Search Results for: civil service

With Civil Service No Longer In The Mix, Belmont Police Readies Job Offers To Fill Long-standing Shortfall

Photo: Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac

For the first time since leaving the Massachusetts Civil Service hiring system in 2023, the Belmont Police Department is close to hiring three new officers to close a chronic decade-long shortfall.

“It’s a new era. We’re excited about it, and we think it’s going to help us in the long run,” said Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac.

In the past five years under Civil Service, “we’ve had a tremendous amount of trouble trying to find candidates to fill these positions,” said Patrice Garvin, town administrator, at a meeting of the Select Board .

Over the past four years, the number of acceptable applicants coming from the state’s list was limited: four candidates in 2020, three in 2021, two in 2022, and just a single candidate in 2023. The resulting impact was undermanned and continuous large budget payouts in overtime.

“There was a hiring problem that we felt was becoming a crisis,” said Roy Epstein, select board chair. “And the only real solution was to withdraw from Civil Service.”

And since leaving Civil Service and creating its own hiring policy, MacIsaac has been freed to venture out into an open market of potential personnel. He also didn’t have to wait until July for civil service to release a list the candidates who successfully passed its test and were available to communities; he can post positions the moment they become open.

“Over the last month, we’ve entered a new era in both retaining and hiring police officers, and … it’s a new experience for me,” said MacIsaac.

“We posted an opening on May 7, and we’ve had 15 candidates apply, so far. We have conducted six interviews and will be conducting more interviews next week,” said MacIsaac. As of the last week in June, “the department has made four conditional offers of employment,” he said.

Of the four candidates, one has already completed the background checks and MacIsaacs hope to have the applicant in the Police Academy in September, while two of the four are post-certified officers, which means if they accept the position and pass the background process, would be able to start immediately. MacIsaac said two of the candidates identify as Hispanic and speak Spanish, which would increase diversity on the police force.

But until they sign on the dotted line, Belmont is in competition with neighboring communities, including Watertown, for the prospective candidates, a situation MacIsaac said was “unthinkable” just a decade ago.

“We’re hoping that they’re going to choose to work here,” said MacIsaac.

Dionne: Continued Police Hiring Crisis Requires End Of Civil Service

Photo: Elizabeth Dionne

Editor’s Note: This letter was presented to Belmont Town Meeting Members before the beginning of the Special Town Meeting on Nov. 6.

Many of you have approached me with questions about Civil Service, what it requires and how it operates. As non-experts, we all need reliable information.

The best source of information I have found on Civil Service in Belmont is in the 2022 Report from Belmont’s Structural Change Impact Group: “Recommendations to Improve Belmont’s Finances and Operations.” Anne Helgen’s “Idea #33—Civil Service” report is balanced and thorough. During her 12 years of service on the Warrant Committee, Anne has demonstrated absolute integrity and impressive financial expertise. She is a reliable narrator. There is no one whose judgment I trust more.

You can access the SCIG Report here. The Civil Service report is on pp. 43-54 (pp. 50-61 of the .pdf contents in the left-hand sidebar).

I support leaving the Civil Service for one compelling reason: Belmont’s Police Department has an ongoing staffing crisis that will become substantially worse in the near future. Leaving Civil Service is necessary in expanding our anemic hiring pool and fully staffing the department. 

In 2019, Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac advised the Warrant Committee that he needed help to fill chronically open spots in the department. Despite diligent hiring efforts in the intervening years, those spots remain open. A few years from now, long-time officers will begin to retire, exacerbating an already dire hiring situation.

If Town Meeting votes to remain in Civil Service, then we need to reduce our policing expectations to match available resources, rather than demanding that current officers cover an ongoing personnel deficit. It is unsustainable and unfair to ask current officers to cover the work of the eight currently open positions for years at a time. It is bad for morale, and it is bad for Belmont.

