Town Election ’17: Carbone In, Dash On The Way, Waiting on Baghdady

Photo: Guy Carbone.

If anyone was wondering about Guy Carbone‘s commitment to the race for a seat on the Board of Selectmen, you could rest assure the octogenarian is serious about winning a three-year term on the board as the Woodfall Road resident is the first resident to turn in his nomination papers to the Town Clerk’s Office on Tuesday, Jan. 17. 

If 50 signatures are verified by Town Clerk Ellen Cushman, Carbone will be the first official candidate on the ballot for the Selectman’s seat now occupied by Sami Baghdady. 

In an earlier conversation with the Belmontonian, Carbone said his run for office will focus on repairing and improving Belmont’s notorious roads and sidewalks.

“We pay a lot of taxes to maintain our streets, but at this stage of the game, there is no leadership among the Selectmen,” said Carbone, who touted his experience as a four-term member of the Watertown School Committee and two terms as a selectman in Watertown. 

Carbone said he would help Glenn Clancy, director of the Office of Community Development, deliver on the promises made to neighborhoods such the Hillcrest community where he lives.

While Carbone is first, in the next few days, another challenger is expected to walk into Town Hall with a stack of papers with signatures to be certified.

Adam Dash, a Goden Street resident and a member of the Warrant Committee, told the Belmontonian Monday, Jan. 16 he has 50 residents’ John Hancocks and wanted to collect a few more than needed before handing them over to Cushman.

It was expected that Dash was committed to a run for selectman as he has created a slick website for his campaign and building a team of community members to back his race.

With two potential candidates moving forward with their campaigns, the person still up in the air on a possible run is incumbent Sami Baghdady. The Arlington-based attorney has yet to take out nomination papers to retain his seat on the board he won three years ago in a race against another non-officeholder, Roger Colton. 

But before anyone makes any conclusions, hopefuls have until Feb. 14 to submit nomination papers. 

In other races, incumbent Tom Caputo will be seeking a full three-year term on the School Committee while Elyse Shuster, who is holding a partial term seat, told the Belmontonian she was still considering whether to run. 

Sold in Belmont: A Pair of Million Dollar Splits That Took Different Tacks

Photo: A highlight of smart, architectural sensitive renovation in a split level in the Winn Brook.

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


• 58 Crestview Rd., Split-level ranch (1959/2016 renovation). Sold: $1,500,000. Listed at $1,775,000. Living area: 4,200 sq.-ft. 7 rooms, 5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths. On the market: 79 days.


544 Trapelo Rd., Two-family (1890). Sold: $680,000. Listed at $699,999. Living area: 1,747 sq.-ft. 10 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. On the market: 157 days.


61 Hoitt Rd., Split-level ranch (1957). Sold: $1,100,000. Listed at $1,100,000. Living area: 1,962 sq.-ft. 8 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. On the market: 95 days.


66-68 Chester Rd., Two-family (1917). Sold: $1,100,000. Listed at $1,025,000. Living area: 1,747 sq.-ft. 14 rooms, 6 bedrooms, 3 baths. On the market: 67 days.

After WWII, the rapidly growing middle class was seeking to leave the urban neighborhood and move to the expanding suburbs to find new homes with a modern design that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Into that void came the Ranch, the sprawling single family with its long, close-to-the-ground outline, and wide open layout inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie homes. You can see many great examples of this architectural design on Belmont Hill, notably on Spring Valley Road. The design doesn’t particularly work well in New England: it’s best located in a flat landscape with few trees allowing sunlight to filter in which is hampered by the hills and wooded areas of the Northeast.

But by the 1970s, the design grew out of favor – the lack of natural light and the “wide-open spaces” of the run-on rooms – as hybrid postmodern homes with cathedral ceilings, skylights, island cooktops, and other ugly features dominated the demands of homebuyers.

In the past week, a pair of ranches, split-levels with upper “private” (bedrooms and baths) and lower “public” (living room/kitchen/dining rooms) levels, were sold taking different tacks to get to a seven-figure sales price.

On Crestview Road, the 57-year-old split was given an extensive makeover by the developer who bought the house for $1,025,000 million in August 2015 to flip it. He dropped $178,807 into the structure, adding nearly 1,300 sq.-ft. (the size of a two-bed condominium) with an expanded and renovated kitchen (with quartz counter tops!) with a pair of dishwashers (Two dishwashers?). But likely done anticipating what buyers would want, the developer added a vaulted ceiling in the living area which destroys the architectural integrity of the ranch design.

