Dionne Takes On Role Leading Belmont’s Select Board

Photo: Elizabeth Dionne, new chair of the Belmont Select Board

You’ll never have to ask Elizabeth Dionne her position on an issue. The Select Board’s new leader will tell you exactly where she stands, and sometimes she acknowledges, it done standing on someone’s toes.

During her 15 months on the board, colleagues, town officials, and committee heads have been on the receiving end of one of Dionne’s frank assessments on how they are performing their job (or lack thereof) or if they appear to be impeding forward progress in what she believes is Belmont’s future.

“What I ran [for the Select Board in 2023] I was trying to put the town on a secure financial footing so that we can provide excellent services and world class schools. And that’s going to be uncomfortable, because it’s going to require some major change,” she said.

While eager to express her opinion, Dionne isn’t seeking to initiate a dust-up.

“I don’t love making people uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable when I make others uncomfortable,” she said Monday. “That’s not fun, but sometimes it’s just the right thing to do.”

Since July 1, Dionne has been the third woman to chair Belmont’s three-member elected executive board, following Ann Taubes Warner (1994) and Ann Marie Mahoney (2004).

“I have really big shoes to fill,” said Dionne. “Ann Paulson [who served from 1986-1992] and Ann Marie Mahoney are both remarkable women and leaders, and I’ve learned a lot from both of them.”

Dionne’s ascendency to the top rung of town governance—which is preordained as board members rotate into the post during their second year—presents the opportunity to highlight an agenda that heavily focuses on reconfiguring the town’s fiscal base.

“Finances, finances, finances … that’s the foundation on which everything else rests,” she said. And while the town administration has effected meaningful efficiencies through policy changes including those recommended in the Collins Report, “at a certain point you need more bodies. We need more asphalt. We need more concrete.”

Those changes included revamping the zoning bylaws to promote a “friendlier” environment for businesses and developers by promoting commercial investment and attracting retail to Belmont’s business centers.

“We can’t say ‘no’ to new business and ‘no’ to new taxes and have good schools. You’d have two or three, but not all three. So if we want to try to moderate the rate of tax increases, we’ve have to have commercial and business development because everybody wants good schools. Nobody wants to say, ‘oh let’s have poor schools that we keep our taxes low.’ That’s not where Belmont is.”

To achieve this overriding goal, Dionne is committing to a far-reaching strategic approach. She accepts that for many years, the select board and town officials had to be reactive due to the pandemic, various overrides, and continual budget cuts. But past excuses are now seen as self-imposed barriers to the required change.

“I’m really tired of being reactionary and really tired of constantly chasing the next override,” she said.

“I think we’re all really trying to look at a future vision and to ask questions to which we may not have the answers, but at least asking those questions will guide the decisions that we make and where we try to lead the town. And it’s always a balance. I have ideas and I want to lead on those.”

Some of those include partnering with the Planning Board to create a retail vacancy bylaw, protect open space, and develop a traffic-controlling plan. In the long term, Dionne points to rewriting bylaws to promote hotel construction and overhaul the zoning map in West Belmont.

In some areas, change has already arrived. She notes zoning bylaw reform in the past year including restaurant zoning and restaurant parking, removal of specific special permits on business improvements, and the ongoing MBTA Communities Act plan that will come before a Special Town Meeting in November.

“Change can’t simply come from the Select Board’s initiatives; it will require a commitment and agreement from all stakeholders in town,” said Dionne. One of her first initiatives as chair will be meeting with committee chairs, and “both tell them what [the board] wants to prioritize but also hear from them so that it’s a two-way communication.”

“There is no silver bullet or one-size-fits-all approach to financial challenges. It must be a multifaceted effort,” she said. She will continue to seek town committees to find solutions or write the changes, as she did utilizing the Vision 21 Implementation Committee and Economic Development Committee on the new restaurant bylaws.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m very wide but not very deep because I can’t do both. So I really try to identify people who I know are going deep into a topic who I trust to give me accurate information and have the integrity to be honest. Because if I can trust information from those sources, then I can start to strategically put the pieces together for a larger vision for the town,” she said.

During her year at the board’s helm, Dionne said she is eager for residents and business owners to see her as a listening post with their concerns or suggestions.

“What I bring to the position is maybe a certain humility in terms of a willingness to listen and learn from others, and also a certain sensitivity as to people who feel maybe left out or not heard,” Dionne said.

sugar coating her views

“I don’t love making people uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable when I make others uncomfortable,” she said Monday. “That’s not fun, but sometimes it’s just the right thing to do.”

