Dash Honored By Town, Select Board Colleagues For Service To Belmont

Photo: Adam Dash (left) being feted by the Belmont Select Board at a recent meeting

It felt odd for regulars at the Belmont Select Board meeting to see Adam Dash addressing the Belmont Select Board and not with them. But this was a special night as the board paid tribute to Dash’s service to Belmont.

“We don’t do this for the recognition or honor or wealth, obviously, but it’s nice to be appreciated,” said the Goden Street resident as his former colleagues and residents spent a few minutes recognizing their former colleague who did not seek re-election in April.

Dash’s six years on the board included managing the town’s response to a worldwide pandemic, overseeing a budget after a failed override, and the more mundane duties such as honoring a retired board member.

Take a seat: Former Belmont Select Board Member Adam Dash (sitting) was honored by the current board: (from left) Mark Paolillo, Roy Epstein and Elizabeth Dionne.

Like many esteemed residents in Belmont’s history, the proclamation noted that Dash answered the call to public service and selfishly devoted a decade of his time and abilities on several committees before being elected twice to the Select Board starting in 2017.

“Adam has lived up to the lofty ideals of public service through commitment and dedication to the various causes, projects, and people he has represented and will serve as a source of inspiration to our community,” read the proclamation.

Dash’s most significant challenge while on the board was the unprecedented events brought about by COVID-19 in March 2020. “Adam’s leadership was characterized by great poise and resolved during ever-changing circumstances to contribute to the decisions that prioritize the safety and health of the Belmont community,” said Board Chair Mark Paolillo, who, along with the board, presented Dash an engraved chair as its appreciation.

The newest board member, Elizabeth Dionne, recalled Dash’s role as the town’s senior statesman by providing key insights and information during what could have become a very contentious budget debate “that I was personally grateful.”

Dash, for his part, said he’s “taking a break” from town-wide governance, which he said was a privilege representing all town residents.

“But I have to say that it’s nice leaving [a board meeting] before 7:45 p.m. when you know you’re gonna be here until 11 p.m.,” quipped Dash. “I’m fine with that.”

After Six Years, A Farewell To Select Board’s Fedora-Wearing Member Who Leaves Three Nuggets Of Advice And A Poem

Photo: Adam Dash

The Belmont Town Hall auditorium was the location of a fond farewell for Adam Dash who is leaving the Select Board after serving six years on the town’s three-member panel overseeing town government.

Dash, known for his collection of fedoras, was feted by his fellow select board members – Mark Paolillo and Roy Epstein – and a slew of town employees all of who commended the Goden Street resident for his dedication to the town during a board tenure that included fiscal constraints and the sudden and profound impact of the Covid pandemic.

“He always made decisions that he thought were best for the community, never for political gain,” said Paolillo. “And the community has benefited from that.”

(from left) Select Board Chair Mark Paolillo, Town Administrator Patrice Garvin, Select Board members Adam Dash and Roy Epstein.

After his six years on the board – winning a seat by defeating Guy Carbone by a two-to-one margin in 2017 and running unopposed in 2020 – Dash said while it was the right decision not to seek re-election, he would miss working with all those in government and elected positions.

“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve this community, and I am reminded of it every day in the kind words I have received since my announcement that I was leaving the board,” he said.

Dash dispensed two pieces of advice “whether you want to hear it or not.”

“Please be aware of historically marginalized groups in town. Often, I am the only town official at various cultural events and demonstrations held by such groups, and the town needs to make sure there is representation going forward,” said Dash.

He also suggested that all keep an open mind on matters until all presentations and public comments have been heard on issues before the town and select board.

“It is fine to come into a meeting with an idea of what should be decided, but digging into a position with no possibility of change negates the whole public meeting process and does not foster public confidence in our boards, committees, and departments,” he said.

Dash reminded the assemble the three rules he lived by when he became chair in 2018:

  • One, no drama.
  • Two, be respectful of each other.
  • Three, don’t waste anyone’s time.

“I hope you all can adopt these rules in your work for the town. I can say that it would be appreciated by those with whom you interact,” said Dash.

And for his closing words, the attorney transformed into a poet.

“Once I sat at the table

And supped on the power

That comes from the vote

I like to think that I acted

With and without a mask

And inhaled the ideas

That finished the task

My political part-time sentence is over.”