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With an assessed value of $1.36 million, the developer rolled the dice and marketed the place for an ambitious $1,775,000. But soon someone named “The slowing local real estate market” – Boston has dropped out of the top 20 strongest residential locations in the US at the end of ’16 – told the developer he was still selling a ranch. Soon the listing price fell three times by October to $1,575,000. And he still took a haircut on the final price of $1.5 million. Profit, but more of a razor-thin margin.

The ranch on Hoitt Road in the Winn Brook neighborhood – a block from the school – also saw a $34,000 kitchen renovation in 2013/14 that included a center island, custom cabinets, new appliances and … quartz counter tops! A trend worth praising.


But rather than blow up the rooms, the updates in the “public” areas were faithful to the split-level history, keeping the architectural details – ornamental iron railing, flat brick fireplace, high windows – during the makeover. The highlight is expanding the patio into a three-season living space (what a great way to use the patio’s support beams as an aesthetic focus) opening up into the living room. 

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Purchased for $700,000 in ’11, listed and sold at $1.1 million.

Panels, Discussion, Singing and Speeches at Belmont’s MLK Breakfast

Photo: The poster for the event.

Belmont’s 23rd annual Martin Luther King Day Community Breakfast takes places on Monday, Jan. 16, from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. in the Belmont High School Cafeteria, 221 Concord Ave.

The guest speaker is Dorothy Stoneman, Belmont resident, Belmont High School graduate, civil rights activist and Founder of YouthBuild. In addition to speaking, Stoneman will moderate a panel of Belmont METCO graduates and friends. While METCO started in Belmont in 1970, it is the 50th anniversary of the METCO program.   

In addition to Stoneman and the panel, the program will include 

  • Belmont District Superintendent John Phelan, 
  • Belmont High Principal Daniel Richards,
  • Dr. Constance  Williams, associate professor emerita, the Heller School for Social Policy and Management,
  • Pastor Amos Jean Philippe, Belmont Community Church of God, 
  • Muneeb (Moe) Khan, The Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland,  
  • a trio comprised of BHS students Lara Zeng ’19 (violin), Alex Wilk ’19 (viola) and Annalise Schlaud ’19 (cello),
  • BHS student singers and METCO program participants Jaelyn Creech Moise ’18 and Janae Creech Moise ’19 (“Amazing Grace”).

The METCO Panel of METCO Graduates and Friends, will include three METCO graduates from Belmont’s first class of METCO students. These students spent 12 years in the Belmont Schools from 1st grade at the Butler Elementary to graduating from Belmont High School.  The panel will include:

  • Angela Simpson, BHS Class of 1982
  • Lee Williams, BHS Class of 1982, coming from Baltimore for the event
  • Anthony Lumley Sr.,  BHS Class of 1982, now a METCO parent, Wellesley Schools
  • Marrcus Henry, BHS Class of 2004
  • Melvin MacKenzie, BHS Class of 2004
  • Lorraine Kermond, BHS Class 1984, Belmont resident and Belmont Against Racism Board Member

As in the past, there will be a request for donations to support the Belmont Schools’ METCO Support Fund.  A member of the board of Belmont Against Racism and Belmont Schools’ METCO Director Ms. Diane Wiltshire will make the request.  As stated above, all checks should be payable to Belmont Against Racism re METCO Support Fund.

$5 per person/$10 per family (at the door) 

Pastries, fruit and beverages will be served.  Student musical entertainment will be provided.  Ample parking. Accessible to persons with disabilities.  Join with old friends and meet new friends.  Children of all ages are welcome and childcare and gym activities will be provided for children 2-12 during the program.

Schools To Start After Labor Day This Year. After That, We’ll See

Photo: The calendar.

After a spirited give and take over three meetings, the Belmont School Committee agreed the 2017-18 school year will begin, as it has traditionally over the years, usually after the Labor Day holiday.

But after that? Well, we’ll see.

At last week’s meeting, the committee – by a five to one vote – decided far too many Belmont families have already started or completed their vacation or summer camp plans to upset the apple cart of tradition, voting to begin the 2017-18 school year on Wednesday, Sept. 6. Kindergarteners would not start full-day schooling until Monday, Sept. 11.

Under this schedule, the last day of school – with five snow days already added – will be Wednesday, June 20.

The vote continues the School Committee policy of beginning school on the first Wednesday of September.

“I would lean towards sticking to the policy we have now,” said Committee member Elyse Shuster who in earlier meetings was willing to take a new look at the policy.