In a generational moment, Dionne becomes just the third woman to chair Belmont’s three member elected executive board, following Anne Warner (1994) and Ann Marie Mahoney (2004) in that post.

“I have really big shoes to fill. Ann Paulson and Ann Marie Mahoney are both remarkable women, and leaders, and I’ve learned a lot from both of them.”

Dionne’s ascendency to the top rung was preordained since board members rotate into the post during the second year of their tenure. She will direct

“What I bring to the position is maybe a certain humility in terms of a willingness to listen and learn from others, and also a certain sensitivity as to people who feel maybe left out or not heard,” Dionne said. One of her first one initiatives as chair is to start meeting with committee chairs, and both tell them what [the board] wants to prioritize but also hear from them so that it’s a two-way communication.

1:12
like that. Absolutely. That’s very important too. I will do my best to be at as many of them as I can. It’s honestly a lot of what my job is is talking to people.

Various people have have different strengths.

My strength is a strategic view. So sometimes I feel like I’m very wide but not very deep because I can’t do both. So I really try to identify people who I know are going deep into a topic who I trust to give me accurate information and have the integrity to be honest. Because if I can trust information from those sources, then I can start to strategically put the pieces together for a larger vision for the town.

1:54
If anybody has been following the Select Board, they know that you’re somebody who is willing to speak your mind and speak it very clearly and very strong. How are you going to be leading the board? Is it going to be an activist board or is it going to be more of a let’s do something board you know,

2:13
well aren’t an activist outlet do something kind of the same? How would you distinguish them?

2:18

The board has had to be reactive, the pandemic, the various overrides, having to continually cut budgets. So there have been a lot of really challenging situations. I think both when Mark Pula was still on the board when I first joined a nail with Matt Taylor, we have become a much more strategic active board. I think we’re all really trying to look at a future vision and to ask questions to which we may not have the answers, but at least asking those questions will guide the decisions that we make and where we try to lead the town. And it’s always a balance. I have ideas I want to lead on those. So

3:14
what are some of those goals?

3:16
Well, you heard them to lead it’s what I ran on.

What I ran on was trying to put the County town on a secure financial footing so that we can provide excellent services and world class schools. That’s going to be uncomfortable, because it’s going to require some change. We can’t We can’t say no to new business, and no two new taxes and have good schools. You’d have two or three but not all three. So if we want to try to moderate the rate of tax increases, we’ve got to have commercial and business development because everybody wants good schools. Nobody wants to say oh, let’s have poor schools that we keep our taxes low. That’s not where Belmont is.

you’re willing to put a red line

4:12
on commercial, right, because I promised I promised that to the voters. That’s what I said I

4:37

Purple Heart Day Includes A Day At The Underwood Pool For Serving Military

Photo: The poster for the National Purple Heart Day Observation Ceremony in Belmont.

Belmont will be holding a National Purple Heart Day Observation Ceremony at Belmont Veterans Memorial Park at the corner of Concord Avenue and Underwood Street on Wednesday, Aug. 7 at 6:30 p.m.

The event will be co-sponsored by the Belmont Veterans Memorial Committee and VFW Post 1272.

In assocation with the day, the Belmont Recreation Department is providing a free day at the Underwood Pool at Concord Avenue and Cottage Street for all active duty military personnel and their immediate family, occurring on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

The Purple Heart is awarded to members of the armed forces of the U.S who are wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy and posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action.

Belmont Issues Heat Advisory, Opens Cooling Center At Beech Street, 1/2 Price Pool Admission

Photo: The Underwood Pool will have reduced admission during heat advisory.

Due to the upcoming period of high heat and humidity, the Beech Street Center at 266 Beech St. will be open as a cooling center from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, and Wednesday, July 16-17.

Additionally, the Underwood Pool at the intersection of Concord and Cottage will be open Monday July 15 through Wednesday July 17 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. There is half price admission for Belmont residents until the close on Wednesday.

“We encourage everyone to stay cool and hydrated. We ask that you check on elderly friends and neighbors, along with others, who may need help during this period of high heat and humidity,” said a message from the Belmont Police Department

Thanks, Watertown: Belmont Fills Top IT Post; DPW Welcomes Familiar Faces To New Jobs

Photo: Apple Macintosh 128k computer, January 1984, by Bernard Gotfryd (credit: Library of Congress)

Belmont didn’t need to physically go far to fill its new top IT post.