Paolillo (Re)Joins Select Board

Photo: The team that runs Belmont: (from top left clockwise) Select Board Chair Adam Dash, vice-chair Roy Epstein, Town Administrator Patrice Garvin, Select Board member Mark Paolillo, and Jon Marshall, assistant town administrator.

When Mark Paolillo served on the Belmont Select Board in the 2010s he would be continually fighting a losing battle with Boston traffic to get to the Board’s Monday evening meetings on time, which resulted in good-natured comments from colleagues when he would eventually come flying into Town Hall.

The three-term (2010-19) “selectman” returns to the board after running unopposed to secure his fourth term at the April 6 Town Election. And the next day, at the annual organizational meeting, it was as if Paolillo hadn’t missed a beat … as he was running three minutes late.

Paolillo said there will be a lot of work facing the Board in the coming year after the rejection of the Prop 2 1/2 override by the voters 12 hours earlier.

“We need to come together as a board and, frankly, as a community. It was an emotionally charged election and I think it’s up to us as members of the board to help the community move past its differences,” said Paolillo, pointing to reengage on fiscal issues within the town.

“That’s going to be my primary focus on the board, but there are other things that are in the back of my mind like the community path and our climate action plan,” he said. “I know we have a diversity initiative that I’m fully engaged and committed to.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, Adam Dash returned for his second turn leading the Select Board after he was named chair for the coming year. Dash said he will run the meetings – they have been pushing close to four hours – using three simple rules:

  1. No drama,
  2. Be respectful, and
  3. Don’t waste anybody’s time because there’s a lot to do this year.

Dash also mentioned the failed override vote resulting in “a lot of work to do in a very short time getting ready for Town Meeting” which will occur at the end of April.

Roy Epstein, who ran the board for the past year is now vice-chair. Epstein said he will continue his work of making Select Board meeting material available to the public via the board’s website.

“There’s been some difficulty in getting that organized as it’s logistically cumbersome and sometimes we have 15 to 20 and 30 documents. But I think it’s a good practice just to make everything available so nobody feels that they’ve been at some informational disadvantage at the time of the meeting,” said Epstein.

Memorial Day In Belmont, 2018: In Words and Photos

Photo: Larry and Janet MacDonald salute the flag as it passes by on Memorial Day 2018 in Belmont on Monday, May 28.

It was a drizzling and cool Memorial Day as Belmont prepared to honor residents who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the freedoms and protect the citizens of the country.

Despite the weather and the long holiday weekend that signals the unofficial start of summer, residents came out to watch their veteran neighbors, the High and Middle schools marching band,  trucks, the police and fire department, town and state officials and seemingly every kid between four and eight left in town march from Cushing Square, down Trapelo Road and Belmont Street to Grove Street and on to the Belmont Cemetery for the annual service to remember the honored dead.

Speaking for the town, Selectmen Chair Adam Dash noted that the world will mark in November the centennial of the armistice ending the First World War, the “War to End All Wars.” After facing industrial war with poison gas and mechanized killing with airplanes, submarines, tanks and machine guns, it was felt at the time “that no future men and women would have to live through it again,” Dash recalled.

But rather than finalizing conflict, World War I “was the precursor to an even greater conflict a generation later, as well as the numerous other conflicts around the globe over the past 100 years.”

But while peoples have fought peoples since time began, “[w]e have shown the ability to follow the biblical command of Isaiah to turn swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks … We have turned airplanes into civilian modes of travel. We have used submarines to scientifically explore the ocean depths. While we have waged wars, we have also used diplomacy to prevent wars.”

“It is up to us, who are living right now, to create that utopia dreamt of a century ago by soldiers trapped in trenches year upon year. Sustained peace would be the ultimate gift to those soldiers of yore who made the ultimate sacrifice. We are up to the task if we simply want to make it happen.”

“We remember that they rest in peace so we can live in peace,” said Dash.

The day’s keynote speaker, Belmont Board of Library Trustee Elaine Alligood, was one of the few women honored to be the main speaker at the service. She spoke how over a quarter century working as a Veterans Administration Librarian, veterans “have taught me way more than I can ever claim to have done for them. Each veteran – more than 21 million in the US including 2 million female vets – “has a unique journey back to their world, often compelling, instructive, and complicated.”

