Mix Of Vets, Rookies Power Belmont Girl’s Lax To Pair Of Season Opening Wins

Photo: Belmont senior attack Mary Mullan in action last year

A combination of veterans and rookies has provided the Belmont High School Girls’ Lacrosse squad with a winning start to the 2023 season. An opening 15-3 win at home against Stoneham coupled with a hard-fought 12-10 victory vs. undefeated Woburn has new Head Coach O’Brien praising his mix of talent

“We have a strong core of returning players, with 10 seniors, and are really excited about the underclassmen, with a number of sophomores hoping to contribute and four [first-year athletes] who will be contributing in the midfield,” said O’Brien.

A pair of senior captains are pacing Belmont in scoring, led by attack Mary Mullan with seven goals and an assist on two hat tricks over two games. Mid Layne Doherty has hit the back of the net five times, with four goals coming against the then-undefeated Tanners. Junior attacks Carli Gaziano (4 assists) and Tess Desantis (3 assists) are piling up the assists while scoring in both matches.

Joining the seniors making an impact in the scoring column is first-year midfielder Niamh Lesnik who has garnered two hat tricks in each game. But where Lesnik is making her presence felt is during draws where she controlled 20 of 24, which secured the Marauders’ second win. Sophomores Anna Santos (2 goals)in the midfield and attack Charlotte Mayall (1 goal, 1 assist).

The defensive line of Nina Leveroni, Kiki Hovsepian, Keira Healy, and Cat Gartland played solidly in front of Junior Goalie Julia Herlihy, who made 7 saves and 8 saves respectively.

Belmont will host Watertown on Wednesday, April 12. After Spring break, the Marauders will begin the tough Middlesex League part of their schedule welcoming powerhouse Winchester which has been averaging 17 goals in their five wins.

“Obviously, we are aware of how difficult the Middlesex League is, and especially the teams in the Liberty conference, but we are excited to challenge the likes of Winchester, Lexington, and Reading for the league,” said O’Brien.

Last Of ARPA Funds Directed For School Security, Butler Roof

Photo: The Butler school will have its original roof replaced in the summer of 2024.

The “last” of the $8.7 million Belmont received in American Rescue Plan Act funding will be spent to create secure entries at all district schools and replace the 123-year-old roof on the Butler school.

In January, the Select Board voted to allocate the remaining $1,137,214 in the town’s ARPA account to go towards capital needs. After reviewing the capital projects in the town that align with the ARPA spending requirements, the Comprehensive Capital Budget Committee Chair Christine Doyle returned to the board on April 3 with two recommended projects:

  • The creation of security vestibules with security cameras in three district schools totaling $245,000
  • The remaining $892,214 will be combined with $607,786 in discretionary capital funds to be mainly used to repair the Daniel Butler Elementary School’s roof.

A security vestibule is a secure room between the school’s outer door and the building interior, allowing visitors access to one space at a time. The structure limits and regulates entry, allowing more efficient screening of people entering the school.

The three vestibules will cost $75,000, and the upgraded cameras and technology are priced at $170,000. Doyle said the Select Board’s OK will allow the Facilities Department to advance the project immediately, with the vestibules and cameras completed by the start of school in September. The CCBC will request an additional $160,000 in the fiscal 2025 budget for further camera upgrades in the other three schools.

“I think the security additions are timely,” said Board Chair Mark Paolillo, noting how schools around the country are stepping up measures to keep students and teachers safe.

The Butler slate roof is part of the original structure built in 1900 and is showing its age. David T. Blazon, director of the town’s Facilities Department, told the board the existing slate roof will be completely replaced with a synthetic version that is comparable in price with the natural rock. Due to a lot of engineering specifications and prep work needed, the job will take place in the summer of 2024 when students are not in the building.

Blazon said the new roof could be expected to last for a century.

While the ARPA account is now at zero, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will remain empty, said Town Administrator Patrice Garvin. She noted that many projects using ARPA funds are estimates of what they expect to spend on a job. If bids come in less than what was allocated, the account could once again have a positive balance in the future.

Amid Fiscal Uncertainty, Current Town Budget Doing Swimmingly At Midpoint Of Fiscal Year


With the reality of a large override hanging over the town’s head for next year, a looming gap facing the schools in the coming fiscal year, and a national economy impacted by stubbornly high interest rates, it’s almost a comfort knowing the current fiscal year 2023 Belmont budget has reached its midpoint with little drama.

In a report on the end of second quarter figures compiled by the town’s financial Triumvirate – Town Administrator Patrice Garvin, Financial Director Jennifer Hewitt, and Budget Analyst Matt Haskell – “that both expenditures and revenues are in line with management’s expectation” as the fiscal year reached its midpoint.

