Plastic Bag Ban Set For May Town Meeting Vote

Photo: “Plastic or paper?” could become “Paper?”

The ubiquitous single-use plastic bag could soon be a memory in the Town of Homes as the Belmont Board of Selectmen approved on Monday, Feb. 26 sponsoring an article before the annual Town Meeting in May banning town retailers from providing the quintessential receptacle to their customers.

If passed by Town Meeting, the bylaw will take effect six months after the vote or on Nov. 1, 2018, whichever is later and would initially apply to stores with more than 30,000 square feet of retail space. Carthy said it would likely first impact the Star Market on Trapelo Road. The remainder of stores will have until nine months after Town Meeting approval or Feb. 1, 2019, to make the change.

The selectmen’s unanimous vote supports the initiative from the 15 resident group that formed in November seeking to end Belmont merchants use of the thin bags to check the harm it does to the environment – plastic bags harm animals and sea life that eat or are entangled by them – while also clogging storm drains and burdening solid waste disposal and recycling facilities. 

“The thin-film plastic bags are incredibly cheap so there is little incentive for merchants to make a change,” said the group’s spokesperson Mark Carthy of Stone Road and a Precinct 6 Town meeting member.

Carthy said the group submitted a Citizen’s Petition that was certified by the Town Clerk on Monday as a backup plan if the Selectmen had not accepted their proposal. 

“We are very pleased with [the selectmen’s] vote as it will make it an easier process under their guidance,” said Carthy.

Under the new bylaw, retailers will have two choices for customers; recyclables paper and reusable check-out bags made of natural fibers (cotton or linen), with stitched panels and can carry 25 pounds for more than 300 feet. The Belmont ban would include all plastic bags including the heavier, sturdy plastic examples which towns have allowed – an example is bags used by Russo’s in Watertown. Exceptions will include plastic bags without handles such as those covering or containing dry cleaning, newspapers, produce and meats, and bulk or wet foods.

For retailers who violate the ban, a written warning will come with the first offense. A second violation will be accompanied by a $50 fine and any further offense a $200 fine will be imposed and the fines will be cumulative and each day a violation occurs will constitute a separate offense.

Belmont is following the lead of more than 60 municipalities around the state which have installed bans in the past five years. Neighboring Cambridge has banned most plastic bags and charge a fee for paper bags since 2015 while Arlington’s ban on single-use plastic bags goes into effect on March 1 for retailers over 10,000 square feet and on July 1 for all other retailers. 

Belmont will not be able to impose a fee for bags as Cambridge does since state law prohibits towns from imposing a surtax on bags but does allow cities, said Carthy.

While popular in Massachusetts, bag bans have been less than accepted elsewhere. State legislatures in South Carolina, Utah, Arizona and Florida have voted to prohibit municipalities from banning carry-out bags. 

While the selectmen and Board of Health, which the bag ban group visited Monday evening, support the proposal, each noted a concern the bylaw’s enforcement powers which are ceded to the Belmont Health Department, will place an additional burden on its small staff. Health Board member Dr. David Alper told the group executing the laws compliance rules “will not be high on our things to enforce.”

Alper advised the group to reach out to the Department of Public Works and Mary Beth Calnan, the town’s part-time Recycling Coordinator, which would “give you a better bang for the buck” as “they can educate the stores and be punitive” when needed.

A Quarter Century Of Enrichment: FBE Celebrates Silver Anniversary March 17

Photo: Poster of the big event.

For a quarter-century, the Foundation for Belmont Education has been raising funds for programs to enrich the Belmont public schools. In those 25 years, more than 5,100 families and businesses have made 24,000 gifts to the Foundation totaling $3.5 million financing 700 projects that include artist residencies, hands-on learning, purchase of computer tablets and much more.

The Foundation invites all residents to join it on Saturday, March 17 from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Belmont Hill School to celebrate 25 YEARS OF MAKING A DIFFERENCE, a special night filled with music, an exciting auction, and community-building, all in the name of education excellence in the Belmont Public Schools.

