No Deal as Selectmen Await Financing Proof From Cushing Village Developer

Photo: An earlier version of the building that will be built at the community 

Not yet.

Despite taking out demolition permits and hiring a Needham-based firm to take down the abandoned buildings, the developer of the proposed Cushing Village multi-use complex still doesn’t hold the deed for the commuter parking lot at Williston and Trapelo roads of the $80 million project as the Belmont Board of Selectmen has yet to see a finalized financial package they can be comfortable.

“The Board is not prepared to vote on the sale of the parking lot at this time,” said Belmont Town Administrator David Kale told the Belmontonian, after the Selectmen met with Town Counsel George Hall for nearly an hour in executive session. 

Currently, a partnership of original developer Chris Starr and Urban Spaces of Cambridge are attempting to put together a financing package for the development which will bring 115 units, 38,000 sq.-ft. retail space and 235 parking spaces to three parcels at the corner of Common Street and Trapelo Road in the heart of Cushing Village. 

The price tag for the parking lot adjacent Starbucks – set six years ago when the parcel went out to bid  – is $850,000; along with fees and permits, the final price is closer to $1.3 million.

While unable to go into detail on a possible agreement, the leader of the Selectmen said any sale will coincide with a financial package.

“We are going to proceed with the closing of the parking with financing in place. That’s the only prudent way we can move forward,” said Selectmen Chair Sami Baghdady, after the meeting.

Baghdady said in addition to the financing package, there is a land development agreement in which the development team must follow to the letter the 26-page special permit. Starr will also convey to town use 50 parking spaces in the underground parking garage and the creation of a parking management agreement as part of the purchase-and-sale agreement. 

“What I have been told is that those documents are not in final form,” said Baghdady. 

While the development partners have yet to have its financial “Ps and Qs” together, it has moved forward by paying for and pulling a demolition permit, hired a firm and has agreed to ground rules on behavior at the site while deconstruction is underway. 

But Kale said the taking of a permit does not indicate the development team will soon possess a building permit.

“The take out these permits at their own risk,” said Kale.

Due to a “lack of information” during the two years since the special permit was issued on July 29, 2013, the town’s Community Development Office has created a page on its website that will be the library for permits and documents related to demolition and construction. 

“As we reach these milestones, we will post all the supporting information that was required that allowed us to give us the approvals for those particular items,” said Glenn Clancy, the Community Development director. 

Belmont Savings Surpasses $1.5 Billion in Assets

Photo: Belmont Savings Bank.

Business in Belmont is good, according to the latest financial filing from the parent company of Belmont Savings Bank.

According to second quarter data released on Thursday, July 23, BSB Bancorp, Inc., saw assets under management pass the $1.5 billion threshold as year-to-date earnings increasing by nearly 75 percent. By June 30,  total assets were $1.55 billion, an increase of $126.5 million or nearly nine percent compared to the first three months.

“We are pleased to announce a continuation of our organic growth and improving profitability,” said Bob Mahoney, the bank’s president and chief executive officer.

As in previous quarters, the company’s strength was in traditional bank instruments such as lending:

Net loans growth of $112.9 million, or nearly 10 percent, from Dec. 31:

  • Residential one-to-four family loans, increased by $72 million
  • commercial real estate loans, $29 million,
  • construction loans, $12 million, and
  • home equity lines of credit, $11 million, respectively.

Partially offsetting lending increases were decreases in commercial loans and indirect auto loans of $8 million and $2.4 million, respectively.

The asset growth was funded by a jump in deposits which totaled $1.15 billion on June 30, an increase of $165 million, or 17 percent, from $985 million at Dec. 31.

“Second quarter deposit growth was driven by our expanding municipal banking program as well as the continued success of our targeted strategy for the legal profession,” said Hal Tovin, executive vice president and chief operating officer said.

Belmont Savings Bank provides financial services to individuals, families, municipalities and businesses through its six full-service branch offices in Belmont, Watertown, Cambridge, Newton and Waltham in Southeast Middlesex County, Massachusetts. The Bank’s primary lending market includes Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk and Suffolk Counties, Massachusetts. The company’s common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the symbol “BLMT“.

This Week: Belmont Community Band Wednesday, Thea & Rick, Robin Hood

On the government end of “The Week”:

  • The Board of Selectmen meet on Monday, July 27, at 6 p.m. at Town Hall discussing the Grove Street Playground, a request to change the operating hours at Moozy’s on Trapelo Road, hear a request by Foodies Urban Market (going into the old Macy’s) for a beer and wine license and a request to sell the municipal parking lot to the developer of Cushing Village.
  • Precinct 4 is meeting Tuesday, July 28, at 7 p.m. in Town Hall to fill a vacancy on its Town Meeting roster.
  • The Net Metering Working Group will meet on Wednesday and Thursday, July 29 and 30, at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall to discuss the economic framework on designing a solar tariff for Belmont as well as present the financial model to assist in its design.