With the assumption that collected revenues and department expenditures would be around 50 percent, revenues came in at 46 percent ($63.6 million) of the estimated annual predicted amount of $139.3 million with 83.6 percent coming from property taxes. One highlighted line item was the meals tax, which brought in $169,612 through the first two quarters, 70 percent of what it expected to bring in.

“The level of consumer activity as the economy continues to recover will have a direct impact on this category,” said the report.

Expenditures and encumbered items were running at 52.2 percent, with $66.2 million still available. The report noted that the public safety category is running just below 50 percent of expenditures and encumbrances; it does not include retroactive payments that the salary reserve will cover.

“Once those contracts are implemented, staff will be better equipped to forecast the end of the fiscal year,” expressed the report.

And the dry and warm winter with only a smitten of snow – not near the average 50 inches Belmont expects – resulted in the Department of Public Works not having to dip into its snow and ice budget, “contributing to the low spending percentage.”

Belmont Boys’ Lax Waits A Decade (And A Little More) To Defeat Melrose In Middlesex League Opener

Photo: Belmont High goalie Nate Moss during last year’s playoff game

It took a decade and then they needed a double overtime before Belmont High School Boys’ Lacrosse could finally claimed a victory over Middlesex League powerhouse Melrose, 8-7, in the team’s home and league opener Thursday, April 6.

Junior Mike Pomer pumped in the winner high – and the goal for his hat trick – to the goalie’s left side, coming after Mason LeMack Bremen tied the game at 7 with 32 seconds left in regular time just half a minute after Melrose took the lead late in the fourth quarter.

The win pushes Belmont’s early season record to 2-1 with only a 9-8 overtime loss away at Newton North sullying its account.

“You never know what you have at the beginning of the season,” said Belmont Head Coach Josh Streit.

”I always thought we had a very strong team and the Newton North game in the rain showed us what we were capable of. I though all along that this team was sneakingly good and we are going to be competing for positions in the league we’ve never been before

Belmont came prepared as they scored three goals in the first four minutes of the game, with Peter Grace (2 goals, 1 assist) and Zack Leary (2 goals) who scored from an extreme angle.

One of the keys to the victory was Belmont’s Zack Musi who won 15 of 18 face offs, an extraordinary performance “helped win the game,” said Streit.

Down by one in the final minute, Belmont called a time out and drew up a play they never ran in practice, a backside pick in which LeMack Bremen starts the play going in one direction then pretends to have get lost. As the play was being run, something unexpected occurred: “[LeMack Bremen] actually DID get lost because he never ran the play.” But all the other elements of the called play worked as Pomer found the free Mason on the backside and the attacker places the ball on the far side of the goalie for his only goal.

It was back and forth in both overtimes with goalie Nate Moss (4 saves) stoning a clear break away to preserve the tie before Pomer roped the winner from 10 meters out.

Japanese Eatery ‘Hanami’ Set For May 15 Opening In Former Ben Franklin

Photo: The name is over the front door of the new restaurant in Cushing Square.

The Japanese phrase “Hanami” translates to “cherry blossom viewing,” which many Japanese do in April enjoying the transient beauty of the flowers which last no more than a week.

And that is what Jack Sy wants customers of his new restaurant Hanami to do; take in the atmosphere of the food and the surroundings at Cushing Square’s newest eatery, scheduled to open on May 15 pending approval from the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

Sy, along with his attorney and business partner, came before the Select Board this past Monday requesting a full liquor license for the new establishment, which was unanimously approved. Days later, the restaurant’s name was hung on the lintel over the store front.

It’s been a bit of an adventure preparing the space for opening since Sy signed the lease in April 2022. Construction started in July last year, “but then we had a lot of issues with the contractors that held us back a little bit. It’s something you would expect during a period of pandemic as everyone was fighting over contractors,” said Sy.

The location has been the home of five and dime store for nearly 90 years. It first operated as a Ben Franklin franchise beginning in 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.

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.

The menu 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”.)

“It’s just not the sushi. I like sushi but then there’s time where I just want something cooked. Something delicious, something hot. Street food kind of cuisine.”

Diners shouldn’t be surprised finding creative tapas-styled dishes on the menu. Sy recently spent two weeks in Barcelona discovering many tapas bars have incorporated Asia spices and ingredients that are mixed in their seafood items, such as Japanese peppers mixed with calamari.

Road Construction On Four Streets Begins April 10; Work Complete In Two Weeks

Photo: Van Ness Road will be one of four streets in Belmont to undergo road construction beginning April 10.

