Changing Lauries: Slap Selected School Committee’s New Leader

In a changing of the guard but not first names, Laurie replaced Laurie as chair of the Belmont School Committee last night Tuesday, April 8.

That would be Laurie Slap, who is known for her stellar, thoughtful work on budgets and financial matters, was installed as the new chair of the six-member board replacing Laurie Graham who has held the position for the past several years.

(It shouldn’t come as a surprise that it was Lauries switching seats; the name – the “pet” form of Laura, derived from the Latin “laurus,” the evergreen shrub or tree whose leaves were woven into wreaths by the ancient Greeks to crown victors in various contests, according to – reached its popularity as a girl’s name from the 1950s to the 1970s (in the top 50 list of names) before plunging off the charts today.

The Long Avenue homeowner, who has been a Belmont resident since 1993 with her husband and three children, said she sees no reason to change the committee’s course.

“I think the team has been working well together, so if we follow in [Graham’s] footsteps we’ll be in really good shape. I am looking for continued continuity,” said Slap.

Slap, who won her seat on the committee in 2010 and was re-elected comfortably in 2013, is an economist by trade matriculating at Colby College earning a BA in Economics/Mathematics and earned a MA in Management from the MIT’s Sloan School with a concentration in finance/corporate strategy.


Starbucks’ Chief Honcho in Belmont? Hmmm

The rumor is that Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz was in Belmont Center Monday night, most likely dining at il Casale restaurant. Despite there being a great little Starbucks store across Leonard Street from the first-rate eatery, he didn’t stop by; but then it was past the store’s closing time.

No word from Starbucks’ PR Department about Schultz’s travel plans – they tend to be tight-lipped about everything – Schultz is known to attend events at the Harvard Business School and has been working with a B-School professor on some future plans so a Boston sighting is not that unusual.

The Week to Come: All-Town Elementary Concert,
Shakespeare, Bunker Hill

• Music students from the town’s four elementary school who participate in the Saturday Morning Music School and the All-Town Chorus perform will be performing in the All-Town Elementary Concert on Monday, April 7 at 7 p.m. at Belmont High School’s auditorium.

• Shakespeare comes to Belmont as The New Rep’s Classic Repertory Company presents Will’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on Tuesday, April 8, 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St. It’s a fun rep show that is a great way for people who never had a chance to see the Bard’s works up close or as an introduction Shakespeare to children. Tickets are $10 adults, $5 kids under 16.

• Here is a great primer on getting a community project from idea to reality: “Rebuilding Joey’s Park: A Community Success Story” will be held Thursday, April 10 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the community room of the Wellington Elementary School between School and Orchard streets.

Sponsored by the Belmont League of Women Voters, it is the story how a small group of parents organized private businesses and more than 2,000 volunteers, raise $450,000 and planned and constructed Joey’s Park, the new playground at the Winn Brook School. Presented by Diane Miller and Ellen Schreiber, co-chairs of the Friends of Joey’s Park effort to Rebuild the Park

• On Monday, April 7 from 11 a.m. to noon, the Belmont Public Library’s monthly book review series, Books and Bites, in conjunction with One Book, One Belmont 2014, will examine life during the American Revolution from three very different viewpoints: “Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin” by Jill Lepore, “1776” by David McCullough and “Chains: Seeds of America” by Laurie Halse Anderson.

• The Board of Selectmen will take up the long-standing issues with ambient noise coming from the Wellington Elementary School at its regular Monday meeting at 7 p.m., April. 7, at Belmont Town Hall.

• The Belmont Board of Health will be holding an informational public meeting on the proposed bylaw amendments on animal kennels in town. The meeting takes place at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 9 at 5:30 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium. 

• Want to know what’s in the school committee’s fiscal 2015 budget? Here’s your chance: the Belmont School Committee is holding a community meeting on Monday, April 7 at 7:30 p.m. where they will review the budget and will answer public questions. The action’s taking place in the community room in the award-winning (and noisy) Wellington Elementary School between Orchard and School streets at 121 Orchard St.

• We usually just hear the kids on the stage; this week it’s the grown up’s chance to show their chops. The Parent/Teacher Band Concert takes place Wednesday, April 9 at 7 p.m. at the Chenery Middle School auditorium.

National Grid’s Gas Repair Complicates Waverley Square Road Work

It’s now official: Waverley Square is going to be a mess!

