Moving Forward: Community Preservation Invite Proposals To Submit Final Application For Funding, 3 Will Be Early Off-Cycle Decisions

Photo: A new paint job for the Homer House, just one of eight proposals submitted to the Community Preservation Committee that were approved for final applications

It was moving day last week at the Community Preservation Commiittee as eight proposals were approved to submit final applications. A final CPC decision will be made on Jan. 10, 2024.

At its regularly scheduled monthly meeting, Wednesday, Oct. 11, Chair Elizabeth Dionne said the CPA has approximately $3 million to distribute for projects involving recreation/open spaces, housing and preservation. The Community Preservation Act, adopted by Belmont voters in 2010, is financed by property tax surcharges and annual distributions received from the state’s Community Preservation Trust Fund.

The CPA will present the applications it approves in January to a vote before the annual Town Meeting in May 2024. Due to the “urgent need for funding,” three of the eight proposals will be presented as “off-cycle” applications which will be voted at the Special Town Meeting in early November.

The projects which will proceed to a final application are:

The off-cycle proposals are:

Of the projects two of the requests are connected by a single project. First, an engineering study for a proposed revitalization of the playground and activity areas at the Chenery Upper Elementary School for $105,000.

The study dove tails into the second, more substantial request of $1 million for the actual construction of the Chenery “complex.” Recreation Department Director Brendan Fitts told the committee this request will be an initial cost “guestimate” for the project in the $3 million range.

“What we are doing is setting aside some funding for [the reconstruction] now,” said Fitts.

“This is a high priority project,” said Dionne, saying parents, the PTA, and school officials have been clambering for an overhaul of the thread worn recreation area. “And I hope it’s only $3 million,” said Dionne whose worried there could be some “inflation” that’s being baked into the project.

In what Dionne called “starting something that I think could be a tremendous benefit for the town and its employees,” $250,000 is being asked by the town would be used to sow the seeds of increasing affordable housing directed towards assisting town employees to live in the community which they work.

“The number one reason we’ve been losing [employees] is the commute. It’s not that I don’t want to work here” said Town Administrator Patrice Garvin, but many are living west of Route 128 while municipal salaries can not support purchasing a home or to pay rents.

But rather than use this fund to purchase a property outright, Dionne envisions the fund being an annual CPC allocation approved by Town Meeting that would be used by developers to free up capital to build multi-unit residential projects in which some units would be dedicated to town employees. Belmont will be following in the footsteps of municipalities in California and in nearby Nantucket which are securing town employee housing in partnership with builders.

On the affordable living front, the Belmont Housing Trust is applying for $250,000 for the purpose of creating more affordable housing in town by investing in new developments prompted by the anticipated approval of the MBTA Communities Multifamily Zoning law. Belmont will have the ability to invest in new projects in exchange for more affordability or deeper affordability as the Trust funds projects, either through financing the development or subsidizing the operating costs.

The Belmont Woman’s Club is seeking through the HDC $99,000 to paint the exterior of the Homer House on Pleasant Street opposite Town Hall as part of its long-term renovation of the historic house.

Of the off-cycle proposals, a initial proposal of $160,000 from the Historic District Commission will make significant roof and repairs to the School Administration building on Pleasant Street. “People are putting out buckets out [when it rains]” with the damage reportedly in the superintendent’s office due to deficiencies in the roof’s flashings and gutters causing internal damage, according to Gabriel Distler, staff planner for the HDC.

Along with the roof, other time sensitive items include shoring up the main retaining wall at Town Hall while there is a need for a redesign of the commuter rail pedestrian tunnel connecting the Winn Brook neighborhood with the new Belmont Middle and High School and Concord Avenue after the MBTA and Massachusetts Department of Transportation reversed an earlier design decision to now allow a less expensive tunnel.

“I think the one thing that everyone in town agrees on is that the tunnel is really important,” said Dionne. “And if we don’t fund this [proposal], we can’t get to the design drawings that we need for [federal] funding, it delays this decades long process.

Celebrating A Bunny’s Author’s Birthday At A ‘Re-energized’ Homer House

Photo: Belmont Children’s Librarian Liz Fraser telling a tale of Peter Rabbit.

