Breaking: Belmont Town Hall, Offices Set To Open Tuesday, June 1

Photo: Belmont Town Hall is ready to open on June 1

The return of normalcy after 15 months of COVID restrictions continues as Belmont Town Hall and offices will be open for business on Tuesday, June 1. The opening comes as the Massachusetts intends to lift its COVID-19 restrictions, though masks will still be required in schools, at transportation hubs, and at health care facilities.

Town Administrator Patrice Garvin made the announcement during the Belmont Board of Health’s Monday, May 24 meeting. While the town offices will be open to the public, anyone who is unvaccinated will be required to wear a mask.

The one exception to the openings will be the Beech Street Center, due to the large number of older residents who congregate in the building. A set date for its opening will be announced in the future.

Garvin called in to recognize the Board of Health and all in the Health Department for its work during “this crazy year.” “You were so vital with your guidance and thoughtful response to residents and staff,” said Garvin.

“When I look back years from now about this time, that’s what I’ll remember first,” said Garvin.

In-Person Early Voting For State Primary Begins Saturday, Aug. 22

Photo: Early voting starts Aug. 22

In-person early voting for the Massachusetts State Primary will take place statewide from Saturday, Aug. 22 to Friday, Aug. 28., according to a press release from Ellen Cushman, Belmont’s Town Clerk.

In Belmont, all early primary voting will take place at Town Hall, Concord Avenue in Belmont Center. Only voters who are registered as Democratic, Republican, Green Rainbow or Libertarian will be able to vote.

On Election Day, Tuesday, Sept. 1, voters must go to their precincts to cast ballots that day.

Belmont’s in-person hours are:

  • Saturday, Aug. 22        10 a.m. – 2 p.m. 
  • Sunday, Aug. 23           10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Monday, Aug. 24          8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 25          8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 26    8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Thursday, Aug. 27        8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Friday, Aug. 28             8 a.m. – NOON 

CLOSED: Belmont’s Town Offices, Library, Senior Center Shut Down Monday, Meetings Held Online

Photo: Belmont Town Hall which will be closed on Monday, March 16

Belmont has hung up the “Closed” sign.

Belmont’s government including Town Hall, the Public Library, its schools and the senior center will be shut down for the foreseeable future beginning on Monday, March 16, according to town officials.

“In accordance with guidance from Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), and in an effort to balance the ability to continue to provide important services and to protect the health and safety of the residents of Belmont, the Town is taking the following measures,” read an email from Assistant Town Manager Jon Marshall dated Saturday, March 14

Effective Monday, March 16, services and closures are as follows:

TOWN HALL OFFICES
Beginning Monday, March 16, Belmont Town Complex Offices are CLOSED to the PUBLIC until further notice. Access will be limited to staff only at this time. Essential services will continue but are subject to change as circumstances change. Town Hall and Homer Building office hours will remain the same: Mondays 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Fridays 8 a.m. – noon. If you need assistance please contact Town offices via email or phone.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Police and Fire emergency response will continue to operate as usual. However, administrative services have been amended as follows:

  • Fire Stations are closed to the public. For Fire Prevention issues please call 617-993-2210.
  • Police Headquarters will remain open. No one will be turned away. However, we would prefer that if you need to visit the police station you call first at 617-484-1212In the event of an emergency please call 9-1-1.

BELMONT PUBLIC SCHOOLS
The Belmont Public Schools are CLOSED through Friday, March 27. This timeline may change as we learn more from our federal, state and local boards of health. Although school administration central offices will remain open, in an attempt to limit person to person interactions, all questions should be sent via email or phone.

BELMONT PULIC LIBRARY
Beginning Monday, March 16, the Belmont Public Library will be CLOSED to the PUBLIC until further notice. Belmont Public Library building access will be limited to staff only at this time. Hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you need assistance please contact the library via email or phone. Information regarding available services can be found on the library website

BEECH STREET SENIOR CENTER
Beginning Monday, March 16, Beech Street Center will be CLOSED to the PUBLIC until further notice. The Beech Street Center building access will be limited to staff only at this time. Essential services such as food, social work counseling and transportation for seniors will continue to be available. If you need assistance please contact the senior center via email or phone at 617-993-2970.

BELMONT ELECTRIC LIGHT
Beginning Monday, March 16th, Belmont Electric Light will be CLOSED to the PUBLIC until further notice. All questions should be sent via email or phone. Belmont Electric Light building access will be limited to staff only at this time.

FOOD PANTRY

The Town is working on modified procedures to allow for the Food Pantry, which is located in Town Hall, to operate and provide this critical service to the community. We anticipate having the Food Pantry open on its regularly scheduled day, Saturday, March 21. Food will be provided by volunteers handing out bags outside of Town Hall. If you need assistance, please contact the Food Pantry at belmontfoodpantry@gmail.com. We anticipate further updates mid-week.

