Community Preservation Gives Thumbs Up To Four Hopefuls

Photo: The Belmont Police Station which will receive $787,000 of CAC funding.

The Community Preservation Committee has given its nod of approval to half of the applications requesting funds from the committee in the fiscal year 2019 cycle.

While the ultimate say on which of the eight applicants will be funded will be determined by Town Meeting at the annual gathering in May 2019, a thumbs up from the committee is an influential endorsement with many Town Meeting Members.

With the applicants requesting a total of $2.7 million and the committee with $2 million to distribute, the committee’s OK could be the difference from seeing projects get underway and those pushed off until next year.

The four which won committee approval on Wednesday, Dec. 12 were:

  • Preservation and restoration of vegetation at Clay Pit Pond; $20,0000
  • Habitat preservation through the control of non-native and invasive plant infestations; $25,400
  • Belmont Police Station conditions study and design; $787,575.10
  • Community Path phase 1b design from the Clark Street Bridge and Brighton Street; $1 million

The sum of the approved projects tops $1,832,975, leaving a minuscule $168,025 for the remaining four, including:

  • Town Field playground restoration: $700,000
  • Payson Park bandstand: $50,000
  • Restoration of the Belmont Clock Tower at First Church Belmont: $66,250
  • Town Hall slate roof: $75,000

For three of the applications – Town Field, Clock Tower and the slate roof – the committee requested more information on aspects of the project. i.e. is there any church/state legal issues involving using CPC funds to rebuild a portion of a religious building. 

The application which solicited the most quires from the committee was the Payson Park bandstand which will protect the bands and groups playing at the Payson Park Music Festival. Commissioners said they were wary of assertions by sponsor Tomi Olsen of town departments partnering with her to build and manage the bandstand, which officials disputed.


Police Station Renovation Project Passes First Test With Funding Challenge Ahead

Photo: Architect Ted Galante before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

It was smooth sailing as the renovation of the nine decades old Belmont Police headquarters at the intersection of Concord Avenue and Pleasant Street got its first thumbs up as it begins meetings to clear regulatory hurdles and obtain the funding for the historic preservation of the project.

“Step one done,” said Ann Marie Mahoney, chair of the DPW/BPD Building Committee which is overseeing the renovation of the police building and the facilities at the Department of Public Works after receiving unanimous approval from the Belmont Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, Dec. 3.

“And this [vote] was good and wonderful being unanimous,” she noted.

The committee was before the ZBA seeking approval of a pair of special permits which would allow the circa 1931 headquarters project to bypass town regulations and increase the structure’s height and adding an additional floor to a portion of the building. Architect Ted Galante of The Galante Architecture Studio in Cambridge told the board the additional space would improve the building’s function and allow for a sallyport and revamping of the unsafe holding cells. There will also be a need to reconfigure the entrance to the parking lot from the corner of the intersection to a new curb cut slightly up Pleasant Street. 

The changes will correct complaints of the safety of the cells and meet Americans with Disability Act regulations, said Galante, bringing the building into the 20th century. “We want a building and facility the town can be proud of,” said Belmont Police Chief Richard McLaughlin.

ZBA Chair Nicholas Iannuzzi quipped that as Belmont is a “Town of Homes,” it’s unlikely any of the residents will ever be spending time in the new cell block, only out-of-town “visitors,” to which McLaughlin agreed.

Next up for the project will be a presentation before the Planning Board in January 2019 which will review the project specifically the building’s larger floor area ratio and the landscaping in greater detail. 

Earlier in the day, the committee delivered its final request to the Community Preservation Committee for a $700,000 grant to preserve the historic features of the building. While the majority of the $7 million budget will be paid for via a long-term bond financed by existing town revenue, the brickwork and other repairs to the facade is critical to complete the job.

But the request seeking funding comes during the most competitive grant cycle in the CPC’s short history. Already approved in  the 2019 grant round is $400,000 for the design of an underpass on the commuter rail line at Alexander Avenue while the Board of Selectmen is seeking $1 million to design and conduct an engineering study of a community path from Belmont Center to Brighton Street. In addition, six other requests are pending. The total requested by the nine projects if funded would exceed the nearly $2 million the CPC has to provide. 

“And we really need that money this [cycle],” said Mahoney.

Six Projects Clear First Hurdle Towards Securing CPC Funding

Photo: The Belmont Veterans Memorial project.

More fields being restored, a “re-do” and a saving a Belmont barn have submitted preliminary applications for funding by the town’s Community Preservation Committee, according to information released by the CPC on Tuesday, Oct. 3.

A total of six applications were received by the committee by its Sept.29 deadline,  according to Michael Trainor, who this week stepped down from the CPC Admin Coordinator position after five years of working for the CPC.