However, Belmont residents want more effective policing, not less. They are justifiably concerned about school safety, gun violence, mental health responses, and threats to pedestrian and cyclist safety from overly aggressive cross-town traffic. As an aside: Earlier this week, my cyclist husband had yet another near-collision with a car leaving the Belmont Hill School. Again, these are areas where residents are demanding an increased public safety presence.

Without explicit authorization from the Town Meeting to leave Civil Service, the Town administration has been unsuccessful in negotiating departure terms with police unions. In April 2021, the administration presented the unions with a good-faith plan to replace Civil Service. One of the two unions failed even to respond. This followed clear statements from the public safety unions that they would never voluntarily leave the Civil Service. We are at an impasse. Further action depends on an affirmative vote of the Town Meeting.

The Belmont Police Department has faced a hiring crisis for a number of years, and that hiring crisis will become worse in the very near future. Leaving the Civil Service is a necessary step in expanding our applicant pool.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Elizabeth Dionne

Vice Chair, Belmont Select Board

PS: Regarding police compensation in Belmont, the following chart from the Belmont Citizen-Herald  (May 8, 2023) is instructive:

Belmont’s 25 highest paid employees in 2022 (total pay)

  1. Superintendent of Schools John Phelan, $271,178
  2. Town Administrator Patrice Garvin, $220,353
  3. Police Officer Franz Strassmann, $220,066
  4. Police Capt. Christopher Donohue, $216,652
  5. Police Lt. Shiraz Banosian, $215,674
  6. Police Lt. Darin Demagistris, $210,584
  7. Belmont Light General Manager Craig Spinale, $210,332
  8. Police Chief James MacIsaac, $197,113
  9. Police Sgt. David Sullivan, $192,419
  10. Director of Community Development Glenn Clancy, $187,921
  11. Belmont Light Director of Engineering and Operations Mark Piccarini, $185,665
  12. Police Sgt. Paul Garabedian, $181,788
  13. Belmont Light Assistant General Manager Sanjin Osmancevic, $181,758
  14. Assistant Superintendent of Schools Janice Darias, $178,673
  15. Police Sgt. Brendan Young, $175,464
  16. Belmont Public Schools Director of Finance and Operations Anthony DiCologero, $171,694
  17. Police Capt. Brendan O’Leary, $171,280
  18. Assistant Public Work Director/Highway Division Manager Michael Santoro, $170,901
  19. Police Sgt. Richard Murphy, $170,557
  20. Butler Elementary School ELE teacher Meghan Gallagher, $169,295
  21. Belmont Public Schools’ Director of Human Capital Michael McAllister, $169,150
  22. Belmont Light Lead Line Worker Thomas Ricci, $168,974
  23. Public Works Director Jason Marcotte, $167,582
  24. Police Sgt. Marc Pugliese, $166,220
  25. Belmont Light First Class Line Worker Nicholas Kacoyanis, $163,648

A Second Bite: Select Board Seeks Residents View On Ending Civil Service For Police On Thursday

Photo: Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac

It’s a second bite at the apple as the Belmont Select Board will be holding a hybrid public meeting on Thursday, Sept. 7, to discuss whether or not the Belmont Police Department should end its relationship with the state’s Civil Service system.

The meeting will occur in the Select Board Conference Room in Town Hall at 7 p.m. Residents can attend via Zoom at this link.

The meeting marks a second attempt to end the police department’s relationship with the government agency designed to provide fairness in the public sector, in entry-level hiring, and promotions, including bypass in rank, demotions, layoffs, and discipline which includes suspensions and terminations.

Supporters of ending civil service, which included town officials, the Select Board, and the leaders of both fire and police departments, believe the town would see significant cost savings by ending a 108-year-old arcane system for hiring and promotions, replacing it with an efficiently run locally-focused practice. 

Opponents made up of the rank and file of Belmont Fire and Police and resident supporters said changes to civil service – such as altering age limits and increasing diversity in the number of candidates – can be made by changes to the existing language of the agreement.

