Crowley’s Opening Day Walk Off Double Sparks Belmont Baseball’s 3-0 Start

Photo: Dennis Crowley (right) celebrating his walk-off double which won the season opener for Belmont.

After spending the entire baseball season opener on the bench, Belmont High School Junior Dennis Crowley was just looking for any chance to help the team in the first game. And with a little preseason training, he felt he was ready.

“I worked out with [former Reading High baseball] Coach [Peter] Moscariello, and he tells us to stay locked in, being green light all the time and you’ll get your opportunity. That’s all I wanted,” said Crowley.

When his time came in the bottom of the 7th inning to grab a bat and pitch hit for junior Ryan Noone, Crowley rose to the challenge blasting a one-out double to give the Marauders an exciting 3-2 walk-off win over a strong Melrose High squad on Tuesday, April 11.

“It was a fastball up, and I was hoping to give it a ride,” said Crowley, who clocked the pitch over the right fielder scoring pinch runner junior Max Meier running for junior DH Andrew Mazzone who singled and was sacrificed to second by senior second base Noah Riley.

“Let’s not [win like] this 18 times this year. I’m too old for this,” said long-time head coach Joe Brown. After the dramatics of the first game, Belmont nailed down a pair of confident wins, 10-1 over Concord Carlie on Wednesday and 14-0 against league opponent Stoneham, 14-0, on Thursday.

The team enters the Spring recess undefeated at 3-0 and ranked 17th in the Boston Herald’s Eastern Mass Top 25 poll. 

“We certainly are showing some early season promise. Our pitchers have been keeping the ball off the center of the plate, and our defense has been solid so far,” said Brown speaking of the three earn runs given up this season. 

Crowley heroics rescued a solid pitching effort by Belmont’s junior righty Nate Espelin who gave up a pair of earned runs on three hits over six innings with three strikeouts on 79 pitches.

“I felt fine out there. I left a lot of pitches up [in the strike zone] where they could hit them. That has been something that has to be approved on. You only get better from here, right?” asked Espelin.

After going up a run in the bottom of the fourth when junior first base Noone (2-3, two runs) scored on a single by senior right fielder Paul Ramsey, Melrose scratched back a run on a bloop single, a throwing error by Espelin and a sacrifice to drive in Melrose’s first base Mike DiRaffaele.

Melrose took the lead in the top of the fifth on a walk and a pair of singles including a sharp liner that hit off Espelin’s foot that brought home Melrose catcher Shane Correale. The damage could have been worse but for a diving grab by Riley to beat the Melrose runner at first by half a step.

It didn’t take long for Belmont to tie up the contest as Noone second single started the rally in the bottom of the fifth. Sophomore shortstop Francisco “Cisco” Rodriguez sacrificed Noone to second then advanced to third after Noone big lead off second caused Melrose pitcher John Casparriello to commit a balk. Senior centerfield Bryan Goodwin put the bat on the ball and drove Noone home on an infield hit.

Brown said he’ll go with a “small ball” philosophy to “put pressure on their defense. We’ve practiced that so it’s great to see it work out.”

On Wednesday, Meier gave up a single run as the Belmont offense took it to the host Patriots in Concord. Noone, who went 4 for 6 in the first two games, unloaded a triple in the top of the first to drive in two runs followed by rbi singles from Riley and Meier to effective seal the win very early. 

Thursday saw Brown put out lanky junior Jake Pollord to face Stoneham going five innings without allowing a run while striking out six in the blowout. Senior Captain Cal Christofori and Mazzone each put in an inning of relief work preserving the shutout.

The offense was led by Rodriguez who broke out going 3-4 with three RBIs while playing a solid short having developed a cannon of an arm since his freshman year.

Belmont will be back in action on Wednesday, April 19 away at Wilmington and then a Friday, April 21 home match against Arlington, both games starting at 10 a.m.

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Stay on Course: Fiore Retains Chair of School Committee

Photo: Lisa Fiore.

While the Belmont Board of Selectmen made a significant change to its leadership after Town Election, the Belmont School Committee decided it would stay the course.

During a possibly record-setting meeting for brevity – the get-together took a mere 25 minutes which included the members having a new group portrait taken – the committee vote Tuesday, April 11 to retain Dr. Lisa Fiore as chair for a second consecutive term.