Watertown’s Chief Information Officer Christopher McClure will be moving just 2 1/2 miles as he becomes Belmont’s new IT Director. His starting date is Aug. 12.

For the past 23 years, McClure has been working in the information technology and services industry with a background in Computer Forensics, IT Strategy, Web Design, Spiceworks, and Management.

“What Chris is really good at doing is building IT departments,” Patrice Garvin, Belmont town adminstrator, told the Select Board. “He’s done it in multiple communities. And we’re really excited to have him come on and start to build the IT department here.”

McClure received his Bachelor’s Degree from UMass Lowell. Before arriving in Watertown in 2020, McClure was the Information Technology Director in North Andover and IT Director in Hopkinton, Westford, and Norfolk.

The town’s IT Department has had significant departures this year. In the spring, the department was down to one full-time and a half-time position. The short staffing nearly derailed the town’s conducting of a fully remote Special Town Meeting in late June. 

The town’s Information Technology Department has been a subject of growing interest by town officials regarding the protection of data it holds and the system from computer crime. The most frequent of these criminal activities facing municipalities is ransomware, which WIRE Magazine called “the defining cybercrime of the past decade, with criminals targeting a wide range of victims, including hospitals, schools, and governments.”

The criminal gangs – many from Russia, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia – will encrypt critical data, “bringing the victim’s operation to a grinding halt and then extorting them with the threat of releasing sensitive information,” according to WIRE.

In other hiring news, the town didn’t have to leave Town Hall to fill an important post. The Department of Public Works ended 2023 having lost three critical positions due to retirements including the business manager. That job has been filled by the town’s Budget Analyst Matt Haskell.

“We’re very excited about [Haskell taking the position],” said Garvin. “He’s very much in tune with the budget. And I’ve already heard he’s doing a lot of innovative changes within the DPW. So it’s a seamless transition.”

A second internal promotion was annouced as Mark Mancuso, currently the Water Operations Division Manager, will now move into the Assistant DPW director position.

With Civil Service No Longer In The Mix, Belmont Police Readies Job Offers To Fill Long-standing Shortfall

Photo: Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac

For the first time since leaving the Massachusetts Civil Service hiring system in 2023, the Belmont Police Department is close to hiring three new officers to close a chronic decade-long shortfall.

“It’s a new era. We’re excited about it, and we think it’s going to help us in the long run,” said Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac.

In the past five years under Civil Service, “we’ve had a tremendous amount of trouble trying to find candidates to fill these positions,” said Patrice Garvin, town administrator, at a meeting of the Select Board .

Over the past four years, the number of acceptable applicants coming from the state’s list was limited: four candidates in 2020, three in 2021, two in 2022, and just a single candidate in 2023. The resulting impact was undermanned and continuous large budget payouts in overtime.

“There was a hiring problem that we felt was becoming a crisis,” said Roy Epstein, select board chair. “And the only real solution was to withdraw from Civil Service.”

And since leaving Civil Service and creating its own hiring policy, MacIsaac has been freed to venture out into an open market of potential personnel. He also didn’t have to wait until July for civil service to release a list the candidates who successfully passed its test and were available to communities; he can post positions the moment they become open.

“Over the last month, we’ve entered a new era in both retaining and hiring police officers, and … it’s a new experience for me,” said MacIsaac.

“We posted an opening on May 7, and we’ve had 15 candidates apply, so far. We have conducted six interviews and will be conducting more interviews next week,” said MacIsaac. As of the last week in June, “the department has made four conditional offers of employment,” he said.

Of the four candidates, one has already completed the background checks and MacIsaacs hope to have the applicant in the Police Academy in September, while two of the four are post-certified officers, which means if they accept the position and pass the background process, would be able to start immediately. MacIsaac said two of the candidates identify as Hispanic and speak Spanish, which would increase diversity on the police force.

But until they sign on the dotted line, Belmont is in competition with neighboring communities, including Watertown, for the prospective candidates, a situation MacIsaac said was “unthinkable” just a decade ago.

“We’re hoping that they’re going to choose to work here,” said MacIsaac.

What’s Open/Closed On The 4th Of July, Trash Interrupted, Fireworks Close To Belmont

Photo: Old Glory, Belmont

Thursday, July 4, the country observes Independence Day, commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 (The document was signed on July 2nd). 

Massachusetts’ own John Adams, who signed the Declaration and was the nation’s second president, said the Fourth should be celebrated the day with “Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” Adams would die on July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the document’s adoption, on the same day as the declaration’s chief author, Thomas Jefferson, the third president.