Under the alternative start day, the 2017-18 year for students would have commenced on Wednesday, Aug. 30. Students would return on Thursday, Aug. 31 before taking a four-day holiday recess before coming back on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Championing a pre-Labor Day start date is Belmont Superintendent John Phelan who said students and staff would benefit from entering school before the holiday to decrease start-of-the-year anxieties and begin the school year “ready to go” on the Tuesday after Labor Day.

Member Susan Burgess-Cox, the lone “no” vote, said while she understands the reasoning behind the later start date as “not shortening summer,” she noted if the school year ends earlier “so will your summer in June.”

While the committee stuck with current convention, it will discuss possible policy changes for future school years and will update the public in coming meetings.

Shuster said she’d like for the policy subcommittee to draft a note which would allow for flexibility in starting the school year much like what occurs in the Weston schools. Its policy, adopted in 2011, starts school on the Tuesday after Labor Day if the holiday occurs before Sept. 5; if Labor Day is on the 5th or later, the year begins on the Wednesday before the holiday.

“This would be a good compromise to have a consistent policy” that would allow for a flexible start date concerning Labor Day, said member Murat Bicer.

In addition to keeping the status quo on starting the school year, the committee approved an

  • One additional early release day for Chenery Middle School student; to allow more time for parent/guardian/teacher conferences.
  • The first districtwide early release day will be in the first week of October, moving from the traditional last week in September.
  • And since Veterans’ Day in 2017 falls on a Saturday, which under state law is celebrated on the day and not on the following Monday, the holiday does not appear to impact a school day in the coming school year.

Burbank Community Protest Dangerous Roadway After Guard Hurt [VIDEO]

Photo: Concern on School Street.

When Kelly Fanning heard Wednesday, Jan. 11 well-liked crossing guard James Marcantonio was hit and then hospitalized by a vehicle on School Street in front of the Burbank Elementary School, the mother of two who lives steps from the crosswalk knew it was time for the community to take action.

“[James] is a friend to everyone, he knows all the children and really looks after them,” said Fanning.

(A press release from the Belmont Police said Marcantonio suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the accident that occurred at 8:11 a.m. The driver was cited for not yielding for a person in a crosswalk.)

“If this could happen to him, it shows how dangerous the road is now,” said the mom of Reece Bundy and Mabel Fanning. “There recently have been three accidents before [Marcantonio] including another pedestrian, all happening in front of the school.”

Parents have pointed to the increase in pass-through traffic along School Street, how the crosswalk is just beyond a blind corner as traffic travels from Washington Street and the lack of traffic-calming devices leading to the crosswalk.

“I know that the town knows the yellow [warning] lights don’t work. It’s just another thing that lets drivers not pay attention to the crosswalk,” said Jimmy Busa, who was standing in for his fellow crossing guard.

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Later Wednesday, Fanning and her husband, Red Bundy, began mobilizing their social media contacts to bring together parents, students and residents to demonstrate Thursday morning before school in support of better safety leading in both directions to the crosswalk.

“There are several things the town can do including put a curb along [the south side of] School Street up to the crosswalk and raise the crosswalk,” said Randolph Street’s Peter Dizikes, a parent, and a Precinct 1 Town Meeting member.

On a cloudy, chilly Thursday morning, Fanning brought colored poster board and Sharpies for students and parents to write out signs.

“Ten parents sent back messages that they would attend,” said Fanning. “That would be a good start.”

Soon, parents walking students to school came by and joined the growing numbers who carried signs – “Stay Alert and Slow Down” and “Kids Crossing” – and brought their voices and even cowbells (“More cowbells” advised one parent to the students ringing away).

By the beginning of the school day, more than 60 students and residents were loudly proclaiming their support to make the roadway and crosswalk safer.

“I hope that the [town] will see that there is a lot of people who want something to happen here. This is a serious safety issue that needs to be addressed,” said Fanning.

Girls’ Hoops: 5 Days, 3 Games and 1 Garden Party

Photo: Sophomore center Jess Giorgio skies for a basket at the Boston TD Garden.

When told that her team is 2-0 at the Boston TD Garden after Belmont beat Arlington, 40-21, on Sunday, Jan. 9, Head Coach Melissa Hart quipped that “I’d like to be 3-0 when the season ends,” a not so subtle reference to coming back to the Garden for an Eastern Massachusetts championship game.

Belmont High Girls’ Basketball’s consecutive win at the Garden – it defeated Chelmsford a year ago in the Good Sports Invitational – marked the middle of a three-game stretch played over a five-day span which saw the Marauders bounce back from its second loss of the season, 47-33, to top-ten ranked Woburn to cruise by Arlington and Lexington, 54-35, (on Tuesday, Jan. 11) to reach the five-win mark (5-2). 

