Arbor Day Returns As Girl Scouts Are First To Donate A Tree Under Belmont’s New Planting Program

Photo: Girl Scout Troop 802027 hard at work planting its dogwood at PQ Park

The shovels were brought, soil and mulch was delivered, and a kousa dogwood tree was placed into the ground close to the playground at PQ Park. Everything was in place on Friday, April 29 for Belmont to celebrate Arbor Day for the first time in two years by adding a decorative tree to the town’s inventory.

For Lucia Gates, chair of Belmont’s Shade Tree Committee, the ceremony was extra special for two reasons: Girl Scouts from Troop 802027 – made up of girls from Belmont, Cambridge and Boston – would be doing the honors of planting the tree, which, itself, was memorable for being the first under the town’s new program for accepting gifts of trees.

“It’s great to see these scouts have this chance to provide the park with a living memory of this day,” said Gates who was a Girl Scout since age 7 in her hometown of Houston, Texas, and led her daughter’s troop at the Butler Elementary school.

The troop is the first to donate a tree under the town’s new streamlined commemorative shade tree planting program initiated by Jay Marcotte, Department of Public Works director and town Tree Warden and Gates’ committee. Approved by the Select Board on March 21, the program gives individuals, business and community groups the opportunity to donate funds to purchase and plant a public shade tree.

A donation of $500 will pay for a tree – which the Tree Warden will help each contributor select “the right tree planted at the right place” for the best chance of survival – to be placed and maintained by the Public Works. And the troop will be the first to be recognized on a new commemorative plaque which will be located in Town Hall and noted online.

At PQ, each scout recited a line from an Arbor Day poem, Marcotte read a proclamation from the Select Board, the soil and mulch was expertly put in their place and everyone in attendance was given Girl Scout cookies – Lemonades – for coming.

“So watch this tree your whole life,” said Gates. “And maybe when you grow up, you’ll bring friends and it will be part of you forever.”


Front Row, left to right: Julia Danahy, Mabel Fanning, Madeleine Palmer, Ruby Garver, Julia Spitznagel, Rosalind Oppenheim
Back Row, left to right: Penelope Fok, Fiona Zimkus, Julia Sen, Funmilayo Folorunso, Ellie Dubois, Elizabeth Tung
Lucia Gates and Michael Chesson of the Belmont Shade Tree Committee with Jay Marcotte (right), director, Belmont Department of Public Works

Good News For Taxpayers And Tennis Players At New Winn Brook Court

Photo: The Winn Brook courts will see a fifth court coming by the fall of 2022

The multitude of Belmont’s tennis players – including the Belmont High School squads – received good news on Monday, Feb. 28 when the Select Board heard the town finalized the contract for the construction of a new court at the Winn Brook Fields on Cross Street.

And taxpayers will feel good that the project will return nearly $50,000 to the town’s Community Preservation Committee.

Speaking before the Belmont Select Board, Department of Public Works Director Jay Marcotte said the project was approved for $190,000 at last year’s annual Town Meeting so the high school tennis program will have the minimum of five courts to play varsity matches. And after a request for proposal process beginning in January that attracted four bidders, Marcotte brought the board the low bid from Vermont Recreational Services of Monroe, NH to install the court and perimeter fencing after the end of the school year with ground being broken in July. The court will open in the fall.

“We will absolutely notify the neighborhood prior to construction going on,” said Marcotte.

Marcotte said Vermont is well known by the town as it installed the PQ courts off of Trapelo Road and did partial court work at Grove Street and Winn Brook.

And for taxpayers, Vermont Recreational’s bid is $139,991.

“This is great news and the price came in great which these days. The way construction costs have gone, I always expect then to be higher so the fact it’s lower is awesome,” said Chair Adam Dash as the board approved the low bid unanimously.

Snow Emergency Starts Thursday Night; Town Buildings Closed Friday; Friday Trash Pickup Delayed

Photo: If it’s on the street Friday, you might see it going away

With a foot of snow ready to be dumped on the heads of residents, the town of Belmont has declared a snow emergency effective Thursday, Feb. 24 at 11:45 p.m. until the town says otherwise.

