Photo: The Center under construction.
Just a little bit longer.
That was the word to the Belmont Board of Selectmen Monday afternoon, July 25, as town officials expressed hope that nearly all the work associated with the Belmont Center Reconstruction Project will be complete by mid-August.
When the project’s financing was approved in November 2014 at a Special Town Meeting, the project was expected to be completed in the fall of 2015.
After having the roadway milled last week, Leonard Street and adjacent roads – including Concord Avenue under the commuter rail tunnel and running to the Post Office – will have their road surfaces paved beginning Friday, July 29, three weeks ahead of the original starting date.
The spreading and compacting of asphalt will continue through Tuesday, Aug. 2.
As with the milling, Project General Contractor Charles Contracting of Watertown will be performing the paving operations.
Leonard Street, Channing Road, and Concord Avenue will remain open. However, traffic will be limited to one lane of traffic in one direction with detours expected for some travel lanes.
Residents should expect delays and plan accordingly. On-street parking on both sides of Leonard Street, Concord Avenue, and Channing Road will be unavailable during paving.
Kale said one segment of the reconstruction that will take a bit longer to finish is the “delta” in front of the Belmont Savings Bank at the corner of Leonard and Concord. Due to the need for turf and vegetation to take hold on the triangle-shaped common, that section will not be open to the public once the roadway is finished.
After the roads are paved, the town will begin implementing a comprehensive parking plan that will include metering stations for vehicles parked on Leonard Street. Kale said a plan is being devised to help generate turnover in parking spaces.
“We are organizing the parking so at the extent possible we can have available spots for patrons and utilize the parking areas to generate parking turnover,” said Kale.
High on the board’s concerns about the $2.8 million project is its impact on employee parking in the town’s commercial hub. Business owners are worried the cost of permits and the prospect of a reduced number of parking spaces after the former Macy’s location on Leonard Street opens this fall could make it difficult to retain workers.
Currently, monthly municipal lot passes for Belmont Center business employees are $90.
“That is something that we need to think about,” said Sami Baghdady, the board’s vice-chair.
Kale said some slots and cost would be determined after the site’s landlord Locatelli Properties signs a lease to fill the second of two large retail spaces in the location. Last year, Locatelli landed Foodies Supermarket, a Boston-based independent grocery chain known for its prepared meals.
“Depending on what type of tenants moves into … Macy’s property will dictate what sort of patron parking is required,” said Kale.
Among those rumored businesses eager to locate into the building is a new CVS Pharmacy to replace the small outlet in the Center and an independent bookstore – tentatively dubbed Belmont Books – that has created a lot of buzz among residents.