Sold in Belmont: Colonials, Condos and Classics Lead the Market

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

• 58 Farnham St. Exploded Colonial (1932), Sold for: $847,000. Listed at $799,000. Living area: 1,973 sq.-ft. 10 rooms; 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. On the market: 49 days.

• 153 Washington St. Hip roof, center-entrance Colonial (1930), Sold for: $745,000. Listed at $799,900. Living area: 1,822 sq.-ft. 8 rooms; 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths. On the market: 98 days.

• 42 Pine St. Classic Ranch (1950), Sold for: $702,000. Listed at $665,000. Living area: 1,312 sq.-ft. 6 rooms; 3 bedrooms, 2 baths. On the market: 50 days.

• 28 Wilson Ave., #2. Condominium (1925), Sold for: $440,000. Listed at $429,000. Living area: 1,245 sq.-ft. 6 rooms; 3 bedrooms, 1 bath. On the market: 61 days.

• 125 Trapelo Rd., #35Condominium (1963), Sold for: $295,000. Listed at $339,900. Living area: 768 sq.-ft. 4 rooms; 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. On the market: 80 days.

• 44 Hull St. Early Colonial (1906), Sold for: $604,000. Listed at $599,000. Living area: 1,323 sq.-ft. 7 rooms; 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths. On the market: 51 days.

• 19 Grant Ave. Antique house (1880), Sold for: $603,265. Listed at $599,000. Living area: 1,572 sq.-ft. 8 rooms; 4 bedrooms, 1.5 baths. On the market: 6days.

• 426 Trapelo Rd., #2. 2/3 condominium (1911), Sold for: $320,000. Listed at $349,000. Living area: 1,099 sq.-ft. 6 rooms; 3 bedrooms, 1 bath. On the market: 80 days.

• 18 B St., #2. New townhouse condominium (2014), Sold for: $876,000. Listed at $998,000. Living area: 2,957 sq.-ft. 9 rooms; 4 bedrooms, 4 bath. On the market: 225 days.

• 17 Pierce Rd. Colonial (1930), Sold for: $1,552,000. Listed at $1,550,000. Living area: 3,080 sq.-ft. 10 rooms; 5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths. On the market: 70 days.


Sports: Field Hockey into Quarterfinals After Mowing Over Danvers, 2-0

It was hard enough that the Belmont High School Field Hockey had to board a bus and travel for 45 minutes to play in their playoff opener against Northeastern Conference championships Danvers High School on Thursday, Oct. 30.

The potential difficulties of playing on the road in the MIAA Div. 2 North sectionals were only heightened when the Marauders saw the pitch they would be battling.

Grass. While a decade ago playing on a natural surface was just part of the game, today, with the rapid proliferation of synthetic Tuff fields, many teams will not play on grass for an entire season.

Not only was the surface uneven, the field outside of Danvers’ newly constructed high school had a noticeable drop from the north to the south end of the field.

Danvers’ Head Coach Jill McGinnity was banking on that familiarity to pressure Belmont for the entire game.

“Field hockey is a completely different sport on grass than turf, so being on grass right away certainly helps because we practice on it all the time,” she told the Salem (Massachusetts) Daily News. “We’d love to be able to make a nice little run (in the postseason.”

Belmont’s head coach, Jessica Smith, was not as enamored playing a tournament game on the natural stuff.

“This is a … ,” Smith said, finishing the sentence with a colorful term to describe the field’s condition.

“Grass slows everything down, so you have to hit much longer balls to move upfield,” said Smith. “And we are a pass-oriented team, so we have to make some adjustments.”

Despite reservations on how the grass would impact their game, Belmont’s higher skill level and total team approach soon showed itself as the Marauders defeated the Falcon’s, 2-0, to advance to the quarterfinals.

The Marauders will play the winners of the match today, Oct. 31, between second-seed Andover High School and 15th-ranked Methuen High. The time and place for the quarters have yet to be determined.

Due to upsets of the third-seed Reading, Wilmington and 11th seed Lexington, Belmont and Watertown (who play in Division 2) are the last remaining Middlesex League teams in the tournament.