Alligood highlighted two veterans she got to know on their journeys. One was convinced he was going to die from an intestinal condition he didn’t have. She drew him out of his shell by finding material in the library related to his Ph.D. in Russian Literature. The vet soon began telling her a story that as an intelligence officer during the invasion of Grenada in 1983, he believed his faulty analysis led to the death of 19 soldiers, “each death weighed on him even now, decades later.”  

“He simply could not forgive himself even though he’d done his job. [He] taught me about the almost unendurable burden of a soldier’s commitment to his brothers in arms; the awful and powerful affliction he couldn’t shake at their loss,” said Alligood.

The other veteran was in recovery and on probation, “endur[ing] much, and lost much, during combat and once home, he couldn’t stop remembering and re-living it. His experiences fueled his unfocused rage, and his addiction. All utterly de-railing his life plans, destroying his relationships, landing him in a world of consequences.”  

Alligood saw that the vet was diligently trying to re-build his life, repair his relationships, and make amends to his fractured family so took him in a VA work-therapy program. He showed up in her dusty basement library, “enthusiastically re-organized and re-shelved our old, pre-digital print journal collection without a complaint.” When he asked Alligood to write a letter to his probation officer documenting the work he was doing, “I realized then, the depth of his dedication to his road back. [He]. knew it was long and tedious, yet central to his journey, and he was not stopping.”

“[He] taught me about forgiveness and endurance, acceptance, the power of commitment and hope; no matter how long or bumpy the road back home might be, he was committed to the journey,” said Alligood. 

“Here’s to all our Veterans, all you’ve sacrificed, all you’ve given and done, for all of us, all across America. Thank you for your service, and Godspeed on your journey,” she said.

135 Years Later, Belmont Town Hall Drawing Finds A Home in Town Hall

Photo: The illustration of Belmont’s Town Hall, circa 1881.

While some people like to spend their vacation sitting by the pool or hiking on far off trails, this July Selectman Adam Dash took some of his time away from work to hit the internet with the goal of seeking out items for sale with a Belmont theme.

“I’m interested in seeing what’s out there,” said the first-term selectman who lives on Goden Street.

Dash said during one of his treks online; he happened to “stumble upon” something that immediately caught his eye: a hand-colored single-page illustration of Belmont’s Town Hall with a detailed floor plan of the building’s first floor as depicted in the Aug. 6, 1881 issue of “American Architect and Building News.”

“Somebody 135 years ago must have felt that this was worth some architectural significance because they put it into a national publication,” said Dash.

The magazine that ran the image began in 1876 before changing its name to “American Architect” in 1909. It ceased publication in 1938 when it was absorbed into the “Architectural Record” which today is one of the leading architectural monthlies in the US.

Not many issues of the “Building News” survive and most of those editions do not have color illustrations “so this is a rare find, probably the only one in existence,” said Dash.

The drawing of the familiar landmark off Concord Avenue shows that the building hasn’t changed much since it was constructed in the early 1880s although its uses have: the Selectmen’s Room was the town’s reading room while the town administrator’s office was the book room. Dash speculates that the counter likely where books were checked out by the public.

A seller from Minnesota had put the drawing up for sale for a price “that wasn’t going to break the bank,” said Dash. 

“I showed it to Phyllis [Marshall, the interim Town Administrator] and said ‘That belongs in the Town Hall.’ So I said ‘I think I’ll get it and donate to the town.'” Which Dash will do at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting on Monday, Aug. 21.

“I figured it would be nice for the public to see,” said Dash.

Letter to the Editor: Dash Thanks Supporters, Residents For Placing Faith in Him

Photo: Adam Dash

To the Belmont Community:

Thank you for placing your faith in me and electing me to be your next Selectman. I have spent many years working to make Belmont a great place to live, and I am excited to continue this work on the Board of Selectmen. 

I have learned so much through this campaign, through conversations as I have gone door to door, at meetings, events, and neighborhood gatherings. You have shared your ideas and your frustrations, and I am indebted to you. I believe there is nothing more important that I can do as Selectman than to learn directly from the members of our community and let that guide me in my decision-making. We have many challenges – but also many opportunities – and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together. 

