Largess Help To Maintain Belmont’s Pine Allée

Photo: Bemont’s Pine Allée

An allée, according to the home design platform Houzz, is a pastoral walkway through evenly planted trees … that bring travelers to their destination in style. (The word “allée” is French for “way to go.”) Traversing an allée “reinforces the feeling that one has arrived.”

You don’t have to travel far to visit a truly unique example of this landscape: The Grand Allée at the Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich is a half-mile of manicured lawn between evergreens that descends to the ocean.

While most notable samples are finely sculptured vistas, a unique example lies between Lone Tree Hill Conservation Land and Concord Avenue just beyond Highland Meadow Cemetery heading toward Lexington. Shortly after the land was purchased by McLean Hospital in 1906, pines were planted, either as a windbreak or as an artistic creation.

Today, Belmont’s Pine Allée runs east to west for nearly 1,000 feet, 165 mature pines reach 100 feet tall, joining white pine saplings planted recently to form a strikingly natural topography, producing a haunting, Gothic take on the form.

“If you walk there now, it’s very green along the lower parts of the allée from the young saplings, and up above you’ve got the older trees so it’s quite a nice sight,” said Roger Wrubel, executive director of the Fund.

On Monday, Aug. 28, Belmont’s pine allée became the beneficiary of a $40,000 donation from the Judy Record Conservation Fund that will be used to maintain the nearly 300 trees.

“The trees are big and have heavy limbs … so a lot of the money will be used for pruning up those trees as well as other maintenance and invasive weed control,” said Wrubel before the Select Board. “The ones we planted recently are getting pretty large right now,” he said.

Select Board Reverses Underwood, Restores Curbside Post Office Parking, And Adds HP Space At Vets Memorial

Photo: Parking at the US Post Office on Concord Avenue will return to the curb after a vote by the Belmont Select Board on July 10.

The Belmont Select Board made three significant changes to a pair of streets at its Monday, July 10 meeting.

  • The direction of Underwood Street is being reversed, soon to run one-way from Hittinger to Concord Avenue.
  • Two parking spaces will be constructed near the intersection of Concord and Underwood to accommodate at least one handicapped space for visitors to the Belmont Veterans Memorial.
  • On-street parking adjacent to the US Post Office on Concord Avenue will be relocated to the curb, with the bike lane set between traffic and parking.

Underwood turn-around

The reason for changing Underwood from north to southbound is to forestall what Chair Roy Epstein called “an extremely serious, probably unsafe and regrettable degree of congestion” when the new Middle and High School parking lot and Middle School building opens for the new academic year in September.

Epstein pointed out that under the current traffic pattern, the new driveway into the school located at Hittinger and Trowbridge would be a maelstrom of vehicles attempting to arrive and leave from three streets. With Underwood turned around and running north to south, a right-hand turn on Hittinger and left to Underwood will funnel exiting vehicles away from the school and towards Concord Avenue.

“That would achieve a level of separation between inbound and outbound traffic and … distributes the cars better across the streets,” said Epstein. “The main thing is to avoid congestion.”

Daytime parking for Underwood homeowners, residents, and visitors will be on the residential side of the street. The change will require residents to take neighborhood side streets to get home instead of taking a quick right off Concord.

At the meeting, former State Rep. and Select Board member Ann Paulson expressed concerns that sidewalks crossing Concord were “very vital” as many students walk from Precincts 1 and 7 to the school and use the crossings. Epstein said while it “remains a work in progress,” the crosswalks will not be ignored.

The new Middle/High School driveway (right) with Underwood in the left background

With the Belmont Police and the Office of Community Development signing off on the plan and the Middle and High School Traffic Working Group narrowly approving it, 4-3, the change received the board’s OK.

“It’s a really good idea,” said Board member Mark Paolillo as it voted unanimously to adopt the plan. The turnover will occur sometime in late July/early August.

Finding a doable parking fix for visiting the Vets Memorial

The change in Underwood’s direction also resulted in what Paolillo called “a fair compromise, ” which could have been a nasty fight between interested parties.

The Belmont Veterans Memorial is a shining example of volunteers and residents coming together to create a monument to those who served our country the community can appreciate for years to come. But for the leaders of the Veterans Memorial committee, there is a glaring issue they say can not be ignored: the lack of handicapped parking to allow older and disabled vets to visit the site.

“People aren’t coming to the memorial right now … because it’s just not safe,” said retired US Marine Corp Col. Mike Callahan, chair of the Veterans Memorial Committee.