After a cautious start, Belmont’s quality soon dominated the Falcon’s athleticism as the Marauders controlled possession in Danvers’s end of the field for the final 20 minutes of the first half.

Led by midfielders senior Suzannne Noone and Olivia Castangno and junior Serena Nally occupying the center of the pitch, Belmont clogged the long-ball passing lanes as Danvers attempted to break into the Belmont end.

With some time on the ball, Belmont’s forwards adjusted their passing technique with slightly harder shots as the receiving players moved to the passes. Out on the wings, seniors Beth Young and Haley Sawyer were finding a straight move to the goal was paying dividends.

Belmont could concentrate upfront as its back line proved a tough challenge for the Falcon attack. Junior defender Molly Thayer and senior center back Emma Pejko stalked any forward with possession entering their zone, using good stick technique to knock balls from their opponents.

Belmont’s pressure soon resulted in a series of penalty corners – the Marauders would have seven in the first half while Danvers was shutout – allowing sophomore midfielder/defender AnnMarie Habelow to move up to the 16-yard scoring circle and become the focal point of the attack.

Belmont’s first score occurred when Habelow took a shot in close that got by Danvers’ goalie Julie Webster, which was steered in by junior forward Kerri Lynch with eight minutes remaining in the half.

Both Sawyer and Habelow nearly doubled the lead but for a new rule (Habelow’s backhand shot which was “rising with acceleration” is now considered a dangerous play) and a leg save from Webster.

With time running down and Smith urging the girls’ to “Get one more,” the team responded as Habelow’s directed a shot to the stick of sophomore forward Julia Chase five meters out for the goal with a minute remaining in the first.

It was 10 minutes into the second 30 minutes before Belmont goalkeeper senior Kate Saylor made her first save as Belmont’s offense peppered Webster, with another Habelow score taken away due to the new dangerous rule.

Danvers did begin to find their range late in the half, requiring the Belmont “D” to chase down some long breaks. Saylor made a strong pad save off junior forward Kristen McCarthy with help from Castagno and Habelow got her stick low to stop another shot from McCarthy.

“I love this team because everyone touches the ball throughout the game. We have our superstars, but they know we play better as a team that builds up from the back and work everyone into the game,” said Smith.

Halloween in Cushing Square, Fill UNICEF Boxes, Skeleton Army on HELLcrest

It’s Halloween and tonight, Friday, Oct. 31, little ones will be coming up to your door with the call of “Trick or treat!” Unlike many towns, there are no restrictions on when and where “tricks or treats” can occur as town officials and Belmont Police continue to rely on the good common sense of residents to restrain hijinks around the “Town of Homes.”

• The treats start early as some of the youngest kids will get the chance to practice as the Cushing Square Business Association holds its annual Cushing Square Halloween on Friday, Oct. 31 with the trick or treating begins at 3 p.m.

• Along with your bowl of candy at the front door, set aside some spare change as the Chenery Middle School is giving 6th graders a community service hour if they collect for UNICEF tonight

• If you have the chance tonight, head over to Hillcrest Road – which runs from Goden to Common streets midway between the Wellington and Chenery Middle schools – to see the skeleton army that has overrun the street. They are riding bikes, hanging onto trees, wearing interesting costumes, all under the control of the LARGEST BLACK CAT EVER SEEN!

Belmont resident and commercial photographer Clytie Sadler has done an outstanding photo essay of the undead on HELLcrest Road which can be seen on her web site:

Be safe tonight.

Town Proposes Using Free Cash Twice to Pay for Belmont Center Project

Town Meeting members will be asked next month to dip twice into the town’s “savings” account to pay for the long-awaited facelift of Belmont Center’s traffic and parking design.

Under a proposal derived by town officials and Belmont’s Treasurer Floyd Carman who presented the plan to the Belmont Board of Selectmen Wednesday, Oct. 29, the now $2.8 million construction project set to reshape the roadways and parking in and around Belmont Center will be paid for using the town’s “free cash” as both a downpayment and then dipping into the account over 15 years to pay for the remaining debt, said David Kale, Belmont’s town administrator.

Free cash is unspent money remaining at the end of the fiscal year including from budget line-items and any greater than expected tax or fee receipts.