The professor and administrator at Leslie University helped shepherd the committee through this and last year’s budget process while leading the group as it dealt with issues related to increasing enrollment, the beginning of the course of renovating/building a new high school and the district’s exit from the Minuteman Tech agreement.

The members also voted Susan Burgess-Cox, a Belmont native, and attorney, as vice chair.

The committee Tuesday night welcomed Catherine (Kate) Bowen to the group, having won election to the group on April 4.


Belmont School Committee’s Kate Bowen.

A program administrator at Harvard and chair of Sustainable Belmont, the Bartlett Avenue mother of two young students said she is looking forward to being a “voice for the Butler [Elementary] School community” on the committee, a neighborhood which she and many who live in and around Waverley Square believe has been missing for the past few years.

Parent/Teacher Band Concert Set for Wednesday at Chenery

Photo: Parent/Teacher Band in action.

The 60-strong Parent/Teacher Band is holding its annual Spring concert on Wednesday, April 12 at 7 p.m. at the Chenery Middle School with a special guest soloist who is well known among local music fans.

Nathaniel Meyer, a 2009 Belmont High graduate who was an International Trumpet Guild Champion which still in high school, will perform the solo in Leroy Anderson’s work “A Trumpeter’s Lullaby.”

The concert will include:

  • Victory at Sea by Richard Rodgers;
  • Carmina Burana, by Carl Orff;
  • Selections from Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim;
  • Hello Goodbye, a Beatles Medley;
  • Shenandoah, Frank Ticheli.
Billed by Director John McLellan as “a family band”, the Parents of Music Students (POMS) sponsored group embraces the concept of bringing full families together to perform in the same ensemble, with students and teachers performing, including sixth-grade teacher Laura Tracey, the darling of the tuba.

14 Roads Slated For Reconstruction in Fiscal ’18

Photo: It’s so bad, it’s a winner! (Thanks, Google)

For homeowners on 14 roads in Belmont: Congratulations, you’ve won the bad street lottery.

According to the town’s Office of Community Development, the thoroughfares you live on are deemed so in disrepair – more than half of the roads have a pavement condition index (PCI) rating in the 30s, considered a “poor” grade where travel is “uncomfortable with frequent bumps or depressions” – that it made the cut to undergo a complete reconstruction in fiscal 2018 which begins July 1. 

The “winners” are:

  • Williston Road from Trapelo to Horne (with a PCI rating of 34)
  • Alma Avenue from Bartlett to Belmont
  • Louise Road from Edgemore to Becket
  • Newton Street from Belmont to Fairview
  • Ridge Road from Belmont to White
  • Carleton Road from Washington to Chester
  • Juniper Road from Somerset to Fletcher
  • Branchaud Road from Carleton to Washington
  • Creeley Road from Slate to Hammond
  • Harriet Avenue from Bartlett to Belmont
  • Benton Road from Payson to Oakley
  • Lawndale Street from Oakley to Payson Road
  • Townsend Road from Payson (North) to Payson (South)
  • Payson Road from Oakley to Belmont

The list is subject to change based on the availability of utility work by National Grid to be completed on the roads in 2017. All the work in fiscal ’18 follows the replacement of nearly 100-year-old water mains by the Department of Public Work’s Water Division. 

New Belmont High Team – So Far – Introduced to Public

Photo: Thomas Gatzunis (left) and Richard Marks of the Daedalus Projects Company.

More than 100 residents braved the cold rain Thursday night, April 6, to head to the Beech Street Center to get an early look at the progress of the construction/renovation of a new Belmont High School.

And if the albeit limited number of comments were any indication what the public is thinking, it constructs a school which will meet the needs of a growing student population but don’t go overboard.

“Keep on budget,” said John O’Connor from Precinct 5. “It should be a good job well done” but done so responsibly.

“That’s the biggest thing,” he said.

The turnout was a welcomed surprise for Belmont High Building Committee Chair William Lovallo who arranged for the meeting to be held in the evening as opposed to the committee’s typical 7:30 a.m. meeting time.