• The Belmont Food Collaborative – the people who run the Belmont Farmers Market – is meeting on Monday, July 27, at 7 p.m., in the Flett Room of the Belmont Public Library.

• Summertime Pre-School Story Time at the Benton Library, Belmont’s independent and volunteer run library, at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, July 28. Stories and crafts for children age 3 to 5. Parents or caregivers must attend. Siblings may attend with adults. Registration is not required. The Benton Library is located at the intersection of Oakley and Old Middlesex.

• Movie for Children at the Belmont Public Library this week will be a Short Film Festival. The fun starts on Tuesday, July 28, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Assembly Room.

• From The House of Blues to The Beech Street Center, the Thea & Rick Jazz Duo brings its remarkable skills and charm to entertain you on Tuesday, July 28, at 1:15 p.m. at the Beech Street Center. A mixture of jazz standards and easy listening tunes influenced by classic songs, rock, R & B, gospel and show tunes, including Lullaby of Birdland, Moon River, Satin Doll, Stormy, Imagine, One Note Samba? Come out and hear these great tunes and more.

• Yoga for Everyone at the Beech Street Center on Tuesday, July 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.: join Susan Harris, a registered yoga teacher and associate professor of Nutrition at Tufts University for this Iyengar-inspired class which practices yoga postures slowly and with attention to alignment and safety, adapted to the abilities and needs of individual students. Practice is done with bare feet; mats and props are provided. Cost: $15/class. Non-seniors, beginners and experienced are welcome. This is a non-Council on Aging class held at the Beech Street Center. For more information, call Susan at 617-407-0816.

• I … Am …Ironman! This week’s Chillin’ with Villains movie series at the Belmont Public Library is the very first ‘Iron Man’ movie with Robert Downey Jr. Beat the heat in the library’s Assembly Room at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 28. There will be popcorn! No sign-up is necessary. All are welcome.

• The Hampstead Stage presents the tale of our favorite redistributor of wealth, Robin Hood, in a presentation of the outlaw, his merry men and the dastardly Sheriff of Nothingham on Wednesday, July 29 at 3 p.m, in the Assembly Room of the Belmont Public Library. It will be full of action, brave heroics, bumbling villains, and participation from the audience! This is a presentation for kindergarteners to fourth graders.

• For the second year, the Belmont Community Summer Band, led by Belmont Public School Director of Fine and Performing Arts Arto Asadoorian, will be highlighting the Payson Park Music Festival on Wednesday, July 29, at 6:45 p.m. The band, filled with residents, students and alum, will play music from the movie “Frozen” and band standards.

• Award-winning local musician Alastair Moock brings his rowdy, rootsy, singing, dancing, family-fun-filled live show at the Belmont Public Library’s Assembly Room on Thursday, July 30 at 10:30 a.m.! For those 2 to 5 year olds.

Belmont Yard Sales, July 25 – 26

Photo: Yard sales in Belmont.

Yard sales in the “Town of Homes.” 

34 Benjamin Rd., Saturday and Sunday, July 26 and July 26, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

60 Channing Rd., Saturday, July 25, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

25 Elm St., Saturday, July 25, 9 a.m. to noon.

12 Franklin St., Saturday, July 25, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

27 Payson Rd., Sunday, July 26, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

37 Springfield St., Saturday, July 25, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

57 Trapelo Rd., Saturday, July 25, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For Stone, Taking A Gap To Focus on the Practice of Programming

Photo: Jack Stone showing elementary age students is app for the classroom.

By Mengjia Xu

Wearing a black T-shirt and white pants, Jack Stone – who graduated from Belmont High School in June – is both informal and approachable, just like the apps he creates.

(An app is a software program that’s designed to perform a specific function directly for the user, such as a map, games or reviewing when the next MBTA bus will arrive at your stop).

During his time at Belmont High, Stone started the school’s first computer club and helped write the curriculum for the coding course currently being offered.

Though the school does not necessarily have to teach specific programming languages, “the underline principles of computer science rather than programming” would be beneficial to students “in all facets of life,” he said.

Stone believes high school students should have a background in computer science and the Belmont School District should establish more courses in this field in both the middle and high schools to reach this goal.

“It’s the most efficient way of solving problems,” arguing that computer science is a different way of critical thinking that can be applied in all fields of learning. 

Jack’s interest in programming traces back to eighth grade at the Chenery Middle School when he created his first computer games. While he loved computer games, Stone realized he did not just want to “use someone else’s work,” but to “create [his] own.”


