Belmont Help’s Pumpkin Rescue And Fundraiser; Town Hall Sunday, Nov. 6, 10AM To Noon

Photo: The poster for Sunday’s rescue and fundraiser

Here’s what to do with your post-Halloween jack-o-lanterns and all those pumpkins wasting away on your porch and steps: rescue them from the landfill by donating them.

Belmont’s third annual Pumpkin Rescue and Donations Drive benefitting Belmont Helps will take place on Sunday, Nov. 6, 10 a.m. to noon at the Belmont Town Hall, 455 Concord Ave. at the corner of Pleasant Street. Drive thru the Belmont Town Hall complex and a volunteer will happily collect your pumpkins and donations from your vehicle.

Partnering with Belmont Composts, Belmont Helps is collect pumpkins for compost and keeping them out of landfills. In addition, the event is a fundraiser for Belmont Helps which assists families in need with food resources and groceries to the tune of more than $20,000 per year. Contributions big and small are vital. Take this opportunity to empty your piggy banks in addition to dollars or checks made out to Belmont Food Collaborative with BH in the memo line.

Letter To The Editor: It’s Well Past Time To Build A New Town Library

Photo: What the new Belmont Public Library will look like if the debt exclusion passes

To the editor:

We’re long-time residents of Belmont and heartily support the Library and the Rink projects.

When we were finally able to afford a modest Belmont house, we moved here for the fine schools (by reputation) and the “well-managed” Town. We soon found out that “well-managed” meant the Town wasn’t spending money on infrastructure or materials. We were shocked to find that the Burbank School
had cracked and lifting asbestos tiles, water-damaged and crumbling plaster walls, rickety and failing windows, faulty plumbing, very dated mechanical systems, lack of educational materials and equipment, etc. etc. The Burbank was in worse shape than the old 1920 elementary school I first attended in the 1950’s, right before it was replaced. Fortunately, the Burbank staff was superb and creative. Small classes after kindergarten were great for the students!

And fortunately for the Town, gradually over the last 46 years most of the neglected Town buildings have been renovated or replaced. But not the Library. The deterioration we found in Burbank in 1979 can be seen in the Library today. The director can do only so much to upgrade the interior, but the structure isn’t sound. It’s time to rebuild.

Our family spent good times in the Children’s Room with Joyce. She, as well as the welcoming staff, gave all of the kids special attention. There were always good activities and programs. Free passes to various museums helped our budget. When they were older, the kids depended on the library for Young Adult fiction and reference materials. We have borrowed videos, audiobooks, periodicals, new books, and old. We’ve attended Library classes and special events. The Library was and is a central part of our Belmont lives. And when my parents retired to Belmont, the Library became my mother’s (a retired librarian) favorite, too. She loved the selection in the collection!

The Library is so much more today – I hope everyone knows how many more offerings are available these days – for free!

The time is right. We have substantial donations toward a new building.

Please support the new Library.

Nancy Davis
Emerson Street

Belmont High Field Hockey Host Arlington Coed Team In Playoff Clash, Friday 4:30PM

Photo: Belmont High scores vs Lexington in 2-1 away victory

The 13th-ranked Belmont High Field Hockey squad will host a first round match of the MIAA Division 1 state tournament against the mixed gender team from neighboring Arlington High at Harris Field on Friday, Nov. 4 at 4:30 p.m.

At 10-4-3, the Marauders are coming off a demanding final fortnight of the season including a come from behind win over tournament bound Lexington (2-1) and draws against Westford Academy (1-1), top-ten Reading (1-1) and Arlington.

Friday’s game will be the third time the Marauders take the pitch against the Spy Ponders having beat them at Harris, 4-1, before losing a 3-2 lead in the final minute to go away with a 3-3 tie.

What changed in the second game was Arlington’s inclusion of two senior young men into the line up. “They were the difference maker,” said Marauders’ Head Coach Jess Smith, as one boy – standing nearly 6 feet tall and weighing 180 lbs – scored Arlington’s first goal as he roamed the entire field outpacing and overpowering the young women of both teams.

Boys are allowed to compete on girls’ teams as a result of a decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Attorney General v. Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. The 1979 ruling stated that the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s policy of the time stating “No boy may play on a girls’ team” was unlawful, violating the Equal Rights Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution.

While approximately 40 boys play field hockey yearly out of 8,000 participants, recent history showed how dominate a co-ed team can be against a girls team. Somerset/Berkley Regional won the 2018 and 2019 state Division 1 championship with two boys – including the coach’s son – who consistently rode roughshod over girls teams, scoring approximately 200 goals while giving up less than 10 in league play.