Early ticket pricing for the Silver Anniversary Fundraiser ends WEDNESDAY NIGHT, Feb. 28, so purchase your tickets today!

Purchase Tickets or Make a Donation

Top Ten Reasons to Celebrate with the Foundation on March 17.

  1. Recognize an organization that has given more than $3.5 million to the Belmont Public Schools
  2. Bid on one-of-a-kind experiences in Boston and beyond
  3. Shed your casual clothes and dress up
  4. Participate in the Silent Auction
  5. Have a date night or a night out with friends
  6. Celebrate Foundation grants and enrichment programs
  7. Bid on tickets to one of Broadway’s hottest shows when it comes to Boston this fall
  8. Find out who wins the $1,000 cash raffle prize
  9. Toast the Foundation for 25 great years of enriching the Belmont Public Schools
  10. Have a great time!

Questions about the FBE Annual Fundraiser?

Celebrate Belmont Public Library’s Sesquicentennial With ‘Books in Bloom’

Photo: Poster of the “Books in Bloom” event.

The Belmont Public Library marks its 150th anniversary this weekend with “Books in Bloom,” a celebration of the floral interpretation of books.

Friday Night, March 2, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.: First Look Opening Reception

Floral exhibit, music, light refreshments, door prizes and a cash bar.

Tickets are $20/$25 at door.

Tickets available at Belmont Public Library, Beech Street Center, Belmont Books and online. Snow date: March 3.

Saturday, March 3:

  • Flower Arranging Demonstration, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Our Town, Our Library: History Intertwined, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Drop-in multi-media exhibit in the Belmont Historical Society’s Caflin Room.

Sunday, March 4: Family Birthday Party

Celebrate the library’s Sesquicentennial Birthday! Visit and decorate cookies, check out the Friends of the Belmont Public Library used book sale, design your own library, create some fun craft projects, and more!

“Books in Bloom” is brought by the Belmont Library Foundation, the Belmont Public Library, the Belmont Historical Society and the Friends of the Belmont Public Library. All events will be at the library, 336 Concord Ave. 


Breaking: Joey’s Park Closed For Month Due To Returning Rodents

Photo: A snapshot of a social media site concerning trash at Joey’s Park.

They’re back!

After a failed attempt to eradicate vermin from their home at Joey’s Park, the Belmont Board of Health and the Highway Division of the Department of Public Works have today, Monday, Feb. 26, closed the popular Winn Brook neighborhood playground for a second time as it attempts to send the rats packing.

The town has hired Assurance Pest Solutions to treat the reemergence of large rat burrows with a deterrent solution dubbed Rat-Out Gel, made of garlic oil and white pepper. The plan is for the irritant to force the rodents into traps at baiting stations in the park. 

While it’s being treated and monitored for the next three to four weeks, the playground will be closed to the public.

This is the second attempt by the town to root out the rats at the park located adjacent to the Winn Brook School. 

The town is urging the public to assist it in keeping the play area clean of food scraps and trash which attract the rodents. In recent weeks, a social media site geared toward parents in Belmont focused on the general level of uncleanliness at the park, including photos of food containers, general garbage, and a soiled diaper.

For more information, contact the Belmont DPW at 617-993-2680 or the Belmont Health Department at 617-993-2720.

Garbage Giant Named Belmont’s New Trash/Recycling Hauler

Photo: A WM side loading collection truck.

A giant in the waste removal industry was officially named Belmont’s trash and recycling hauler on Monday, Feb. 26 after winning a five-year contract with the town.

Waste Management of Houston was selected by Department of Public Works Director Jay Marcotte and approved unanimously by the Board of Selectmen at the board’s Monday morning meeting. Waste Management’s winning bid of $12.2 million over five years was $2.3 million less than the only other accepted bid from Casella Waste Systems of Rutland, Vermont.

Waste Management services approximately 21 million residential, industrial, municipal and commercial customers in US, Canada, and Puerto Rico with the largest trucking fleet in the waste removal industry with 26,000 collection and transfer vehicles.

