Halloween In Belmont: Cushing Square Treats; On HELLcrest [PHOTOS]

Photo: Aerosmith is in town.

Halloween has come to Belmont in the guise of two popular annual events: The Cushing Square Merchants Association’s Cushing Square Trick or Treat and the rising of the skeleton residents of Hillcrest Road which transforms into HELLcrest on Oct. 31.

A hoard of costume children and parents descended on Cushing Square as shop owners got into the mood passing out candy and in one stop, salad. This year’s best costumes were an orange tree, a child dressed as Prince, and Belmont Savings assistant branch manager Kenneth Tingle’s jack-o-lantern suit which Tingle said is part of his wardrobe.

While some communities have neighborhoods that are known for holiday lights, Belmont’s Hillcrest Road is a destination for gawkers in cars and on foot to see the collection of skeletons dressed in a wild array of outfits and in outlandish situations. And as always, the ghoulishness along the road is ruled by the Big Black Cat.

All hail the cat!


A devil dog and a cow girl.


Salad and drinks: certainly a treat for many.


Floating eyeballs.


Prince reincarnated outside the Five and Dime.


My, what big palms you have,


I would love a suit like Kenneth Tingle’s.


I see a member of Aerosmith has arrived for the festivities.


The reason my sunglasses have not arrived.


A current cultural reference.


A “Hamilton” mention on Hellcrest.


All hail the cat!


It might be the scariest place in Belmont, it’s still trash pickup on Tuesday.

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‘Good News’ On Logan Departure Noise As Dual Efforts Take Shape

Photo: Aircraft over Belmont.

A pair of tentative efforts between federal and state agencies and critics of a three-year-old plan that concentrates flights departing Boston’s Logan International to a small air corridor over a large portion of the Town of Homes could eventually lead to quieter skies over Belmont and other communities.

“I’m pleased to say that finally after three years, I come before you with good news,” said Myron Kassaraba before the Belmont Board of Selectmen last week. 

“Battling” since 2013 the elevated noise level impacting Belmont and surrounding communities after the Federal Aviation Administration concentrated flight paths departing from Logan’s Runaway 33L placing more aircraft over the affected cities and towns, “letters and action taken” by residents of Belmont and surrounding towns “are starting to yield some results,” said Kassaraba, who is Belmont’s representative to the Logan Airport Community Advisory Committee, made up of more than 30 communities within the 20-miles of Boston Logan International Airport.

In August, State Rep. Jonathan Hecht of Watertown brought together a dozen state legislators including Belmont’s Rep. Dave Rogers and Sen. Will Brownsberger – from Bedford, Somerville, Watertown, Arlington and Cambridge to assist a group dubbed the 33L Municipal Working Group to re-energize the effort to find a compromise on competing issues of safety and quality of life. 

Formed in 2015, the group includes Arlington, Cambridge and Watertown joined with Belmont to advocate for re-examine the new flight path “since it has had significant negative impacts from higher frequency and concentrated flights,” said Kassaraba.

The outcome of the meeting was a letter from the working group signed by the legislators sent to the FAA requesting a meeting with the civil aviation agency to discuss mitigating the sound of jets.

Soon after the letter was delivered, the FAA agreed to meet with the working group on Friday, Nov. 18.

While the meeting is an encouraging first step, “it still remains to be seen as to what types of changes will be possible and acceptable to the FAA,” said Kassaraba.

As the letter was drafted, in a separate act two weeks ago the members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation led by US Rep. Katherine Clark facilitated a “pretty significant” result with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Massport (which manages and runs Logan) and the FAA in which the agencies agree to use data and resources at MIT “to conduct an exploration of alternatives to the [current] procedure and concentrated flight paths.” 

The analysis will look at increasing the dispersion of aircraft over eastern Massachusetts – rather than the restricted airspace aircraft are currently assigned – and allowing airlines to obtain a higher altitude faster after takeoff.

The MOU specifically names runway 33L as a procedure that will undergo an examination, said Kassaraba. And that analyses could happen by early next year, he said.

