What to Do Today: Clay Pit Pond Walkabout, HS Jazz Collective at the Beech

• The Belmont Conservation Commission is hosting a site visit at Clay Pit Pond at 6 p.m. with a design Charrette (held in Room 113 at the Belmont High School) to immediately follow the site walk. The Charrette is an opportunity for interested shareholders from the public, the schools and high school cross-country enthusiasts to meet and work with The BETA Group, the landscape architects that have been selected to create the phased Master Plan for an Intergenerational Walking Path Project. The site walk and meeting are open to the public. This is a great opportunity to work with a professional design team and create a community park at Clay Pit Pond park.

• The Belmont Historic District Commission will discuss the status of a proposal to clean the railroad bridge leading into/out of Belmont Center at 7:20 p.m. in Town Hall.

• Learn to protect your home and other assets for your spouse or family by planning ahead as attorney John Hope presents Protecting Your Assets from the Cost of Nursing Home or Other Care” at the annual presentation by the Massachusetts Bar Association at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St. at 1:15 p.m. Legal documents can be prepared in the event you need state assistance to pay for Long Term Care services either at home or in a nursing home. Presented by Attorney John Hope.

• Retiring teachers and staff from Belmont Schools will be feted by the Belmont School Committee at 7 p.m. in the Large Community Room at the Chenery Middle School.

• The Belmont High School Jazz Collective, an 18-piece big band that performs a wide range of jazz repertoire from the classics of the Swing Era to contemporary selections by current jazz artists – will be performing at the Beech Street Center at 4:30 p.m. This free concert is open to everyone in the community.

 Belmont High School finals study hall will be held from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Assembly Room of the Belmont Public Library.

Jones Races in Finals in All-State 200 meters

Belmont High School junior Max Jones raced home to a seventh place finish in the finals of the 200 meters in 22.57 seconds in the MIAA All State Outdoor Track and Field Championships held on Saturday, June 7 at Bridgewater State University. His time was a personal best this year, beating his 23.05 which was ranked 20th before the meet.

Jones gained the finals by placing 7th in 22.72 in the qualifying rounds earlier in the day.

Jones’ placement gave Belmont its only two points of the day.

Fellow junior Ari Silverfine finished in 21 in 2:01.14 in the 800 meters.

Freshman Julia Cella finished in 10th in the 100 meters in 12.62 – a season’s best – and 15th in the 200 meters in 26.08 in her two individual events.  Belmont’s 4×100 meter relay squad finished in a best time 50.53 which placed the team in 15th.

Obituary: Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka Houthakker

Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka Houthakker, the Polish-born American philosopher who was an important follower and teacher of  phenomenology – the philosophical study of the structures of experience and consciousness – who lived for many years with her husband, the Harvard economist Hendrik Houthakker, in Belmont died last week at her home in Pomfret, NH. 

Tymieniecka Houthakker was 91 years old.

Tymieniecka Houthakker was the founder and president of The World Phenomenology Institute in 1969 which was based in Belmont for more than 30 years. She was also the editor of the book series “Analecta Husserliana: The Yearbook of Phenomenological Research” develop and disseminate the phenomenological approach which was published in Belmont.

Anna-Teresa was married to Houthakker, the Henry Lee professor of economics at Harvard, who serve on the Council of Economic Advisers for both Democrat President Lyndon B. Johnson and Republican President Richard Nixon. He died in 2008.

She and her husband were long-time friends of Karol Wojtyla before the Polish cardinal became Pope John Paul II.

She is survived by her three children; Louis, Jan and Isabelle.

The funeral will be held Wednesday, June 11, 2014, at St. Denis in Hanover, NH. Burial will follow at Riverside Cemetery in Woodstock Vt. next to her husband of 52 years.

Selectmen Chair: 2 1/2 Override ‘Possible’ on November Ballot

Belmont Board of Selectmen Chair Andy Rojas said he is receptive to a Proposition 2 1/2 override to secure long-term funding for town and school needs being placed on the November election ballot.