A parking ban will also be in effect for all roadways and municipal and school parking lots. If the town finds your vehicle in said areas, it will be towed at your expense.

Due to the expected inclement weather and unsafe road conditions, Belmont town offices and the Belmont Public Library will be closed on Friday, Feb. 25.

And due to the Presidents Day holiday, if your usual trash and recycling pick-up day of Thursday was pushed back a day, the snowstorm will give you the distinction of having your stuff removed on Saturday. The Department of Public Works is asking residents to keep barrels off the streets and sidewalk on Friday until the snow is removed. And be sure the trash and recycling is ready to go at 7 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 26.

Despite Recent Covid Surge, DPW Sees No Change Clearing Town Roads Of Blizzard’s Snow

Photo: Rest assured, the Belmont DPW will handle the snow from the blizzard

With 18 to 26 inches of snow expected to arrive during Saturday’s blizzard, the historic spike of Covid-19 infections that swept through the nation will not impact Belmont’s response to the day-long storm, according to the director of the town’s Department of Public Works.

“Covid or no Covid, this is a snow event and the residents of Belmont can be rest assured that its DPW is prepared and ready for it,” said Jay Marcotte.

“We are fortunate that the recent surge has not caused too much disruption, fingers crossed, within the DPW and our contractors. We are prepared and ready for whatever outcome this storm may have,” said Marcotte. “We secured our contractors back in the fall and in preparing for this storm, we have had discussions with them about their staffing and equipment readiness.”

“Everything will be business as usual,” he said, meaning there will the usual complement of vehicles to plow Belmont’s roadways.

“Between our equipment and our contractors we will have 35 to 40 pieces of equipment,” said Marcotte, who arrived in Belmont in 2015 weeks before a series of four storms left a record 110 inches of the white stuff to move. Even before the trucks begin moving snow, the streets will be pretreat with salt and chemicals which Marcotte said is “very effective” in getting the streets ready for vehicle traffic as the storm finally passes.

As for the DPW’s plan to keep streets cleared during and after blizzard, Marcotte said “we plow all the streets equally, some have multiple pieces of equipment.”

Cardboard Drop-Off Returns, Jan. 29; ‘Popular’ Mattress Recycling Program Continues

Photo: Mattress removal is a popular service, says Belmont DPW (Credit: Rubbish computerCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Did you miss the town’s last cardboard drop off before Christmas? Do you now have a pile of boxes that can be qualify as a small mountain? Is the thought of the pile of corrugated fiberboard staring at you for the next 12 months unappealing?

Well, you and your fellow on-line purchasing neighbors don’t have to fret as the Belmont Department of Public Works is hosting a post-holiday Cardboard Recycling Event at the Public Works Yard at 37 C on Saturday, Jan. 29 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

There a $5 fee to dispose all you can carry in your vehicle.

PRE REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED, HEAD TO THIS LINK TO PRE REGISTER

Jason Marcotte, DPW director, said he is being flooded with phone calls “pretty much asking us when are we going to have a next cardboard event.” Marcotte said last month’s drop-off on Dec. 18 was “very successful” by not only the number of vehicles but due to a new system implemented to streamline the collection process, the event did not have a traffic jam to enter the yard.

Marcotte also announced that the town has signed a five month extension of its contract with Green Mattress of Milford for curbside pick up of used mattress at $25 per item. For the past 17 months, the town was using a state grant – which will end Jan. 31 – to cover the cost of the program which Marcotte called “very popular” with residents as the town has taken away 2,282 mattresses or about 140 a month.

As of Feb. 1, the town will now cover the cost of Green Mattress to remove the items. Green Mattress recycles up to 84 percent of each mattress into sellable components. Massachusetts will ban towns from placing mattresses in state landfills as of Nov. 1, 2022.

The Annual Flushing Of Belmont’s Fire Hydrants Continues Next Two Weeks

Photo: Ready to go

There is the annual running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain while in Belmont there is the annual flushing of the town’s hydrants.