In a release issued today, Friday, April 4, the Belmont Police Department report that in addition to the closure of the Waverley Square municipal parking lot and Chruch Street as part of the Trapelo/Belmont Corridor Reconstruction Project beginning on April 14, National Grid announced it will begin work on April 15 on the gas main that traverses the Trapelo Road bridge over the MBTA’s commuter rail tracks.

Work on the gas main is expected to be completed on April 25. The street and lot closures will conclude a month later.

The Belmont Police recommend that motorist seek an alternate route and avoid this portion of Trapelo Road during the last two weeks in April. Expect delays if you are driving through this area, said police.

Belmont Rabies Clinic This Saturday

The Belmont Health Department is holding its annual dog and cat rabies clinic on Saturday, April 5 at the Chenery Middle School’s Community Room which is located just off the parking lot off of Oakley Road.

The cost is $10 per animal.

Each animal is given their own time period; the department doesn’t want them to be fighting like cats and dogs.

Residents with cats only should come between 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Citizens with dogs and cats can come between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.

And dogs owners will be arriving between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Micro-chipping your pets will also be available at the clinic at an additional cost.

Baghdady Pins Selectman’s Post; Pool Passes Swimmingly

The Baghdady’s knows a bit about being tough on the wrestling circle – two from the extended Belmont family fought their ways to state wrestling championships – and on Tuesday night, April 1, Sami Baghdady took to the political mat and battled his way to the close victory to succeed the retiring Ralph Jones on Belmont’s Board of Selectmen at yesterday’s annual Town Election.

At 8:30 p.m., Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman announced that Baghdady, who is a member of the Planning Board and Warrant Committee, beat Energy Committee Co-Chair Roger Colton, 3,033 to 2,784, as nearly 6,000 voters, or about 32.9 percent, took out ballots on a beautiful, sunny spring day.

Baghdady joins his former Planning Board colleague Andy Rojas and current Selectmen’s chair Mark Paolillo on the board. Tonight, Wednesday, April 2, the board will vote on this year’s chair and committee representatives.

In the co-main event of the night, the $2.9 million debt exclusion to pay for the majority of the $5.2 million new Underwood Pool proved to be extremely popular, approved overwhelmingly by Belmont voters, 3,377 to 2,093, as taxpayers decided to pay an extra $43 (for a house valued at $777,000) in the first of the 15 years of the bond, falling a dollar a year over the term of the loan.

In the other competitive race, newcomers Kathleen Keohane and Gail Mann beat out incumbent Matt Sullivan for the two open seats on the Board of Library Trustees in a close race: 35.6 percent for Keohane (2,908 votes), 34 percent for Mann (2,787 votes) and 30.3 percent (2,475 votes). But each of the candidates were “beaten” by the 3,718 voters who didn’t mark their ballot for either of the three challengers.

No Fooling: Belmont Votes Today, Tuesday, April 1

Today, Tuesday, April 1, Belmont voters will be casting ballots for town-wide office holders, town meeting representatives and on a $2.9 million debt exclusion for a new Underwood Pool.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Who can vote

Any resident registered  to vote: this is a non-partisan election; any party members can vote.

List of the candidates on the ballot

Check out who is running on the sample ballot provided by the Town Clerk. Precinct 7 voters will have some extra writing to do as they will have the opportunity to add six names as write ins as only six neighbors are on the ballot. Write-in candidates must be Belmont residents so don’t write in people such as Edward Snowden or Vladimir Putin in the ballot.


Transportation to the polls

Rides to the Polls will be provided by the Belmont League of Women Voters. If you would like a ride to a Belmont polling place, please contact:, or call 617-771-8500. Please include your name, address, precinct (if you know it), phone number, and what time you would like a ride.

Questions about or during voting

Most questions – including who is eligible to vote in Belmont – that arise during voting can be answered by the precinct warden at the polling station. Other questions should be addressed to the Town Clerk’s Office at 617-993-2600.

Voting Info

Polling locations: To find polling locations and precincts, click here.

Where do I vote?

Some questions voters may have today:

I’m listed as a voter, but it says “Inactive” next to my name. What does that mean?
Inactive status merely means that you did not return this year’s census which is mailed to every household in Belmont, per Massachusetts General Laws AND the voter did not return the pre-paid postcard notifying individuals of the change from active to active status.

