Town Opens Belmont Library As Cooling Center During Weekend Heat Wave

Photo: The Belmont Public Library will be a cooling center over the weekend

Due to the current period of high heat and humidity, the Belmont Public Library at 336 Concord Ave. will open as a Cooling Center over the next few days, according to a release from the town.

The hours will be as follows: 

  • Friday Aug. 5: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday Aug. 6: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday Aug. 7: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“We encourage everyone to stay cool and hydrated,” said the release. “We ask you to check on elderly friends and neighbors, and others who may need help, during this period of high heat and humidity.”  

Be A Friend To Newly-Planted Trees: Give Them A Weekly Drink!

Photo: A weekly watering will help newly-planted trees thrive during the heat and draught

Is there a newly-planted tree in front of your home?

Please help the Town of Belmont by watering those trees during the current draught and extended days of hot temperatures to help it thrive. What residents can do is fill the attached green bag just once a week. The water will slowly drip to the tree’s roots.

Here’s are the Instructions:

  • Insert hose directly into the bag, fill until the bag is full.
  • Please do not fertilize.
  • Weeding is not necessary but is helpful.

Belmont thanks residents for their help!

Registration Now Open for 10th FBE Apple Run With Chances To Race For Free

Photo: Go Register, Go Run, Go Belmont! 

Sunday, Oct. 2 • 9:30 AM: Apple Run 5K • 10:45 AM: Apple Run 2K

Now in its tenth year (six years as the Dan Scharfman Memorial Run), the Foundation for Belmont Education Apple Run has brought thousands of  runners to the streets of Belmont to support public education and innovation in the Belmont Public  Schools. Since its inaugural event in 2013, the Apple Run has raised more than $200,000 for the Foundation. Please visit our website to see how these funds have been put to great work in the Belmont  Public Schools. 

We are excited to make our 10th FBE Apple Run the biggest and best yet! To help celebrate 10 lucky  registrants will run for free! A name will be drawn weekly from our pool of registrants to determine who the lucky winners are – sign up now to increase your chances of getting your registration fee back! 

As in past years, the first 400 registered runners in the 2022 run will receive a hi-tec short sleeve ‘quik-dri’ running shirt. Adult and youth sizes are offered. 

Our Couch to 5K Program is available online only this year: Visit the Run page to view and use the 2021  training articles. 

Compete in the team competition this year? Just enter your team name when you register on RaceWire. Visit our run page to see what the team awards are! 

REGISTER NOW FOR THE FBE APPLE RUN 2022

THANK YOU Cityside Subaru of Belmont – PLATINUM SPONSOR FOR 10YEARS!!!

Follow on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with run news and learn more about the race.

Questions? administrator@fbe-belmont.org

’Une Nouvelle Sœur’: Belmont Reaches Out To French Town To Be First Sister City

Photos: Orsay, France’s Deputy Mayor Frederic Henriot and Belmont Select Board Chair Mark Paolillo pointing out the similarities between the two municipalities during the French official’s visit to Belmont.

Bonjour, Orcéens. Bienvenue à Belmont, ville de maisons!

It’s not everyday a foreign dignitary stops in Belmont to say hello. But 198 years since the Marquis de Lafayette was feted in what is now the Town of Homes during his grand tour of the United States in 1824, a second French official arrived bearing gifts with the goal of forging a friendship between the two communities.

Frederic Henriot, the deputy mayor of Orsay, France was welcomed to Belmont by the Select Board on Monday, July 20 as the towns are taking the initial steps to establishing a Sister City relationship, which would be a first for Belmont.

A national initiative begun by President Eisenhower in the 1950s, the Sister Cities movement was created ”to boast exchanges in arts and culture, business and trade, youth and education, and community development that not only bring them friendship, but help them to tackle the world’s most pressing issues at the local level,” according to Sister Cities International.

The lineup: (from left) Belmont Select Board’s Roy Epstein, Orsay, France’s Deputy Mayor Frederic Henriot; Select Board’s Adam Dash and
Chair Mark Paolillo.