“It was impressive to see this much interest so early on in the process,” said Lovallo, who is leading his second school building committee having chaired the construction of Wellington Elementary School. Much of the curiousness related to early estimates replacing the nearly 50-year-old structure will require a debt exclusion of between $80 to $200 million depending on how many grades will attend the school.

Thursday’s meeting was the opportunity for the building committee to announce the town’s Owners Project Manager as Lovallo introduced Founder and President Richard Marks and Senior Project Manager Thomas Gatzunis of the Daedalus Projects Company of Boston.

The OPM was hired by the Committee to represent the town during the design and construction phases of the building’s creation.

The town hired a familiar face with Daedalus and Gatzunis. Daedalus was the project manager for the construction of the Chenery Middle School 20 years ago (for $20 million!). For many longer-tenured residents, Gatzunis is remembered as a Belmont town employee for 32 years, rising to become the town’s director of community development.

“Tom has institutional knowledge of Belmont, its approvals process, and its public affairs challenges,” said Lovallo, who said Gatzunis’ presence was a major factor why Daedalus was selected. Daedalus’ Shane Nolan will be the on-site project manager.

Daedalus’ Shane Nolan will be the day-to-day on-site project manager for the High School.

“It is great to be back in Belmont,” Marks told the Belmontonian, who noted the team is currently building a $60 million STEM 6-12 grade school in Boston and managed the construction of the $101 million Franklin High School that opened two years ago and a new co-located middle school/renovated high school in Rockland for $82 million.

Gatzunis said that cost control and keeping the project on a schedule will be two of the most important functions he and Daedalus will provide the town.

“[Clients] get angry with me … because I’m constantly that guy saying, ‘We can’t do it'” whether some aspect of the project is too expensive or they need to keep on a tight deadline.

“It’s part of what I do is to have people angry with me. That’s why you hired me,” said Gatzunis.

The next “big step” said Marks for the Building Committee and Daedalus is the hiring of an architect which will a hired through a collaborative process between the town and the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which is funding up to 40 percent of the eligible cost of the new school.

While the architect will be creating separate designs for the different grade groups being proposed, Belmont School Superintendent John Phelan reiterated to the audience a talk he gave residents, parents, PTOs, and students which the one scenario alleviating the stress of overcrowding in the elementary and middle schools would be the 7th grade through 12th-grade high school.

While there are obvious questions about placing a wide-age range of students on one campus, Phelan said through careful planning; a larger school could prove beneficial educationally.

Phelan is inviting the public to hear from Education Facilitator Frank Locker on May 4 and 5 on just such a scenario. 

Residents were interested in the 7-12 grade option, with Mary Lewis liking how the district is “thinking outside the box” suggesting if the 7-12 grade option is approved the Chenery Middle School should be turned into an elementary school, creating five K-6th grade schools in Belmont, an idea that got a positive reaction.

Phil Thayer of Precinct 6 strongly suggested that the new school have a net zero energy footprints with the use of solar and energy-saving mechanicals.  

Holding his young son’s hand, Han Xu advised that a new school be functional, sacrificing on most architectural features and building fixtures, going so far as suggesting a new five grade school doesn’t need an auditorium.

“I know the trend in education construction is to be up-to-date technically but most kids already have the devices they need,” said Xu, who is a structural engineer who has worked on university buildings. 

“You can buy an Apple but it is quite expensive, or you can buy a Dell which can do all the same [tasks]. That’s how the new school should be built,” said Xu.

Letter to the Editor: Dash Thanks Supporters, Residents For Placing Faith in Him

Photo: Adam Dash

To the Belmont Community:

Thank you for placing your faith in me and electing me to be your next Selectman. I have spent many years working to make Belmont a great place to live, and I am excited to continue this work on the Board of Selectmen. 

I have learned so much through this campaign, through conversations as I have gone door to door, at meetings, events, and neighborhood gatherings. You have shared your ideas and your frustrations, and I am indebted to you. I believe there is nothing more important that I can do as Selectman than to learn directly from the members of our community and let that guide me in my decision-making. We have many challenges – but also many opportunities – and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together. 

Thank you to all of the volunteers who opened their homes, made phone calls, sent email, posted on Facebook, visited neighbors, spoke with friends, held and hosted signs. Your commitment is humbling and inspiring.