Other noted events occurring on July 4th:

1845: Henry David Thoreau moved to his cabin at Walden Pond in nearby Concord, where he wrote his series of reflective essays titled Walden; or, Life in the Woods.

1865: Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published.

1939: New York Yankee great Lou Gehrig gives his famous “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech before 63,000 fans at the Stadium after being diagnosed with ALS.

1960: The 50-star US flag is flown for the first time.

For most Belmontians, the most impactful result of the holiday is that trash and recycling pick up will be interrupted for one day due to the holiday. So Thursday’s pickup will take place on Friday.

Here is what’s closed and open on the 4th of July.

Closed on the 4th

  • Belmont Town Hall, the public library and town offices will also be closed on the 5th.
  • State and Federal government offices.
  • US Postal Service: Both Belmont post offices are closed; express delivery only.
  • Banks.

Opened

  • The Underwood Pool: Open to members and those purchasing day passes
  • Retail stores: Open at owner’s discretion
  • Supermarkets: Star Market on Trapelo Road in Waverley Square is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., but the pharmacy will be closed.
  • Coffee shops: Starbucks and Dunkin’s on Trapelo Road will operate during regular hours. The Dunks on Pleasant and Church will also be open.
  • CVS: 89 Leonard St. (Belmont Center) Store 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Pharmacy 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • CVS: 264 Trapelo St. Store 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Pharmacy 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

For those who want to do someday traveling using public transportation, the MBTA is running on the following schedule:

  • Subway will run on a modified Saturday schedule until 3 p.m. After 3 p.m., the subway will run on a weekday schedule.
  • Bus and the RIDE will run on a Sunday schedule.
  • Commuter Rail will run on a weekend schedule. The last train on the Wachusett route, which serves Belmont and Waverley commuter stops, will be held at North Station until 11:25 p.m.
  • There is no fare after 9:30 p.m. on all lines.

Where to see fireworks celebrations near-ish to Belmont:

  • Arlington: Robbins Farm Park on Eastern Avenue. There will be music, refreshments, with the Boston Pops Orchestra and fireworks on a giant screen. Fireworks starting at 10:30 p.m.
  • Boston/Cambridge: along the Charles River at the Esplanade, 10:30 p.m. A great option: Use the Paul Dudley White Charles River Bike Path along the Charles to get to Boston.
  • Newton: Albemarle Field/Halloran Sports Complex, 9:10 p.m. Carnival rides, food trucks and a crafts fair starts at 1 p.m.

Special Town Meeting Approves Revised Traffic Plan, Sets Stage For Development of McLean Parcels

Photo: A screen shot of the final vote

The annual Town Meeting came to an end on Wednesday, June 26, when members overwhelmingly approved a Special Town Meeting article to alter a quarter-century traffic management agreement between the town and McLean Hospital that was stalling the financing of a pair of developments on two parcels of land.

The 192-25-5 result easily passed the two-thirds margin required to modify the existing plan, dubbed the Traffic Management and Mitigation Plan (TMMP). Before the final vote, members defeated an amendment by abutters that sought to delay implementing the changes sought by McLean and supported by the town.

With the new agreement in place, developer Northland Development can proceed with construction of 150 units of residential housing in Zone 3—accessed from Olmsted Drive off of Pleasant Street—as well as create a building to house two schools run by the hospital while setting aside 60,000 square feet for a future research and development facility in Zone 4.

Presenting for the town, Town Engineer Glenn Clancy took a detailed dive into the history of the traffic plan and the proposed development in Zone 3. The TMMA was meant to address how the property’s owner and residents will comport with the traffic limitations identified in 1999, which included a sizeable 486-unit assistant living facility. Violating the volume ceiling would require fines and removing parking and access to the site, which financing firms reportedly pointed to as an impediment to the project’s funding.

Clancy noted the mitigation plan is no longer relevant for the latest residential plan for a smaller all-residential project, so “I think you can begin to understand why someone investing in a development like that would be troubled by something like this.” Roy Epstein, chair of the Select Board, told the meeting that a “no” vote on the article would kill the current residential plan and allow Northland to construct a project without improvements to affordable housing and other amenities the town had negotiated with Northland.

In an effort to resolve the funding impediment, the town agreed to remove the 1999 traffic limits and penalties in Zone 3 and 4 while receiving improvements to traffic signals at Olmsted and Pleasant and upgrading the signal at the intersection of McLean Drive and Mill Street through its negotiations. 