Representing his fellow Orcéens, Henriot – who just so happened to be in Boston on holiday with his family – sees many similarities between the two communities. “I think we got some things in common because we are nearby big universities … and we also got our big high school like yours,” said Henriot.

Settled 860 years before Belmont was incorporated in 1859, Orsay (pop. 16,000) is a suburb of Paris on the commuter rail line 13 miles to the southwest of the City of Lights. It’s best know as home to the Université Paris-Saclay, one of Europe’s leading science research universities (rated first in Mathematics in world rankings), which has attracted high tech firms to its R&D infrastructure.

The genesis of a potential sister city partnership started with a connection between the two high schools. As both Henriot and Belmont school officials noted, over the years several families from Orsay resided in Belmont while in Boston on business or academic assignments. On their return to belle France, “the students say, ‘yes, they are doing the same thing [in education and the arts]. So perhaps we can start something between the town and the schools together and hope we can share something,” Henriot said.

One of the Belmont educators who is initiating a cultural swap is Allison Lacasse, the high school’s band director and Francophile. She met the representatives from Orsay early in the school year when they visited Belmont’s Director of Visual and Performing Arts Arto Asadoorian to discuss a future collaboration with the performing arts departments of Belmont High and Lycée Blaise Pascal d’Orsay, initially via Zoom and later a possible school-based arts exchange.

“Arto mentioned to them that I travel to France often, and that we should consider connecting the next time I was overseas,” said Lacasse. ”I booked a trip for April break in 2022, and then contacted the folks from Orsay to potentially set up a visit.”

“We worked out a day to meet, and they planned a beautiful itinerary for me to visit Université Paris-Saclay, cultural institutions within the town of Orsay, their public middle school, and the arts conservatory (Conservatoire à Rayonnement Départemental Paris-Saclay),” she said.

Allison Lacasse, Belmont High School’s Band Director, with Herve Dole, vice-president of arts, culture, science at Universite Paris-Saclay on her April 2022 visit to Orsay, France

After these initial interactions, Board Member Adam Dash and Town Administrator Patrice Garvin recently spoke with Orsay’s Mayor David Ros. ”[The meeting] went very well and we were talking about moving forward into more of a formal relationship,” said Dash.

Henriot came prepared for the function by putting on his official l’écharpe tricolore – the tricolor sash (red, white and blue, of course!) – with silver tassels (mayors have gold tassels) before an exchange of gift baskets and books with the board accepting a guide and history to Orsay (“Sorry that’s in French,” said Henriot) with an inscription from Ros while Henriot was given Richard Betts’ opus on the naming of Belmont’s streets (“That one is in English,” said Mark Paolillo, Board Chair.)

A video presentation of Orsay was viewed by board and public with members of Belmont’s Council of Aging noting how many activities seniors are involved in the town while others pointing out the good working order Orsay’s municipal facilities were in.

And Orsay’s connection with Belmont could go beyond just cultural. As he was leaving town hall, the high school rugby coaches – who with their players were recognized by the town for winning their state championships – button hold Henriot on possible introductions with the established CA Orsay Rugby Club.

“We hope to see you in France, yes?” asked Henriot at the end of his stay.

National Purple Heart Day Observation At Vets Memorial Clay Pit Pond On Sunday, Aug.7, 1 PM

Photo: Residents of Belmont, veterans and Purple Heart recipients are invited to attend this special event. 

The Town of Belmont will honor and observe National Purple Heart Day on Sunday, August 7 at 1 p.m. at the new Belmont Veterans Memorial at Clay Pit Pond off Concord Avenue and across from Belmont High School.

Brig. Gen. Paul L. Minor, the co-rector of Belmont’s All Saints’ Church, and the newest assistant Adjutant General of the Massachusetts Army National Guard at Joint Force Headquarters, will be the guest speaker.

Residents of Belmont, veterans and their family members and in particular all of those who are Purple Heart recipients are invited to attend this special event. 