To assist disabled vets, Callahan and the committee requested last month the town create up to three handicapped spaces, two on the west immediately after the Underwood/Concord intersection and one to the east.

Those questioning the request said the debate was not about vets vs. cyclists but about providing safety for bikers. Bike advocates noted their concerns about forcing cyclists to weave out and back in along the roadway. Select Board member Roy Epstein also observed that one handicapped space would lose three or four spaces, which are needed as there is an anticipation of greater demand for student parking on Concord beginning in September.

As noted at the board’s previous meeting in June, a compromise was in the offing with the switch of the direction of Underwood. With the directional change approved on Monday, July 12, the town will carve out two parking spaces on the right-hand side of Underwood by removing about 40 feet of the four-foot grass strip adjacent to the path leading to the school nearest to the intersection. One space would be dedicated handicapped, with the other available for residents or visitors. For holidays and special events or celebrations, both spaces would be reserved for the disabled.

“What I like about having it closest to the curb is you have immediate access to the accessibility ramp to get you up on the sidewalk,” said Glen Clancy, director of the Office of Community Development and Town Engineer, who designed the new spaces. The other advantage of placing the spaces on the pond side is that drivers will naturally slow down with a stop sign at the intersection, which increases safety when the driver exits and brings out a wheelchair.

When the board’s vice chair Elizabeth Dionne said while every group is committed to making the plan a success, “we have at least a workable first draft,” a sentiment Callahan retorted, “I don’t disagree.”

And with a few add-ons to the project, such as a small ramp to the path between the new parking spaces, the vets and town supported the plan with the Select Board OK-ing the added spaces, 3-0.

The post office with curbside service

It took less than 10 minutes for the Select Board to turn back the hands of time and return parking in front of the US Post Office to precisely where it once was.

“We’re putting back [parking spaces] to the way it was, other than the transition point by the post office parking lot,” said Epstein.

But the back story of the unanimous vote demonstrated the difficulty in finding a working solution. From last year, the board was caught between the insistent concerns of seniors and the counterarguments by cyclists that being next to vehicle traffic is not the safest of positions.

Even before the town “painted” Concord Avenue placing the bike lane along the curb for nearly the entire length of the roadway, several residents – a majority made up of the senior community and the elderly – registered complaints that moving vehicle parking off-the-curb presented seniors with “an unsettling feeling” exiting their vehicles close to the traffic, according to Clancy.

“We’ve gotten more complaints on this post office and the unsafe conditions in my mind than any other issue,” said Paolillo.

The effort to develop a dedicated lane is to encourage students to bike to the new Belmont Middle and High School. The past configuration with the bike lane between traffic and parked cars deterred many potential bikers – especially youngsters – from cycling to school.

“For the last three years as the high school has been built, we’re talked and talked and talked about making this town safe for biking,” said Paulsen, School Street resident, and former state representative and select board member, who was the only bike advocate to show up in person at the June meeting.

In addition to parking, the residents pointed to the limited visibility pedestrians have seeing oncoming traffic as parked cars and SUVs block their view, requiring them to step into the busy bike lane to be seen.

Yet bikers pointed out the danger of riding alongside vehicles and the threat of being “doored” – when drivers fling open their driver-side doors. Aaron Pikcilingis, Town Meeting member Precinct 6, recounted being doored twice in streets with the same layout as proposed at the post office.

“I was lucky that collision did not throw me off my bike to the left … and being sent into traffic. I have been by many ghost bikes where many people died,” said Piccilingis. “So the configuration … is dangerous for cyclists as they are used as a buffer to protect people getting out of their cars,” said Pikcilingis.

In response to the board’s earlier request, David Coleman presented at the board’s June 26 meeting three possible street calming elements approved by the Traffic Advisory Committee he chairs that would increase pedestrian safety at the post office: permanent bollards to prevent vehicles from limiting the sight lines at the crosswalk, street decals warning bicyclists to reduce speeds as they approach the postal facility, and the introduction of a speed bump just before the first parking spaces to bring down speeds.

But TAC’s requests received pointed pushback but not from older drivers. Rather, it was the leaders of the town departments who challenged the recommendation. While the estimate for the three requests comes to at most $4,000, it is another bill the town will need to pay ad hoc as each issue arises.

“[The requests] just keep ticking up and up and up,” said Belmont Town Administrator Garvin. “And we have no budget for this.”