“More detail will be forthcoming, but a recent WBUR interview with the lead investigator at MIT estimated that the first phase evaluation would take six months,” said Kassaraba.

“The [communities] and our legislators will be pushing to ensure that our concerns are fully explored as part of the effort and that we have active input,” said Kassaraba, who continues to respond to resident concerns and make regular presentations to the local citizen advocacy group, Boston West Fair Skies.

Kassaraba said he wanted to “explicitly recognize the active and steadfast support of this by Rep. Dave Rogers, Sen. Will Brownsberger and [US Rep.] Clark.”

Kassaraba told the board that residents can get educated on issues of noise and air pollution can take in a day-long seminar titled: “Airport Impacts 101: Perspectives on Environmental Health,” on Saturday, Nov. 5 in Somerville.

How Much Salt Will Be Used On Belmont Streets This Winter?

Photo: Salting Belmont streets.

Here’s some Belmont trivia: How much salt will Belmont’s Highway Division use on town streets during the coming winter?

  1. 30,300 pounds
  2. 200 tons
  3. 4,000 tons
  4. Not enough on my street.

While you ponder your response, the Belmont Board of Selectmen has approved the annual contract for road salt on Monday, Oct. 24. Working cooperatively with Newton and other towns, Belmont will be paying $55.40 a ton to Morton Salt Inc. of Chicago (yes, it is the same company that makes the “When it rains, it pours” salt for everyday use.)

Interesting fact: According to the company’s website, r0ad salt used along the East Coast is mined in Canada, Bahamas or Chile. 

The town also agreed to a second contract with Eastern Minerals of Lowell for $65.90 a ton if the supply from Morton dries up. 

And the answer is about 4,000 tons on an average year or about 320 pounds of salt for each resident in town.

McMansions On Hold as Marsh Street Resident Rolls Up New Street Plan

Photo: The proposed entry to the Sleepy Hollow Road.

Sleepy Hollow Road, a controversial new cul-de-sac connecting Marsh Street to five proposed “McMansions” on the land of a well-known Boston developer, will make like Ichabod Crane and nod off before waking up sometime next year, according to Glenn Clancy, director of the Office of Community Development.

A hearing before the Board of Survey – made up of the three-member Board of Selectmen – to review the suggested road snaking through the rear of Donald Chafaro’s nearly seven-acre property at 178 Marsh, was withdrawn “without prejudice” by the applicant at the Monday night meeting, Oct. 24. 

But the removal of the application does not mean the residential subdivision that will encroach onto protected wetlands and the Massachusetts Audubon’s Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary is going away for good. Since no formal action was taken by the Board of Survey, Chafaro can bring the application “at another time in the future,” said Clancy.

According to Clancy, the withdrawal of plans to create six housing parcels along nearly 200-foot roadway was due to a misreading of the town’s regulations rather than a change of mind.

“There was a misunderstanding with the engineer who is leading the project. He was under the impression that any environmental review [of the road] would be the last step of the process [after a Board of Survey decision,]” Clancy told the Board. 

While there are communities around Belmont where the final step in the regulatory process is a review, “our Board of Survey rules and regulations makes it very clear that the environmental [assessment] must be done before the Board will consider an application,” said Clancy. 

It is now up to the state to determine which town agency will conduct the evaluation.

Mary Trudeau, the town’s conservation agent, has requested the state’s Department of Environmental Protection for a determination of the jurisdiction of the Wetlands Protection Act. If the DEP allows the town to review the environmental concerns, the probe will be conducted by the OCD’s engineering staff. Otherwise, the project will fall under a Conservation Commission review. 

Clancy said if the state selects the Conservation Commission route, “then the applicant must make a formal application” which could take “a couple or more months.” 

The news came as “a small moral victory” for opponents of the development, according to Roger Wrubel, director of Habitat Sanctuary for the past 16 years. Wrubel and others contend the development will result in further loss of open space as other landowners with large lots take advantage of spiraling housing prices. 


Saturday Early Voting, 9AM-4PM, As 2,184 Residents Have Cast Ballots

Photo: Early voting in Belmont.

Belmont residents will have the opportunity to cast their Presidential ballot over the weekend as the town has extended early voting hours to Saturday, Oct. 29. 