The contract includes fully automated trash and recycling collection using 65-gallon (for trash) and 96-gallon (recycling) wheeled barrels, yard waste removal, the collection of Christmas trees and other bulky items as well as a fee for recycling processing. The contract begins on July 1. 

While Waste Management takes over trash and recycling in four months, it will continue collecting curbside waste and recycling manually until the firm has purchased the new trucks that will service Belmont.

“The start date will be when they meet their comfort level,” said Marcotte, which could happen in the early fall. Before then, the DPW and town will reach out to homeowners and residents to educate the town on the new automated system. 

The breakdown of the payments over the five years are:

  • Fiscal ’19: $2,224,296
  • Fiscal ’20: $2,355,554
  • Fiscal ’21: $2,442,192
  • Fiscal ’22: $2,531,867
  • Fiscal ’23: $2,624,685

The first year of the new contract is approximately $350,000 more than the fiscal ’18 fee paid to Somerville-based Russell Disposal. 

Marcotte told the board if there are any changes in the current market for recyclables beneficial to the town, “[Waste Management] promised to renegotiate the contract.” 

Oh, Rats! Community Meeting On Rodent Problem March 15

Photo: Rat eating – what else? – cheese.

Whether at Joey’s Park in the Winn Brook neighborhood, at Town Field near Waverley Square and from the area nearby Fresh Pond, rats have become an increased nuisance for homeowners and the public using town resources throughout Belmont.

With sightings on the upswing and residents reporting a growing number of rat complaints, the Belmont Health Department, the Department of Public Works and the Buono Pest Control Co. is holding a public meeting “Controlling the Rat – A Community Effort” on Thursday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium, 455 Concord Ave.

ALL-STATE CHAMPS! Perkins, Krafian Take Track Titles, Girls 400 Relay Breaks School Record

Photo: Belmont’s All-State Champions; Calvin Perkins (left) and Anoush Krafian.

A pair of Belmont senior track athletes raced to the top of the winner’s podium at the 33rd annual MIAA Indoor Track & Field All-State Championship held at Boston’s Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center on Saturday, Feb. 24. 

Calvin Perkins broke the 80-second barrier in the 600 meters, taking first in 1 minute, 19.97 seconds, defeating Newton North junior Theo Burba (1:20.42) by nearly half a second in the two-lapper. 

It was deja vu for Anoush Krafian as the Dartmouth-bound multi-talent won her second all-state hurdle title – she took the 2017 outdoor 100-meter hurdle crown – by the same thinnest of margins, out diving Medway junior Ava Vasile by one-hundredth of a second, 8.26 seconds to 8.27 seconds. Krafian time lowered the school record in the event that she set a week previous winning the Division 2 state championship.

Krafian nearly took two titles, finishing second in the high jump, scaling a season-best 5 feet, 6 inches, only bested by Hingham senior Zoe Dainton who cleared 5’9″. Krafian also took 16th in the long jump, 16′ 6.25″, an event that took place immediately after the hurdles.

Belmont’s quartet in the 4×400 meter relay – seniors Emily Duffy and Carey Allard, sophomore Soleil Tseng and freshman Rachel November – finished in 7th in 4 minutes, 5.06 seconds, breaking the school record of 4:05.33 the team set last week. The Boys 4×400 squad made up of seniors Max-Serrano-Wu, Mel Nagashima, Bryan Huang and Perkins had a rough race with a dropped baton and finished in 3:33.81 for 15th.

The Belmont Girls finished in 6th place with 20 points while the Boys placed 15th with 10 points.

Shooting Four A Title: Belmont Boys Hoops Host Charlestown Tuesday, Girls At Home Saturday

Photo: Belmont 

After successful regular seasons in the books, Belmont High basketball teams will now look forward to the postseason as the MIAA released the sectional playoff tournament brackets on Friday.

Both Belmont hoop teams received the fourth seed in their sectionals which awards the boys two and the girls a single home game. 

The Belmont Boys’ (15-5) will start the postseason against number 13 seed Charlestown High (10-9) in the first round of the Division 2 North sectional at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at the Wenner Field House. The Townies bring a tall front line featuring three starters 6’4″ or taller, including 6’6″ center Franklin Udeh.