Weather permitting, on Monday, April 10, the Town of Belmont’s general contractor, Newport Construction, will begin full-depth road construction on Amelia Street and Becket, Clairmont, and Van Ness roads, according to a press release from Town Engineer Glen Clancy.

These roads will be closed to all traffic between 6:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. This work is expected to be completed in two weeks.

This phase will include removing the manhole covers and water grates. Pulverizing the road, grading, and finally placing the first layer of asphalt will then occur.

Residents and commuters are advised to seek alternate routes. No on-street parking will be available, and access to driveways will be limited during construction hours. Residents affected by the construction can park overnight on nearby side streets.

For any questions or concerns about the project, don’t hesitate to contact the Office of Community Development at 617-993-2665.

Hewitt Named Treasurer ’til June 30; Select Board Makes Organization Changes Leaving Paolillo As Chair

Photo: The Belmont Select Board: (from left) Roy Epstein, Chair Mark Paolillo, and Elizabeth Dionne

Jennifer Hewitt, the town’s financial director and assistant town administrator, has been appointed Belmont’s Treasurer/Collector by Town Administrator Patrice Garvin during the annual organizational meeting of the Belmont Select Board on Friday, April 7. Hewitt replaces Floyd Carman, who held the post for 18 years.

“I think what we’re going to do is really just have [Hewitt] be the treasurer right now,” said Garvin. “There’s a lot to do in that office.”

The appointment will be short as Hewitt’s tenure will last until June 30, at which time the town will hopefully have appointed a permanent successor, according to Garvin. The board ratified Hewitt’s appointment as of April 5, a contingent on her receiving a public official bond.

The Treasurer’s position became an appointed post after voters approved a ballot measure changing the job from an elected one at Tuesday’s annual town election. The proposed salary for this new support staff position will be between $88,000 to $125,000 given the level of experience, with a possible signing bonus due to the tight job market.

Earlier Friday, the board made some “minor changes” to the body’s rules and regulations, said Paolillo, one which affected the length of his term as its chair. The board adopted a new day for its organizational meeting, which traditionally was the day after the annual town election, and moved it to July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

According to Vice Chair Roy Epstein, it would be preferable that a new chair and vice chair is not designated before the annual Town Meeting – which takes place from May to June – as it would be “unnecessarily disruptive.”

“Chairs are involved with Town Meeting preparation … and the vice chair, who is a member of the comprehensive capital budget committee, has been involved with the development of the capital budget,” he noted. Under the new rule, Paolillo will continue as chair until July 1, 2023, when Epstein will “rotate” into the top spot, and newly elected Board member Elizabeth Dionne will become vice chair.

“And Mark, you either go off to a well-deserved retirement (Paolillo’s term is up in 2024) or you become the most incredible member in history and go for another chairmanship [in 2025],” quipped Epstein.

Dionne said under the new system, a chair will experience two Town Meeting cycles before moving into the chairmanship, which she believes can be “very helpful.” The changes were passed unanimously.

Another change Epstein proposed was ending office hours held by board members as they don’t pertain to meetings of the board. “People can contact us plenty via email. Board members are on their own and are free to hold hours.”

Paolillo noted from experience that residents poorly attend those events.

Epstein’s final recommended change is that board members do not need to attend the committees and boards, which they are non-voting liaisons, as opposed to those bodies, such as the Warrant Committee, in which they are sitting members.

“I think the liaison structure is simply not working … and it’s terribly inefficient because we spend an awful lot of time in meetings” in which the board representatives are essentially members of the audience. Epstein believed it’s more useful for those entities to “submitted a report periodically … on a need-to-know basis.” Ideally, the most efficient method of communication would be “a short-written memorandum prepared by the chair.”

While she believed the recommendation would free up the board to prepare to do some serious strategic thinking on the town’s future, Dionne said she had established relationships with certain committees, including Economic Development which she’d like to continue attending voluntarily.

Town Election: Rink Rings Up Big Victory On Its Second Chance; Zuccarello, Yueh On School Committee; Appointed Treasurer Measure Passes 2-1

Photo: (from left) Select Board Chair Mark Paolillo, Rink Building Committee Chair Mark Haley, and Building Committee members Dante Muzzioli and Anne Marie Mahoney speaking on the passage of the debt exclusion for a new municipal rink and recreation center for Belmont.

This past Nov. 8, it appeared the proposal to replace the existing ‘Skip’ Viglirolo Skating Rink was all but dead and buried when a $33 million debt exclusion to build a new rink facility failed in the general election by approximately 350 votes out of 11,800 cast.