The day of boys’ participating in the girls game appear ready to end as the MIAA recognized in 2021 boy’s field hockey – a 7×7 version of the game – which could be up and running by next year.

Breaking: Belmont Superintendent Phelan To Retire in Fall ’23

Photo: Belmont School District Superintendent John Phelan who announced his retirement as of Fall 2023.

After nearly a decade leading the Belmont School District, Superintendent John Phelan announced his retirement as of fall 2023 during the Belmont School Committee meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

Phelan said he was making the annoucement now to allow the committee time to hire a new leader that will allow that person time to become familiar with personnel and policies. Phelan leaves at the same time as the town opens in September 2023 the new Middle School wing of the $295 million Belmont Middle and High School building.

”I want to say ‘thank you,’” said Meg Moriarity, school committee chair, before the full committee gave Phelan a round of applause.

Hired in December, 2013, Phelan became superintendent on July 1, 2014. Previously the assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Personnel for the Milton Public Schools, Phelan took the helm of the district as Belmont faced possible large budget cuts in schools which was avoided when the town passed a Prop 2 1/2 override in April 2015. Phelan has been working with the town on funding the district to limit layoffs and support education after the town rejected the latest override in April 2021.

Phelan also had a major role in proposing and the planning for the new Belmont Middle and High School which was approved by voters in November 2018.

But it was Phelan’s management of the district during the Covid-19 pandemic which will be his major legacy beginning in March 2020. With the need to shut buildings and start a remote learning model for 4,300 students from scratch, Phelan was the public face of the district decisions which put him under fire from a portion of residents who sought alternative methods to learning. Despite the opposition, Phelan’s ‘safety first’ approach would be the district’s standard.

Playoff Bound Belmont High Volleyball On The Road (Again) To Cape Cod In State Tourney 1st Round

Photo: Belmont High’s Sophia Qin (12) and Sonya Ivkovic (13) set up the block against Winchester

For half of the 2022 season, the Belmont High volleyball team resembled a rock band promoting its new album: they were on the road a lot.

With a month delay to the renovation of the Wenner Field House, the Marauders found themselves without a home until the first week in October, which was only to see

“Being on the road early on meant there was a lot of scrambling to figure things out not just games but also practices,” said Belmont head coach Jen Couture.

And when the team finally decamped into the revamped field house, “we had to make a lot of adjustments early on. It took a little while to get settled into our routines and figuring out what we were doing,” she said.

Through all the hours on the highway away from their home court, the Marauders came through with tough wins in their final two matches – both at home against Arlington (3-1) and Lexington (3-1)- to pull out the 28th ranking in the MIAA Division 1 state tournament with a 10-9 record.

Their reward? A two-hour bus trip to Cape Cod to meet powerhouse Barnstable High in a first-round encounter on Friday, Nov. 4 at 5 p.m. The 16-2 Red Hawks have been perennial visitors to the tournament’s final four, winning state championships in 2015 and 2016.

Despite a somewhat chaotic start of the season, the Marauders began building into the squad that made the playoffs.

“It was halfway into the season when we started having regular practice times and started getting into a groove, when we could push ourselves every day and just enjoy that we had a set schedule that’s not changing everyday,” said Couture.

That improvement came as the Marauders tackled a competitive stretch of its schedule.

“The first time we played Winchester [which won the Middlesex League Liberty Division at 16-2], we were still kind of shaky. We weren’t sure what we were doing together. But the second time, I felt like we put up a great fight. We really made them have to beat us. It was great volleyball to watch,” she said.

Couture pointed to sophmore Bella Radojevic’s all-around effort in the final games as key to stablizing the team.

“[Radojevic’s] defense really shown in these games while her hitting has been happening all season and she’s also one of our strongest servers,” said Couture, while also calling out Libero Gabby Hashioka whose digging “hass been really solid all over the court, laying out all the time.” Against Winchester, Hashioka was challenged from the Sachems’ hard hitting front line but “she did not back down.”

Against Barnstable, Couture will rely on her experience – there are six seniors and five juniors on this year’s team – and an improving defense to keep the Marauders in the game.

Join the Public Forum on The 2023 Housing Production Plan, ‘Building Belmont’s Future’

Photo: The forum takes place on Thursday, Nov. 3 at the Beech Street Center

Belmont in partnership with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council in hosting a hybrid Public Forum on Thursday, Nov. 3 to discuss the town’s 2023 Housing Production Plan, titled “Building Belmont’s Future.”