The last time the issue came before a Town Meeting, an article removing civil service for Belmont’s Police and Fire departments was withdrawn by the Select Board minutes before it was to be presented before a contentious Special Town Meeting in September 2020.

Since then, issues with Civil Service requirements continue to plague hiring at the Police Department. In 2021, Police Chief James MacIsaac pointed to an inability to fill important entry posts for two years due to the limited number of candidates he could choose from. He also said he could bring a more diverse group of candidates to the hiring process outside of Civil Service.

While more than 130 cities and towns have accepted Civil Service, many communities have recently ended their relationship, including Lexington in 2019.

Civil Service Could Return For A Second Go-Around At 2022 Town Meeting

Photo: Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac

Just more than a year after a controversal Special Town Meeting article allowing Belmont’s public service departments to exit the state’s civil service program would implode before being brought to the floor, it appears the Select Board will push for a second go-around of the contensious proposal before Belmont’s annual Town Meeting in the spring.

”We have to talk about revisiting leaving the Civil Service again … because we can not go on like this,” said Select Board Adam Dash after hearing from Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac at its Oct. 4 meeting of the difficulties he’s had attempting to fill positions at the police department in the past two years.

During an update of the department, MacIsaac referred to “an on-going problem” filling four open positions – which included one officer who was laid off due to the defeat of the 2021 override – for patrol officers since October of 2020. MacIsaac said he received five resident applications from the Civil Service candidates list. Of those, one withdrew, another was older than the department’s age limit, and two failed the physical abilities test to enter the police academy.

This year, after a Belmont officer transferred, MacIsaac once again faced trying to fill four open slots. In September MacIsaac received two lists from Civil Service, comprising of 30 residents and non-residents. Five resident and one non resident signed up for the application process.

”As a manager of a department, I don’t have to tell you how important it is in this day and age to fill four positions with six candidates,” said MacIsaac.

While hopeful that some of the candidates can pass the series of exams and tests to become a patrol officer, MacIsaac said that his department “can’t continue to operate the way we’re operating with these vacancies when we need them filled.” He pointed to two superior officers off on National Guard duty and an incident where officers were required to accompany and stay with a prisoner to the hospital all which taxes the entire department.

”It’s been a tough year to manage the operations” of the approximately 50 member police force, said MacIsaac, who praised the employees for doing “an excellent job” adapting and improvising for what they have to work with.

“They deserve a lot of credit,” said MacIsaac.

“It sounds like a real life example of why Civil Service is not working for the town,” said Dash.

MacIsaac pointed to the non-Civil Service Police Department in Norwood which received more than 100 candidates for its entrance exam. He also gave testimony up on Beacon Hill for a bill authored by State Sen. Will Brownsberger that would allow any graduate from a Belmont high school would receive the same residential preference as residents.

When asked by Select Board member Mark Paolillo on how being removed of Civil Service could impact diversity on the force, MacIsaac said “it would certainly give you the opportunity to diversify the candidate pool.”

Supporters of ending civil service contend the town would see significant cost savings by ending a 105-year-old arcane system for hiring and promotions, replacing it with a locally-focused practice that can increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the force.

Opponents – made up last time of the rank and file of Belmont Fire and Police and resident supporters – said by altering age limits of candidates and increasing diversity in the number of candidates through changes to the existing agreement can reach those goals.

It appears the Select Board is envisioning a debate in the spring.

“We have to think about a spring Town Meeting” to revisit Civil Service, said Dash.

Select Board Withdraws Civil Service Article Due To ‘Technical Error’; Others See Folding A Losing Position

Photo: Roy Epstein, Chair of the Select Board

In a surprise that no one saw coming, the Belmont Select Board voted unanimously to withdraw its controversial article removing civil service for Belmont’s Police and Fire departments mere minutes before it was to be presented before a contentious Special Town Meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Roy Epstein, Select Board chair, told the members the reason for the removal of the article was due to a “technical error” involving rank and file members taking civil service tests for promotions in the coming months.