“I’m going to be pushing the Financial Task Force to move their work a little faster so we can hopefully see an override vote in November,” Rojas told the Belmontonian on Wednesday, June 4 before the final night of the annual Town Meeting.

Election day for state races in Massachusetts is Tuesday, Nov. 4, less than five months away.

“Now is the time to act,” he said.

But an early date for an override, which many advocates believe is critical to secure its passage, ultimately depends on how quickly the nearly year-old task force can complete its mission of producing a comprehensive report, said Rojas.

“We need the facts before us,” he said, adding that the task force’s report should be presented before the Selectmen and the public “at least a month” before any date is selected for the override vote.

Rojas response came after comments last week by several Town Meeting members and from outgoing “interim” Belmont Schools Superintendent Dr. Thomas Kingston expressing concerns that both schools and town services need an infusion of funding to support needed academic courses and increased teaching levels to match anticipated enrollment growth that currently exceeds the available revenue from the town’s annual 2 1/2 percent increase in tax revenue, new growth and state aid.

” … [I]t’s time for us in the community to turn to our neighbors and say ‘This isn’t right.’ We need to fully fund our schools,” said Christine Kotchem at last week’s Town Meeting.

While the fiscal 2015 School budget, now $46.2 million, saw a four percent increase in available revenue from the previous year, the “wish” list created by the school department of teachers, courses and material needed to keep the schools within a top-tier Level 3 district, according to Kingston who made the statement at Town Meeting.

Rojas said Kingston’s statement concerning the need for an operational override “was the first actual request the board has had in the past four year.”

“I think we need to take it very seriously and I do,” said Rojas.

It has been a dozen years since Belmont voters approved an override, for $2.4 million in June 2002, with the last three attempts, in 2006, 2008 and 2010, defeated by close margins.

While flexible to override advocates in placing the measure in November when voters will also be casting ballots for state-wide offices including a contest governor’s race, Rojas said the board and the public should first review the recommendations from the Task Force, the 13-member “mega” committee created last year charged with creating a comprehensive review of the town’s finances, discover possible new revenue streams and develop a long-range financial and capital improvement plan.

“The preferred course of action is for the Financial Task Force to do its work, create a report and that would inform the decision of the board (of selectmen),” said Rojas.

“If they can do it quicker, great. It all depends on that,” said Rojas.

Yet Rojas also acknowledged that the task force will be required to do a great deal of work during the summer months when meetings and report schedules are impacted by vacations and travel plans of the 13 members.

“Summers are always tough on committees,” said Rojas.

This Week in Belmont: Farmers Market Returns, Brendan’s Home Run Sunday,

• The award-winning Belmont Farmers Market begins a new season with State Rep. Dave Rogers cutting the tomato ribbon on Thursday, June 12 at 2 p.m. in the Claflin Street Parking Lot in Belmont Center.

• The 13th annual Brendan’s Home Run 5K race & walk is being held on Fathers’ Day, Sunday, June 15 with the 5K Charity Walk beginning at 9:30 a.m. with the road race commencing at 10 a.m. There will also be a 400 meter/800 meter youth races for kids 6 to 12. On-site entry fee on Father’s Day morning is $25. There is no charge for the 400/800m youth races.

Belmont High School finals study hall will be held on Monday and Tuesday, June 9 and 10 from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Assembly Room of the Belmont Public Library. 

• The Belmont Conservation Commission is hosting a site visit at Clay Pit Pond on Tuesday, June 10, at 6 p.m. with a design Charrette (held in Room 113 at the Belmont High School) to immediately follow the site walk. The Charrette is an opportunity for interested shareholders to meet and work with The BETA Group, the landscape architects that have been selected to create the phased Master Plan for an Intergenerational Walking Path Project. The site walk and meeting are open to the public. This is a great opportunity to work with a professional design team and create a community park at Clay Pit Pond park.

• The final “updated” report on a proposed Community Path through Belmont will be presented to the Belmont Board of Selectmen on Monday, June 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Selectmen’s Room in Belmont Town Hall.