Jack Stone.


Creating apps blends Jack’s favorite things about programming because he likes to do everything: write the frontend and backend, design interface, marketing and packaging. Inspirations sometimes stream through Jack’s mind when he’s “sitting on a couch.”

Once he starts working on a project, he dives through the process on his own. An app usually takes a week or two to create, followed by a lot of revisions as he relies on his friends’ feedback.

Some of Stone’s apps include a physics equations solver and a JavaScript screen recorder, each sharing features of practical convenience and easy use, with polished interfaces and functionality. 

“What I strive to do with my projects is to improve people’s lives,” said Stone.

Growing up with parents not versed in programming, Jack picked up programming online and through books, integrating theory with practice. 

As a self-taught programmer, he sometimes struggles when confronted with technical difficulties, and Google search is his first and only way to get help. Since Belmont does not offer AP Computer Science, it is hard to find a programming expert, be they teacher or student, to consult. 


Jack Stone.

To gain more practical experience in computer work, Stone is taking a “gap” year to intern at a software firm before attending Harvard College in the fall of 2016.               

For Stone, the coming year will be a chance to “get a break from working incredibly hard in the past four years.” It will also give him an opportunity to focus on music and traveling. A nationally-recognized bass trombonist, Stone is seeking to improve his playing before auditioning for Harvard’s orchestra.

Devoting a year to explore his interests will not only boost his competitiveness in college, but also lay the foundation for a future career. Working at software companies will allow him to gain real-world experiences such as writing code for collaborative projects and establishing interpersonal networks. 

Stone hopes to gain “fresh perspectives” that can help him to develop his new software that “simplifies the sharing of information between people.”

Meyer Conducts Chamber Concert Sunday at the Beech

Photo: Nathaniel Meyer.

Belmont High School alumnus Nathaniel Meyer conducts the Athena Orchestra Chamber Players in a “Summer String Serenade” on Sunday, July 26 at 2 p.m. at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St. 

Meyer, a 2013 Yale graduate who concentrated in German Studies and Music, will lead the ensemble in the free concert featuring music by Mozart, Elgar, Sibelius, Bach and Tchaikovsky.

This marks the third time Meyer brings an orchestra to the Beech Street Center for a summer concert– he also presented a concert in December 2013 – having organized the Belmont Festival Orchestra in previous years.

An outstanding trumpet player in his own right, Meyer has dedicated his current activities towards conducting. A  student of Benjamin Zander, the long-time conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, Meyer recently obtained his Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. 

At Yale, he conducted the school’s Amadeus Ensemble, Gilbert & Sullivan Society and the Yale Symphony Orchestra.

Belmont Health Issues Warning on Mosquitos as West Nile Virus Detected

Photo: What to watch out for.

It’s nearing mid-summer and with the recent rainstorms that passed through the region, it’s certain that in time at all, outdoor activities will be impacted by an influx of mosquitoes. The Belmont Department of Health has issued this press release to warn residents of the danger the insect can inflict on people:

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced [Thursday, July 24] that West Nile virus has been detected in mosquito samples collected from Waltham, Brookline, Reading and Richmond. 

WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection.

As always, there are a few precautions people can do to help to protect themselves and their families:

  • Avoid outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, if possible, as this is the time of greatest mosquito activity.
  • If you must be outside during that time, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. If you choose to apply a chemical based repellant containing DEET, follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully.  Parents should NEVER use DEET on infants; use a 10 percent or less DEET concentration on children and 30 to 35 percent or less on adults.
  • Make sure as much skin as possible is covered when children are outdoors and cover baby carriages with netting.
  • Fix all holes in screens and make sure doors and screens fit tightly.

To reduce the mosquito population around your home, eliminate all standing water that is available for mosquito breeding and follow these simple guidelines:

  • Dispose of, or regularly empty, any metal cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots and other water holding containers.
  • Pay special attention to discarded tires that may have collected on your property. Tires are a common place for mosquitoes to breed. For that reason, it is a violation of the Nuisance Regulations to leave tires stored outdoors.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters; remove leaves and debris that would prevent good drainage. This may be the single biggest source of mosquitoes in any neighborhood.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
  • Swimming pools should be kept properly filtered and chlorinated. They should never be allowed to remain stagnant. Mosquito “dunks” can be purchased at many hardware stores to treat pool water if you must leave your pool unattended for keep the pool cover on for a significant period of time.
  • Use landscaping to eliminate areas of standing water on your property. Reducing insect harborage is one of the goals of the Health Department’s nuisance regulations, which ask that residents remove piles of rubbish, debris, yard waste, etc. from their yards.