If approved by a majority of members of the Special Town Meeting on Nov. 17, $1.3 million will be taken from free cash as a one-time lump sum payment. The remaining $1,475,000 will be raised by selling 15-year bonds,

But rather then ask voters to approve a debt exclusion as has happened in the past with large capital expenditures, Belmont will take the unprecedented step of using free cash make the bond repayment over the life of the bond.

While the state’s Department of Revenue has not certified the amount Belmont has for free cash, Carman said free cash came in at $6.2 million in fiscal 2015.

Carman said the town will take approximately $169,000 from the free cash account in fiscal 2017 to pay both the interest and principal of the note. The payments will then decrease in subsequent years until there is a final payment of just under $100,000 in fiscal 2032.

Andy Rojas, Selectmen chair, told members of the Warrant and Capital Budget committees that the town hopes to have the project out to bid in January and have work completed by October. He also said the Special Town Meeting will only take up the project’s expenditure plan, “we are not opening up the project’s design for discussion.”

“[Town Meeting] is about funding, not to discuss every crosswalk or bump out,” Rojas reiterated.

While Kale is known for reminding residents, town officials and Town Meeting members that “free cash is not free” – any reduction in the account must be restored in the next year’s budget – both he and Carman believe free cash is strong enough position to sustain payments over the next decade and a half.

“We’re looking at a healthy free cash and the opportunity is there to utilize the low-interest rates,” said Carman.

Saying that he has heard some residents being critical of the town not utilizing the millions in the account, Carman told the Belmontonian “here’s an opportunity to use the savings constructively.”

Using the town’s savings account will also lessen the burden on the town’s debt service now hovering just over $5.1 million in fiscal 2015.
“Rather than burden taxpayers of 2015 to pay for this debt, we are spreading out the obligation to residents over the 15 years of the bond,” said Carman.

Carman also noted the town in the next few years will likely be asked to fund a new Belmont High School for between $60 to $100 million.

“We don’t want to add anymore debt to the books with that looming,” he said.

Paying the interest and principal of the $1,450,000 (the actual amount could be less once the engineering blueprints are completed, said Rojas) would be the second specific expense that will be paid by free cash. Last year, Town Meeting approved spending approximately $240,000 annually in other post-employment benefits, or OPEB, payments to a nearly $180 million unfunded obligation.

In recent years, the town has transferred approximately $2 million from free cash at the beginning of the budget cycle to pay for town and school expenses, filling a shortfall in local aid from the state legislature.

The town will also create a Capital Project Debt Stabilization Fund to pay down existing obligations.

The new stabilization account – to be approved by Town Meeting – will be funded with one-time payments to the town. Kale said this would include the sale of town-owned property such as the long-awaited purchase for $850,000 of the municipal parking lot at Cushing Square as part of the delayed Cushing Village project and the increasingly doubtful Woodfall Road luxury housing development.

Which of the current debt obligations could be reduced by the stabilization fund “will be part of a group discussion,” said Rojas.

When asked why this project is being given priority over six large capital projects – including a new police station and refurbishing the Viglirolo Skating rink – Rojas said the others have not begun the detailed process of design and planning.

“Why we are doing this is because it’s ready,” said Rojas, adding the reconstruction will increase business and economic development to the business center of town.

Get Spooked At a Pair of Halloween Events at Belmont High Today

And you thought just going to high school was scary!

Two big terrifying events will be held at Belmont High School today, Thursday, Oct. 30, to get the whole family into a Halloween state of mind.

For the first time, there will be a Halloween Haunted House at Belmont High School from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. All profits made from this event will go to the Make a Wish Foundation. There will be a range of spooky activities for people of all ages. For younger guests, there will a face painting station and a pumpkin painting station. There will be a very small suggested donation for participants who want to be “boo-ed.”

After being frightened, head over to the fourth annual “Masquerade Concert” performed by the Belmont High Wind Ensemble and Concert Orchestra will begin at 7 p.m. in the school’s auditorium. The two ensembles will perform a family-friendly variety of seasonal selections, including creepy classics like the Tocatta and Fugue in D minor by Bach, selections from The Dark Knight Rises and FROZEN! Audience members should arrive in costume to maximize the fun. As always, the concert is free.