“I think this sort of last minute change is one that forces our hand in this case. And I would say a postponement at this stage is certainly the prudent approach,” said Tom Caputo of the Select Board.

Because the article was never read into the warrant, there would be no debate and discussion by the Town Meeting members so Town Moderator Mike Widmer quickly dissolved the assembly as the article was the final item on the warrant.

The withdrawal of Article 10 removed what many predicted to be a heated debate on the future of civil service in Belmont.

Supporters of ending civil service, which included town officials, Select Board and the leaders of both fire and police, contend the town would see significant cost savings by ending a 105-year-old arcane system for hiring and promotions, replacing it with an efficiently run locally-focused practice.

Opponents made up of the rank and file of Belmont Fire and Police and resident supporters ask why throw out the baby with the bathwater as changes to civil service – such as altering age limits and increasing diversity in the number of candidates – can be made by changes to the existing language of the agreement. Several Town Meeting Members also questioned the validity of the supposed financial savings with such a move.

Paul Roberts (Pct. 8), a vocal critic of the town’s and Select Board’s tactics said Wednesday night’s board vote had more to do with folding from a losing position.

“My belief is that [the Select Board] did some hasty vote counting  and decided to turn back and live to fight another day. Overall, I think it reflects a haphazard effort all around on Article 10,” he said.

During a meeting of the Select Board that occurred during a break after the Special Town Meeting approved Article 9, Epstein said the board was informed late in the afternoon that Article 10 included a “drafting error” which involved setting the effect date of March 1, 2021 to end civil service protection. It was also assumed this date would protect the interests of police and fire department personnel who were taking civil service promotional exams this fall.

“And we wanted them to have full civil service protection in their new position. And that was always our intent,” said Epstein.

But when the article was reviewed, it was determined that March 1 “was not sufficient,” said Epstein. Because the results of the civil service exams could take longer than previously thought, the board was advised that July 1, 2021 was a more appropriate date to protect any future promotions.

“The idea was not to cause a problem for anyone or to be unfair to anyone who was studying for an exam and then pull the rug from under them by yanking civil service before they had a chance to actually take the test and get the results,” said the Select Board’s Adam Dash.

With the new effective date for leaving civil service being pushed back well passed the scheduled date for the annual Town Meeting in early May 2021, the board decided to allow the members to vote on the article in the coming year.

“Patrice [Garvin, the town administrator] and I recognized if it’s going to be as late as July 1, 2021, we may as well withdraw this article tonight and then we’ll see where we’re at in the spring regarding civil service,” said Epstein.

“We don’t want to do something that did not reflect our true intention. And at this late date there was no cure that other than to withdraw the article,” he said.

Roberts provided his own advice to the those supporting the end of Civil Service in Belmont.

“It is my hope that the Select Board use this extra time to properly study the issue, learn from the experience of other communities and – if they intend to bring this forward again – do so with a plan that addresses the issues raised by our public safety professionals and Town Meeting members. A Town Meeting vote should be the last step in the process, not the first,” said Roberts.

Town Meeting: Limits Placed On Civil Service Debate; Clarifying Amendment Added To Civil Service Article; 9 PM’s The Limit

Photo: Mike Widmer

Due to what nearly everyone at the Special Town Meeting expects to be one of the most contentious articles for many years, Town Moderator Mike Widmer this afternoon, Wednesday, Sept. 23, has placed a limit on the scope of debate on Article 10, the measure which would end civil service for rank and file Belmont Fire and Police personnel.

Here is Widmer’s announcement: 

One of the most important responsibilities of the Moderator is to determine the scope of permissible discussion under any article. In the vast majority of articles that determination is straightforward. But in a minority of instances, often the most controversial issues, it takes considerable research and consultation to determine the approach that is in the best interests of Town Meeting.

