Photo: Ellen Cushman, Belmont Town Clerk.
Belmont will have a summer Special Town Meeting before the third week in August after Town Clerk Ellen Cushman certified a citizen’s petition submitted by residents who seek to reverse a last-minute change to the $2.8 million Belmont Center Reconstruction Project.
“The train is on the tracks,” said Cushman, referring to the process the town will undertake to schedule the meeting during the middle of summer.
The meeting will cost taxpayers approximately $5,000 to hire a court reporter, have materials ready and to pay overtime for town employees.
Cushman said her office certified 284 of the 302 signatures submitted Wednesday, July 8, by residents seeking a non-binding vote by the 300 members of the town’s legislative branch.
The latest the Special Town Meeting can take place was 45 days from Wednesday, on Aug. 21.
It is now up to the Board of Selectmen – the group which prompted the special meeting after approving major changes to the project’s design at a May 28 public meeting which resulted in a counter petition and later a near free-for-all at a subsequent Selectmen’s meeting – to pick a meeting date and sign the warrant. The board will also vote on whether to recommend or reject the article.
The meeting will be held 14 days or longer once the warrant is signed.
The article’s language Town Meeting will be voting on is the same used on the petition delivered to the town. (see below) Amendments to the article can be submitted up to three days before the meeting. A quorum of 100 members will be needed to call the meeting.
Cushman said the vote – which seeks to return the project to its original design with a prominent Town “Green” and removal of the cut through between Moore Street and Concord Avenue – is, in fact, non-binding. The Selectmen will take the vote “under advisement” and decide at a public meeting whether to follow Town Meeting’s “instruction” or set it aside.
If there were any thoughts from either camp withdrawing from the anticipated fight on the floor of either the Chenery Middle or Belmont High schools auditorium, the time to do so was before the petition arrived at Town Hall Wednesday.
“This Special Town Meeting will be held,” Cushman told the Belmontonian.
The petition reads:
We, the undersigned registered voters of the Town of Belmont, Massachusetts, request that the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Belmont place an article on the Warrant for a Special Town Meeting to read:
“In proceeding with the Belmont Center restoration project, as approved and funded by Town Meeting on November 17, 2014, shall the Board of Selectmen and other Town officials be directed to adhere to the plan represented in the Belmont Center Improvements design documents put out to bid by the Town in January 2015, said documents based on the conceptual plan presented to Town Meeting in the November 2014 Special Town Meeting. These documents shall be used in place of the Board of Selectmen’s revised Belmont Center restoration conceptual plan, adopted unilaterally at a meeting held on May 28, 2015.”