State Rep Rogers Holding Office Hours This Tuesday, Friday


State Rep. Dave Rogers, who represents Belmont and parts of Cambridge and Arlington on Beacon Hill, will be holding his September office hours in Belmont this week.

They will be:

Tuesday, Sept. 10 from 9:30 a.m to 10:30 a.m. at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St.

Friday, Sept. 13 from 9:30 am to 10:30 am at Black Bear Cafe, 79 Leonard St.

Can’t make the meetings? Feel free to contact Rogers’ office at any time with questions by phone at 617-722-2637 or by email at

Belmont Fall Sports Starts With Solid Wins For Volleyball, Boys’ Soccer

Photo: Belmont High School Volleyball’s Mindee Lai attacking the net.

Belmont High athletics started the 2019 Fall Sports season on Thursday, Sept. 5 with a pair of solid home outings.

Volleyball Cage Wildcats In Straight Sets

In its season opening victory over Wilmington High, Belmont High’s Volleyball squad showed that it has just as much or even more talent on the court in 2019 than last year when it made its way to the Division 1 Central/East Sectional finals against eventual state champs Newton North.

Belmont swept the Wildcats 3-0 (25-11, 25-17, 25-10) in the first game in the Wenner Field House that is adjacent to the construction site of the new Middle and High School.

“I’m really happy with the way they played,” said Belmont Head Coach Jennifer Couture, who led her team in the season opener less than two weeks after giving birth to her daughter.

Belmont’s Sam Lim setting for her teammates.

“I think that everybody just went all out and they weren’t afraid of making mistakes. There’s still stuff for us to work on like communication, but I think, overall, the team played really aggressive,” she said.

Where Belmont has gained from last year is the addition of a second setter. Senior setter Mindee Lai now has junior Sam Lim who can take over setting up attacks, allowing her to play outside and use her hitting skills.

“Those two centers gives us a lot of options and lets us do a lot of different things we couldn’t last year,” Couture said.

Marauder Jenna Crowley sets up for a block.

Couture also pointed out senior libero Sophie Estok who came up with 12 digs and sophomore Megan Kornberg who “really stood out in her varsity debut. She played with a lot of confidence. Great passing great hitting.”

Boys’ Soccer Strikes Quick vs Wilmington

The Belmont High Boys’ Soccer got off to a fast start in the new season as they struck early in each half to defeat Wilmington, 2-0, in the season debut.

Senior Jon Brabo opened the scoring campaign with a strike eight minutes into the first half (assist from sophomore Mateo Estrada Donahue) while Will Kilavatitu entered the scoring column with a goal after only two and a half minutes into the second half (fellow junior Ali Noorouzi assisting) to give Belmont all the edge it needed as senior goalie Finbar Rhodes earned the clean sheet with five saves.

“This is a very likable group,” said Head Coach Brian Bisceglia-Kane of his team that saw a good number of senior players graduate in June.

“It’s a youngis squad, but we have a mature group of juniors, which is why I think it works. They really matured a lot from sophomore into junior year,” he said.

It’s one game, but I think they showed what they’ve been working on moving the ball and we had a bunch of scoring chances in the game,” said Bisceglia-Kane.

Girls’ Soccer Trip To Wilmington Less Than Welcoming

A young Belmont High Girls’ Soccer squad surrendered a goal in each half to host Wilmington and were shutout in its season opener, 2-0. The Marauders get back in action on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at Harris Field vs. Stoneham.

With $19M Of Red Ink To Drain, HS Building Committee Look To Designers/Builders For Fix

Photo: William Lovallo, the chair of the Belmont Middle and High School Building committee, explaining the $19 million deficit in the project.

The first law of holes is when you find yourself in one, stop digging.

And this past week, the Belmont Middle and High School Building Committee did just that when it turned to the design team of Perkins+Will and general contractor Skanska USA to lead the process of filling a $19 million deficit at the $295 million construction project.