Registered voters will be able to have their voices heard between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at Belmont Town Hall, said Town Clerk Ellen Cushman.

Since early voting began this past Monday, 2,184 or 12.3 percent of voters cast their ballots as of Friday afternoon, Oct. 28, said Cushman. Belmont has a total of 17,826 registered voters.

If Belmontians can’t make it to the polls Saturday, they will have five days of early voting remaining:

  • Monday, Oct. 31; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 1; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 2;  8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 3; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 4; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tixs Now On Sale For ‘Hamlet,’ Directed by Recently Honored Educator

Photo: From the final scene of “Hamlet”. (credit: BHS PAC)

Tickets for the Belmont High School Performing Arts Company’s production of Shakespeare’s tragic play “Hamlet” are now on sale for next week’s performances.

“As usual, we’re putting our updated take on this classic story of a prince’s revenge, highlighting the play’s exploration of the human psyche,” said Ezra Flam, the Performing Arts Company’s producer and director. 

Flam, who is the high school’s Theater Specialist, has recently been selected for the University of Chicago’s Outstanding Educator Award. Students nominate an educator who has “influenced, challenged, or helped them along the path toward intellectual growth.”

“Congratulations to Mr. Flam for his hard work and dedication to the students of Belmont as their teacher, as a colleague, and as a representative of Belmont Public Schools,” said Belmont High School Principal Dan Richards.


Performances are:

Thursday, Nov. 3; Friday, Nov. 4 and Saturday, Nov. 5

All performances begin at 7 p.m. in the Belmont High School auditorium.

ADULTS: $12 in advance, $15 at the door; STUDENTS: $5 (BHS Students come free on Thursday!)

Tickets are now on sale at Champions Sporting Goods in Belmont Center. Tickets for students will be on sale outside the BHS Cafeteria and in the Library during select mods the week of the show.

Sports: Belmont Football Miss Playoffs on Points After Losing in the Lexington Mud

Photo: Senior running back Ben Jones heading off the field after his final touchdown against Lexington.

It was a miserable Saturday, both weather- and numbers-wise, for Belmont High Football this past Oct. 23.

On the climate front, the skies opened up with a hard, cold rain for the first half of the team’s match with Middlesex League-leading Lexington High Minutemen on the wet grass and following on a mud field known as Dr. Harold Crumb Stadium.

For the 3-3 Marauders, the game at the time appeared to be an uphill tussle with an undefeated home team that had earlier beat up traditional powerhouse Reading Memorial High and were on its way to a first outright league title since the 1970s.

That Saturday would also become a numbers game as Belmont, and several other teams were hoping the calculations of past wins and losses and points scored (and given up) would give them enough points to sneak into the final two slots in the North 2 playoffs beginning this Saturday.

While Belmont believed eight days earlier after its 28-21 home win against Winchester put them over the top for a place in the tournament, the play of several teams designated in the North Divison 2 playoff league came out to where Belmont would need a win to secure an outright place in the post season or hope for some help from teams battling its nearest rivals 

And they would require assistance after falling 41-27 to the Minutemen in the blustery conditions. The hosts got off on the right foot with Middlesex MVP junior QB Sal Frelick handed off the first snap to junior running back Ben Quint who ran by the Marauder defenders on the right end and sprinted 75 yards for the TD.

Frelick directed the offense that sliced through the Belmont defense as the Boston College commit (he is an outstanding shortstop) ran 37 yards up the middle for a touchdown on the Minutemen’s second time with the ball, upping its advantage to 14-0 after only five minutes.

But as with many of its games, falling behind the opposition did not deter Belmont from staging a comeback. On a third and long, senior QB Cal Christofori (another outstanding baseball player off to a Division 1 program at Yale) looked on way before switching the field and catching sophomore receiver Jared Edwards on a “go” route for a 70-yard touchdown to cut the lead in half. 

After the defense had held Frelick on three plays, the ball was put into the hands of junior fullback Adam Deese and team MVP senior running back Ben Jones (144 yards rushing, more than 200 total yards and 2 TDs) who rammed in the tying TD midway through the second quarter.