The principal critics of the revamped agreement said the town was losing an important deterrent to traffic sprawl in both Zones which would impact the surrounding neighborhoods.

Jolanta Eckert of Precinct 3, who authored the amendment, said rather than bring an article before the Town Meeting, the Select Board could simply sign a formal commitment with Northland declaring that it would not enforce the current management and mitigation plan in Zone 3, which would be sufficient to allow the necessary financing to be obtained. By retaining the TMMA, the town would hold a strong hand when McLean comes before the Planning Board with its plans in Zone 4, including a 90,000 sq.ft. She said that the educational building could house up to 2,000 students.

“[While] I strongly support the Northland Zone 3 proposal and and plan to vote to ensure its success, at the same time, I don’t want the town to unilaterally cede a key negotiating chip in the upcoming negotiations with McLean concerning Zone 4,” said Vince Stanton, precinct 2.

Yet it did not appear Eckert’s amendment had garnered support as the town and officials had countered the claims via email messages prior to Wednesday’s meeting. Belmont Counsel George Hall refuted Eckert’s claim a Select Board’s promise on not impose penalities or sanctions would meet the needs of financiers who required a change in the agreement that only the Town Meeting could impose. 

As for Zone 4, Clancy said the project will come before the Planning Board which will the final say on parking and traffic. In addition, several Town Meeting members pointed out some failings in Eckert’s argument pointing out that the Arlington School’s enrollment is currently 35 students, with the likelihood of a 2,000-student capacity “nonsensical.”

A majority of members voiced their support for the change in the agreement as it would keep the present Zone 3 housing plan which is seen as advantageous for Belmont. Rachel Heller, who is a member of the Housing Trust which led the Zone 3 negotiations for the town, said it would be hard to duplicate the concessions they received from Northland in 2019.

“Today, a 25-year-old traffic mitigation agreement created for a different development that was never built stands in the way of delivering on housing that will add revenue for Belmont affordability for residents downsizing options for seniors, and preserve Belmont’s ability to make development decisions in accordance with the state’s affordable housing law chapter 40B,” said Heller.

“We asked a lot from Northland,” said Heller, including 25 percent affordability throughout the development, the inclusion of rental units, no restrictions on household types purchasing or renting units as well as a commitment to all-electric dwellings.

“So I urge you to vote yes. Let’s give the green light to the homes that we need,” said Heller.

After nearly an hour of debate, the questioned was called and the amendment was soundly defeated. The vote on the article was a foregone conclusion.

The next Town Meeting will take place is mid-November as the town will seek to ratify Belmont’s MBTA Communities map.

McLean To Propose Schools Building, Future R&D In Zone 4 Overlay District

Photo: The current Arlington School (Arlington School Facebook)

McLean Hospital will submit a proposal to build two buildings totaling 150,000 sq.ft. in the McLean District Zone 4 Overlay District to house an school building and research and development space.

The 11.58 acre development will be presented before the Select Board on Wednesday, June 26, and comes the day a Special Town Meeting vote to alter a traffic management and mitigation agreement the hosptial has with the town for a residential development in the district’s Zone 3.

This project would complete the build out of the 238 acres McLean set aside for development in a 1999 Memorandum of Agreement between the hosptial and Belmont.

“I have to admit I haven’t seen anything updated,” said Town Engineer Glen Clancy before a June 17 public meeting with the Select Board on changes to a traffic mitigation plan in a neighboring zone. “There may very well be something that I’m not aware of, [but] conceptually, this is pretty close.”

The proposal will see the hospital build two structures: a 90,000 sq.-ft. facility to house a relocated Arlington School, a college preparatory high school founded in 1961, and Pathways Academy, an off-site school aimed at helping students with autism spectrum disorders. In addition, a future 60,000 sq.-ft. research and development facility will join the schools, but which it has yet to attract a partner.

Clancy said McLean will seek site plan approval to develop within Zone 4 in advance of an application to the Planning Board in July. 

According to Stephen Kidder, an attorney representing McLean, the project will be a taxable development.

If the proposal sounds familiar, the hospital presented a nearly identical plan before a joint meeting of the Select and Planning boards in March 2020, within weeks of regular activity being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The original plan has yet to receive a formal vote by town officials.

The current four-year delay was due to the hospital’s determination to move forward with the school project using philanthropic funding, which was time-consuming.”McLean is now at a point where it can go forward.”

According to Kidder, while the hospital has been interested in finding a developer for the R&D for the past two decades, despite a single inquiry in 2008, “there’s essentially been no further interest articulated.”