But a lifeline tossed by the Select Board that night to give the measure many believed would pass if provided a rare second bite at the apple proved prophetic as the new rink/recreation center project was given an enthusiastic thumbs up as the modified $29.9 million project was approved by nearly 1,500 votes, 3,904 to 2,421.

Get unofficial results from the April 4 election at the Town Clerk’s web page here

“Feels great,” said Mark Haley, chair of the Municipal Skating Rink Building Committee, as he and committee member Dante Muzzioli, nervously watched as the votes trickled in while they camped out in the lobby of the Select Board Room on the second floor of Town Hall. “Once given a chance to tell our story, I knew residents would be back it.”

“The town … understands how important this rink and recreation facility was for this town, and they supported it,” said Muzzioli. “It’s a beautiful day for Belmont.”

Muzzioli praised the three leaders of the “Yes For Rink” campaign – Sheryl Grace, Lucinda Zuniga, and Kayla Wiggin – as “the reason the question passed. They worked and worked and got it done.”

“Shows that hard work pays off, for sure. We had to come back for our kids,” said Zuniga, who arrived with Wiggin and Grace at Town Hall to celebrate the news. The “Yes” campaign raised $1.3 million while conducting an effective campaign based on getting the facts about the rink to the public.

(from left) Sheryl Grace, Lucinda Zuniga and Kayla Wiggin

And many on the building committee noted that Select Board Chair Mark Paolillo was one of the “heroes” of the campaign as he led the board in reviving the project after its initial defeat.

“A three hundred vote margin is not a mandate, especially with the library being on the same ballot,” said Paolillo. “It was only fair to allow it to go before the voters again.”

Rink Reasons

The rink supporters pointed to several changes that helped convince voters to support the project after its defeat. First, unlike in November, the rink was not coupled on the ballot with another large capital project, a new $34.5 million public library. There was some evidence that voters in November felt they were limited to selecting between the library and the rink.

Second, the building committee and the project architect, Ted Galante of The Galante Architecture Studio, abandoned an array of costly features, such as the second-floor mezzanine, and went with an all-new design which reduced the price tag by 10 percent, showing a willingness to make alterations to reduce the amount taken up by ratepayers.

Third, the rink was turned into a four-season operation in which up to five months would be dedicated to town recreation and other activities.

Fourth, rink campaigners used the time to explain in greater detail the failings of the existing building and the expanded uses a new rink will have. The initial campaign was hampered by too many balls in the air: a need to design and price the project and galvanize supporters that were squeezed into a four-month schedule during which the final cost fluctuated, and there was no firm commitment to making the facility recreation friendly.

And it didn’t hurt that the current rink’s defects caused numerous problems this season, including a nearly month-long delay in opening the rink due to warm weather and that 5,000 fewer voters came to the polls.

Haley said important work and decisions still need to be completed, including how the rink will be managed and receiving approval from Town Meeting this May for the funding for the facility.

Demolition of the existing rink will begin in July with a 16-18 month construction schedule.

“Be back here in November 2024!” said Haley.

Treasurer’s Question

Town officials, the leading committees, and the Select Board all backed a Collins Center recommendation changing the Town Treasurer from an elected to an appointed position toward centralizing the town’s financial operations.

While many residents expressed concern that an appointed treasurer would be beholden to the Town Administrator rather than the public, others pointed out that many essential town functions are led by appointed employees and officials and that many similar communities to Belmont have or are moving to the appointed treasurer post.

And with no candidate running to claim the seat, establishing an appointed treasurer position was not seriously challenged. It was accepted by a more than two-to-one margin: 4,255 to 1,811.

School Committee

In a rather tepid race – the three candidates were in-line with nearly all initiatives before the school committee – life-long Belmont resident Amy Zuccarello topped the field with 4,055 votes She’ll be joined on the committee by Jung Yueh (3,306). Rounding out the contest was Rachel Watson, who garnered 2,140 votes.

“We must hit the ground running on many items, including the current and next year’s budget. But I am excited to get started,” said Yueh, who attended the vote counting at Town Hall.

Jung Yueh at Town Hall

Town Meeting

Some would think that being an 18-year-old, first-time candidate would be detrimental to winning a seat on Town Meeting. But if you get profiled in a daily newspaper, produce a slick website, have yourself photographed with the governor, and knock on a hell-of-a-lot-of doors (while having the best name this election cycle), you too could be like Angus James Benedict Abercrombie, who hit it out of the park Tuesday nearly receiving the most votes throughout the eight precincts with 544. Only Susanne Croy in Precinct 6 bested Abercrombie with 546. Abercrombie’s final vote tally reminds election observers of perennial Boston City Councilor Albert “Dapper” O’Neil, who said, “You don’t count my votes; you weigh them.”