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Sports: Arlington-Belmont Crew Takes Top Prizes at State Fall Finals

Coming off their best ever showing at the Head of the Charles Regatta, the boys from Arlington-Belmont Club Crew – made up of students from Arlington and Belmont high schools – powered their way to an overwhelming win in the prestigious Varsity Eights event at the 2014 Massachusetts Public Schools Rowing Association’s Fall State Championships.

Rowing at Quinsigamond State Park in Worcester on Sunday, Oct. 26, the A-B First Varsity boat – using the same rowers that finished 21st in the Youth Eights at the Head of the Charles: Max Halliday, Louis Pratt, Adrian Tanner, Liam Lanigan, Nicholas Osborn, Eryk Dobrushkin, Brendan Mooney, Alexander Gharibian with coxwin Brenna Sorkin – finished a full 14 seconds ahead of runners-up Wayland-Weston and Hingham, winning in 14 minutes and 20.03 seconds to defend the title the team won last year.

And the boys showed their dominance in the eights by winning the second varsity race and placing second in third varsity while taking first in the novice eights.

The A-B Varsity Girls’ Eights took home third behind winners Wayland-Weston and second Hingham, stoking home in 16:43.16 with Catherine Tiffany, Sara Hamilton, Jessica Keniston, Sophia Fenn, Bridget Kiejna, Alena Jaeger, Catherine Jacob-Dolan, Julia Blass and coxswain Ellen Cayer in the boat.

The Girls’ second varsity boat finished second in its race.

To cap off the successful fall season, A-BC coach Mark Grinberg was named last week Junior Coach of the Year in a fans poll conducted by USRowing, the national governing board. 

“Mark Grinberg guided Arlington Belmont Crew men to two consecutive Massachusetts state championships, becoming the first ever Massachusetts public school to qualify two eights for the 2014 USRowing Youth National Championships. His men’s varsity eight also won the Textile River Regatta and Massachusetts Public School Rowing Association Fall State Championship, just four years after the team had a mere six members,” read the honor. 


Final Farmers Market of the Season Today; Have an Apple! Sharpen Your Knives

The Belmont Farmers Market bids adieu to its ninth season as it holds its final market day today, Thursday, Oct. 30.

Come down and say goodbye to your favorite vendors. Stock up for the winter. Stop by the Manager’s Tent for a free apple and fill out an survey card: Tell the organizers what you like about the Market, write a note for a vendor and say what changes you’d like to see at the market next season.

The Belmont Farmers Market is located in the Belmont Center parking lot at Cross Street at Channing Road.

The market is open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

This week’s guest vendors include Sugar + Grain, Fille de Ferme, The Amazing Smokehouse and Seasoned and Spiced. Find all the weekly vendors here.  

Siraco Sharpening Service returns for a final visit. If you’re going to be cooking or carving pumpkins, you’ll want sharp knives! And you can put your gardening tools away sharp for next year. But, please, don’t bring lawnmowers. For big items, go to Siraco’s drop off sites which includes the quilt shop on Brighton Street.

The food truck is Benny’s Crepe Cafe.


• 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.Face Painting with Amber Espar.

• 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: Story time thanks to the Children’s Room of the Belmont Public Library.

• 4:30 p.m to 5:45 p.m.: Joe Zarro, Belmont resident and pastor of the Plymouth Congregational Church, will be singing and playing the guitar.

Help the Belmont Food Pantry by bringing non-perishable items each week. Find out about the Belmont Food Pantry, and see how the Market supports it.

Rising Enrollment, Structural Faults Puts Schools Half-a-Million in Red

It isn’t “the happiest news” the Belmont School Department wanted to give anytime, especially less than two months into the school year, said Laurie Slap, chair of the Belmont School Committee.

If expenditures and trends continue on their current trajectories, the fiscal year 2015 school budget will end the year approximately $500,000 in the red, according to the school’s Director of Finance and Administration Anthony DiCologero.

The forecast, present to the Belmont School Committee at its Tuesday night meeting on Oct. 28, “is not a deficit in any item,” said DiCologero. 