Thank you to all of the volunteers who opened their homes, made phone calls, sent email, posted on Facebook, visited neighbors, spoke with friends, held and hosted signs. Your commitment is humbling and inspiring.

I especially want to thank my opponent, Guy Carbone, and his campaign team and supporters, for helping to make this election a conversation about the future of our town. We are all better served as a result of this dialog.

It is now time to turn my attention to the business of Belmont. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues, our town departments, boards, and committees, and each of you, to move forward on the projects ahead of us.

Thank you,

Adam Dash


Letter to the Editor: Adam Dash will be Belmont’s Champion

Photo: Adam Dash

To the editor:

In the next few years, Belmont will face a daunting array of tasks, from building a new high school to repurposing the former incinerator site to finally turning the Community Path from concept to reality. It’s critical that we have a Selectman who will involve you – the people of Belmont – in major decisions to ensure that they progress smoothly, effectively, and responsively. Adam Dash has the courage to listen as well as talk, the temperament to meaningfully address citizen concerns, and the thoughtfulness to work toward innovative solutions.

In going door to door, I’ve heard from many Belmontians who feel their local government is somewhat distant, slow-moving, and often lacking in accountability and 21st-century innovation. Many have been disappointed in the pace of action in town. Adam is a pragmatic, open-minded consensus builder who will not continue doing our town’s business in a certain way just because “that’s the way it’s always been done.” If local government can operate in a more transparent, efficient, and inclusive way, he’ll be unafraid to pursue it. Adam’s broad Belmont experience, unique skill set, and comprehensive understanding of how best to harness Belmont’s governing bodies will allow him to make greater progress in a shorter time. 

Adam has a detailed plan to improve every aspect of our town, from fundamental issues such as ensuring the best maintenance of override funds to supporting clean energy, smoothing the nuts and bolts of town operations, and improving communication with residents through Belmont’s tinternet and social media presence. 

Perhaps most importantly, Adam has a deep understanding of the forces and process required to make effective change in Belmont town government. Citizens will always have concerns about local actions, such as the recent controversy over the Belmont Center town green or the zoning regarding the potential for a boutique hotel. It’s important that the voice of every citizen be heard in an efficient and productive way. Adam understands the need to account for those concerns at the beginning of the process, and to ensure transparency and public feedback from day one. 

Last year I ran for Town Meeting because Belmont needed more fresh voices and new ideas in local government. We must be a leader not just in education but in everything from sustainability to infrastructure to reducing the red tape and bureaucratic regulations that hold back our small businesses. Adam will be that fresh voice on the Board of Selectmen. 

Adam is the real deal. He has contributed countless hours to our town and has served on more Belmont committees and commissions than can be recounted here. More importantly, he has a record of results, from helping to lead the Underwood Pool effort to manage the funds voters approved in the multi-year override in 2015. As a recent Belmont High School grad, I’m confident that Adam is the best candidate to support our schools and to stand up for the education of every Belmont student. 

Adam will work tirelessly for our schools, for the environment, for our businesses, for community input, for transparency, and for accountability. He will fight for all of Belmont.  

We need open-minded, innovative leadership that preserves Belmont’s many strengths while planning carefully for the future. The pace of progress in our town must increase. Let’s move forward. 

Adam Dash will be our champion. For real progress in Belmont, vote for Adam on Tuesday, April 4. 

Daniel Vernick

Town Meeting Member – Precinct 1

Letter to the Editor: Dash Provides Forward Thinking As Selectman

Photo: Adam Dash

To the Editor: 
Monday night’s debate at the League of Women Voters’ Candidates Night made it clear that this is a lively campaign for Selectman. Both candidates have a lot to offer the town.

On balance, I believe that Adam Dash is more forward-looking and therefore better prepared to deal with these challenges creatively. For one thing, his support for the Community Path seems stronger. That is the single biggest step Belmont can take to cut traffic and enhance the two business centers it would pass through, Belmont Center and Waverley Square.

Please consider giving Adam your vote.

Sue Bass
Precinct 2 

Candidate’s Statement: Adam Dash – “I Ask For Your Vote”

Photo: Adam Dash, Candidate for Board of Selectmen

To my Belmont Friends and Neighbors,

I am writing to ask for your vote.