And it was not just the lack of funding that had officials concerned. DPW Director Jay Marcotte said the bollards are just another task his already overburdened personnel will need to undertake when it installs barriers and removes them when the town plows the streets during snow storms. Finally, Clancy said it’s uncertain that traffic calming is needed at the post office as there is no evidence drivers are speeding along that length to Concord, nullifying the need for a speed bump.

Rather than a piecemeal approach, which she doesn’t see as productive, Garvin said a comprehensive traffic and bike safety plan was needed, including finding a dedicated funding source.

“We really need to consider our spending priorities and not just when people come to the TAC … then we start spending money,” said Garvin. “It’s not a good use of the town funds.”

For the board, Epstein has long contended “it is not a significant safety hazard [for vehicles to] go back to the curb,” pointing to the relative safety between bikers and vehicles on Trapelo Road, which, he believes, is just as busy a corridor as Concord.

With the mounting concerns from the town departments and the complaints from older postal patrons, Paolillo said a decision had to be made to return the parking curbside. He also said the board would pitch having the speed limit on that short stretch of Concord reduced to 10 mph from the current 25 mph.

“This is a balance, and no one’s happy,” said Paolillo, at the June meeting.

Portion Of Goden Street To Close At 7 AM, Friday For Emergency Sewer Repair

Photo: The impacted area of Goden Street

An emergency repair to a faulty sewer line will require a portion of Goden Street to be closed to vehicle traffic starting at 7 a.m., Friday, March 24, according to Belmont Police.

The closure, from School Street to Concord Avenue, will impact travel to Belmont High School as Goden Street enters the intersection with Concord that leads to the school’s parking and entrance.

A Pair Of Speed Tables Set For Winter Street To Slow Down Cut-Through Commuters

Photo: A map of hte location of the two speed tables for Winter Street

The longstanding complaints from homeowners along lower Winter Street that vehicles are treating their street more like a drag strip than a neighborhood street has been answered.

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, the Select Board approved placing a pair of raised traffic tables on Winter between Marsh Street and Concord Avenue to slow down the increasing traffic load that includes a return of the commuter cut-through drivers.

Residents came before TAC on July 8 for “what was identified as a speeding problem,” said the Director of the Office of Community Development, Glenn Clancy, with cars and trucks racing to Route 2 and towards the dicey intersection with Concord Avenue that leads to Belmont Center.

A subsequent week-long speed data study by the Belmont Police Department confirmed the residents’ observations: nearly three of every five motorists were caught traveling above 30 mph, five mph faster than the posted speed limit in thickly settled neighborhoods.

Based on the findings, TAC held a meeting in early September where all but one of the households supported Clancy’s and the TAC’s recommendation of installing three-inch tall tables at either end of that stretch of Winter Street.

“[A raised table] is a technique that we’ve used in Belmont for the last several years, which has been effective,” said Clancy, pointing to its use on School Street adjacent to the Burbank School.

“They are designed to slow traffic down. They are not designed to jolt or jar traffic” but be a visual clue for drivers to reduce their speed, said Clancy.

When Board Chair Mark Paolillo worried that more residents would petition for tables so that the town would be swamped with them over time, Clancy said a recent data study of Belmont Street from Trapelo to Common found the average speed was 21 mph.

“It is surprising when you do the studies how often the data actually shows that the average speed is below 25 mph,” said Clancy.

The project’s total cost will be $4,600 and will be funded from the annual pavement management account. The installation will occur in the following months.

Concord Avenue’s New Traffic/Bike Lane Configuration Up And Running

Photo: Drivers parking their vehicles in the new parking lane in front of the Post Office on Concord Avenue.

If you were startled recently seeing cars and SUVs seemingly abandoned in the middle of Concord Avenue, no, it’s not evidence of the beginning of a zombie apocalypse or the Rapture. What you have come across is the new traffic and parking scheme for one of Belmont’s busiest thoroughfares to promote safe cycling for bike commuters and students traveling to the new Belmont High School.

As part of the Concord Avenue restriping project, the Transportation Advisory Committee, in conjunction with designer Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates and Belmont’s Office of Community Development and the Department of Public Works, has reorient the road lines so the bike lane is closest to the curb, separated by a three-foot buffer, then the parking lane and then the travel lane, according to the TAC.

“The Department of Public Works expects to finish the painting [Thursday, Aug. 18],” said Glenn Clancy, director of Community Development. ”There will be green colored crossings added at side streets but likely not until September given DPW workload and constraints.”

Belmont Police graphic on new traffic/parking pattern for Concord Avenue

This new configuration is eastbound from the Unitarian Church to the Cambridge border at Blanchard Road and westbound from Underwood Street to just past the US Post Office.