• The Community Path Advisory Committee will hold its final meeting to present its recommendations for and future action on a community path running through Belmont on Wednesday, June 11 at 7 p.m. in the Belmont Gallery of Art on the third floor of the Homer Building located in the Town Hall Complex in Belmont Center.

Retiring teachers and staff from Belmont Schools will be feted by the Belmont School Committee on Tuesday, June 10 at 7 p.m. in the Large Community Room at the Chenery Middle School.

• Learn to protect your home and other assets for your spouse or family by planning ahead as attorney John Hope presents Protecting Your Assets from the Cost of Nursing Home or Other Care” at the annual presentation by the Massachusetts Bar Association at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St. on Tuesday, June 10 at 1:15 p.m. Legal documents can be prepared in the event you need state assistance to pay for Long Term Care services either at home or in a nursing home. Presented by Attorney John Hope.

• The Belmont High School Jazz Collective, an 18-piece big band that performs a wide range of jazz repertoire from the classics of the Swing Era to contemporary selections by current jazz artists – will be performing at the Beech Street Center on Tuesday, June 10 at 4:30 p.m. This free concert is open to everyone in the community.

• The Butler Elementary School 4th Grade Chorus will sing a variety of choral works written especially for children on Thursday, June 12, from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. This 42-member chorus has been rehearsing once a week since September! They will sing a variety of choral works for you written especially for children. Their conductor, Rosanne Mili, has been a teacher at the Butler for 31 years. Their accompanist, Craig McMahon who is a recent graduate of Boston University, is the music teacher at the Wellington School and assists Mili with both the 3rd and 4th grade choruses at Butler.

Yard Sales in Belmont, June 7 & 8

Here’s a quick list of yard sales going on in Belmont this weekend.

• 239 Beech St., Saturday, June 7, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

• 12 Brentwood Rd.Saturday, June 7, 9 a.m. to noon. 

• 236 Brighton St.Saturday and Sunday, June 7 & 8, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

• 43 and 49 Old Middlesex roadSaturday, June 7, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

• 65 Payson Rd., Saturday, June 7, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• 562 Trapelo Rd.Saturday, June 7, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

• 4 Vincent Ave.Saturday, June 7, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. 

• 12-14 Walnut St.Saturday, June 7, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

• 54 Waverley St., Saturday, June 7, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Belmont High Runners Heading to Saturday’s All-State Meet

After coming off impressive placements and times at the Eastern Massachusetts Division 3 championships this past weekend, four Belmont High School runners and a girls’ relay team will be heading to Bridgewater on Saturday, June 7, to compete in the MIAA All-State Championships.

After finishing second in both events, Marauder freshman Julia Cella is ranked 14th in the 100 meters in 12.74 seconds and 17th in the 200 meters in 26.09 going into the meet in which the top athletes in all division levels will compete at Bridgewater State University.

She will also lead Belmont’s 4 x 100 meter relay team, made up almost exclusively by fellow freshmen and sophomores, which is ranked 15th.

Junior Max Jones, who also placed second in “the duce” in the divisional meet, is ranked 20th in the 200 meters in a time of 23.05 while fellow junior Ari Silverfine is pegged at 21 in the 800 meters having run the two lapper under two minutes with a best of 1:59.20.

The Weekend in Belmont: Learn About Organic Gardening Saturday, Benton’s Late Friday

• Join Belmont Food Collaborative, the parent organization of the Belmont Farmers’ Market, and Sustainable Belmont for Organic Gardening Coffee Hour ‘Beyond the Privet: How to Safely Grow & Thrive in Your Belmont Yard!’ on Saturday, June 7 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the Assembly Room of the Belmont Public Library. Hear short presentations from experienced Belmont gardeners, then share questions and best practices on the topics of the morning:

  •       Common weeds and how to safely remove them
  •       Companion plants for vegetable/fruit gardens
  •       Integrated edibles with typical decorative plantings
  •       Basics of home composting or worm composting

This is a free talk and open to the public; all experience levels are welcome!