The game at Division 1 Woburn High Friday, Jan 7, was a frustrating affair as the Marauders allowed Middlesex All-Star guard Marissa Gattuso to run the show, scoring 11 points in the first half, the same number of points the Marauders scored in the half as the Tanners led 25-11. 

Belmont closed the gap to seven points twice in the third and fourth quarters behind junior Greta Propp’s 6 points in the third and sophomore Megan Tan’s 6 points (a game-high 9 points for the Marauders) in the fourth as well as a strong defensive stance.

But the combination Woburn keying on Belmont’s point guard Carly Christofori and Gattuso’s scoring touch allowed the hosts to move the lead back into double digits. 

Against Lexington, junior co-captain forward Jenny Call had 6 three-pointers and a game-high 23 points as the Marauders took out several years of frustration on the Minutemen who had dominated Belmont for the past three years, mostly at the hands of Lexington’s star Anna Kelly who once scored 54 points at Belmont and generally manhandled Belmont.

But it was the Sunday morning game against the SpyPonders that was special for the team. Hart emptied the bench and allowed the entire some time on the historic parquet court which the NBA’s Boston Celtics play. 


Against a young Arlington team, the Marauders’ active zone defense saw a slew of turnovers for Belmont as Christofori (who scored her game-high 9 points in the first half) led the team offensively to a 26-8 halftime lead. 

As Arlington struggled from the field – only scoring four baskets in the game – Belmont had its role players out for extended periods of time on the court. Propp had 8 points in the fourth quarter and junior guards Alexa Sabatino, and Ally Shapazian collected a couple of baskets.

When the buzzer sounded to end the game, both teams wanted one last photo with the leprechaun logo at center court. 

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Selectmen OK Loading Dock Alcohol License With Conditions

Photo: Faud Mukarker (right) before the Board of Selectmen

After a sometimes contentious meeting which appeared an agreement would unravel before one could be struck, the Belmont Board of Selectmen voted unanimously on Monday, Jan. 9 to grant a “pour” alcohol license to Faud Mukarker, owner of The Loading Dock on Brighton Street.

But the approval came with two significant conditions imposed on the permit, preconditions the board required of Mukarker who only four months previous transferred an all-alcohol retail license for a $400,000 “compensation fee” to regional supermarket chain Star Market.

Under the conditions accepted by Mukarker, the business is required to pay $11,000 in back payments he owes to Belmont Light, the town’s electrical utility, and he will accept the decision of a Special Town Meeting likely scheduled for February if the 290-member legislative body approves a complete ban on transferring alcohol licenses or the use as collateral in securing loans.

After the meeting, Mukarker appeared more relieved than pleased leaving the hour and 20-minute marathon hearing.

“I am happy we got the license,” said Mukarker after the decision, who said the “pour” license was critical to his operation surviving financially.

He also said “I will follow anything the [Special Town] Meeting decides” on transferability.

But crafting the agreement was anything but a smooth journey. After an hour of hearing public comments and the give and take between the board and Mukarker and his team, the first attempt at a consensus to move forward took the business owner and his supporters by surprise.

Mukarker began the meeting by pledging not to transfer the license for two years and not use it as a guarantee for collateral for one year. But those bans were less than airtight as he wanted a mechanism to return to the board during the time of the voluntary restriction to ask to lift the prohibition.

The public was divided in its support for and opposition to the proposal. Elizabeth Dionne of Wellesley Road said Mukarker had shown bad faith with the sale of the previous license which was used to pay off a mountain of bills.

“If he does not have a viable business, you do not have any business granting him another license,” she told the board.

Kenny Hamilton, who described himself as the “The Loading Dock’s consulting CFO” and “right-hand man,” said Mukarker was “always” seeking a pouring license since a Small Business Administration loan which was part of the firm’s refinancing program required the owner having one.

“So the viability of the business has always been there,” said Hamilton, demonstrated by the business surviving 16 months without selling alcohol to customers.

“I know for a fact that Mr. Mukarker feels very badly about the stress he put on the selectmen … and the citizens of the town,” said Hamiliton. “So the idea how he won the lottery … that is not the case.”

Hamilton, who said he “guided the finances” of the business, did provide interesting financial information concerning the business including that the renovation of the former White Hen Pantry into the new eatery cost Mukarker $3 million, with the owner spending $1 million from his pocket.