I especially want to thank my opponent, Guy Carbone, and his campaign team and supporters, for helping to make this election a conversation about the future of our town. We are all better served as a result of this dialog.

It is now time to turn my attention to the business of Belmont. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues, our town departments, boards, and committees, and each of you, to move forward on the projects ahead of us.

Thank you,

Adam Dash


Public Forum on New Belmont High Thursday at the Beech 7PM

Photo: Belmont High School

The first Belmont community forum on the Belmont High School Project will be held at the Beech Street Center at 266 Beech St. on Thursday, April 6, starting at 7 p.m.

The agenda for this meeting will begin with a project update presented by the Belmont High School Building Committee followed by an update on the Educational Plan presented by Belmont School Superintendent John Phelan.

These presentations will then be followed by an opportunity for the public to ask questions and provide comments.

Letter to the Editor: Belmont Day School Expansion A Traffic Problem

Photo: Belmont Day School.

To the editor:

I sent a letter to the Belmont Planning Board yesterday (April 4, 2017) from my neighbors and my wife and me.

[See letter below]

As you can see from the letter, we only learned last week that the Belmont Day School is proposing adding a 25,000 square feet buildings on its campus and constructing a busy new 1,000-foot roadway and parking lot that would border one side of Highland Meadow Cemetery into Concord Avenue. Besides disturbing the solitude of the cemetery, the new road would lead to serious traffic and safety issues.

Belmont Day School has grown from a small neighborhood grade school with a few children to a significant institution with hundreds of students. It recently added a middle school and is now planning on adding dozens of more students shortly. Four of my children attended the school, and I support its work and mission, but the school’s traffic is overwhelming the capacity of Concord Avenue leading to daily traffic jams and safety issues and, instead of facing and dealing with these issues, the school’s proposal and additional traffic will only make things worse.

The Belmont Planning Board is meeting Thursday night at 7 p.m. on the third floor of the Homer Building to review and possibly approve the school’s plan. The plan should not be approved in its present form, and it is time for the school, the town and residents to come to an agreement on handling travel to and from the school and incorporate solutions such as remote drop off and shuttle/bus services as most other hospitals and schools in the area have done to accommodate growth and reduce traffic congestion and safety hazards in the neighborhoods where they are located.

Tommy and Jane Driscoll

Concord Avenue

[Original letter]

Re: 55 Day School Lane (Belmont Day School) Development. 

Dear Mr. Wheeler, Planning Board Members, Board of Selectmen: 

Thank you for sending us the notice of the hearing on April 6, 2017, regarding the Belmont Day School Development (the “Project”). Despite the school’s claims in its application to have informed nearby residents of its plans, none of our households have been contacted, informed or otherwise given notice by the school of this massive Project before receipt of notice from the board last week. 

It is almost certainly the case that if our three households were not made aware of the Project, neither were most other residents in the nearby area. We ask that you not grant Belmont Day School the permits needed for the Project at this time – the school should explore other alternatives if it intends on continuing to grow its population and physical plant. At the very least, the Planning Board needs to delay action for at least six months while we and others in our neighborhood whose safety may be in endangered by the Project further research matters, seek legal counsel and have time to respond appropriately. There are going to be many upset people if adequate time is not provided by the Planning Board for the community to participate in this matter. 

Had Belmont Day School acted appropriately and taken reasonable measures to provide actual notice and awareness of this project many months ago to those in the community who are impacted, this would not be necessary. Given the importance of this matter, the Planning Board must delay under any reasonable interpretation of the facts and circumstances. 

Overall, Belmont Day School’s growth and ambitious expansion plans would seem to be exceeding the capacity of its location and threaten the tranquility our residential community. This is frequently occurring in the Boston area these days as schools and other non-profit organizations are driven to expansion due to growing funds and endowments. Other private schools and hospitals voluntarily acknowledge when their growth and ambitions are no longer compatible with the residential neighborhoods where they began decades earlier – one recent example is the nearby Carrol School in Lincoln which purchased an additional facility in a more compatible location to 

support adding a middle school to its existing grade school rather than expanding its footprint and imposing a burden on its local residential neighborhood. 