After 20 years of frustration attracting a research and development partner for the site, the hospital decided in 2020 to “establish a child and adolescent program on the site to deal with the incredible rise in mental health issues that are faced by children and adolescents these days,” said Hitter, a partner at Hemenway & Barnes.

Kidder noted that the town will tax both facilities as commercial property due to existing agreements between the town and the hospital.

“It’s clear any development on zones three and four is a taxable development. So even though the use would be an otherwise charitable use, and under Massachusetts state law would qualify for a tax exemption, this would be a fully taxable use because that’s the agreement that the claim made with the tenant,” said Kidder.

With the announcement made during a meeting to review changes to a traffic plan affecting Zone 3, Kidder noted, “The primary generator of traffic under this proposal for Zone 4 is the Arlington School. And that’s traffic that is already coming to the area.” With the transfer of the schools to their new site, traffic that currently takes Mill Street “will be shifted to Pleasant Street … but it is not new traffic being generated in the area.”

‘What A Day! Supporters Gather To Break Ground On Town’s New Library [Photos]

Photo: Groundbreaking for the new Belmont Public Library

“What a day!” proclaimed Clair Colburn, chair of the Library Building Committee,speaking before several dozen residents, volunteers, town and elected officials who gathered in a gravel bed where, by (give-or-take) Thanksgiving 2025, a 40,460 sf.-ft., two-story zero-net energy structure will open its door and become the new home of the Belmont Public Library.

Under a warm and sunny Wednesday morning, June 13, the building’s future transformed from blueprints and perspectives to heavy machinery and construction workers as library and town officials turned over soil during the official groundbreaking ceremony for the $39.5 million structure, with $5 million offset from 991 individual donor contributions.

“We are so happy to be celebrating the groundbreaking of this momentous project with all of you. There is not enough time to thank everybody who has helped bring this project to fruition,” said Colburn.

For Kathy Keohane, chair of the Board of Library Trustees, it’s been nearly a quarter century of quiet determination as she was involved with three earlier library proposals that fell to the wayside. On Wednesday, Keohane brought her toy “olympic” flame symbolizing three important aspects of the project: the journey, individual performances, and teamwork.

“We are on a journey. We’re at this milestone,” she said. “Most of all, this has been a labor of love and effort by many, many teams, individuals working together to make this happen.” She noted the work of Town Moderator Mike Weidmer in creating a building committee “that helped us get the right individuals with the right talent on the team,” and from the library’s leadership of Director Peter Struzziero and his staff “for all they do to make the library such a valuable, engaging place.”

Kathy Keohane, chair of the Board of Library Trustees, and Library Director Peter Struzziero

Finally, Keohane thanked “the residents and the patrons of the library. You have made us the 10 best circulating library in the state of Massachusetts. We are the little train that could behind giants of Newton and others but it’s because of your love for the library and what it means to you.”

State Sen. Will Brownsberger noted that “this generation of volunteer leaders, partnering with our wonderful professional staff, has driven a program of capital upgrade and improvement or replacement that was just very fundamentally necessary to being the community we want to be.”

Speaking for the Select Board, Vice Chair Elizabeth Dionne said the library will be more than a repository of media and books. “Perhaps its most important service will be to foster an ongoing sense of community as town demographics change, and we seek means a greater connection and belonging. And the new library will allow this to happen.”

Clair Colburn, chair of the Library Building Committee

“It will also serve as a visible signal of Belmonts commitment to community, whether that is supporting young children in their early development, parents needing support raising those children organization seeking space in which to meet or adults of any age who simply need to see a friendly face,” Dionne said.

“It will be a lynchpin of the town’s completely renovated, academic and recreational center,” said Dionne, joining the Underwood Pool, a new skating rink set to open in 2025 and the middle and high school.

With shovels in hand and ready for photographs, Colburn was prepared to “look forward to an incredible future. Thank you again for your support over the many years and onwards,” said Colburn.

Why Wait? Underwood Pool Opening One Day Early On Wednesday, June 19

Photo: Early opening for the Underwood Pool

The children are out of school for the summer, and a heatwave has descended on Belmont. Why wait to open the Underwood Pool? So, the town’s Recreation Department has decided to start the 2024 summer pool season one day early on Wednesday, June 19.

The pool, located at the corner of Concord Avenue and Cottage Street, will be open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on the last day of Spring.

The June 19th opening is being sponsored by Belmont Youth Activities and D.A.R.E.