But it was revealed Mukarker was playing with a weak hand as information of his financial issues were laid out on the table. Town sources report the Loading Dock being $11,000 in arrears to the town for an unpaid electric bill and has been placed by the utility on a long-term payment plan to begin chipping away at the debt.

Second was the restaurant had yet to close on the Small Business Administration loan to pay for outstanding bills despite telling the board it was all but finalized. Also, the $400,000 from Star Market had yet to be delivered to Mukarker.

Finally, Hamilton noted the business’ original lender, Leader Bank, “did not have faith in the project” which required Murkarker to accept a plan designed by Eastern Bank to continue running the retail/restaurant store.

For Selectman Chair Mark Paolillo and his vice chair Sami Baghdady, the concerns of the business’ financial viability and Mukarker’s past action with the retail license allowed them to play hardball with the business.

“My concern is that without any restriction, what happens if God forbid if you go bankrupt? If the SBA loan doesn’t close?” said Baghdady.

The first counteroffer by Baghdady to Murkarker took the breath away from The Loading Dock supporters: withdraw the application and reapply in six months during which time the business would close on all the loans and other issues.

“Regarding transferability, we need the guidance of Town Meeting,” said Baghdady.

During the period without a permit, the restaurant would “have alternatives” said Baghdady, including to serve alcohol from customers who brought their bottles – under a “BYOB” provision in state law – and request one-day liquor licenses.

Under that scheme, the sensitive issue of transferability would not be a problem, said both Baghdady and Paolillo.

Murkarker and Hamilton issued a complaint that the board’s initial plan would place the restaurant’s future in jeopardy while Hamilton said bank and SBA loans would need to be “redone” creating an even greater time delay.

Selectman Jim Williams came to Murkarker’s defense, saying the limitations on the licenses were anti-business.

It had taken another 10 minutes before the selectmen arrived at the compromise of Murkarker making his electrical bill whole and accept the vote of the Special Town Meeting.

“Sometimes coming to an agreement that everyone can agree to is a little messy,” said Baghdady.

Crossing Guard Hit By Vehicle at Burbank Elementary, Hospitalized

Photo: The location of the accident.

A crossing guard was struck by a motor vehicle in front of the Mary Lee Burbank Elementary School at approximately 8:18 a.m. this morning, Wednesday, Jan. 11, according to a press release from the Belmont Police Department.

The guard, who are hired by the Belmont Police to assist residents and students to cross busy main roadways, was transported by Belmont Fire Rescue from the scene to a local area hospital with non-life threatening injuries, said Belmont Police Assistant Chief James MacIsaac.

The motor vehicle heading westbound on School Street struck the crossing guard in the crosswalk at School Street and Sharpe Road. The preliminary investigation indicates that speed was not a factor.

The vehicle driver was cited at the scene for Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian in the Crosswalk, according to Belmont Police.

Town Election ’17: Dash Pulls Papers To Enter Selectmen’s Race

Photo: Adam Dash

Adam Dash has launched a website, made public statements and has been putting together a campaign team. Heck, he even has a prototype bumper sticker designed and ready to hand out.

And today Goden Street resident Adam Dash has taken the penultimate step in the process of officially running for a seat on the Board of Selectmen as the Cambridge-based attorney took out nomination papers from the Belmont Town Clerk on Monday, Jan. 10.

Dash has until St. Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, to return the document with 50 signatures of registered voters to qualify to have his name placed on the April 4 Town Election ballot.

Dash joins Woodfall Road resident Guy Carbone having “pulled papers for a run for the board. Incumbent Sami Baghdady has yet to declare for a re-election run.

While the future is unwritten and he may change his mind running for town-wide elected office, Dash and his campaign team have all but committed to a run for Selectmen: he has already set a date to launch his campaign with a reception at Patou Thai restaurant in Belmont Center on Saturday, Jan. 28, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Health Dept. Holding Community Meeting On Opioid Crisis Tues at 2:30PM

Photo: Opioid abuse.

The Belmont Health Department is holding a public forum on Tuesday, Jan. 10 from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. to determine the town’s opioid needs assessment.

The meeting will take place in the Board of Selectmen’s Meeting Room located in Belmont Town Hall, 455 Concord Ave.

The meeting – funded through the Mt. Auburn Hospital Community Health Department – is designed to gather insights and ideas for Belmont’s response to the statewide opioid epidemic, and to strengthen collaborations addressing the issue.

The forum will focus on:

  • The overview of epidemic
  • Review of findings from local needs assessment
  • Local efforts and resources
  • And a discussion on what is needed from the town and its residents to battle the crisis.                

To let us know you are coming, please call 617-993-2720 or email