In terms of Article 10, I have probably spent more hours considering proper scope than I have with any other article in my 12 years as Moderator. As part of this process I have had extensive discussions with Town Counsel George Hall.

My conclusion is that the only correct and fair way to proceed with Article 10 is to limit discussion purely to the merits of the proposal advanced by the Select Board:

Should the Belmont police and fire departments be withdrawn from Civil Service? Only the merits of this policy proposal are the province of Town Meeting.

The process by which the Select Board decided to bring this article forth is not an appropriate matter for debate. Much of the public discussion, certainly brought forth by the unions, is that the Board should have negotiated with the unions before bringing this issue to Town Meeting. But how are Town Meeting Members to know the unbiased facts of what happened at the negotiating table since those are legally mandated to be private matters? Process issues between union and management are inextricably tied to collective bargaining which definitely is not the province of Town Meeting.

Our role as a legislative body is to debate issues advanced by the executive branch or by citizens’ petitions. We have no authority to insert ourselves into the collective bargaining process. Those questions are clearly out of scope of the article as well.

This reality may be frustrating to individual Town Meeting Members, and Members are free to vote yes or no based on whatever factors they choose. But I am sure you all agree that we should not break longstanding and bedrock principles of the separation of powers.

Mr. Widmer can be reached at

A clarifying amendment for Article 10

Roy Epstein, Chair of the Select Board and Precinct 6 Town Meeting Member has moved to amend the main motion under Article 10 by adding to the end of the motion the following clause: “,said revocation not to take effect until March 1, 2021.”

The resultant motion will now read: 

Motion: That the Town remove the Police and Fire Department from the provisions of the Civil Service Laws, and the rules and regulations relating to the same, by revoking the Town’s acceptance of Section 37 of Chapter 19 of the General Laws voted under Article 15 of the Warrant for the 1915 Annual Town Meeting and of Section 48 of Chapter 31 (as both have been recodified in G.L. c. 31, § 52), said revocation not to take effect until March 1, 2021.

The rationale for the clarifying amendment is to correct a drafting error in the motion. The intent of the motion is to allow anyone promoted, as a result of taking a civil service exam in 2020, to remain grandfathered in civil service after their promotion.

A Town Meeting session too long? Pumpkin time is 9 p.m. Wednesday

Town Moderator Mike Widmer will be keeping a watch on the clock on the wall at Wednesday’s Special Town Meeting:

On a related matter, some Town Meeting Members have expressed a concern that the meeting went too long on Monday night. I do want to emphasize to Town Meeting Members that we time every speaker; presenters have specifically assigned time limits. Town Meeting Members have three minutes as their limit. Tonight we have two important matters to discuss and I want to allow for a full discussion of Civil Service. If we are able to complete action on Article 9 by 9 p.m, I think it makes sense to proceed to Article 10. However, if it is after 9, I will ask for a vote of Town Meeting Members whether we continue with Article 10 or whether we adjourn to Sept. 30.

Three Public Meetings To Discuss Civil Service, McLean Rezoning, Special Town Meeting Articles

Photo: Special Town Meeting Public Meetings

The Select Board has authorized at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 31 the remote Special Town Meeting for up to three nights this month:

  • Monday, Sept. 21
  • Wednesday, Sept. 23
  • Wednesday, Sept. 30

Town Moderator Mike Widmer has asked that all Town Meeting Members make time to participate in the topical meetings or watch the recordings before Town Meeting begins so that all can start on the same baseline of information.  

  • Tuesday, Sept. 8: McLean Zoning By-law,  hosted by the Planning Board Chair Steve Pinkerton
  • Wednesday, Sept. 9: Removal of Police and Fire personnel from Civil Service, hosted by the Town Administrator Patrice Garvin and Select Board Chair Roy Epstein
  • Thursday, Sept. 10: League of Women Voters Warrant Briefing hosted by Laurie Slap, Chair of Warrant Committee

Below is additional information including meeting access information. 