And while not as exciting as dodging a 1,000 kg animal on slippery cobble streets, the yearly flushing helps ensure water quality and helps avoid random bouts of rusty water if there is a high demand for water, caused by a major firefighting effort or water main break, according to Mark Mancuso, manager of the Belmont Department of Public Work’s Water Division.

Starting this week – Tuesday, Oct. 12 – from 7 p.m. to midnight, hydrants with green tops will be opened. This could cause water discoloration in the system. Don’t worry: The water is safe for drinking purposes but residents should avoid laundering during flushing hours. Next week beginning on Monday, Oct. 18, all yellow hydrants will undergo the flush.

Any questions regarding this program? Call the Belmont Water Division at 617-993-2700 for answers.

Trash/Recycling Pick-Up Delayed A Day By Holiday; Weekly Yard Waste Collection Starts Oct. 25

Photo: Put your carts out a day later than usual

Whether it was once Columbus Day or, now, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the holiday on the second Monday of October causes trash and recycling pickup to be pushed back by one day through town. So in the collection universe, Tuesday is actually Monday so don’t be surprised when you go out to collect your carts only to find them still filled.

With gardens shutting down and flower beds begin laid to rest, residents will still need to hold off placing their yard waste for curb side collection other than on the designated recycling day.

Weekly fall yard waste collection begins Oct. 25, and ends on Dec. 9.

And what exactly is yard waste? According to Belmont’s Department of Public Works, it’s leaves, twigs, grass, weeds, flowers, plants, hedge and shrubs prunings that are one inch or less in diameter and other easily raked yard waste. No tree limbs or branches greater than one inch in diameter.
NOT ALLOWED are food scraps, animal waste, trash of any kind, soil or plastic bags.

Just a reminder, yard waste must be placed in 30 gallon biodegradable paper bags or barrels marked with yard waste stickers. Close the bags by folding over; do not use staples or tape. Yard waste should be put out by 7 a.m. on collection days.

Saturday Trash Collection In Parks, Business Centers Approved By Select Board

Photo: Barrels in Belmont playgrounds and park will get add attention on weekends

With money “saved” in the Department of Public Works budget and a few tweeks to the pickup schedule, the Select Board approved a plan which they expect will make Belmont’s public spaces a bit more tidy.

At its Monday, Oct. 4 meeting, the board heard from town officials on a new initiative to reinstate weekend trash collection in Belmont’s business centers and public parks and playgrounds after residents this summer pointed to a ever increasing amount of garbage and waste overwhelming recepticals and sites near town eateries.

John Marshall, assistant town adminstrator and director of recreation, told the board that while bringing back Saturday collection does come at a cost – estimated at $10,000 a year – a funding source was identified that will allow the weekend collection to take place through fiscal year 2022.

“Luckily we had some [DPW] positions that took a little longer to fill … which opened up some salary items that we can use for the overtime to cover the weekend trash pickup,” said Marshall.

The new Saturday collection of the business centers by the DPW crew will begin around 4:30 p.m. while a Recreation Department truck will pickup at town parks and playgrounds starting between 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., said Assistant DPW Director and Highway Division Manager Michael Santoro.

Santoro told the board the collection times during the week in the business centers, including Bemont Center and Waverley Square, “have been tweeked a bit more” to provide greater coverage over the time leading and following the weekend when a majority of the trash complants occur.

On Fridays, the town’s trash hauler, Waste Management, will make collections after they service the town schools as they exit Belmont sometime after 2:30 p.m. On Mondays, Waste Management trucks will start the day collecting at Belmont Center when they arrive in the morning around 7 a.m. Santoro said DPW staff will also monitor the pickup sites during the week.

While funding is secured for the current fiscal year, “we’ll have to go back to the drawing board for funding in ’23. That will now be part of the budget process,” said Marshall.

Belmont Is A Mess! Select Board Targets Growing Trash Complaints On Street, In Parks

Photo: Just another overflowing receptacle in Belmont

When Mark Paolillo decided not to run for re-election to the then Board of Selectmen in 2019, it was mentioned at the time that board meetings would miss his memorable discharges of distain for people who left garbage, trash and, yes, dog poop on the town’s streets and parks.