It has been very humbling to run for Selectman. I have walked throughout Belmont, knocking on doors and speaking with residents. You have told me about your children and grandchildren. You have shared your frustrations. And you have sent me on my way with a richer understanding of our community.

If elected, I will work every day to live up to your expectations.

I will always be honest with you. I will tell you what I know and what I don’t know, even if it is not popular. I will ask for input and advice, and I will take it to heart. I will respect the opinions, decisions, and work of Town Meeting, and our boards, committees, and departments. Everything I do will be transparent, and you will always have my ear.

I am running for Selectman because I want to make a difference for our community. 

For the last ten years, I have learned about the issues currently facing the town and schools, and I have worked hard to make a significant contribution.

  • I have analyzed the budget, line by line, for eight years on the Warrant Committee, currently as vice-chair.
  • I have studied and applied our zoning by-laws on the Zoning Board of Appeals.
  • I helped build the highly successful Underwood Pool as the vice-chair of the Building Committee.
  • I helped bring additional state funds to Belmont as chair of the Community Preservation Act Study Committee.
  • I helped provide additional, necessary funding for schools, roads, and sidewalks as the spokesperson for the YES for Belmont override committee.
  • I provided free legal work to various non-profits in town.
  • I am raising two children in Belmont, and I have experienced our excellent schools at all levels.

My experience is important.

I have built a deep understanding of the town, our challenges and opportunities, and the way things work. We have many issues that must be addressed now, and I can hit the ground running without a learning curve.

The role of the Warrant Committee is advisory – members dig into every financial issue and make recommendations to Town Meeting.  I, like others, have had many ideas over the years that would save money, improve town services, or otherwise benefit Belmont, but we have no authority to implement them.  The Board of Selectmen sets the agenda and oversees the town departments.  Without the Selectmen, nothing happens.

I want to do more.

The challenges we face – in our schools, neighborhoods, businesses, buildings, and the environment – affect the quality of life of every Belmont resident.  

  • We must solve our school enrollment and space crisis. 
  • We must creatively address our critical building projects, with Belmont High School at the top of the list thanks to a one-time opportunity for 30 percent funding from the state.
  • We must methodically rebuild our roads and sidewalks. 
  • We must create vibrant business districts and expand our commercial tax base. 
  • We must protect the character of our neighborhoods.
  • We must move to leverage federal funds to build the Community Path. 
  • We must follow through on the town’s commitment to climate action, as instructed by Belmont voters. 

Clearly, there is a lot to do.

As a Selectman, I will use what I’ve learned in my ten years of service to Belmont to lay the groundwork for the next decade and beyond. 

  • I will be guided by the shared values that make Belmont great – family, education, community and inclusivity.
  • I will make sure that every Belmont resident has a voice in our town government.
  • I will keep the focus on action. We have many challenges — and opportunities — but we need to get things done.

To move forward, we must communicate better, listen more, and streamline decision making. We can work collaboratively with all stakeholders to find common ground and create win-win solutions. Belmont residents want a voice – on big issues and small – and as Selectman, I would make it a priority.

But I need your partnership.

Thank you to everyone I’ve met during the campaign over the last few months. Your ideas and your concerns have both inspired me and shaped my thinking.

 I ask for your vote on Tuesday, April 4, and I look forward to earning your trust.

Adam Dash

Selectmen Candidates in Testy Exchanges at League’s Night

Photo: Adam Dash (left) and Guy Carbone at the League of Woman Voter’s Candidates Night.

Over the past decade, political debates nationwide have become more course and acrimonious with sophomoric name-calling – remember last year’s “Lying Ted”? – and accusations are thrown around with little merit to any facts.

On Monday, March 20, at this year’s League of Women Voters’ Candidate’s Night, the national debating trend arrived in Belmont, when a candidate for the open Board of Selectmen seat accused his opponent of being … a “dilettante!”

Pass the smelling salt, Lovey. I feel the vapors coming!

While the dustup which occurred during the question and answers section between first-time Board of Selectmen candidates Guy Carbone and Adam Dash was nowhere near the rowdy nature of recent Congressional constituency meetings seen nationwide, the interaction between the two residents revealed different approaches each would take if elected to the three-member board in April.