Amend Zoning Bylaw: McLean District Zone 3 Overlay

The McLean Zone 3 Overlay zoning article relates to a residential housing development proposed for in the area of McLean Hospital. Details on the proposed project can be found here

The article amends zoning originally adopted in 1999 for a project that was never built. After much negotiation between the town and the current developer, the proposed zoning amendment allows 40 age-restricted (55 years of age or older) townhouses and 110 apartments (57 age-restricted apartments and 53 non-age restricted apartments). The townhouses will be 2.5 stories with one to four units per building. 15 percent of the townhouses (six units) will be set aside for affordable housing. The apartments will be contained in two buildings with a garage and four residential floors above. The apartment layouts include studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. 25 percent of the apartments (28 apartments) will be set aside for affordable housing. Permitting for this development will be through the Planning Board under Design and Site Plan Review. 

Webinar ID: 820 1129 4827

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

To join by telephone, 
Call: 1 (929) 205 6099 
When prompted, enter:  820 1129 4827 # 
When prompted, enter # 
To ask a question or raise your hand, enter *9 on your phone. 

If you are just interested in following along, watch on Belmont Media Center.
Channel 8 on Comcast
Channels 28 or 2130 on Verizon
Watch online at >

Removal from Civil Service: Police and Fire

This article seeks the approval of Town Meeting to remove all uniformed Police and Fire Department personnel from the provisions of the Civil Service laws, which removal would become part of a negotiated agreement between the Town of Belmont and the Belmont Fire Fighters Local 1637, Belmont Patrolmen’s Association and Belmont’s Police Superiors Officers Associations.  Civil Service was adopted in Belmont for Police and Fire in 1915, before the existence of collective bargaining agreements.  The Select Board believes the interests of the town employees and the Town would be better served in the modern era by withdrawing from Civil Service.

Webinar ID:  815 5872 3892

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

To join by telephone, 
Call:  1 (929) 205 6099 
When prompted, enter:  815 5872 3892 # 
When prompted, enter # 
To ask a question or raise your hand, enter *9 on your phone. 

If you are just interested in following along, watch on Belmont Media Center.
Channel 8 on Comcast
Channels 28 or 2130 on Verizon
Watch online at >

League of Women Voters Warrant Briefing

This will review all other Warrant Articles that will be sent to Town Meeting Members once the Warrant has been finalized. 

Webinar ID: 839 3666 6891

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

To join by telephone, 
Call:  1 (929) 205 6099 
When prompted, enter:  839 3666 6891 # 
When prompted, enter # 
To ask a question or raise your hand, enter *9 on your phone. 

If you are just interested in following along, watch on Belmont Media Center.
Channel 8 on Comcast
Channels 28 or 2130 on Verizon
Watch online at >

Special Town Meeting Likely To Take Up Ending Civil Service For Police, Fire; Trailers Staying On Woodland

Photo: The civil service in Massachusetts

Those hoping Belmont’s Special Town Meeting to be held on the last full day of summer (Sept. 21) would “be so easy” with a few procedural articles that would get passed without much trouble can put those dreams away as it appears there’s likely to be a “knockout drag out” over the future of a long-standing labor hiring practice in town.

Among the draft proposals for the Town Meeting, Town Administrator Patrice Garvin announced that Article 10 would put an end to civil service in the Belmont Police and Fire departments. (The warrant will be finalized on Aug. 31.)

“This has been talked about for some time since I’ve been here, and we felt this was a good time to bring this forward given the financial climate and some of the social climate that’s going around town,” said Garvin, at the end of another marathon Select Board meeting on Monday, Aug. 24.

A public meeting on the article will be held on Sept. 9, said Garvin, whose office will manage the meeting.

Garvin has sent notices out to all union presidents that the town will bargain “in good faith” under the state’s collective bargaining law.