While there isn’t one specific cause, there is an overriding theme to the shortfall facing Belmont’s public schools: the well-noted increase of students entering the system. 

Kevin Cunningham, at his final committee meeting as he will be replaced by the next meeting on Nov. 18, said the expense spike is “enrollment driven” – with the surge of students has come the need for more services “that is driving costs.”

Due to the rapid rise in total enrollment in all grade levels, a jump in children who are English Language Learners and an increase in students requiring special education instruction has placed the budget under pressure as salaries are nearly $225,000 above the $31.4 million budgeted for the fiscal year, noted DiCologero. 

The deficit comes from adding instructors to address enrollment and ELL needs as well increasing the number of special education aides, tutors and occupational therapists.

The remaining $360,000 of the total deficit is the result of an increase in special education expenses such as $125,000 for tuition for six additional out-of-district students (Belmont pupils who are determined will be educated outside the public schools) and $60,000 in added transportation costs.

John Phelan, Belmont’s first-year school superintendent, said he has spoken to administrators, principals and staff on the need “slow down” expenditures such as bringing new technology into the schools and to “prioritize spending.”

But, said Phelan, the “big picture” is “what we need to do differently next year” to prevent repeating the same steps in fiscal 2016.

“These are structural issues,” said Cunningham. And while “this year we’ll strategically shrink it” the deficits will only continue unless expenses are placed in a more long-term context.”

Sports: Volleyball Begins Playoffs at Home on Halloween Night

The Belmont High School Volleyball team hopes they’ll be the ones receiving treats rather than being tricked as the Marauders being the MIAA Div. 2 North sectional playoffs on Halloween night hosting Danvers High School at Wenner Field House.

The 15-5 Marauders are seeded 7th as they take on the 10th seed Falcons at 6 p.m., Oct. 31.

Coincidentally, the Belmont High Field Hockey team, ranked 10th, will visit Danvers, seeded 7th, on Thursday afternoon, Oct. 30.

Danvers, 12-6, is the talk of the North Shore as the varsity program started last season. During its first season, the Falcons did not win any of their 18 games in 2013. This season, under Head Coach George LeVasseu, Danvers has joined another second year program, Marblehead, on the top of the Northeastern Conference South League. 

Sports: Brams Takes Second in Middlesex X-C Championships

There could not have been any better conditions to run a cross-country meet then what greeted the runners assembled for the Middlesex League Meet on Monday, Oct 27; a brilliant, clear sky, temperatures in the low 60s and a note of crispness in the air.

And Belmont High runners excelled individually and as teams against many much larger enrollment schools at the meet held in Woburn.

In the feature Girls’ Varsity race, the two heavy favorites, hometown senior Gina D’addario and two-time defending champion, Belmont junior Leah Brams, did not disappoint the crowd as they battled for all but the final 400 meters of the 2.5 mile course.

D’addario stalked Brams, staying off her left shoulder from the start of the race until the final downhill on the hills of Woburn Country Club.

Just as she did previously in a duel meet in Woburn last month, D ‘addario – who is a standout 800 meter runner indoors and out – used her finishing speed to run away from Brams, who claimed second in 15 minutes, 2.8 seconds.

Belmont High’s Varsity Girls’ sixth place finish was notable as all their points were scored by underclassmen, five juniors and a freshman – Brams, Sophia Klimasmith, 19th (16:22.9), Emma Chambers, 44th (17:52), Carly Tymm, 53rd (18:04.3), freshman Camilla Carere, 64th (18:42.8) and Madison Kelts, 72nd (19:06.1) – the only team to make that distinction.  

On the Boys’ side, senior Ari Silverfine stayed within the top 20 for the entire route to finish 15th in 13:23.9 with fellow 12th grader Seth Altman coming in 27th in 14:03.8.

Freshmen Boys’, led by a 7th place from Calvin Perkins, finished 4th while the Boys’ JV captured 7th. Another impressive showing came from thFreshmen Girls’ who placed 4th with Seneca Hart finishing 13th in 8:45.3.

All the runner’s and team results can be found on the MileSplit Massachusetts website.