“This is outrageous, simply outrageous. This can’t happen,” he cried when viewing the aftermath – beer cans, food containers, plastic bags – of an adult softball game in 2016.

So with Paolillo winning a return to the board earlier this year, it was only a matter of time before the public would hear his clarion call:

”Leonard Street is a mess!” Paolillo said at the Monday, Sept 20 board meeting, barely containing his disgust of anyone knowingly throwing trash in overflowing barrels at parks and in the business centers.

But Paolillo’s anger is not attention seeking but well warranted as anyone who travels through Belmont Center, by eateries around town or in any park or playground can testify, trash is a real problem throughout the Town of Homes. Containers outside the town’s favorite take-out places are overwhelmed while barrels in parks are swamped with all manner of garbage and waste.

“The trash levels that we’re seeing now are pretty substantial,” Jay Marcotte, Department of Public Works director, told the board.

Topped out trash cans and garbage left on the ground is not a new problem. Over the years particular locations such as the aforementioned softball diamond off Concord Avenue, Belmont Center or at Joey’s Park at the Winn Brook School which has become an impromptu site for children’s parties, are in need of collection specifically during the weekend.

The trash cascade begins on Friday evening and continues all day Saturday as residents and visitors come for grab a bite to eat or to attend kids events at parks. And the trash doesn’t stay where its bought or brought. A study from a newly formed local environmental group, Clean Green Belmont, discovered the majority of waste at Clay Pit Pond comes from Belmont Center eateries.

And the jump in trash is more than just a litter or esthetic issue. All that out-in-the-open garbage quickly turns into a public health problem as improperly discarded food contributes to the introduction of rats and other rodents.

So how did the town get in such as predicament? According to Marcotte, much of the increase in waste began in 2019 when the town eliminated overtime for the DPW’s Saturday pickup schedule in a cost savings move. And despite the town’s hauler, Waste Management, emptying town reciprocals three times a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, it does not keep up with the volume for waste produced over the weekend.

Two years ago, the DPW issued a Carry in-Carry out policy that is successful at National Parks but didn’t work in Belmont other than making many residents angry that waste barrels were removed.

In addition, the town had “a very detailed discussion about trash” with Leonard Street businesses when the street became a one way to promote dining and shopping in the Center which led to an agreement that retailers and eateries would install their own trash receptacles which they would have removed.

”I think what we are starting to see is that’s not happening,” said Town Administrator Patrice Garvin.

Vice Chair Roy Epstein said it would be a reasonable takeaway to say that self policing by residents on controlling trash “is not working.”

“This is an example of a public good where the way to make sure it gets done is to have the DPW do it and not rely on somebody’s good intentions,” said Epstein.

Marcotte agreed, saying the return of a DPW weekend collect “is a venture we should look into it and start implementing sooner than later.” Garvin pegged the overtime price tag at $10,000 for two workers from April 1 until the first snow fall in late autumn/early winter.

The board agreed the dollars spent in reinstating the DPW pickup “are insignificant considering the benefit it will have to the community,” said Paolillo.

Garvin will “use her usual resourcefulness” to find the money, said Epstein, either by tapping into town resources or rearranging DPW schedules to allow for personnel to work on Saturday. A plan coming from Garvin will be presented to the board at its next meeting.

Snow Emergency Parking Ban Ends; Now Clear Your Sidewalk

Photo: It’s the rules – shovel the sidewalk outside your house. (Credit: Belmont Police Department)

The Belmont Department of Public Works reports the snow emergency parking ban has been lifted as of 9:45 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 2 (Groundhog Day).

After the end of the snow fall, the Office of Community Development reminds residents the town’s residential snow removal bylaw requires sidewalks along residential property be cleared of snow and ice by 8 p.m. the day after a storm ends. With regards to last night’s storm, snow and ice should be cleared or treated from sidewalks to a width of at least 36 inches by 8 p.m. tomorrow night, Wednesday Feb. 3.

The town appreciates residents attention to this very important public safety matter. Please refer to the town’s web site for further information regarding winter weather and the town’s snow removal bylaw.