But in a twist to the bargaining process, the board and Garvin will go first to Town Meeting “to see if [it] is interested in removing it and then go to the bargaining table” as opposed to a more traditional negotiating away civil service first and then seek Town Meeting’s approval.

The civil service system in Massachusetts was created in an attempt to end the corruption, patronage, and cronyism that dominated all types of government in the late 1800s when it was who you knew not your qualifications that determined who was hired for a government position. Critics say the civil service laws represent a significant barrier to efficient government operation while its defenders contend it has taken the politics out of municipal jobs especially for the police and fire departments.

While the overwhelming number of Massachusetts cities and towns adhere to civil service rules, Burlington, Lexington, Reading, Wayland, Wellesley and Westwood are some of the nearly 30 municipalities which are not covered by civil service.

While there haven’t been any recent attempts to revoke civil service in town, the topic has been raised periodically by previous town administrations and Select Boards. It resurfaced in the past year specifically during the hiring process of the new police chief and during the current search for a fire chief.

During his public interview for the job, James MacIsaac, Belmont’s current police head, was emphatic that civil service should be taken off the table, saying it would prevent him from hiring qualified residents from a larger pool of candidates and limit placing people of color onto the force as he is required to take the first name off a list of test-takers presented to him by the civil service board.

The members of the current Select Board have in the past expressed qualified support to bring a measure before the town’s legislative body for a vote and did so on Monday.

“A lot of people have been telling us to do more structural change so there you go,” said Adam Dash, a member of the board.

“The people most directly involved with it, namely the police and fire chiefs think this is a very desirable thing to do,” said Roy Epstein, chair of the Select Board.

But the defenders of civil service are beginning to rally their supporters. At nearly the same time Garvin presented the article at 10:40 p.m., firefighter’s local union 1637 was on social media with a notice whose headline screamed: “Protect The Public From Politics!”

“The rank and file members of the Police and Fire departments feel this is not something that would benefit the town in any manner,” read the email pamphlet.

And the town certainly realize they will have a fight on its hands.

“I definitely think we’ll get some push back [from the unions],” said Garvin. But it is worth exploring especially if the outcome of a yes vote are departments with greater diversity and in future years a larger pool of employees of color in senior positions, she noted.

While this Special Town Meeting warrant is filled with articles that were not taken up during the annual Town Meeting in June, there is one which could prove to be just as contentious. The board will likely approve an article to purchase the two trailers the police department has been using as its temporary headquarters for the past year on Woodland Street.

With its single floor open-design plan, the 5,000 square-foot modular trailers have been a hit with the police – early in the year one senior officer said the department would have been happy to have them set up as its permanent headquarters – the town is viewing the modulars as a solution for the threadbare condition of the nearby Water Department.

“The trailer are in really good condition, we can utilize some offices down there,” said Garvin. “It’s an opportunity for the town to acquire an asset and for the Water Department to use it.”

With potential savings by not making payments and eliminating the moving and disassemble fee, “there’s a high upside for keeping those buildings knowing that there’s a space crunch [in town departments],” said Jon Marshall, assistant town administrator. “There are some departments in town that are actually renting space … so there’s certainly an opportunity to put people in spaces that makes sense.”

But board members noted that several neighbors along Woodland Road were told the trailers would be temporary as they worried about police traffic at the site.

“I’m not saying I’m opposed to it but I think there will be a lot of push,” said Dash.

Other articles coming before the Special Town Meeting will include:

  • Adopting private street Carleton Circle as a public way.
  • Authorize the Select Board to grant temporary easements for the Wellington Elementary’s “Safe Routes to School” plan.
  • Vote on several Community Preservation Committee projects including $680,000 for Town Field Playground renovation and $100,000 to repair the front steps at the Police Headquarters.
  • Reallocating water and sewer capital balances towards other capital projects.
  • Vote to approve changes to the zoning bylaw to allow for the construction of residential housing in a portion of the McLean Hospital property.