For Woodfall Road’s Carbone, his experience in local (terms as selectman and on the school committee in Watertown) and state (Commissioner of the former Massachusetts District Commission) government and his long career as an engineer and attorney is the perfect mix to meet the challenges facing Belmont in the near future, specifically in capital building projects such as construction of a new high school, police station and public works buildings.

“I think I’m a natural for this,” he said. “For me, this is a busman’s holiday.”

Carbone said he would review the town’s critical spending needs with the ability of property owners to pay for them. “We have to be careful not to ask our residents for more than they are capable of providing.”

“Belmont needs balance,” said Carbone.

Goden Street’s Dash pressed his work expertise – many years working in and with Somerville and Belmont including on the Warrant Committee and Zoning Board of Appeals – to “bring action” to repair “a broken town process” and end “the sad cynicism” so many feel about local government

Dash told the audience many important municipal department buildings such as the Public Works and Police Headquarters “are not acceptable” and only by wisely phasing in projects and seeking private funding and applying for federal and state grants, “can address these capital needs without overburdening our taxpayers.”


Adam Dash

He pointed to his work on the Underwood Pool Building Committee where he led the process where Community Preservation Committee funds, private donations and a town debt exclusion to bring about a project that is “staggeringly popular.”

“I have the current Belmont specific experience to transition onto the Board of Selectmen seamlessly,” said Dash.

During the Q&A, Carbone saw himself as having the practical hands-on experience that would benefit the town. When asked his view of the proposed Community Path running through Belmont,  the renovation of Belmont High School and increasing sidewalk repairs, Carbone said will review projects “with an engineer’s eye” then listen to all sides of the issue.

“I will ask the right questions at the right time,” said the former Army Corp of Engineers officer. 

But for Dash, Carbone’s construction expertise would best be used seeking another town position.

“I am not running for town engineer. We have a good one,” quipped Dash, who said his leadership style of bringing people together in a bottom-up approach was the most efficient avenue to avert the missteps of projects such as solar power net metering or the controversy of the Loading Dock liquor license transfer from happening again.

“Had they been done process-wise differently would not have blown up and had been as divisive. We’re a small town. We should not be at each other’s throats. We should be working together,” he said.

Testy exchanges

While both men will seek to use their slot on the board to support climate initiatives, one policy area the two diverged was how Belmont should meet the challenge of nearly $150 million in unfunded financial obligations facing the town. 

Following a question from current Selectman Jim Williams on how they would deal with the town’s pension and post-retirement health payments, Carbone said all the town has to do is “just listen to Jim Williams” as the selectman “is right on target” in paying off the obligations upfront rather than over several decades under the existing policy.


Guy Carbone

Dash agreed with Williams’ advocacy to revisit the town’s current payment plan but would stick with the current blueprint – paying off the pension in 2029 then use the same revenue stream to begin paying down the OPEB debt – “is the way to go.”

It was a question on Carbone’s town administrative experience in Belmont that resulted in the most controversial moment of the Q&A. When Carbone said it was his careful examination of legal documents that ended a potentially costly litigation on the renovation of the historic fire station in Belmont Center, Dash noted that Carbone represented the contractor who “screwed up the fire station” which eventually cost the town in settlement fees. 

“It’s not necessarily a positive for the town,” said Dash, who said being a Town Meeting member and working on building committees and town boards showed his dedication to the community “and a lot of people I worked with these committees are supporting me.”

Carbone was not going to let Dash’s broadside go unanswered, saying he was “getting tired of what I’m hearing in this campaign,” insinuating that Dash was misrepresenting the facts.

“I’m not going to let anyone attack my client when my client was the only who had no problems. And I have to hear this?” said an increasingly upset Carbone. “I’m getting sick of this from this candidate” before Debbie Winnick, the night’s moderator, put a halt to the line of inquiry. 

Later, after Dash said after being immersed in the critical financial issues and trends he would be better able to handle town affairs “if things go wrong,” Carbone responded that his expertise of working with project consultants in the past will be vital to the town rather than having a “dilettante who has been involved with zoning.”

In closing, Dash said speaking to residents; he discovered that they not only want potholes fixed, “but to have a voice in town government. And I will provide that voice. If we work together, we can get things done.” 

Carbone asked, “if you are not happy with the ways things are going in Belmont than you should vote for Guy Carbone for selectman.”

“I don’t have to talk about all the problems. I know what they are. I am a problem solver,” he said.