BOARD AND COMMITTEE MEETINGS

The Governor’s Executive Order suspended portions of the Open Meeting Law to allow for remote participation for boards and committees. The Select Board is meeting Monday, March 16 at 7 p.m. The Select Board recognizes that this is a public meeting, but given current circumstances is encouraging residents to view the meeting from home. The Town is actively working to provide residents with remote capability that allows for participation at home. We will provide more information on how to access the meeting on Monday, during the day.

TOWN ELECTION

The Town is evaluating, in collaboration with the state, the potential impacts of COVID-19 on the local Town Election scheduled for Tuesday, April 7. We will update the community as circumstances change.

COVID-19 INFORMATION PHONE LINE

Please call or email the informational line if you have questions: Monday through Friday 8am -4pm.

617-993-2222

belmonteoc@belmont-ma.gov

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The Board of Health continues to recommend the following actions to limit the spread of COVID-19:

  • Cover your mouth – when you cough or sneeze use a tissue or your inner elbow, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands – with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based sanitizing gel.
  • Practice social distancing – when in public spaces try to remain at least 6-feet away from others.
  • Actively Promote Social Distancing – encourage children to practice social distancing and goodhygiene when interacting with family and friends of all ages.
  • Stay home if you are sick – and avoid close contact with others.

This situation is constantly evolving, and we are receiving updates throughout the day. We will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available on our website. www.belmont-ma.gov

Ready For Your Close-Up, Mr. Williams

Photo: Behind the scenes with Mr. Williams at Town Hall.

One, if not the sole, perk of being an ex-Belmont Selectman – if that title can be used one final time – it’s the honor of having a “goodbye” portrait hung in the Select Board Room of Town Hall.

Going back a century, the photos of residents who were elected to the executive branch of town government are placed in perpetuity on the walls overlooking the current members as the proverbial “judge over their shoulder,” giving wise guidance to those following them.

On Tuesday morning, Jim Williams, who served one eventful term on the board, arrived in the board room for his appointment with Belmont photographer Beth Ann Fricker of BAF Photography.

While he selected a more traditional tie rather than his favorite with sharks details, Williams – who is moving to Florida in the next few months – didn’t select a pair of paints for the session. If it’s a portrait they want, shorts will do the job just fine.

It’s not known if fellow ex-Select Board member Sami Baghdady showed up in shorts for his portrait later in the day.

Belmont Food Pantry Reopens At Town Hall

Photo: The ribbon cutting.

The Belmont Food Pantry has a new home, one its founder hopes will remain for years to come.

On its first Saturday, Feb. 16, at its new location on the first floor of Town Hall, the pantry’s volunteers welcomed a large number of the 200 families which are served by the nonprofit which for more than a quarter century has been serving those Belmont residents in need.

The ceremonial cutting of a red ribbon (with some oversize scissors) “officially” opened the pantry’s location was a welcomed event for Patty Mihelich, who along with an ad hoc committee and a grant from Project Bread, founded the pantry which opened in the Waverley Square Fire Station in December 1992.

“It’s a great day that we now have a place that gives us the stability to serve [residents] ,” said Mihelich on Saturday.

The pantry began a frustrating journey in search for a long-term site after the fire station was sold in 2005, moving to a modular building behind Belmont High School than to the former Belmont Light Department headquarters across from Town Hall in 2009. The pantry returned to the high school site in 2012 before moving to its latest  location at Mount Hope Church on Lexington Street in 2016. 

Seeking a permenant location, Town Administrator Patrice Garvin and the Board of Selectmen (Chair Adam Dash help celebrate the opening) worked with Mihelich after seeing an opportunity at Town Hall when space became avaliable after the Retirement Board moved to larger space on Concord Avenue. With two rooms that were largely unused, the decision was made to allow the community asset to come to Town Hall.

Mihelich said the new location has the advantage of parking, public transportation and a familiar, central location – many using the pantry remember when the pantry was at the Light Department – that will help assist residents in obtaining the food and sundries they require to stay feed and healthy. 

“This means a lot to be [at Town Hall] and we hope that it will be a long stay,” she said.

The pantry monthly hours are:

  • 1st and 3rd Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
  • 2nd and 4th Tuesday: 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. 
  • 4th Sunday: 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

 

Ghoulish and Creepy: Belmont Town Hall Turns Tricks Or Treats

Photo: The Scarecrow greeting her constituancy at Town Hall. 

A slew of kids and a fair number of adults were given a bit of a fright coming to the Town Hall complex in Belmont Center as the entire staff provided an early Halloween trick with the treats on Monday, Oct. 29.