If they win Tuesday, Belmont is set to play the winner of Masconomet Regional (15-5) and Melrose (11-9) likely on Friday in the quarterfinals.

In the Division 1 North tourney, the Belmont Girls (17-3) will host the winner of the Revere (16-4), Andover (10-10) matchup in a rare Saturday night game, March 3 at 7 p.m. If Revere comes to town, the Marauders will face Boston Globe and Herald All-Scholastic player Valentina Pepic. The 6’2″ senior center, who has committed to play at Division 1 Niagara next year, led her league in points and rebounds for the second year, scoring her 1,000 career point earlier in the year. 

If Belmont wins, they will meet the winner of the Woburn vs Everett/Beverly contest in the sectional semifinals and the possibility of an epic grudge match against the one-seed Tanners, who with the Marauders share the Middlesex Liberty title. 

International Economics, Cooperation On A High School Scale Comes To Belmont

Photo: Belmont students (from left) Zachery Tseng, Julia Logan, Camilla Carere and Sofia Schlozman took home first place overall and first place for low-income county in the 2018 International Economic Summit.

Fifty-two students from Beijing joined students from Belmont, Andover and Bedford high schools to compete in the 2018 Chinese-American International Economic Summit, held earlier this month at Belmont High School.

The summit is a day-long interactive simulation that asks students to compete in a wide range of events including quizzes (in personal finance, current events, economics and geography), a debate, and a trade simulation in which students have to negotiate amongst trade barriers, tariffs and financial limitations to execute a predetermined  list of imports. 

The International Economic Summit, which is run out of Boise State University, takes place 30 times a year all over the US. The summit featured 125 students making up 32 teams of 4 students.  Awards were given for best costume, best table display table display, and top performing countries in each of the following categories (low income, middle income, high income, and overall). 

The one that took place at Belmont High School is unique because it is the only one that features mixed teams of students from two different countries. Students from Belmont and Bedford were on teams that featured two Americans and two Chinese students. The summit involves a significant amount of pre-summit prep so students from Bedford and Belmont have been communicating with the Chinese students for the better part of two months. Prior to the summit, the students took two quizzes, create a global proposal and make a one-minute video of that proposal involving all members of the group. 

Belmont students Julia Logan and Sofia Scholzman, along with their Chinese partners, Jing Jing and Hongguang Paio, took home top performing low-income country, Vietnam, in addition to having the top table display. Belmont students Zachery Tseng and Camilla Carere, along with their Chinese teammates, Tantong Huang and Zicheng Zhao, won the entire summit.

The summit was put on in conjunction with Boise State and the LEAF Network, which is a teacher run and led professional development group in the fields of economics and finance. More information regarding LEAF can be found at

Belmont Board Of Health To Hold Marijuana Talk, Q&A March 14

Photo: Marijuana will be discussed on March 14.
The Belmont Board of Health and Health Department invites the public to attend a talk by as one of the world’s experts in marijuana on the risks and benefits of this controversial plant titled “The Unbiased Truth; a One Hour Presentation and Q&A” on Wednesday, March 14, at 7 p.m. at Beth El Temple Center auditorium, 2 Concord Ave.
With the likelihood a store selling marijuana in or close to Belmont will be up and running by the summer of 2018, a great deal of what’s been discussed concerning marijuana is either incomplete or untrue. To learn the truth about the subject, the Board of Health invited Dr. Kevin Hill, director of Addiction Psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and assistant professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, to Belmont.
Hill treats patients with substance use disorders in a variety of settings. His research interests include the development of medications to treat cannabis use disorder as well as cannabis policy, and he has published widely on these topics in such journals as JAMA and Lancet Psychiatry. He provides a balanced factual approach to cannabis and his book “Marijuana: The Unbiased Truth about the World’s Most Popular Weed” is a valuable resource for many. He consults on cannabis-related issues to policymakers and prominent sports organizations nationwide.
The meeting is free and open to the public through a grant from Mount Auburn Hospital. For more information, call 617-993-2720.