Due to Scheduling Kerfuffle, Belmont Center Petition Delivered Through the E-Mail

Photo: Parking in front of the Belmont Savings Bank is at issue in the petition delivered to the Board of Selectmen Monday.

Paul Roberts is not just frustrated with what he perceives as the Board of Selectmen overreaching its authority in altering the design plans for the $2.8 million Belmont Center Reconstruction Project even as construction had begun, he also had to deal with faulty dates on the town’s web page.

“They have inaccurate, outdated info on the Board of Selectmen’s web page,” said Roberts, who was prepared on Monday, June 15, to submit his petition asking the board to restore the Project’s original design which features a “town lawn” in front of the main branch of Belmont Savings Bank on Leonard Street.

The only problem was that the Board of Selectmen were not holding office hours at 6 p.m. as its page stated on the Belmont-ma.gov site.

“It’s too damn hard to figure out what[’s] happening and when in this town,” said Roberts, a Cross Street resident and a Town Meeting Member from Precinct 8.

So rather than presenting his Petition with 430 signatures from Belmont residents and business owners calling for the restoration of the original design, Roberts put the package into a PDF file and zipped it over to the three selectmen via e-mail.

You can see the petitions at the end of the article.

Roberts promises he’ll hand deliver a printed copy to the board at the Selectmen’s scheduled Monday, June 22 meeting.

As for the Selectmen, while one acknowledged receiving the package, its contents were yet to be read.

“[Roberts] did e-mail us something, but I have not seen the petition. I just got it,” said Selectman Chair Sami Baghdady at another public meeting Monday night. 

What is facing the selectmen is a growing number of residents angered by the board’s vote to approve two major changes to the approved Reconstruction Project’s design – now known as Plan A – proposed by a small faction of residents led by long-time homeowner Lydia Ogilby.

The revised design, Plan B, restores the current layout of parking in front of the bank as well as continue a cut through between Moore Street and Concord Avenue. Those changes would effectively end the hope of many of establishing a town green (or lawn) into Belmont Center as a central gathering area.

Roberts and those who signed the petition are asking for the board “to respectfully reverse a decision you made at a special hearing in May that installed a new, heretofore unseen and untested plan created at the last minute by your office in the place of Plan A.”

Roberts has joined others who believe the original designed was vetted and approved by a Special Town Meeting in November 2014 which approved the $2.8 million project’s financing.

“Reinstating Plan A will respect the work of the Traffic Advisory Committee, the wishes of Town Meeting and – as this petition suggests – the wishes of the voting public,” says Roberts letter.

The petition’s signatories represent “the full spectrum of Belmont politics” including Town Meeting members, the Warrant Committee, and the Traffic Advisory Committee which created the program. It also includes some pointed quotes from neighbors.

“Plan A” was the approved plan. It was an excellent plan. The last-minute substitution of another plan, which bypassed a multi-year town-wide process, by a small group to effectively undo the good works done by many people over many years is a shameful act and should not be allowed to happen.” said resident Andrew Bennett.

Roberts hopes the Board of Selectmen will conclude that since any further changes to the project’s blueprint could actually delay the reconstruction schedule. the board will open discussion on his petition at 7 p.m. at Monday’s meeting “so that we may resolve this issue as soon as possible.”

Town Center Green Space Signatures – NonResidents

Town Center Green Space Signatures – Residents

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  1. Karen Sapolsky says

    It’s amazing to see so many of these signers claim that only a minority in town is opposed to their wishes for a larger green space. No poll has been taken and they have absolutely no idea what percent of residents would prefer to see the parking and the cut through street maintained. It’s embarrassing to see such statements in what should be a rational discussion of what is best for Belmont.

    And no, it is not too late to revisit the issue. Clearly something went wrong in the process, leaving considerable disagreement over the enlargement of the delta. The TAC – proposed change is a major one, with implications for traffic and parking vs enlarged green space.

    We do have a very large green space just on the other side of the bridge. If people wish to congregate, why do they not already do so there? How many have ever done so on the current delta? How real is that perceived need? The utility of the parking spaces is demonstrable. They are nearly always filled. And the cut through from Moore to Concord diverts some traffic from Leonard St. It is inappropriate to excoriate the Selectmen for considering these factors.

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