In Precinct 1, a pair of newbies took the top spots. Adam Dash, who stepped down from the Select Board this year, is better known than Makinde Abeagbo, but the first-time candidate finished with 446 votes to Dash’s 443.

Incumbents who were not successful in their races include Joseph Wholley and Christopher Grande in Precinct 1, John Alcock and Ian Watson in 3, Linda Oates and Cabell Eames in 6, 25-year Town Meeting member Brett Sorenson and Natalie Kostich in 7, and Connor Maguire and the Ivesters – Heather and Karl – from 8.

Returning to Town Meeting after a forced one-year absence include Marie Warner in Precinct 6, who took a two-year seat by two votes, and Robert Sarno in Precinct 3.

Not placing your profile in the Belmont League of Women Voters Election Guide isn’t a big deal? In competitive precincts, those who left out their profile did not place in the top 12, including well-known incumbents.

Vote! Town Election 2023 Is Tuesday, April 4; All You Need To Know

Photo: Get your sticker by voting today

Belmont’s annual Town Election is today, Tuesday, April 4!

A list of the candidates for town-wide office and Town Meeting, as well as information on the two ballot questions – for an appointed treasurer and a debt exclusion for a new skating rink/municipal recreation center – can be found in the League of Women Voters guide here.

Registered voters may cast their ballots in person only on Election Day; polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the traditional polling locations: 

  • Precinct One: Belmont Memorial Library, Assembly Room, 336 Concord Ave.
  • Precinct Two: Belmont Town Hall, Select Board Room, 455 Concord Ave.
  • Precinct Three: Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St.
  • Precinct Four: Daniel Butler School Gym, 90 White St.
  • Precinct Five: Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St.
  • Precinct Six: Belmont Fire Headquarters,  299 Trapelo Rd.
  • Precinct Seven: Burbank School Gym, 266 School St.
  • Precinct Eight: Winn Brook School Gym, 97 Waterhouse Rd., enter from Cross Street.

If you are wondering if you are a registered voter and your voting precinct, go to the Town Clerk’s web page or phone the Town Clerk’s office at 617-993-2600.

Election results will first be announced at Town Hall after the polls close with unofficial results located on the Town Clerk’s website early Wednesday morning.

After Six Years, A Farewell To Select Board’s Fedora-Wearing Member Who Leaves Three Nuggets Of Advice And A Poem

Photo: Adam Dash

The Belmont Town Hall auditorium was the location of a fond farewell for Adam Dash who is leaving the Select Board after serving six years on the town’s three-member panel overseeing town government.

Dash, known for his collection of fedoras, was feted by his fellow select board members – Mark Paolillo and Roy Epstein – and a slew of town employees all of who commended the Goden Street resident for his dedication to the town during a board tenure that included fiscal constraints and the sudden and profound impact of the Covid pandemic.

“He always made decisions that he thought were best for the community, never for political gain,” said Paolillo. “And the community has benefited from that.”

(from left) Select Board Chair Mark Paolillo, Town Administrator Patrice Garvin, Select Board members Adam Dash and Roy Epstein.

After his six years on the board – winning a seat by defeating Guy Carbone by a two-to-one margin in 2017 and running unopposed in 2020 – Dash said while it was the right decision not to seek re-election, he would miss working with all those in government and elected positions.

“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve this community, and I am reminded of it every day in the kind words I have received since my announcement that I was leaving the board,” he said.

Dash dispensed two pieces of advice “whether you want to hear it or not.”

“Please be aware of historically marginalized groups in town. Often, I am the only town official at various cultural events and demonstrations held by such groups, and the town needs to make sure there is representation going forward,” said Dash.

He also suggested that all keep an open mind on matters until all presentations and public comments have been heard on issues before the town and select board.

“It is fine to come into a meeting with an idea of what should be decided, but digging into a position with no possibility of change negates the whole public meeting process and does not foster public confidence in our boards, committees, and departments,” he said.

Dash reminded the assemble the three rules he lived by when he became chair in 2018:

  • One, no drama.
  • Two, be respectful of each other.
  • Three, don’t waste anyone’s time.

“I hope you all can adopt these rules in your work for the town. I can say that it would be appreciated by those with whom you interact,” said Dash.

And for his closing words, the attorney transformed into a poet.

“Once I sat at the table

And supped on the power

That comes from the vote

I like to think that I acted

With and without a mask

And inhaled the ideas

That finished the task

My political part-time sentence is over.”