The project came about when in 2021 the High School Traffic Working Group expressed a desire to explore the possibility of reconfiguring the bike lane and parking lane on Concord Avenue.

A deep dive into the year-long TAC process and the decisions made by the designers can be found here: Concord Avenue Striping Plan Briefing

With the striping complete, Belmont Police’s Traffic Division will now step in to help with the transition.

“In regards to enforcement, we have started educating drivers about the new pattern,” said Sgt. Paul Garabedian, supervisor of the department’s Traffic Divison.

“We will be giving out warnings and talking with people when we see a violation in hopes of people getting a better understanding. We will have officers on foot and bicycles to be able to talk with drivers over the new few weeks while people adjust to the new design,” said Garabedian.

So far, town officials have not heard much from the public on the new striping design.

“Other than occasional complaints that ‘Belmont is trying to look like Somerville and Cambridge’, I have not received any complaints about the new configuration,” said Clancy. In regards to inquires about the design, Garabedian directed those questions to the TAC Chair David Coleman “as they worked with the design team hired by the town on this project.” 

Where the discussion has been lively is on-line with comments to Police updates or Facebook pages running about 50/50 whether they love the new setup or hate it. One resident made a short video outside the Concord Avenue Post Office reportedly showing the danger in exiting adjacent the travel lane. Some residents were annoyed no notice was provided by the town of the change while others believe the new standards are confusing and unworkable.

Supporters, on the other hand, welcome what they consider provides a safer way along Concord Avenue.

Select Board Place More Streets Off Limits To Student HS Parking, Adding Spots Along Concord, Pool

Photo: The Underwood Pool parking lot will be available for student parking this week.

Based on recommendations from the Middle and High School Traffic Working Group, the Belmont Select Board added three new streets to an expanding number of side streets in which High School students are banned from parking on school days while expending the time the existing “temporary” restricts will be in place by three weeks.

The new streets were added to the inventory of roadways at the board’s Jan. 24 meeting after residents complained their streets were impacted by students migrating from side streets placed under parking restrictions approved by the Select Board on Dec. 20.

“This announcement has generated quite a response,” said Roy Epstein, the Select Board’s vice chair who ran the meeting as Chair Adam Dash recused himself as he lives on one of the streets [Goden Street] under the regulations.

Epstein noted the Task Force recommendations are prompted by resident complaints of student drivers parking along side streets since the opening of the high school wing of the Belmont Middle and High School that is under construction.

“It has created a situation that we had to address. It made the streets dangerous for pedestrians and impassable for vehicles on numerous occasions and we felt we had to act,” said Epstein. The first set of restrictions – no parking from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. beginning on January 3 – were focused on Oak and Orchard streets off the southside of Concord Avenue.

The result of the initial action was students migrated over to nearby Stone and Louise roads. The reaction by those residents were as expected: move the kids.

The new streets with restricted parking bans include:

  • Stone Road,
  • Louise Road from Concord Avenue to the intersection with Emerson Street, and
  • Emerson Street from Concord Avenue to the intersection with Louise Road.

The ban takes effect Jan. 31.

The Board also extended the end date of the trial from Jan. 28 to Feb. 18 to allow the board to consider further recommendations from the Traffic Working Group to be presented on Valentines Day.

But Epstein wanted to make it clear: the committee’s aim is to disperse student parking and not to make it impossible for students to park. In recognition that parking options are being taken off the board on the three streets, the task force made three endorsements to make up for those lost spaces.

The first is to remove the reserved parking spaces on the north (or school) side of Concord Avenue from Underwood Street to the light pole across from Becket Road as “virtually no students have parked there since September,” said Epstein. The school administration provided 100 permits at the beginning of the school year to seniors with corresponding spaces. Yet only 50 to 55 of the spaces are filled on a daily basis, said Lawrence Link, one of the resident members of the working group.

While the committee did not speculate why the spaces were unused, there is some indication that many of the first time drivers find it unnerving to parallel park on a busy roadway such as Concord Avenue during the morning rush hour and feel safer sliding into a space on a quiet side street.

This action will allow more parking along Concord Avenue for students who did not receive permits and the public.

The second and third recommendations are to allow all-day parking in the Underwood Pool lot and on the Concord Avenue pool drop-off area stretching from Myrtle Street to the library exit, freeing up an additional 15 spaces.