The event will take place at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St., beginning at 6 p.m. and participants can also attend remotely via Zoom. The event will also be live-streamed by The Belmont Media Center.  

To register for the event please click here. Registering helps plan for both in-person and on-line attendance. Once registered, you will receive a confirmation email with information about how to join the event.

Belmont and the MAPC, the regional planning agency for Greater Boston, and Metro West Collaborative Development, will investigate updating the town’s current Housing Production Plan (HPP) and launch a preliminary visioning process that will likely inform a future Comprehensive Plan.

As an early step in the planning process, Belmont and MAPC will use the forum to introduce the project team, review the HPP process, and discuss current housing needs and context. The event will be held in hybrid format to engage as many residents as possible.

To find out more about the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) please click here

To view the flyer for this event please click here

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Belmont High Football Falls Short In Woburn, Miss Playoffs At 4-4; Hosting Waltham Saturday 3 PM

Photo: Junior WR Brian Logan scores Belmont High’s lone touchdown in a 28-6 loss to host Woburn on Friday, Oct. 28.

Belmont High Football needed a win and a little – really a lot – of help to move up four spots in the MIAA Division 2 power rankings to reach a playoff spot as they came on the field at Woburn under the Friday Night Lights as they took on the host Tanners.

When they left the field, they got neither.

Five Woburn interceptions – three in their end zone – and an inability to take advantage of a rare size and height advantage saw the Marauders drop to 4-4 for the regular season after losing 28-6 in Woo-town, missing the playoffs since their last visit to the post-season in 2019.

Belmont will be relegated to playing up to three games against other non-playoff D2 teams before meeting Watertown for the centennial of their Thanksgiving game played this year at Fenway Park on Wednesday, Nov. 23.

Belmont took the game to the Tanners in the first half, producing two time-consuming drives in each quarter as junior RB Adrien Gurung and junior QB Jaylan Arno took off for first down, producing runs and the tall receiving corp of seniors Ben Williams and Chris Cogliano and junior Brian Logan kept the Woburn D-backs occupied.

But each drive would end with an interception of Arno, the first taken away in the end zone by Woburn’s Marc Cutone, the first of three for the night by the junior defensive back and wide receiver. The Tanners would make Belmont pay dearly as they scored touchdowns on each quarter’s turnover. Belmont came close to putting points on the scoreboard at the end of the half, only to see a long pass intercepted in the end zone with no time on the clock.

Woburn effectively put the game to rest after scoring on a long pass midway in the third quarter, while Belmont’s next drive ended with Cutone’s third takeaway. The Tanners would finish the third with a 60-yard run to push the score to 28-0.

Belmont’s few highlights happened in the fourth quarter as the defense stripped the ball for a fumble and scored as Logan took a slant pass from Arno in the red zone for the TD with four minutes left.

Belmont will host neighbors Waltham on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 3 p.m.

‘Too Soon!’ Skeletons Galore This Halloween on Hellcrest

Photo: Too soon!

Hords of ghouls – I mean residents – made the treak this weekend to see a parade of skeletons that rose from the dead as the quiet cross road between Common and Goden known as Hillcrest made its annual transformation into Hellcrest, the spookiest road in the Tombs of Homes.

Word of advice: The street will be blocked off and police will be patrolling the area on Halloween, Monday, Oct. 31..

The nice fall weather brought folks from around Belmont and surrounding towns to view the assortment of active skeletons, jack-o-lanterns and spiderwebs.

For more than a decade, nearly every home along the still-to-be-paved road decorated their property with skeletrotial aplomb. This year’s collection had a distinct British feel with Mary Poppins with her parrot head umbrella, St. George and the Dragon as well as a recently deceased monarch with her pet corgi.

“Too soon,” said one observer.

“Too soon.”

Bomb Threat Shuts Down Belmont High, Second Time This Year


Belmont High School has been shut down this morning, Oct. 31, for the second time in five months due to a bomb threat.

Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac and Fire Chief David DeStefano report that both departments responded to the school around 10:25 a.m., when the high school’s School Resource Officer was notified of a threatening message left on the school’s voicemail.

According to a press release, Belmont Police and Fire arrived at the Concord Avenue location to support a precautionary evacuation of the building. A preliminary investigation indicates that the threat was left on a school voicemail last Friday, Oct. 28, and was discovered this morning.

The Belmont Public Schools have canceled classes at the high school for the remainder of the day out of an abundance of caution.