But taking advantage of two iffy penalties against Belmont defenders to extend the drive, Frelick found receiver (and basketball center) Spencer Kendall on a fourth down pass for a TD with about a minute left in the quarter to take a 20-14 lead. But the Minutemen were not through, stopping Belmont on three plays and got the ball back on the Belmont side of the field.

It only took three plays for the Minutemen to score as Frelick found Quint alone coming out of the backfield and passed it to the quick back for the second TD in less than a minute upping the home team’s lead to 27-14 at the half.

While the rain ended for the second half, the dark clouds remained on the Belmont side of the field as Lexington’s offense was relentless as it created opening in the line and around the edges of Belmont’s defense, as Quint scored a pair of touchdowns in the quarter, effectively bringing an end to the game.

Belmont would score two TDs in the final minutes including Jones pounding in a three-yard TD. As the final whistle blew, Belmont watched as Lexington celebrated an undefeated regular season and a Middlesex League championship. 

“Those were two competitive teams that wanted win, so it was an outstanding game. You have to give us credit for coming back to score two late in the half but we needed to do more of what we do best, and that controls the tempo of the game,” said Belmont Head Coach Yann Kumin.

When asked about the team’s chances to secure the playoffs, Kumin said it was up to the formula and not him.

But the hopes of the team and program ended at 10 p.m. when the MIAA released the results of the many divisional playoffs. What hurt Belmont was that the wins it had been against teams with fewer losses than they had and in the same division. Also, just one additional win would have nearly automatically given the team a slot in the postseason. Teams that needed to win on Friday and Saturday did not.

And so Medford, a team Belmont demolished in the second game of the season, squeaked in front of the Marauders for the eighth and final playoff position by a handful of tenths of a point. 

Belmont will go from being Marauders to Meanderers as the MIAA sends them to play three teams that also found themselves looking at the playoffs from the outside. First up for the Marauders is a long, Friday night trip, Oct. 28, to Dracut on the New Hampshire border. The game begins at 7 p.m.

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Letter to the Editor: Trick Or Treating For UNICEF


To the editor:

What is UNICEF and what is “Trick or Treating for UNICEF”?

UNICEF stands for United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund whose focus is to help the children in need whether they are going through poverty, violence, or lack of health. 

One way UNICEF gets donations to support children is through Trick or Treating for UNICEF. Millions of kids around the world are in need of medicine, food, or even just some clear water so your donation would be very important to us!

The Belmont High School chapter of UNICEF will be collaborating with the Daniel Butler School and the Chenery Middle School this Halloween. Butler and Chenery students will be trick or treating around Belmont with little orange boxes to collect change for UNICEF’s Trick or Treat. 

How Can You Help?

Trick-or-Treaters will come by with little orange boxes to collect donations. Please have some change ready along with Halloween candy. Even a few cents can go a long way!


Trick or Treating for UNICEF was invented by Mary Emma Allison in 1949. She was inspired when she saw a UNICEF booth collecting funds for undernourished children around the world. The first time she did Trick or Treating for UNICEF, she collected $17 and donated it to UNICEF. 

Eighteen years later, President Johnson declared Halloween to be UNICEF Day. Afterwards, Trick or Treating for UNICEF spread throughout the whole country, and even into some other countries such as Canada and Mexico. Donation boxes would be distributed to millions of trick or treaters every year. This program has raised more than $188 million worldwide, immensely helping those in need.

Whom Does the Money Go To?

Money donated to Trick or Treating for UNICEF is proudly funded to children in need of medicine, nutrition, water, and education. A little money can go a long way!

  • $5 can provide children with 13 doses of measles vaccine 
  • $15 can provide a child with clean and safe water for a year
  • $50 can provide 35 malnourished children with lifesaving nutrition for a day
  • $165 can provide a bicycle to deliver medicine to children

Put yourself in the shoes of these children and image how they could live without health and education. It’s really tough for them so we will appreciate any donations we can get to help these children all we can.