• Stop by the Benton Library, Belmont’s independent and volunteer library at the corner of Old Middlesex and Oakley, on your way home or after dinner as the library will be open from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Friday, June 6. Use their wi-fi connection, browse the collection including the New York Times best sellers and purchase some of the reasonably priced sale books; all proceeds benefit the library. The Benton is open on the first Friday evening of every month.

 Sustainable Belmont in conjunction with Boston Metrowest Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Control will be holding a talk at the Belmont Public Library’s Assembly Room on Saturday, June 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. to help Belmont residents learn about creating a stable climate.

Sold In Belmont: Shaw Road Colonial Sells $116,000 Above List

A weekly recap of residential properties bought in the past seven days in the “Town of Homes.”

70-72 Trowbridge St. Two-family (1920), Sold for: $705,000. Listed at $699,000. Living area: 2,340 sq.-ft. 11 rooms; 4 bedrooms, 2 baths. On the market: 61 days.

29 Myrtle St. Victorian (1893), Sold for: $1,455,000. Listed at $1,239,000. Living area: 2,570 sq.-ft. 8 rooms; 5 bedrooms, 3 bath. On the market: 39 days.

7-9 Carleton Rd. Two-family (1920), Sold for: $901,000. Listed at $849,000. Living area: 2,845 sq.-ft. 14 rooms; 5 bedrooms, 2 bath. On the market: 88 days.

22 Adams St. Central-entry Colonial  (1893), Sold for: $1,352,500. Listed at $1,395,000. Living area: 3,821 sq.-ft. 10 rooms; 5 bedrooms, 3 bath. On the market: 39 days.

85 Shaw Rd. Colonial (1957), Sold for: $815,000. Listed at $699,000. Living area: 1,846 sq.-ft. 7 rooms; 3 bedrooms, 1.5 bath. On the market: 50 days.

39 Oxford Ave. Townhouse condominium, Sold for: $785,000. Listed at $795,000. Living area: 2,152 sq.-ft. 8 rooms; 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bath. On the market: 49 days.

36-38 Loring St. Two-family/up and down (1961), Sold for: $526,000. Listed at $529,000. Living area: 1,788 sq.-ft. 10 rooms; 4 bedrooms, 3 bath. On the market: 85 days.

311 Brighton St. Antique Colonial (1828), Sold for: $770,000. Listed at $749,000. Living area: 2,074 sq.-ft. 7 rooms; 3 bedrooms, 2 bath. On the market: 84 days.

71 Bartlett Ave. Condominium, Sold for: $400,000. Listed at $375,000. Living area: 1,073 sq.-ft. 5 rooms; 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. On the market: 65 days.

74 Goden St. Farmhouse design (1910), Sold for: $807,000. Listed at $749,000. Living area: 1,984 sq.-ft. 8 rooms; 3 bedrooms, 1.5 bath. On the market: 62 days.

