town Clerk Cushman told the meeting that many Belmontians believe that serving on boards, commissions and committees is a vital part of government and that it’s currently reserved for residents with some limited exceptions. But, surprisingly, there is only one reason that a member can be removed from said bodies: missing three consecutive meetings.

The bylaw change proposed by Cushman would create three reasons to remove a member; missing three consecutive meetings, non-compliance with the mandatory on-line state ethics training and they are no longer a Belmont resident. And it was surprising to discover that 18 volunteers are currently out of sequence with the ethic education requirement and 2 are no longer residents.

During the debate, Town Counsel George Hall said that town has no way of running off a volunteer who breaks the state’s ethnic laws – that’s up to the state – but can remove them if they don’t take the biannual test.

Meeting members had no problem with the bylaw change, passing it by a 247-1 margin.

Stormwater management and erosion control

Article 6 amends the town’s storm water management and erosion control bylaw of 2013 so that it aligns with the MS4 permit, which is issued by the US Environment Protection Agency authorizing discharges from Belmont’s storm sewer system into ”the waters of the United States.”

“We have provisions that require sewer and stormwater service connections to comply with certain regulations,” Glen Clancy, the town’s engineer and director of the Office of management. ”There are requirements that have to be in the bylaw in order for us to be in compliance with the MS4 permit so the proposal is to add wording to clarify definitions” said Clancy such as what the total maximum daily load requirement.

The article received overwhelming support from the residents who count, those who promote clean water and best practices for storm water management.

“We are lucky to have someone line Glen Clancy who was willing to put in the time to try to figure out how to conform the … bylaw to all the inconsistent and conflicting requirements of EPA and state DEP,” said Bob McGaw, precinct 1. And Clancy pitched a rare shut out with the amendment with a 254-0-3 vote of Town Meeting.

Oakmont Lane

The town has a new public road when the once private Oakmont Lane was accepted by Town Meeting by a 165-61-17 margin. Unlike previous articles to accept a private way such as Carleton Circle, the cul-de-sac was built by the developer of the four residential homes which he purchased in 2015 from the town for a little over a million dollars. As part of the purchase and sale, the road would be brought before Town Meeting by the developer rather than the residents. The debate hinged on doing right by the new residents and accepting the road or let the developer continue to control the road and work it out between him and the homeowners on repairs and snow removal.

Retail Liquor Licenses

It may come as some surprise to newcomers that up until 2007, Belmont was strickly a teetotaling kind of town. For nearly 150 years, the Town of Homes was in the grip of our Victorian and Prohibition-era forefathers as liquor sales was strictly verboten. You’d have to hope the trolley to Cambridge to have wine with your dinner.

But by 2022, Belmont is more than willing to top off the number of alcohol and beer and wine licenses as high as they can. But only up to a point. The Select Board’s Adam Dash reported the article was a simple one: to go from two all-alcohol retail licenses to four and to increase the number of beer and wine licenses from four to six with an eye to increasing businesses and retail shopping. Why four and six licenses when an earlier version of the article called for seven beer and wine permits? Dash said it was pointed out that 4 and 7 total 11 and that additional license would have triggered a state law that requires the town to increase the number of marijuana retail sale licenses to three from the current two.

Dash noted that the fee for the licenses will remain steady: an annual all-alcohol license is $4,000 while beer and wine are $2,500 annually.

Town Meeting took no time in approving the article, 223-18-2, to bring in the booze.

Town meeting will return on Wednesday, May 4 with articles 10 and 3

Sushi, Japanese Eatery Planned For Cushing Square As Comella’s (Quietly) Seeks Similar Location

Photo: The location of the former Ben Franklin in Cushing Square which will likely transform into a sushi/Japanese restaurant

The owner of a popular Belmont take out place has signed a lease for the former Ben Franklin 5 and 10 store with plans to bring top-notch sushi and traditional Japanese dishes to Cushing Square.

“We chose Belmont because of its proximety, the people and as a resident of Belmont we need more places where we can gather and meet up for a nice meal,” said Jack Sy, a former financial analyst turned restauranteur who owns a number of eateries including the popular Number 1 Taste Chinese Food takeout also located on Trapelo Road.

Sy’s move to the long time home of five and dime stores – operated as a Ben Franklin franchise since the 1930s before changing its name to Hollingsworth 5 and 10 in 2014, and finally as Belmont 5 and 10 before closing for good in August 2021 – will be a long-needed shot in the arm for the business center with a steady number of empty store fronts.

The menu which the Johnson and Wales graduate is still developing will include high-quality sushi and traditional Japanese dishes like Katsudon (pork cutlet rice bowl), Ramen noodles and Teppanyaki (sizzling hot plates) to your table. (Think Netflix’s ”Midnight Diner” food in Belmont.) There will also be many creative tapas-sized dishes for an option to a light meal. Sy will also seek an all-alcohol license to compliment the food.

Just beginning the permitting process with the town, Sy said he tentatively wants to do a complete buildout of the space replacing the site’s large existing windows with bistro-style windows that fold open during good weather while also taking advantge of the high ceiling and openness of the space “to create a mature, and fun atmosphere to come enjoy. A place where people can enjoy long conversations over dinner or a glass of wine.” He will also hire locally for all positions.