Belmont Police and school staff are conducting checks of the building, though police do not believe there is a credible threat.

The incident remains under investigation.

This marks the second time the school has been shut down due to a bomb threat. On May 11, 2022, the school received a phone call before the school day began that a bomb was located in the building. None was found. The next day, a 39-year-old New Hampshire man was arrested for allegedly making the threat.

Not If, But When: Select Board Ponders Best Date For Town Meeting Vote On Appointed Treasurer

Photo: The Belmont Select Board

Mark Paolillo, chair of the Belmont Select Board, summed up the prevailing feeling of appointing all future town treasurers at the end of the public forum on Oct. 27.

“It’s not if, but when,” Paolillo said, proclaiming the board’s support of what they have called ”the most important” of the 19 inter-related recommendations on revamping the town’s governmental structure by the Collins Center.

The treasurer’s post is currently held by Floyd Carman who is up for re-election in the coming town election in April 2023. Carman is yet to make an official decision on running for another three-year term, some town and elected officials have said publically that he would not seek another term.

The board will decide at its Nov. 7 meeting the date it will bring the appointed treasurer article before Town Meeting. The earliest would be Nov. 29 during the first night of the Special Town Meeting.

The board has previously supported moving forward toward implementing many of the recommendations, including some that have already been acted upon, such as changes to the budget process and the creation of a Financial Committee.

Presented to the board in June and at the Special Town Meeting in November, the Collins Center report bluntly stated Belmont was one of the most, if not the most, decentralized governments in the Commonwealth with a bevy of independent boards and positions. This structure had a negative impact on how the town managed its finances.

The Select Board and others, from Warrant Committee to interested residents, believed transforming the town’s treasurer from an elected to an appointed post was essential as its role in managing many of the town’s significant financial transactions: issuing bills, managing taxpayers accounts, cash and debt management, investments and running the department.

Moving from an elected to the appointed position is spelled out in Massachusetts General Laws: First, Town Meeting must vote to approve the change at least 60 days before the town’s annual election in April. Second, the measure must pass at the annual election. If someone runs for the three-year post, which is up for election in 2023, the incumbent will serve until a permanent appointment is made.

The new non-elected treasurer will be appointed by the Town Administrator.

The board is wrestling with the question of when to present an amendment before the Town Meeting. For those seeking a quick resolution to the question – such as board vice chair Adam Dash and Warrant Committee Chair Geoffrey Lubien – the change isn’t rocket science, so there is no reason for a delay.

“We should put it on the warrant, and if it fails, it fails. Because if we don’t put it on the warrant, we start kicking this down the road as we did for 11 years,” said Ann Helgen of the Warrant Committee, referring to a 2011 Department of Revenue report that advised the town to appoint the treasurer.

Chair Paolillo and others such as Jack Weiss believe not just Town Meeting but town voters need to ”buy in” on the change, which can best be accomplished with other forums and discussions on the issues, building support through educating the public on the Collins Center report. Bill Andersen suggested that more report recommendations be implemented concurrently with the Treasurer’s position to gain momentum in passing the needed changes.

Some residents continue to push for an elected belief that someone resides in the “Town of Homes” with the expertise and drive to step into Carman’s shoes without much problem.

”I wanted it to remain independent and a Belmont resident,” said Judith Sarno. ”I think our track record shows Belmont residents elect qualified candidates,” pointing to the first-time elected Light Board.

But that belief runs counter not just to the Collins Center’s recommendation but also to best practices that nearly eight of ten communities in the Commonwealth – from ”teenie weenie” 500-person villages to the largest cities – appoint their financial chief.

“This is not about Floyd; it’s not about any one person. It’s about coming into the 21st century,” said Helgen.

While the bulk of the public forum focused on the pros and cons of an appointed treasurer, politics did come into play by some residents. Saying she wanted to call out the ”elephant in the room,” Judith Feinleib said she would oppose an appointed treasurer since the post would be filled by the current town administrator, Patrice Garvin. While she’s willing to accept a designated candidate, ”I want at least the treasurer to report to an elected body.”

Saying she wanted to provide greater nuance to Feinleib’s comments, Warrant Committee Secretary Elizabeth Dionne said a lot of the opposition to the appointed town treasurer is particular to Garvin.

“A number of us have seen egregious and dishonest and abusive emails circulating around her … that very explicitly states opposition to the elected treasurer in connection with her position, that this was a power grab and an effort on her behalf.”

In a bit of fun, Dash said a solution would be to place an appointed treasurer article on every town meeting warrant “until the members had enough and gave up.”