While five of the six have specific dollar amounts, one – the second request for an inter-generational walking path at the Grove Street Playground – was submitted without a price tag attached.

But in the preliminary application stage, “it’s not entirely necessary since the CPC is just looking at whether or not the project would be eligible to receive funding under Mass General Law and Belmont’s specific list of criteria,” said Trainor.

With the amount for the Grove Street project to come, the total dollars requested is $748,000. While the CPC will select the projects to obtain grants, Town Meeting will have the final say which receives funding.

The projects, the amount requested and the applicants are:

  • Town Field Playground restoration $180,000 (Courtney Eldridge, Friends of Town Field Playground)
  • Payson Park Music Festival shed/hatch $50,000 (Tomi Olson, Payson Park Music Festival)
  • McLean Barn conditions study and stabilization $165,000 (Ellen O’Brien, Lauren Meier, Glenn Clancy) 
  • Belmont Veterans Memorial restoration and enhancement $103,000 (Angelo Firenze, Belmont Veterans Memorial Committee)
  • Funds set aside for the Housing Trust $250,000 (Judith Feins, Belmont Housing Trust)
  • Construction of a Grove Street Park Intergenerational Walking Path TBD (Donna Ruvolo, Friends of Grove Street Park)

The Town Field project follows other park restoration projects including this year’s PQ Park renovation and the Grove Street Park path is similar in aim and name as the one approved for Clay Pit Pond. Tomi Olson’s hatch shell project was submitted last year but rejected after Olson could not produce the written support of abutters the committee had requested. Belmont received the abandoned dairy barn, located just south of the Rock Meadow Conservation Land off Mill Street, in 2005 from McLean Hospital. And the Belmont Veterans Memorial has been raising private funds to help pay for the renovation and construction on Clay Pit Pond.

Important dates for the applicants include:

  • Nov. 8, 2017: a public meeting to discuss the applications.
  • Dec. 4, 2017: Final applications are due
  • Jan. 12, 2018: The CPC selects projects
  • March 2, 2018: Project Summary Reports Due 
  • Late April 2018: League of Women Voters Meeting
  • Early May 2018: Town Meeting

Six Prelim Applications for CPC Funds Move To Next Round

Photo: Grove Street Park which had two projects OK’d by the Community Preservation Committee.

Two big recreation projects will take nearly two-thirds of the proposed funding sought by local groups and town departments through Belmont’s Community Preservation Fund for the coming fiscal year.

Applications to make repairs on the final of three town tennis courts and planning for the renovation of a well-used park/playground along with four other projects totalling nearly $1 million were approved unanimously by the Community Preservation Committee last week.

The approved applications are: 

  1. Grove Street Tennis Courts: $336,000, Jay Marcotte, director of DPW.
  2. Belmont Headquarters Sons of Italy: $25,000, Cynthia Pasciuto, Culture Commission
  3. Music Hatch at Payson Park: $50,000, Tommasina Olson, Payson Park Music Festival
  4. Assessment and Project Redevelopment of Sherman Gardens: $173,000, Donna Hamilton, Belmont Housing Authority
  5. Grove Street Park Intergenerational Walking Path Construction Site Plan: $35,000, Donna Ruvolo, The Friends of Grove Street Park
  6. PQ Playground Revitalization Project Phase 2: $300,000, Julie Crockett, Friends of PQ Park.

The next Communiy Preservation Committee public meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Board of Selectmen’s Room on Thursday Nov. 10, where the applicants will present their proposals before the public and the CPC, answer any questions and solicit feedback about the projects.

As of June 30, the CPA had an available fund balance of about $873,000. The conservative projection on fical 2017 collections from town tax revenue and state contributions is $1.2 million, which means roughly $2 million will be available by the close of the fiscal year on June 30, 2017. 

Belmont raises money for its Community Preservation Fund by imposing a 1.5% surcharge on local real estate taxes. 


Tennis Players, Rejoice: Selectmen Backing Reconstruction of Grove Courts

Photo: The drone view of the Grove Street Playground tennis courts.

Belmont residents could soon see another set of tennis courts undergo a complete renovation as the Board of Selectmen voted at its Monday night meeting, Sept. 26, to sponsor a proposal before the Community Preservation Committee to replace the courts at the Grove Street Playground.

The project adjacent Dalton Road, which will cost $336,000, is the third of three repairs to tennis courts town-wide the board has backed in recent years. Work is set for the Winn Brook courts adjacent to the elementary school and Joey’s Park at Cross Street while the renovation of the Pequosette Park courts has been completed. 

The new courts, which will include replacing the surface and laying a new foundation, are expected to last for up to 20 years, said David Kale, Belmont town administrator.   

The project still needs the approval of the Community Preservation Committee and finally Town Meeting in May 2017.