The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the United States armed forces who are wounded by an enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action.

Chartered by Congress in 1958, the Military Order of the Purple Heart is composed of military men and women who received the Purple Heart Medal for wounds suffered in combat. Although membership is restricted to the combat wounded, the organization supports all veterans and their families with a myriad of nation-wide programs by Chapters and National Service Officers.

Belmont Announces Grant Program For Small Businesses Impacted By Covid-19

Photo: The program funding is coming from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act

The Town of Belmont, through the use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, has established the COVID-19 Small Business Grant program which will provide up to $10,000 to assist in the stabilization of existing small businesses in Belmont which experienced significant business disruption and losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This grant program will provide funds to assist eligible businesses cover wages, rent, loss of inventory, and other fixed costs not already compensated by other federal COVID-19 financial assistance or relief programs.

Eligible applicants must be a for-profit business with 2 to 35 employees that provides goods or services to multiple clients or customers and have a physical commercial establishment within the Town of Belmont. In order to be eligible businesses must have experienced a loss of revenue of 50 percent or more since March 10, 2020, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Businesses must not have outstanding tax liens, legal judgements, outstanding utility bills, and are not otherwise subject to denial of a permit as detailed in Chapter O, Revocation or Suspension of Local Licenses, of the General Bylaws of he Town. The following business categories of businesses are considered ineligible: independent contractors, check cashing agencies, banks, gas stations and liquor stores. Ineligible applicants also include national or regional chain businesses (11 or more).

Highlights in the GRANT PROGRAM

Aug. 8: Grant applications released.

Sept. 15: Initial grant deadline. Applications received after this date may be considered depending on availability of funding.

Dec. 8: Complete Review of Applications.

Dec. 19: Initial grant award notifications

For more information, contract Gabriel S. Distler, Staff Planner, Planning Division, 617-993-2666.

Letter To The Editor: Fundraising For New Library Hits $5 Million Mark

To the editor:

We are excited to announce that the Belmont Library Building Project has received an historic $2 million grant intention from the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation, bringing fundraising for a new library building to a milestone moment: $5 million and counting.

The $2 million grant intention for the new library building from the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation is unprecedented for the Foundation, the Town of Belmont, and of course, the Belmont Public Library Building Project. For the past 11 years, the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation has supported important charitable purposes that significantly impact the Belmont community, including education and literacy, athletics and arts, food security, playgrounds, and the Underwood Pool. With the $2 million grant intention, contingent on a debt exclusion, the Foundation will create a lasting legacy through the Belmont Public Library that will improve life for Belmont residents.

Fundraising totals for the Library Building Project have now crossed the $5 million milestone and continue to grow. The fundraising team from the non-profit Belmont Library Foundation has created an inclusive fundraising effort that encourages participation at whatever level is appropriate for each donor, and the community has responded. More than 850 people and organizations have made contributions and pledges ranging from $1 to $2 million

Private donations are a crucial component of funding for the Belmont Library Building Project. The $5 million in available funds and pledges – restricted for the construction of a new library building – will offset the amount of public funding required for the project and reduce the financial impact on Belmont residents. To learn more about making a donation for the new library building and recognition opportunities, visit www.newlibraryfund.org.

The Library Building Project took another notable step forward last week when the Belmont Select Board voted to include a debt exclusion vote for the new library building on the Nov. 8 election ballot. The serious issues with the old library building make it imperative that the project move forward as soon as possible, and the Select Board’s endorsement of the project and action to send it to Belmont voters reflect the urgent need to replace the building. The debt exclusion is the next big step to achieve the greenlight for the project. For more information about the Belmont Library Building Project, please visit www.belmontlibraryfoundation.org.

We want to thank Belmont residents and organizations for their commitment to building a new library for our community. Together we have come far, and with these funding milestones, we are closer to making the new library the reality for Belmont.