Liz Fraser stood before more than three dozen tots in the main room of the historic 1853 Homer House with a simple story to tell about a rabbit with floppy ears. 

“Here is a bunny with ears so funny. 

And here is a hole in the ground.

When a noise he hears, he pricks up his ears.

And jumps in the hole in the ground.

The Coordinator of Children’s Services at Belmont Public Library, Fraser was the featured storyteller at the Belmont Woman’s Club inaugural “Literacy on the Lawn” celebrating the 150th birthday of author and artist Beatrix Potter, the creator of Peter Rabbit. 

Despite occurring in late July at the height of vacation plans, the lawn was full of children and parents painting, playing croquet and hanging out with a small collection of farm animals – including a baby goat who kept escaping from the enclosure – as the Belmont Woman’s Club, Belmont Public Library, Habitat and Belmont Center businesses sponsored the day’s events.

For the Woman’s Club, the aim of this event and others is to “draw more families into the history of the house and its beauty,” said Nancy Sarris, the club’s co-president along with Belmont resident Wendy Murphy.


The Club is looking to “re-energize” the organization, attempting to dispel the stereotype of “old ladies drinking tea and playing bridge” which was the case 90 years ago when the club began, said Sarris.

By opening the house to events, outside tours and functions, the club is seeking to highlight the house, a rare example of antibellum residential architecture still standing in greater Boston.

“I fell in love with the house when I first visited it 22 years ago, and I hear the same thing from others,” said Sarris, who was a senior vice president of Belmont Savings Bank. 

The Club has begun a $250,000 capital campaign towards making the house – built by the uncle of artist Winslow Homer who visited and painted in Belmont in the 1860s – more accessable to outside groups, focusing on repairing the driveway and including parking along with exterior architectural improvements including restoring the overhangs. The campaign is in addition to $100,000 in Community Preservation Committee funds approved by Town Meeting in 2015 for the House’s rehabilitation and restoration.

Possible future events could include a Taste of the Town in the fall where restaurants would provide samples, a holiday house tour and educational forums focusing on women and girls. Currently, Susan Smart, the Homer House Curator, is leading private tours of the house through September on Sundays at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

“The Woman’s Club and the Homer House want to be re-involved in a big way with the town,” said Sarris.


7 News’ Sports Director Amorosino At Belmont Woman’s Club Wednesday

Photo: Joe Amorosino of 7 News.
Belmont youth and adults are invited to meet Emmy recipient 7 News WHDH-TV’s Sports Director Joe Amorosino, who will speak at the Belmont Woman’s Club/the 1853 Homer House at 661 Pleasant St. on Wednesday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m.

Amorosino covered all four Patriots Super Bowl wins (2002, 2004, 2005, 2014), all three of the Red Sox recent World Series wins (2004, 2007, 2013), the Celtics’ most recent NBA Championship win (2008) and the Boston Bruins most recent Stanley Cup Championship (2011).

The talk and a reception with Amorosino will last one hour.  

Th public is cordially invited with free admission.

Local Celebs Will Walk the Fashion Runway Sunday for the Homer House

If you missed going to New York Fashion Week last month, no need to fret. This Sunday, Oct. 26, Belmont will be home to a unique jour de haute couture.

The Belmont Woman’s Club is holding its own fashion show with some of the most sought after local celebrities modeling the latest from CAbi (women) and UNIQLO at 3 p.m. at the historic Oakley Country Club off Belmont Street in Watertown.

And look who will be strutting the catwalk this Sunday:

  • Selectman’s Andy Rojas (known for his taste in ties),
  • School Committee’s Laurie Slap,
  • Belmont Fire Chief David Frizzell,
  • TV legal analyst Wendy Murphy,
  • Belmont Savings CEO Bob Mahoney,
  • Henry Frost Children’s Program’s Iris Ponte,
  • Town Treasurer Floyd Carman,
  • Belmont Police’s Jamie MacIssac,
  • and all the way from the French Department at Belmont High, Jacqueline Kaiser, to name just a few.

This afternoon of fashion and fun will raise funds for the Preservation of the historic Homer House, the long-time headquarters of the Woman’s Club located across Pleasant Street from Belmont Town Hall.

Tickets are $65 per person and checks can be made payable to the Belmont Woman’s Club.