Hands ’round the Pond: Belmont Stands Up for Safety and Civility


In the spirit of being a welcoming community, while acknowledging the recent increase in hate crimes across the state and nation, residents of Belmont and surrounding communities are invited to join “Stand-Up for Safety – Hands Around the Pond” on Saturday, Dec. 17, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on the Concord Avenue side of Clay Pit Pond in Belmont.

The highlight of the event will be a “hands around the pond,” a powerful visual statement of residents standing shoulder-to-shoulder and linking hands around the pond.

“We calculate that we’ll need about 1,000 people joining hands to reach around Clay Pit Pond,” said event co-chair Donna Ruvolo in a press release.

“It’s ambitious, but we have already heard from families, teachers, students, religious institutions and civic and youth organizations who are eager to be involved in this unprecedented event.”

“Our goal is to bring the community together to reaffirm our commitment to safety and civility,” said Ruvolo. 

“It is also our hope that residents who are feeling threatened or fearful know that we, as a community, will stand up to discrimination, harassment and bullying.”

In addition, residents will be able to review plans for the proposed Veterans’ Memorial at this location, and to acknowledge the service of local veterans who are currently championing the memorial project.

Due to the non-political and on-partisan nature of this event, participants are requested to refrain from carrying a sign or wearing clothing that is affiliated with an individual political candidate’s name or slogan. Participants are also encouraged to dress for the elements. 

Parking is available in the Belmont High School parking lot, and walking, biking and car-pooling are encouraged. This is a family friendly event suitable for all ages, but it is requested that all dogs except service dogs are kept at home.

This event is being coordinated by members of the Stand-Up Campaign, a non-political and non-partisan organization committed to kindness, decency and civil discourse.  The Stand-Up Campaign is a branch of Belmont Against Racism. Co-sponsors include the Belmont Human Rights Commission, The Belmont Veterans Memorial Committee and the Belmont Religious Council.

For more information, please contact

The Week Ahead: Know More About Your Civil War Relative, Health Fair at the Beech

On the government side of this week, the Board of Selectmen will meet an hour earlier than usual, at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 20, and at a new location, the Beech Street Center, as the board will lead a major discussion on pension and OPEB costs to town residents and Town Meeting members. The School Committee will hold its annual Boston meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Central Boston Elder Services at 2315 Washington St. to discuss the METCO program with Boston parents and students. The Planning Board will hold a public hearing on changes to three residential properties at 7 p.m., Oct. 21 in Town Hall.

The American Red Cross is holding a Belmont Community Blood Drive at All Saints Church on Monday, Oct. 20 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the church located at the corner of Common and Clark streets.

Librarian and genealogist Connie Reik will share her knowledge of Civil War-era documents in an illustrated talk, Beyond Pension Files: Discover Your Civil War Veteran in Federal Publications and Documents,” being held at the Belmont Public Library, Tuesday, Oct. 21, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the library’s Assembly Room. Those documents include histories of the individual battles, private laws, and petitions, claims, and pension record information found in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

The Council on Aging is holding its Health Program and Fair on Tuesday, Oct. 21 starting at 1:30 p.m. at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St. Spend an afternoon learning interesting information designed to improve your health. Presenters such as dentists, a physical therapist, an optometrist, a dermatologist, an audiologist, as well as representatives from the Newton-Wellesley Hospital Drive Safe Program, Belmont Health Department and the Belmont Food Collaborative will speak briefly about their topics. Before the fair, at 11:45 a.m., there will be a presentation about “Mindful Eating,”

Staff from US Rep. Katherine Clark‘s office will be holding office hours to meet with Belmont residents on Tuesday, Oct. 21 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St..


The Belmont Art Association is holding a general meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 22 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Flett Room of the Belmont Public Library.

The Belmont Public Library is hosting a baby signing workshop on Thursday, Oct. 23 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Flett Room. Please register by stopping by the Children’s Room or by calling 617-993-2880.