While there has been some parents questioning the steps taken by the task force as targeting students, Link believes more parents will “now feel more comfortable because they know spots are available.”

Epstein said the committee’s expectation is to fill in the unused space on Concord Avenue and use new spots near the pool “to accommodate all of the students currently parking on the side streets.” If it becomes evident that more spaces are needed, there is a possibility the task force will recommend a limited number of student drivers via permits to park on side streets, said Epstein.

The adjustments will allow the Task Force ample time to conduct a complete evaluation before presenting final recommendations to the Select Board on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14.

Restrictions On Side Streets To Control HS Student Parking Start Jan. 3

Photo: Concord Avenue adjacent to the new Belmont Middle and High School

The Belmont Select Board on Monday, Dec. 20, approved a four-week trial plan to force the majority of high school students who drive to the new Belmont Middle and High School off of side streets and back to parking on the main thoroughfare that runs by the facility.

The proposal will take place from Monday, Jan. 3 to Friday, Jan. 28 afterwards the plan will be reviewed and extended, ended or revamped.

Advanced by the Traffic Working Group – Middle and High School, it comes after town officials heard an earful from local residents concerning throngs of high school pupils who found the best parking spaces to the building was right off the main road.

“One of the purposes of the proposal is to restore the status quo of students not parking on side streets,” said Martin November, a task force member who led the effort.

The high school’s parking plan for seniors and juniors is a temporary one itself as there will be no student parking on site until the middle school wing is built. One hundred spaces along the north side of Concord Avenue was allocated to students by the school through a lottery. The spaces are in two sections along Concord Avenue from Underwood Road to the Belmont Public Library with another 90 off-street parking spaces linked to a new skating rink that would be built on the west side of Harris Field.

But soon after the September opening of the new high school wing complaints from homeowners started that their streets were teeming with cars during school hours; parking close to driveways and intersections, creating pinch points where traffic can travel and making deliveries and trash collection much more difficult. When they did call to complain, police response was slow due to current staffing levels.

An October survey conducted by residents on behalf of the working group found approximately 120 student cars coming daily to the school with 56 parking on Concord, six on Goden Street, 12 on Oak Street, approximately 20 in the Orchard/Orchard Circle/Stone Road loop and 20 occupying the jug handle site opposite the library.

November told the Select Board’s Mark Paolillo and Roy Epstein – Select Board Chair Adam Dash recused himself from the discussion and vote as he lives on Goden Street – that students, some who possess reserved passes for the coveted 100 lottery spaces, were parking along adjacent roadways such as lower Orchard Street for a simple reason: it’s less of a trek to the school than parking on Concord Avenue closer to Harris Field and the skating rink.

“We do want them back on Concord (Avenue),” said Paolillo.

The proposal will consist of four steps:

  • Identify the side streets to be targeted.
  • No parking from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on school days unless the vehicle has a town-approved placard.
  • Commercial vehicles and those on public business will be exempt.
  • Residents will receive a placard that exempts them from the parking ban.

And the targeted streets are:

  • Goden Street below School
  • Oak Street
  • Orchard Street below School
  • Trowbridge Street
  • Underwood Street
  • Baker Street
  • Concord Street east bound (the southside of the roadway) from Cottage Street to Louise Road.

No parking signs will be placed on cones and on existing posts on the targeted streets.

Temp HS Student Parking, Drop Off/Pick Up Locations Along Concord Get A Thumbs Up

Photo: The new stripping along Concord Avenue at Goden Street (Credit: Belmont Police Twitter account)

Concord Avenue will be just a tad busier starting Sept. 8 as the Belmont Select Board unanimously approved 100 temporary student parking spaces along the westbound (from Cambridge to Belmont Center) lane of Concord Avenue as the high school wing of the new Belmont Middle and High School opens its doors for the first time.

In addition, the board approved drop off areas for students to exit cars bringing them to the school, according to Glenn Clancy, Director of Community Develop who made the presentation at the board’s Monday, Aug. 31 meeting.

“The beautiful thing about this plan is nothing’s new,” said Clancy, noting that construction workers have been using the same spots for the past two years that students are coming to, so drivers are familiar with vehicles along the roadway.

Approved by the Transportation Advisory Committee on July 15 with guidance from the Planning Board, the parking spaces are located at three locations:

• Across from the Belmont Public Library between the two curb cuts of the familiar turn-in parking area.

• Running across from Cottage and Goden streets, and

• Along Clay Pit Pond from the school’s entrance to Underwood Street.

The spaces will be issued by a lottery system, said John Phelan, Belmont Superintendent.