Sy’s move to open a restaurant near the busy intersection of Trapelo and Common comes as a regional Italian restaurant company currently on Leonard Street has its eyes on its own move to Cushing. Talk around Belmont Center and town offices since the fall of 2021 has Comella’s seeking a location near the popular public transportation bus line – the 73 bus is one of the most heavily used in the MBTA system – and the new Bradford apartment complex. No word from Comella’s to confirm this decision.

Whether or not Comella’s makes the move, it will not deter Sy’s plans.

“I think its a good idea for any restaurant or business to come and make the Trapelo area more vibrant,” said Sy.

Sy said a opening date is still a while in the future; he still hasn’t come up with a name for the place.

“Any suggestions?” he asked.

Pops Concerts Return This Friday, Saturday at Belmont High School – Get Tixs Now

Photo: The poster for this year’s Belmont High Pops

The Belmont High School Pops concerts are back!

This year’s concerts – scheduled for Friday and Saturday, May 6 and 7 at 6:30 p.m. in the new theater/concert hall – will feature an array of musical ensembles performing lively, memorable music in the new high school’s state-of-the-art theatre. A dessert reception featuring performances by smaller student groups concludes the evenings.

For everyone who loves live music, connecting with the community, supporting the arts in Belmont, and seeing performances in the new theatre, the family-friendly Pops concerts are the perfect opportunity.

Friday night’s concert on May 6 will feature the Concert Orchestra, Symphonic Band and Concert Chorale performing selections from Lord of the RingsHow to Train Your DragonCarmen and Pentatonix.

The music continues on Saturday night, May 7 with the Chamber Orchestra, Wind Ensemble and Chamber Singers. Highlights include selections from West Side Story, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and songs made popular by Five for Fighting, the Boston Pops, and Simon and Garfunkel. For a grand finale, the Chamber Orchestra and Wind Ensemble will join forces to perform music from Pirates of the Caribbean.

Here’s a little teaser from three years ago. Yes, that is the cafeteria in the old high school

The Pops concerts are a fundraiser for Belmont’s POMS (Parents of Music Students), which serves Belmont band, orchestra and choral students from elementary through high schools.

“The funds raised by POMS provide our students with instruments, equipment and enrichment opportunities,” said Arto Asadoorian, director of the district’s visual and performing arts department.

“By attending a Pops concert, not only are you going to hear great music in a beautiful performance venue, you will also support an organization that is incredibly valuable to Belmont music students in every grade.”

Visit to purchase tickets. Tickets for adults are $15 for one night ($25 for both nights). Tickets for students and seniors are $10 for one night ($15 for both). The admission price includes dessert. The Pops concerts are appropriate for children ages 5 and up. For more information about POMs, visit

Arbor Day Returns As Girl Scouts Are First To Donate A Tree Under Belmont’s New Planting Program

Photo: Girl Scout Troop 802027 hard at work planting its dogwood at PQ Park

The shovels were brought, soil and mulch was delivered, and a kousa dogwood tree was placed into the ground close to the playground at PQ Park. Everything was in place on Friday, April 29 for Belmont to celebrate Arbor Day for the first time in two years by adding a decorative tree to the town’s inventory.

For Lucia Gates, chair of Belmont’s Shade Tree Committee, the ceremony was extra special for two reasons: Girl Scouts from Troop 802027 – made up of girls from Belmont, Cambridge and Boston – would be doing the honors of planting the tree, which, itself, was memorable for being the first under the town’s new program for accepting gifts of trees.

“It’s great to see these scouts have this chance to provide the park with a living memory of this day,” said Gates who was a Girl Scout since age 7 in her hometown of Houston, Texas, and led her daughter’s troop at the Butler Elementary school.

The troop is the first to donate a tree under the town’s new streamlined commemorative shade tree planting program initiated by Jay Marcotte, Department of Public Works director and town Tree Warden and Gates’ committee. Approved by the Select Board on March 21, the program gives individuals, business and community groups the opportunity to donate funds to purchase and plant a public shade tree.

A donation of $500 will pay for a tree – which the Tree Warden will help each contributor select “the right tree planted at the right place” for the best chance of survival – to be placed and maintained by the Public Works. And the troop will be the first to be recognized on a new commemorative plaque which will be located in Town Hall and noted online.

At PQ, each scout recited a line from an Arbor Day poem, Marcotte read a proclamation from the Select Board, the soil and mulch was expertly put in their place and everyone in attendance was given Girl Scout cookies – Lemonades – for coming.

“So watch this tree your whole life,” said Gates. “And maybe when you grow up, you’ll bring friends and it will be part of you forever.”

Front Row, left to right: Julia Danahy, Mabel Fanning, Madeleine Palmer, Ruby Garver, Julia Spitznagel, Rosalind Oppenheim
Back Row, left to right: Penelope Fok, Fiona Zimkus, Julia Sen, Funmilayo Folorunso, Ellie Dubois, Elizabeth Tung
Lucia Gates and Michael Chesson of the Belmont Shade Tree Committee with Jay Marcotte (right), director, Belmont Department of Public Works