Kathy Keohane, vice-chair, Belmont Board of Library Trustees
Marcie Schorr Hirsch, president, Belmont Library Foundation

Rink Joins Library For Debt Exclusion Vote In November

Photo: Members of the Municipal Skating Rink Building Committee; Frank French, Jr., Dante Muzziolioi and Chair Mark Haley before the Belmont Select Board

The Belmont Select Board voted unanimously Monday to place a debt exclusion before voters this November to finance a new municipal skating rink to replace the half-century old Skip Viglirolo Skating Rink on Concord Avenue. The board’s vote comes a week after it OK’d a similar debt exclusion measure to construct a new $39.5 million public library on the same Nov. 8 ballot.

While having heard concerns of placing a pair of debt exclusion projects on the same ballot, “I’m ready to move forward with an exclusive vote this fall,” said Mark Paolillo, chair of the board at a hybrid virtual/live meeting held at Town Hall Monday. “I think there’s support for both projects. There’s a need for both.”

While most building committees tend to see their work like running a marathon – a long, slow and steady run – the Municipal Skating Rink Building Committee took its inspiration from Usain Bolt, having taken up the mantel of the temporary building committee on June 13 with a month and a half deadline to produce a project with a location, scope and budget that would pass muster with the Select Board to get on the ballot in 2022.

Preliminary design of the new municipal skating rink [Credit: TGAS]

“Honestly, I wasn’t sure you’d actually pull it together in time,” said Adam Dash of the Board. “And you actually did kind of put it together in time. I’m very impressed.”

“I feel that we are ready,” said Mark Haley, chair of the Municipal Skating Rink Building Committee as it voted earlier on Monday, 9 to 2 with one absence, for the project to go before voters in November. “We asked that specific question of [project architect Ted Galante] and he said we had come a long way in two to three months since we’ve been at it and we have a lot of momentum.”

Before the board meeting, the committee met to finalize several aspects of the project, such as the new rink’s location, adding 40,000 sq,-ft. of solar panels and settling on the building’s program, as well as presenting a broad, preliminary budget.

With the current volatility in construction, the committee provided a project budget with a low and a high range. The core construction costs – for the renovated rink and associated DPW space, locker rooms, storage, Harris Field lockers, the demolition of the White Field House and solar panels – is estimated today at $17,275,000.

The budget range from low and high estimated costs for the proposed skating rink.

Where the numbers differs between the high and low estimates is with general conditions (costs incurred during a project that isn’t involved in the actual construction such as administrative costs, renting a jobsite trailer, and cleaning up the location) and, design and owners contingencies. The high end estimation for general conditions is at 18 percent of the base price tag with the low end at six percent. High end design contingency -the amount of money set aside in a budget to address unforeseen circumstances – is 25 percent compared to eight percent at the low end.

With inflation pegged at 12.6 percent over two years and soft costs ranging from $6 million to $5 million, the total project cost with the high estimation is $34,730,806 and on the low side, $27,764,798, a difference of just under $7 million ($6,966,008). Split the difference and the average of the high and low projections calculates to $31.2 million, which Dash said is the likely price tag.

“I think the high is pretty high, the low a little low,” said Dash on the cost calculations. “I’m not sure anyone can give you an exact dollar figure.”

At its regular Wednesday morning committee meeting, members agreed that firm budget is needed before Labor Day when they expect residents will begin to focus on the projects. “I’ve heard a different number of people say ‘we have until November, we have until October’ and I think the reality is if we’re going to give the community enough visibility into what’s associated with this project … we really need to get that buttoned up by the end of August so there’s clarity around this project,” said Committee member Tom Caputo.

The committee also reiterated to the board that while it will produce designs and cost estimates for the adjoining fields and an extended parking by modifying the “jug handle” to fit up to 46 diagonal parking spaces, the committee is not picking up the tab for those area that are west of Harris Field.

A preliminary design of a modified “jug handle” parking area with 46 spaces and a bus drop off. [credit: TGAS]

“Those will need to come from other funding sources,” said Haley.