The spaces will be available to students until the completion of the Middle School portion in August 2023 when on-site parking becomes accessible.

While the TAC has delayed making a recommendation for the location of drop off and pick up spots due to the view that having a travel lane, bike path and parking along the street was “too concentrated” creating safety issues especially for bikers, said David Coleman, a TAC member, Phelan told the board there was an immediate need to have those spaces identified as the school year was less than two weeks away.

The placement of the drop off/pick up spots would be:

Heading eastbound (to Cambridge): Between Oak and Orchard streets to allow students to use the newly-lined crosswalk which will be staffed by a crossing guard.

Westbound: Across from Orchard Street that allows students to get out of the right side of the vehicle onto the sidewalk.

Phelan said the school district did not want to use a new loop in front of the school’s entrance as it will be reserved for buses. “We always wanted to separate cars, buses, walkers and bikers,” he said while construction continues for the next two years. “All the cars pulling into the driveway would create a walking conflict for those … coming from Harris Field … to get on the campus.”

Phelan said an additional drop-off site could be at the turn-off area across from the library.

Once the middle school is open, “we’ll have plenty of room for a pickoff/drop off on the site,” he said.

“That does not mean that this is a perfect scenario. We all know we are in a two-year temporary phase where traffic will be extremely congested in this area,” said Phelan.

For the Select Board’s Mark Paolillo, the current plan has his “heart in my mouth” concerning the likelihood that parents will simply stop along the entire stretch of Concord as an impromptu drop-off spot when traffic is congested.

“We need to have police presence… to supervise this,” said Paolillo. Phelan said Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac will be present for the first two weeks of school to “observe everything that’s happening.”

While saying there isn’t any way to know the demand for two drop-off locations, “I think we all just have to realize that with experience in the opening days of school we might have to make some adjustments,” said Select Board member Roy Epstein. “But I think this is the logical starting point.”

Beginning Monday, Concord Ave. Undergoing Street Construction At New High School

Photo: An image from the Belmont Police Department of the impacted location

With the high school wing of the new Belmont Middle and High School just weeks from opening in September, construction will get underway on Monday, June 28 on the new intersection and completing the road work connected to the high school on Concord Avenue, according to Belmont Police.

Police are advising motorists to avoid this area if possible.

The work will focus on the intersection of Goden Street and Concord Avenue where the entrance/exit for the new building will be located, including installing a new set of traffic lights at the intersection and modifying the center traffic Island in the location.

Indian Restaurant Opening At Former Golden Garden Location on Concord Ave

Photo: The location of the new Indian restaurant in Belmont.

His name is Sukhsimran Gill but you can call him Rusty. And if all goes to plan, you’ll be calling Rusty the owner of  Belmont’s latest restaurant to be called Spice Delight.

Gill is prepared to turn the location of a now-closed Chinese restaurant on Concord Avenue into a mid- to upscaled Indian eatery by mid-November after winning approval of a Special Permit for a change in ownership from the Belmont Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday, Oct. 1. 

“We’re hoping to bring some nice Indian food your community,” Gill told the board.

Gill is the owner of Gill Pizza of Londonderry, NH, a wholesale pizza company that services a large number of school districts (including Belmont … New Hampshire) and businesses in the Granite State and Massachusetts. But the New Hampshire resident has also had a hand in the retail end of the food industry for the past 15 years, owning both Indian and Italian restaurants. 

His last restaurant, Zaika Taste of India, was doing swimmingly at the Meadow Glen Mall in Medford. Then last year Wegmans Food Market arrived and took over 120,000 square feet of mall space, resulting in his business and all the other eateries being kicked out of the revamped development. Rusty had been seeking another site since.

And Gill and his partner who lives in Everett believed they found what they were looking for at the cubby corner locale that was home of the closed Golden Garden restaurant at 63 Concord Ave. They soon signed a lease until 2023 with two five year options. 

The menu will primarily be northern Indian cuisine – chaat, tandoor, and curries such as tikka masala and korma will be familiar to many – and will be prepared by a chef Gill has employed at numerous locations for 15 years.

“He is excellent,” said Gill.

The storefront, which has 44 seats, will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, and noon to 10 p.m. on weekends. He believes the business will be half takeout and the other half sitdown service. The restaurant does not have a liquor license but Gill said they will soon approach the town for a beer and wine restaurant licence 

Questions were asked about parking; Belmont’s zoning code requires one spot for every two seats. But the parking – all on- street – is grandfathered.