Belmont Police To Obtain Service Dog Through Largess Of The Allisons.

Photo: The Labrador Retriever is coming to the Belmont Police Department

Elisabeth and Graham Allison have been benefactors to the town of Belmont and its residents for many years, giving of their time and funds. And in the latest example of their largess, the Belmont Police Department will soon be the home of its first service dog.

At a recent meeting of the Select Board, the Allisons donated $9,525 for the purchase and training of a service animal. Unlike the department’s canine that goes on patrol with an officer, the service dog “will create a less stressful and more welcoming environment,” said Elisabeth Allison.

Elisabeth Allison told the board the donation will allow Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac to follow a trend begun by Middlesex District Attorney and Belmont resident Marion Ryan and that other police departments – including Reading, Maynard, and Tewksbury – have adopted.

“They are praising this program … I did some research, we put together a proposal, and I presented it [the Allisons] and they fully supported it,” said MacIsaac.

The service dog will venture outside the police station “to create a bond with the Belmont Police community, improve our public/police relations, and comfort the community during times of high stress,” said MacIsaac, noting the times a young person or someone in trauma or anxiety have been in the police headquarters for hours, “and it would be very beneficial to have a comfort dog present.”

The support from the board for the new addition to the police force was unanimous. “I’ve really seen how a dog can improve stressful and mental health situations,” said Elizabeth Dionne.

The dog will be arriving in December. And the bred? Why, the Labrador Retriever. Elisabeth Allison – a noted dog lover – said the Lab is often regarded as “the world’s best all-round dog who is ideal for this service.”

Breaking: Two Planning Board Members, Including Former Chair, Resign

Photo: (left) Barbara Fiacco; Liz Allison

Former Chair Liz Allison and member Barbara Fiacco suddenly resigned from the Belmont Planning Board since Monday, Oct. 23.

The departure of the pair comes less than a fortnight after associate member Raffi Manjikian angerly resigned on Oct. 13 due to a “hostile work environment” created by newly-elected Chair Charles Clark. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, the board has three members – Clark, Karl Haglund, and newly appointed Stephen Pinkerton – efficiently making it redundant to make decisions as it needs a fourth member. It will be up to the Board of Selectmen to appoint replacements.

Allison, Fiacco, and Clark could not be reached at this time. The article will be updated if they decide to respond. 

Allison and Fiacco’s letters – received on Monday, Oct 23 and Tuesday, Oct. 24 – were brief statements that did not elaborate the reason for their decisions.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with some very fine people and served a fine town,” said Allison.

Fiacco was more specific for her resignation, noting her “current workload and travel schedule. I am unable to dedicate the time necessary to address … challenges [facing the board] effectively this year.”

Allison and former member Manjikian were accused by Clark of abuse of power in September after it was revealed the pair had advocated moving the Belmont Public Library to a public/private Waverley Square development to revitalize the once-vibrant business center. The scheme, dubbed the ‘Big Idea,’ turned controversial when supporters of the library said they were never informed of the project or the move.

In the past month, a group of residents submitted a citizens’ petition to be heard at the Nov. 13 Special Town Meeting to consider changing the Planning Board from an appointed to an elected body.

Professionally, Allison is a noted economist who has served on the town’s Warrant, and Finance committees and Fiacco is a partner at the Boston law firm Foley Hoag.