Can I still vote even though I’m “Inactive”?
Yes, an “Inactive” voter may still vote but first must provide adequate identification proving the voter’s identity and current place of residence.

How do I return to “active” status?
There are two ways to convert from Inactive to Active Status. One at the polls on Election Day and one by appearing in person at the Town Clerk’s office at least 20 DAYS BEFORE Election Day. Whichever the voter chooses, proper identification must be shown and a form must be completed. Signing and returning the yearly census is the easiest way to keep your name on the active voter list.

The Library Book That Returned Home Four Decades Late

The book returned to the front desk of the Belmont Public Library last week was like no other waiting to be placed in the stacks; “Lorenzo De’Medici & The Renaissance” by Charles Mee did not have a bar code or a classification number.

When the librarian opened the book, there were two pieces of documentation. The first was printed on a single sheet of paper: “It appears that I am late returning this book. My apologies.” The other was an old-style library slip with the due date stamped on the top: Oct. 15, 1979. The book was overdue for 34 years, 5 months and 12 days or 12,582 days.

“We have no idea who returned it and no way of finding out because we haven’t used the ticket system for years,” said Reference Librarian Corinne Chan, who said every library has a book that shows up sometimes decades later.

And if you are trying to calculate the fine on the tardy borrower, the library would have fined the scofflaw the maximum $5 for overdue books despite the lateness of the return.

“We’re just happy that it’s back,” said Chan.

The Week to Come: Town Election, Great Music,
So Long Mr. Jones

It’s a busy week ahead for Belmont residents as voting, music and sporting events crowd the calendar:

• The annual Town Election is Tuesday, April 1 with polls opened from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. There are competitive races for Selectman, the Board of Library Trustees, in most of the precincts for representative to Town Meeting and there is the $2.9 million debt exclusion vote for a new Underwood Pool. Stay connected to the Belmontonian for up-to-the-minute results and analysis of the vote on Tuesday after 8 p.m.

• Music lovers, rejoice! Two great events are occurring this week: Tonight, Monday, March 31 at 7 p.m. at the High School is “Jazz Night” featuring the Belmont High Jazz Collective along with the Chenery Middle School Jazz Ensemble. The special guests at tonight’s concert is the Quintessential Brass and tenor sax extraordinaire Jim Repa.

Cruzamente (which means “crossroads” in Portuguese), a Boston-based, all-female band led by lead singer Maria ‘Lutchinha’ Neves will be preforming a variety of musical styles of Cape Verde as part of the Library’s  free “Music on Saturday” series on Saturday, April 5, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the library’s Assembly Room sponsored by the Friends of the Belmont Public Library.

• The Powers Music School is celebrating its half century of providing musical education to Belmont and Boston with the 50th annual Mildred Freiberg Piano Festival Student Concerts, Each concert will feature a special short performance by a regional teaching artist. The concerts are 

Saturday, April 5 and Sunday, April 6 at 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and  7:30 p.m.

The concerts are free and will take place at All Saints’ Church, 17 Clark St.
Concert admission is free.

• The town will be holding a retirement ceremony for Selectman Ralph Jones today, Monday, March 31, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Town Hall’s Board of Selectmen’s Meeting Room. There will be cake.Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 1.48.00 AM

Waverley Square Municipal Lot/Church Street to be Closed April 14

The Belmont Police Department and the town of Belmont will be closing the municipal parking in Waverley Square and the portion of Church Street running from Trapelo Road to Lexington Street from April 14 to May 30 as part of the reconstruction of Trapelo Road/Belmont Street.

Contractor Newport Construction advised the town that it would be necessary to close the including Church Street for curb and resurfacing work beginning April 14. The anticipated re-opening of both Church Street and the Municipal Parking lot is May 30.

Church Street will remain closed to traffic during construction hours and will be open to one-way traffic in the evening. Local businesses will remain open throughout the construction work.

Due to the loss of more than two dozen parking spaces at the Waverley Square commuter line stop and the MBTA’s popular 73 bus route to Harvard Square, the Belmont Police will not be enforcing parking time limits on the following streets for the period that the Municipal lot is closed:
• Thayer Road
• Sycamore Street (from the Watertown line to Lexington Street)
• Chandler Street
• Trapelo Road (from Sycamore Street to Church Street)