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

Belmont Rededicates Monument to The Dead of the ‘War to End All Wars’

Photo: Selectman Jim Williams at the rededication of the WWI monument. 

The rain fell lightly across Belmont as the community came together to remember its dead on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, and to rededicate a staid and beautiful monolith bearing the names of the nine residents who gave their lives in the struggle known as the “War to end all wars.”

After reading the names and telling the stories a few, Belmont Selectman Jim Williams read from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Voluntaries” of which the last lines are laid on the back of the Bethel white granite monument and dedicated on this day in 1923. 

“So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
So near is God to man,
When Duty whispers low, ‘Thou must,’
The youth whispers, ‘I can.”

The Navy veteran of the Vietnam war checked his emotions, which wavered a bit, before saying that “we are humbled today to honor the town citizens who gave their lives to stand up to tyranny,” as he looked up to those who died nearly a century ago in the First World War. 

With honor guards from Belmont Police and Fire departments as well as the VFW, town and state dignitaries along with many veterans and family, Belmont came to the delta between Common Street and Royal Road and across from the commuter rail station, to view the renovated monument.

After falling on hard times in the past decades, the monument has been restored through the efforts of several private citizens lead by Retired Army Gen. Kevin Ryan, leader of the Belmont Veterans Memorial Committee.

Ryan pointed to residents such as Bill French, Sr., who sought to remember his friend who was killed in Vietnam, as pushing forward the idea of renovating Belmont’s two existing outdoor memorials – the WWI monument and the flag pole at Clay Pit Pond – with the creation of a third made up of small, low stones with plaques honoring veterans from the Civil War to the Iraq conflict at Clay Pit Pond. So far, money has been provided from the town’s Community Preservation Committee and private individuals; more will be needed to complete the work. 

Saying that the misty, cool weather was “great infantry weather” – which a few of the older vets quietly disagreed – Ryan detailed the lives of those from Belmont who did not return from WWI. A barber, congregates from nearby St. Joseph’s, a pilot, a lifelong sailor, a husband; they lived varied lives within the same community, but all volunteered to take up the cause of liberty and country.

A prayer, then a military salute, before “Taps” played by Belmont High School musicians Eleanor Dash and Alex Park brought to an end the day’s remembrance.

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Restoring Memories: Group Set to Mend Belmont’s Vet Memorials

The pain of John Ray’s brother’s death nearly half-a-century ago still haunts him.

“Even to this day, I still have dreams that he comes back to me,” said Ray speaking of his older brother, Walter “Donny” Ray, killed in action in Vietnam in November 1967.

Ray, along with Edward “Teddy” Lee – his teammate on Belmont High School’s 1964 state championship football team – and six other young men died fighting in Vietnam. They join the nearly 200 from Belmont, who died for their country in conflicts ranging from the Civil War to Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Monday, a group of veterans and friends and relatives of Ray and Lee came before the Belmont Board of Selectmen Monday, Aug. 18, to seek its support to raise nearly $350,000 to restore three monuments honoring those young residents who sacrificed their lives in defense of the country.

“This is about honoring our soldiers … and to find the capital to do this and really recognizing what the veterans have done for us,” said former selectman William Skelley, speaking for the newly-formed Belmont Veterans’ Memorial Project.

Kevin Ryan, a retired US Army brigadier general and currently a director at Harvard’s Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, said the group’s mission is to repair two existing monuments – the World War I monument across from the MBTA commuter rail station abutting Common Street and the flag pole memorial for all veterans at Clay Pit Pond near Belmont High School – and creating a new site for the WWII dead.

While Belmont has done what he believes is an excellent job acknowledging veterans, over the years, the locations have fallen in disrepair, said Ryan. Vegetation has overgrown the Clay Pit Pond site, and the location is not tidy and the memorial is small and not well presented. The WWI memorial is threadbare under years of gray paint with the stone work in need of repair.

“What we want to do is refurbish some of the sites, spruce them up and add a couple of sites as memorial for veterans” including moving the memorials for World War II, Korea, Vietnam and subsequent conflict currently located in the main lobby of the Belmont Public Library, said Ryan.

“We want it out into the open so people can [see] them more readily,” said Ryan.

“I don’t know about you but the library was not a place I hung out all the time as a kid or as an adult,” said Ryan.

A portion of the $350,000 will be used to clean and repair the WWI monument revealing the pink granite and also for repairs. Additional funds will create a WWII memorial possibly in the front of the White Field House abutting Concord Avenue named for James Paul White, who died in the Battle of the Bugle.

The majority of the funds, approximately $240,000, will go into major improvements at the Clay Pit Memorial. It will include renovating the site and adding plaques from each conflict with the names of those who died mounted on boulders or low stone walls “blending with the current monument and the surrounding landscape,” Ryan said.

The group said it hoped to raise from veteran and donations such as $150 for brick paver, $20,000 for a memorial bench and $10,000 each from major donors.

At the suggestion of the Selectmen, the group will approach the town’s Community Preservation Committee in September on the possibility of qualifying for a grant from the town’s Community Preservation Act Fund. Grants from the fund – supplied by a surcharge of the real estate tax levy – and used for open space protection, historic preservation, affordable housing and outdoor recreation.

After the Selectmen enthusiastically approved the project’s goals and efforts, both the veterans and family of those who will be recognized celebrated this initial victory.

Teddy Lee’s sister, Patty and Barbara, hugged many who came to support the new group’s efforts.

“It’s very touching,” said Patty.

“You can’t forget these young men, and it’s important to everyone to know what they did,” added Barbara.