The characterizations and representations of the Project in the application appear to be disingenuous at best. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a driveway as a “short private road that leads from a public road to a house or garage”. What the school is proposing is hardly a driveway. It is a new roadway connecting to Concord Ave that will accommodate close to 1,000 cars per day (by the school’s estimate) and a new parking lot within 30 feet of graves in what is today a quiet and beautiful cemetery where relatives come to visit their loved ones in solitude on a daily basis. There are material safety issues and concerns that need to be fairly considered – the Planning Board cannot simply rely on one-sided reports commissioned and paid for by the School in fairness to us and other nearby residents. 

The traffic on Concord avenue today exceeds the road’s capacity in large part because of existing Belmont Day School traffic. Many mornings we are completely unable to access the road towards Belmont center because of the volume and back up in traffic. The proposed new roadway and increased volume would likely make it impossible at times for us to leave our homes when school traffic is backed up and create an unacceptable public safety risk for residents and children in the area. 

Also, the presence of the stone wall in the cemetery and plantings do not provide sufficient visibility for any roadway or driveway – especially one connecting to an extremely busy road such as Concord Ave where cars sometimes travel at over 60 MPH when the road is not backed up. Basic safety standards prescribed by law in Massachusetts for roadways with this usage and volume cannot be ignored simply by calling the proposed roadway a “driveway”. There are serious and legitimate safety concerns that need to be fairly studied and addressed impartially. The safety issues are not hypothetical – a pedestrian was struck and severely injured recently less than 300 feet of the school’s proposed roadway, and hundreds of bicyclists use the road as the main way through Belmont every week. 

Chip and Cindy Matthes, 711 Concord Ave. 

Laura and Tim Duncan, 699 Concord Ave. 

Tom and Jane Driscoll, 689 Concord Ave.

Winn Brook Tennis Courts Renovation Bid Under Budget

Photo: Winn Brook Tennis Courts.

The Community Preservation Committee will be receiving a chunk of change back into its coffers after the town accepted the lowest qualified bid for the renovation of the Winn Brook Tennis Courts. 

Century Paving and Construction of Fall River was awarded the contract to replace the four tennis courts adjacent to the Winn Brook School, according to Jay Marcotte, the town’s director of the Department of Public Works. It was the low bid of the 16 firms submitting proposals for the job; he told the Board of Selectmen on Monday, April 5.

The work will begin on April 17 with a completion date of mid-June.

The good news is Century’s estimated cost of $231,100 with a 10 percent contingency – totaling $289,000 – is below the $325,000 the CPC granted and Town Meeting approved last year to repair the courts. 

If the job is completed as expected, the $36,000 in savings will be transferred back into the CPC’s budget, said Marcotte.

Dash Joins Selectmen; Williams Selected Board Chair

Photo: The new board: Mark Paolillo (left), Jim Williams and Adam Dash

Adam Dash had arrived early Wednesday morning, April 5, at Town Hall waiting to be sworn in as Belmont’s newest Selectman by Town Clerk Ellen Cushman.

But Dash and his supporters, many who celebrated the candidate’s big victory over challenger Guy Carbone just hours before at the winner’s Goden Street house, weren’t the only one’s waiting for the Town Clerk. Eric and Britney had come to Belmont’s Town Hall to fill out a marriage certificate since the clerk’s office was the earliest in the area to open which allowed the couple to get hitched before heading off to work.

Dash said he would happily let the to-be bride and groom cut in line before him “because they are signing up for a lifetime commitment and I’m only doing so for three years.” 

A few minutes after 8 a.m., Cushman formally swore Dash into office, and he joined his two new colleagues – current board members Jim Williams and Mark Paolillo – in his first Selectmen’s meeting. 

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During the annual organizational meeting held the day after Town Election, Williams was unanimously elected to serve as chair, with Paolillo taking over as vice chair.

The selection came a year after Williams felt Paolillo and former selectman Sami Baghdady – whose seat Dash now occupies – joined against him gaining the chairmanship due to his campaign highlighting a solution to better manage OPEB and pension payments.

But on Wednesday morning, each board member spoke of working together in a cooperative manner. 

“We accomplished a lot last year and while not always agreeing” on issues,” said Williams.