Maggie Yu

Belmont High School chapter of UNICEF

Nearly 400 Cast Ballots on First Day of Early Voting in Belmont

Photo: Tom Dolan of Clifton Street casts the first early election ballot in Belmont.

Just before 8 a.m., Monday, Oct. 24, Greg Poulos and his daughter, Linnea, entered Belmont Town Hall on a mission: To vote.


Greg and Linnea Poulos, first in line to vote.

The Poulos’, who live on Oak Avenue, joined 386 of their fellow residents Monday who took advantage of the new state law allowing for early voting for the first time in Massachusetts, according to Belmont’s Town Clerk Ellen Cushman who spoke before the Belmont Board of Selectmen Monday evening.

The Commonwealth now joins more than half of the states in the US who allow voters the chance to cast ballots ahead of election day, said Cushman, who said the Secretary of State’s office predicts about 15 percent of the electorate are expected to take advantage of the changes to voting early. In Belmont, that would be between 2,700 to 3,000 voters.

For residents, the main reason for voting early was expediency.

“I want my vote to count early,” said Greg. “I didn’t want to deal with lines, and I like the convenience of it.”

For Linnea, a student at UMass Amherst, she’ll be in western Massachusetts in 15 days. Usually, she would have picked up an absentee ballot from the Town Clerks office, “but this makes it much easier [to vote].”

“I need to get this over with. I need this to be done,” said Clifton Street’s Tom Dolan, who joined the Poulos’ and School Committee member Andrea Prestwich as the voting early birds.

As eight o’clock arrived, the group was ushered by a gaggle of poll workers through a three-step process that sent them on a tour of various room on the first floor of Town Hall: picking up a ballot, then being verified as a registered voter and finally casting their votes in a specialty constructed ballot box.

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“We always like to throw the party and have people come,” said Cushman, excited to see a steady stream of residents coming to vote.

Cushman said her office has been working to create a comprehensive plan since the law was passed in 2014. Her office has hired approximately 115 poll workers to speed the process. 

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Cushman said Belmont has extended hours on most weekdays and on Saturday. The town has also set aside parking in the Town Hall lot for early voters, and the building will be staffed by poll workers to make the process as conflict-free as possible.

Belmont is one of 34 communities award with a gold medal by the Massachusetts Election Modernization Coalition for going far beyond the minimum requirements in terms of hours and availability.

The first voter to finish the process was Dolan who slipped his ballot in the box – after it was checked for a second time to see that it was empty. 

“Seamless, every easy,” Dolan said of the process. “Probably do this again next time.”


Belmont Savings Tops $2B in Total Assets with Record Earnings

Photo: Belmont Savings Bank.

It’s been a busy and fruitful 2016 for Belmont’s most prominent business.

BSB Bancorp, Inc., the holding company for Belmont Savings Bank, the state-chartered savings bank headquartered in Belmont, reported last week a jump in net income – the difference between revenues generated by interest-bearing assets and the cost of servicing liabilities – of $3.2 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2016.

When compared to net income of $1.9 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2015, the bank saw the quarter-to-quarter increase in net income of a whopping 70 percent. 

This marks the Bank’s 13th consecutive quarter – more than three years – of earnings growth. For the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2016, the bank reported net income of $8.7 million compared to net income of $4.8 million for the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2015, or an increase in net income of 79 percent.

As of Sept. 30, 2016, total assets were $2.07 billion, an increase of $260.8 million or 14.4 percent from $1.8 billion at Dec. 31, 2015. The asset growth was primarily funded by growth in deposits and federal home loan bank advances.

The bulk of the bank’s growth came from healthy net loan growth of $251.4 million or 16.4 percent since the beginning of 2016.

“Strong loan growth pushed us past the $2 billion total asset mark this quarter. Good expense control and sound risk management were the foundations for our 13th consecutive quarter of earnings growth,” said Bob Mahoney, the bank’s president and CEO.

The jump in loan activity can be seen throughout all real estate lending groups as residential 1-4 family real estate loans, construction loans, commercial real estate loans, home equity lines of credit and commercial loans increased by $238.2 million, $16 million, $13.2 million, $10.8 million and $8.1 million, respectively.