The Town Administrators Office was transformed into the Addams Family (Glenn and Patrice made a wonderful Gomez and Morticia) while the Department of Public Works took the Disney route with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – with a particularly fetching princess – while there were competing Wizard of Oz offices with stuffed Totos in the Homer Building and Town Hall. You could touch eyeballs and brains in the HR department whose director was mirroring Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly (although she admitted only residents and staff of a “certain” age recognized the costume) while a mad scientist was conjuring up budgets out of thin air at the Homer. 

Official town business continued as usual in the Town Clerks office where a resident was helped by the Tinman to determine whether the post office had notified the Scarecrow of the resident’s change of address in time so she could vote on a ballot question – alas, they did not. Just another rock in the sack of voting for some at Town Hall. 

 

New Hours Of Operation At Town Hall, Homer Building To Better Serve Residents

Photo: The Homer Building.

In an effort to better serve Belmont residents seeking services, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Monday, June 4, to implement on a trial basis new operating hours at town offices in the Town Hall complex including Town Hall and the Homer Building.

Beginning this coming Monday, June 11, and running through Friday, Nov. 2, Town Hall and Homer building offices will remain open until 7 p.m. on Mondays after opening at 8 a.m. Hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will remain at the current 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday’s will see offices closing at noon. 

Offices in Town Hall include the Town Clerk, Town Adminstrator, and human resources. Over in the Homer Building is the Treasurer’s Office, Assessors, Recreation Department, Public Works, and Office of Community Development where building permits are issued.

“This is a trial change,” stated Patrice Garvin, Belmont’s town administrator. In October, the selectmen will review the operation and make a final determination on extending Monday hours permanently.

“The [selectmen] welcome your feedback on this change,” said Garvin in an email who added the town appreciations Belmont’s town employees, the workers impacted by the change, for working to resolve this matter to better serve the people of Belmont.

Questions related to this change can contact the Selectmen at 617- 993-2610 or e-mail to selectmen@belmont-ma.gov

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.

Saturday Early Voting, 9AM-4PM, As 2,184 Residents Have Cast Ballots

Photo: Early voting in Belmont.

Belmont residents will have the opportunity to cast their Presidential ballot over the weekend as the town has extended early voting hours to Saturday, Oct. 29. 

Registered voters will be able to have their voices heard between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at Belmont Town Hall, said Town Clerk Ellen Cushman.

Since early voting began this past Monday, 2,184 or 12.3 percent of voters cast their ballots as of Friday afternoon, Oct. 28, said Cushman. Belmont has a total of 17,826 registered voters.

If Belmontians can’t make it to the polls Saturday, they will have five days of early voting remaining:

  • Monday, Oct. 31; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 1; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 2;  8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 3; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 4; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Belmont Town Clerk Announces Early Presidential Voting Dates, Hours

 

Photo: Town Clerk Ellen Cushman registering Belmont High School students allowing them to vote in the 2016 Presidential Election. 

Recent changes to the Massachusetts General Laws gives all registered voters the opportunity to cast a ballot for the Presidential and State Election before the Nov. 8 Election Day, according to a statement from Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman. 

The new law permits voters to cast ballots during the designated period of Early Voting from Oct. 24 and Nov. 4. Those times includes Saturday, Oct. 29 and night hours until 8 p.m.

“In Belmont, we are excited to offer this opportunity to our registered voters, an expanded, accessible schedule of hours at one central location, Belmont Town Hall, for this ‘no excuse’ vote-ahead option,”
said Cushman. 

Unlike absentee voting that is available in every election only to those voters who will be absent from Belmont, or have a physical disability preventing the voter from going to the polls or with a religious belief preventing the voter from going to the polls on Election Day, Early Voting is available to anyone.

No advance application is necessary to vote in person; voters can decide the date and time to cast their ballot in person at Town Hall during the Early Voting hours. Once the voter has cast an Early Voting Ballot, that voter may not vote at the polls on Election Day or receive an absentee ballot. 

Only residents who were registered to vote by Oct. 19, are eligible to vote in this year’s Presidential State Election. To find out whether and where you are already registered, and where to vote or to inquire about absentee voting, visit www.123Voter.com

Visit the Belmont Town Clerk’s pages on the Town of Belmont website to explore elections information.

Early Voting for Belmont Voters will be available ONLY at Town Hall, 455 Concord Ave., and only on the following schedule of dates and hours: 

  • Monday, Oct. 24; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 25; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 26; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 27; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Friday, Oct. 28; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 29; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 30; No Early Voting Hours
  • Monday, Oct. 31; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 1; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 2 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 3; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 4; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Pick the most convenient date and time for you and give Early Voting a try. It’s always advisable to have your ID with you when you go to vote either on election day or for Early Voting,” said Cushman.

“Written, signed absentee applications and Early Voting applications that request us to mail you a ballot are also available, online or at the Town Clerk’s office at Town Hall.  If you have questions or need additional information, email the Town Clerk’s office at townclerk@belmont-ma.gov or phone us at 617-993-2600,” she said.

“We’re here to help,” said Cushman.