While nearly all those who spoke at the meeting was in favor of the project, the lack of public meetings or outreach to groups and neighbors was a bone of contention for most. Ann Paulsen, former state representative and select board member, said other capital projects she has supported “have had much more community involvement at this stage of the game,”

“There has been no attempt to participate with any of the members of the community to talk about lighting, access, hours of operation or traffic, all things that make this either a really great thing for the community or really a nuisance,” said Paulsen.

Haley stated on Wednesday the committee will be holding the first of a new round of public meetings early in September with a greater refinement in design and budget.

Select Board Places New Belmont Library On November Ballot As Fundraising Reaches $5 Million Mark

Photo: It’s now up to the voters in November to decide the fate of a new Belmont Public Library.

Twenty-three years after it was first proposed, a new Belmont Public Library will be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot as the Select Board unanimously approved placing a $39.5 million debt exclusion to build a 42,000 square-foot structure at the library’s present location at 336 Concord Ave. at its July 18 meeting.

“I think we’ve come to a point where we really don’t have the luxury of waiting much longer,” said Select Board Member Roy Epstein and putting the decision in the voters hands.

The decision came a week before the board was set to decide whether to place debt exclusions for the library and a new municipal skating facility before voters on the November election.

“I don’t have any problem putting up the library tonight,” said Board Member Adam Dash. ”There’s nothing left to talk about,” as the project has been throughly vetted since it began in 2018 and any more delays will result in escalated costs, he said.

The board’s vote came after an announcement earlier in the meeting when library supporters reported raising $5 million in funds and commitments to support the new building. The big news Monday was a $2 million grant – provided if the debt exclusion passes – from the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation to support the project.

“The Belmont Savings Bank was a pillar of the community for so many years, much like the library is now and will continue to be in the new building that serves the needs of the entire community,” said Gail Mann of the Board of Library Trustees. ”We are close to $5 million in funding with [more than] 850 donors with additional donations since then.”

“Five million dollars raised is incredible and it’s growing beyond that,” said Chair Mark Paolillo. “It shows the residents of this community that there’s incredible support for this library.”

“And all the dollars that get donated is one less dollar we have to issue in the debt exclusion and makes the project that much better,” said Dash.

For the campaigners who have been in the forefront of creating a new library, its efforts now transfers to convincing a majority of voters in the next 113 days to pass a debt exclusion in the $34 million range.

“There will be a political ’Yes’ campaign now that we are officially on the ballot,” said Peter Struzziero, library director. He said while he and his staff will not be advocating for a vote, they still can provide information on the project.

”We’ve held more than 50 meetings with every group, official and unofficial, that we could and we plan to hold more information sessions going forward,” said Trustee Chair Elaine Alligood.

“I think there is a lot of community support. I think there has been a ton of outreach by the trustees, the [Belmont Library] Foundation, the Friends of the Belmont Library and Peter Struzziero and his staff,” said Mann.

Struzziero said that unlike the previous two proposals which relied on state funding and support, this project ”is the first one that was ever completely driven by Belmont residents.

”It’s also the smallest building that’s ever been proposed and it’s got the most fundraising now of any project in the history of Belmont. There’s a lot of things that are different about this time around and this time, we’re confident that the voters will make the decision that’s best for the community,” said Struzziero.

With Covid Variant On The Rise, Town Holding Vaccine Clinic Thursday, July 14

Photo: The clinic will take place at the Beech Street Center

As the BA.5 offshoot of the Omicron Covid-19 variant is on the rise, the Belmont Health Department is offering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible residents (ages 3+), including 1st, 2nd, and booster shots.

Thursday, July 14, 10 a.m. to Noon
The Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St.

This clinic will be operated through a partnership between VaxinateRX and the Belmont Health Department. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be available.

NEW! Those 3 years and older can now sign up to receive their primary vaccine series at this clinic.

Look here for information and to register for a vaccine appointment.

If you have difficulty with registration call  617-993-2720
or Email: Lsharp@belmont-ma.gov for assistance
*Please present insurance cards, photo ID, and vaccination cards at appointment.