Belmont Town Meeting: Putting Minuteman on Hold; Singles Over Doubles

Welcome to the second and likely final night of the 2014 annual Belmont Town Meeting at the Chenery Middle School’s auditorium on Wednesday, June 4.
The articles will be read (discussed) in the following order: articles 24, 25, 26, 27, 14 and 3.
On Monday, the fiscal 2015 budgets were approved and tonight there are just a few more budgetary issues left to resolve as well as a pair of articles that could see some fierce debate.
But one of the two, amending the nearly 50 year old contractional agreement between Belmont and the other members of the Minuteman Regional Tech School will immediately be tabled once it has been introduced. And THANK GOODNESS for that! The complexity of the issue, how big the next Minuteman school will be and who will pay for it, reads like a Byzantine mystery with every one of the 16 towns and cities in this agreement trying to made deals. It hurts the head just recalling it!
The other, the final article of Town Meeting, is the zoning codification by the Planning Board of last year’s citizen’s petition that placed a moratorium on the tearing down of single family homes to build two or more family structures in the general residence parts of town. Basically, the new rewritten zoning bylaw will make it difficult to do a “tear down/build up” as it will be permitted only by a special permit (which will allow public hearings) and within strict specific perimeters.
7:08 p.m.: Moderator Mike Widmer says that tonight will be the final night and, noting that the proposed amendment to the Town’s Zoning By- Law could go on and on and on … PLEASE BE CONCISE!
And before business at hand, an update on electronic voting by Town Clerk Ellen Cushman. A lot of her comments is a bit of housekeeping and how to find your name on the big screen.
First on tonight’s docket is Article 24: the Other Post Employee Benefits (“OPEB”) Stabilization Fund in which the town will spend $264,882 on what critics say is a drop in the bucket towards resolving the approximately $190 million in unfunded liability facing the town. Even supporters say that the state will have to resolve similar debt in most other cities and towns in the Commonwealth. The town only has $1.7 million in the trust.
But the town treasurer, Floyd Carman, holds somewhat a trump card as he says the bond rating agencies (such as Moody’s) – which ranks Belmont’s municipal debt as AAA, the best around – expect even the smallest of continued payments for the town to keep the high rating which will allow Belmont to save money in the near future on the debt it sells.
Even in the depth of the financial downturn, investors were lining up to purchase the AAA bonds from the town to finance the Wellington School, said Carman. Selectman Chair Andy Rojas said that OPEB will be discussed at the precinct level to go over its impact on the town with the idea of possibly having a revised policy that comes from an informed Town Meeting.
Two-thirds vote needed for passage.
Vincent Stanton, pct. 3, said he supports the article however he wanted to discuss state reform that was introduced in 2013 but it will likely die in this year’s legislative year. Town Meeting members should be more proactive by passing a measure supporting reform measures by the state, said Stanton. “Our voice should be heard as loud as possible,” he said.
Jim Williams from pct 1 question whether voting for the article is support the town’s strategy of having a policy, steady funding on OPEB. Carman said the funding policy was approved by the Selectmen, Warrant Committee and Capital Budget in 2013. Selectmen Sami Baghdady said a yes vote is just supporting the appropriation. Williams asked if this does not get the 2/3 vote, where does the money go? Back to the town’s coffers. Williams said that the policy is beyond the capability of the town’s financial model, which got cheers.
It passes with a few now votes.
7:40 p.m.: Next is Article 25 which reauthorizes revolving accounts such as money – usually from fees – set aside for the senior center and sports. Typically non controversial. You see this article at each Town Meeting, said Baghdady.
A few questions but no challenges to the accounts. 215 to 2 yes thanks to the tally via e-voting.
Article 26 is to reimburse a school building revolving account with insurance proceeds due to the cost of repairing a burst pipe at the High School. “This is an easy one,” said Anne Marie Mahoney. And it is. A yes vote.
And the final budgetary article this year, number 27 is to rescind unused borrowing authority for $57,000. I would be surprised that anyone would speak against this “standard” article, said Carman. Yes with no discussion.
And we get to the tear-down citizen’s petition being codified before 8 p.m. Widmer said the procedure of the article can be a bit confusing due to the number of amendments on top of the reading of a long zoning article.
Mike Baptista, the chair of the Planning Board, is reading and explaining the document. Widmer also advised that everyone declare any financial interest before speaking on the issue. Nearly 40 small lots in the general residence zone have been bought by developers to build a two-family that’s too large for the lot. Some residents “had enough” and passed at the 2013 annual Town Meeting a moratorium on such “tear down/build up” with the Planning Board given the task of making changes to the zoning bylaw to support the residents concerns. “Is it perfect? No. It is subjective” but the area is so diverse that its hard to make an all encompassing bylaw. But it will be revamped by the time the bylaw is sunset in June 2018. What Town Meeting is voting on is a philosophical matter: do you want these “behemoths” in our town? asked Baptista.
Raffi Manjikian, of the Warrant Committee and Pct 3, speaks elegantly on why this measure is needed, quoting US UN Ambassador Samantha Power on how democracy works to fix themselves.
Judith Sarno, pct. 3, who led the effort to create the moratorium, said that this zoning bylaw will give everyone in town a “voice” in determining what is built in their neighborhood.
Now the amendments are being voted on: the first four from the Planning Board are minor corrections to the larger bylaw to clarify what it was trying to say. Set backs, making specific where the bylaw takes effect …
A bit of comedy as the banter between Sue Bass and Planning Coordinator Jeffrey Wheeler on set backs has Widmer if he is watching an episode of “Saturday Night Live.”
All four Planning Board amendments pass easily.
Now up is the first of three (really two) citizen amendments. Roger Colton, pct. 6, is asking that the storm water management permit be required by any developer though the Office of Community Development. Article 14 has three tests to determine if it complies with the bylaw. Colton points out that these are not the three steps that are under the existing storm water management bylaw. This is simply a technical amendment to take out “duplicate” language, he said.
Rojas has Glenn Clancy, the director of Community Development, come up to tell them how this amendment will effect his job determining if the developer is in compliance with the storm water management bylaw. He said it wouldn’t effect how he does his job. Baghdady said the articles’ disclosement measure is important to give developers a “heads up” so they understand its important to have. Jim Stanton, asked if the dueling language will have legal consequences. Town consul George Hall doesn’t think so. Kimberly Becker, pct. 6, said if Colton points out that the language is different between Article 14 and the storm water management, why are we repeating ourselves and the bylaws are not collaborative. David Webster, pct 4. who also works at the EPA, said yes the storm water management bylaw is more complex and the article’s “heads up” is “dangerous” by paraphrasing what they have to do. The best way to simplify it is to have one common language. Anne-Marie Lambert said she doesn’t find any compelling reason not to vote on the amendment. Finally, David Powell of pct. 4 asked that the entire amendment be placed on the screen and ask a simple question: why not just strike the language in the article with the duplicate language? The light bulb goes off over the Town Meeting. That works. Colton’s amendment is quickly adopted.
Now the amendment by Bill Dillon’s amendment that would allow for the front door to be on the side yard. The reason? Because it allows side-by-side two families rather than an up-and-down twos like on Grant Avenue. This is good for entry-level housing (and they sell for more money). “I don’t find side-entry doors distasteful,” said Dillion, who said he just wants to have the chance to go before the Planning Board (which is already hostile to this sort of housing) and say, “This can work in my neighborhood.”