            If you have any questions, please call the Health Department at 617 993-2720   

You’re Invited! New Underwood Pool Party Set for Aug. 8

Photo: Invitation to Belmont’s big pool party,

You’re invited to Belmont’s biggest pool party of the year as the town celebrates the opening of the New Underwood Pool.

After years of planning, a debt exclusion vote and a last-minute fund raiser in September to save the original proposal, the $5.3 million two pool complex with a pair of buildings housing changing rooms, showers and restroom facilities will hold its grand opening on Saturday, Aug. 8.

The ribbon cutting will take place at 1:30 p.m. with a community open house from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The Belmont Recreation Department will be providing one-month single and family passes to the New Underwood. For more information, call the department at 617-993-2760.

Below is your official invite:

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 4.22.50 AM


Sold in Belmont: Classical Colonials Hit Seven-Figure Sales Price

Photo: The quintessential Belmont Colonial, this one located between School and Goden on Washington Street.

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

171-173 Beech St., Triple decker (1912). Sold: $925,000. Listed at $ 950,000. Living area: 3,516 sq.-ft. 16 rooms, 6 bedrooms, 3 bath. On the market: 56 days.

153 Washington St., Center-entrance, hip-roof Colonial (1930). Sold: $1,125,000. Listed at $1,199,900. Living area: 2,504 sq.-ft. 8 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths. On the market: 107 days.

146 Watson Rd., Center-entrance Colonial (1928). Sold: $1,150,000. Listed at $1,150,000. Living area: 2,407 sq.-ft. 8 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths. On the market: 56 days.

69 Oak Ave., Colonial with Queen Anne elements (1907). Sold: $1,150,000. Listed at $1,075,000. Living area: 2,716 sq.-ft. 11 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. On the market: 56 days.

86 Clark St., “Lemuel Hatch House” Italianate/Greek Revival (1863). Sold: $850,000. Listed at $795,000. Living area: 2,407 sq.-ft. 9 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths. On the market: 42 days.

25 Dalton Rd., Two-level condominium (1920). Sold: $590,000. Listed at $529,000. Living area: 2,287 sq.-ft. 11 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. On the market: 58 days.

133-135 White St., Two-family (1928). Sold: $757,000. Listed at $ 725,000. Living area: 2,676 sq.-ft. 13 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 2 full baths. On the market: 72 days.

Two Years Late: Cushing Village Taking First Step Towards Construction

Photo: The municipal parking lot up for sale in Cushing Square is adjacent Starbucks.

Exactly two years to the day after the town’s Planning Board approved a special permit granting him permission to begin construction, the developer of the troubled Cushing Village complex will be before town officials early next week seeking to purchase a critical piece of town-owned property so he can finally begin construction on the long-stalled project. 

The Belmont Board of Selectmen’s Monday, July 27 meeting agenda calls on the board to initially meet in executive session before proceeding to vote whether or not to sell the municipal parking lot at Williston and Trapelo roads to a newly-formed partnership consisting of original developer, Smith Legacy Partners, and its new business associate, Cambridge-based Urban Spaces.

The price tag for the parking lot adjacent Starbucks – set two years ago – is $850,000; along with fees and permits, the final price is closer to $1.3 million. The property will house the first of three buildings making up the 186,000 square-foot retail/housing/parking development in the heart of Cushing Square.

The vote to sell the property marks the two year anniversary when Smith Legacy’s Chris Starr was granted the 25-page special permit from the Planning Board at the culmination of an 18-month design review phase on the project made up of 115 residential units, 38,000 sq.-ft. of retail space and 235 parking spaces. 

At the time, Starr proclaimed an accelerated project schedule. Starr told media outlets construction on the first building – located on the parking lot – would be open for retail businesses and resident housing by the late fall/early winter of 2014. The entire project would be completed by mid-summer 2016, said Starr.

But it soon became apparent Starr was unable to find a financial source willing to back him due to his lack of experience building large-scaled projects. In March 2014, Starr struck a deal with the town to extend the closing on the parking lot by a month for a $20,000 fee. The fee increased to $30,000 a month after a year.

By Sept, 2014, Starr hired a Boston realty firm, Boston Realty Advisors, to unearth a partner or sell his stake in the development. The campaign went international with large ads on a leading Asian real estate website.

In the end, a young development firm, Urban Spaces, joined with Starr. It remains unclear the partnership arrangement between the two, including whether there is a majority stakeholder or arrangements for future management of Cushing Village. 

And it does not appear the partnership has been damaged with the arrest of Urban Spaces’ CEO and founder, Paul Ognibene, who was arraigned last week on one count of sexual conduct for fee after he was arrested by Cambridge Police in a sex sting.