Bob McGaw, pct. 1, said the language being used in this amendment does not conform with existing Planning Board language which could lead to legal challenges. The comments on this amendment revolve around how they don’t like the look of a side entry, not neighborly, not esthetic. But two residents asked if the Planning Board is asking for subjectivity on their amendments, why not with this independent amendment? “We need rules,” said Baptista.

The vote on the amendment. By 46 to 180, Dillon’s amendment is defeated.

Now discussion on Article 14. Christen McVay, Pct. 3, said the design review process is necessary to keep the character of the town.

Bryce Armstrong, pct 7, a renter of Grove Street, asked how this amendment will impact tax revenue in the town. Liz Allison, of the Planning Board, said if there is a family who has two children, unless they live in a house valued at $1.8 million, they do not bring in enough taxes to pay for the children in the schools.

Anthony Ferrante, pct. 8, said peeling paint, ugly vinyl siding and other issues have greater design “problems” then some of what the Planning Board is attempting to do.

Vincent Stanton, pct 1, did the research and of the nine tear downs to build of two families cost 30 percent higher so the issue that the two families are bringing in affordable units is false.

William Messanger, pct. 4, said this amendment is discriminatory as it only effects two-family homes and it will prevent the only method of affordable housing being introduced to Belmont. The home he lived in, circa 1895, could never be built today and that would have prevented him from coming to Belmont.

Mr. Mercier moved the question to great acclaim. “What a moment of surprise,” said Widmer to laughter.

It’s an electronic vote.  Article 14 passes 206 to 16.

10:40 p.m.: Finally, the Minuteman High School Regional agreement, the new contract, is up and Bob McLaughlin is delivering it. Wouldn’t we all love to hear this article in detail, it’s going to be tabled (postpone) by Andy Rojas. Why vote on this when we don’t have enough information, said Rojas, and the town can wait. McLaughlin who helped write the agreement said even at its best, it’s only marginally better than the current agreement due to a great deal of compromise.