“We have heard loud and clear that a solution needs to be found,” said William Lovallo, the chair of the building committee.

According to Lovallo, the red ink has its origin in a “creep” in the project’s expenses and red hot real estate. The creep he spoke of is scope creep which refers to changes and continuous or uncontrolled growth in the project’s scope at any point after the project begins.

One example at the high school site: the expense of removing the soil dug up to allow the building of the high school wing.

“It turned out we needed to truck out a lot more dirt than expected,” said Lovallo.

Cost escalation is the second element, a result of Boston’s highly competitive construction sector as well as events outside the region that increase the cost of raw material and labor.

The plan to find the necessary savings was outlined by Tom Gatzunis of Daedalus, the committee’s owner project manager, who said the cuts would be found through value engineering which aims to identify and reduce unnecessary costs while maintaining or improving the value of the overall project.

This will be the second time the project will undergo a value engineering exercise as the committee spent two meetings in May ranking $30 million of construction expenses that either should or should not be cut due to worrying estimates that pre-production costs were beginning to spike.

But Lovallo admitted the committee missed “a golden opportunity” then, admitting the process was “rushed” over the two nights as the process became a showcase for a large number of residents focused on the project’s energy efficiency such as requiring solar arrays be a mandatory part of the development.

This time, the committee would leave the number crunching to the design and construction teams which have detailed familiarity of expenses and savings and have come to understand the committee’s core priorities which include keeping value within an educational program. It was unanimously approved by the committee at its August meeting.

“I like this approach,” said Belmont Superintendent John Phelan, approving of the collaboration between the three main players – the committee, designers and contractors – which will become “a team of one.”

The key areas of the project the team will focus on and the estimated target cost savings are:

  • the exterior ($3.5-$4 million),
  • the interior ($6.5-8 million),
  • the building systems ($2.5-$3.5 million),
  • the structure ($2-$3 million),
  • phasing and logistics ($.25-$.75 million)
  • and general conditions ($1-$1.5 million).

While the design and construction teams will present as a team a list of alterations to the building to cover the deficit, “It’s you at the end of the day which will approve or disapprove the changes,” said Gatzunis.

According to Brooke Trivas of Perkins+Will, some of the decisions the committee will need to make will be difficult “because there’s not a lot of fluff in this building.”

Last Wednesday, the team made its first stab at findings savings by tackling the interior with some encouraging results. Changes to the type of acoustic tiles on the ceilings of the high school corridors would save a little over a half of a million dollars while a different ceiling lighting fixture in the classrooms – producing the same amount of light with similar energy savings – would produce a “big number” of nearly $900,000 in cost reduction, according to Mike Morrison of Skanska.

But some changes were not considered by the committee as adding value to the building. When a suggestion to use a paint-like coating over drywall rather than tile in restrooms – which could save the project $950,000 -several educators on the committee and the town’s facilities director Steve Dorrance cautioned against this alteration.

“There will be 2,250 students using the restrooms everyday,” said Phelan, which will require a great deal of cleaning which tile floors and walls is the only practical surface to stand up to the repeated washings.

The cost reduction team and the committee will meet twice more – on Wednesday, Sept. 11 and Thursday, Sept. 19 – with presentations and final dollar estimates on the 19th.

First Day Of School Goes To Plan As Key Construction At High School Site Nears Midpoint

Photo: A third of the piles have been installed in phase one of the Belmont Middle and High School project.

It was a long Wednesday, Sept. 4 for Belmont Superintendent John Phelan.

After a busy Tuesday welcoming teachers and staff back to the district after the summer recess, Phelan’s Wednesday began bright and early at Belmont High School where he joined staff and Belmont Police in a new role, as traffic monitors to assist students and parents with the first new parking and drop off scheme since the school opened 49 years ago in 1970.

With the access road which once allowed parents to drop off students at the high school’s main entrance before exiting onto Concord Avenue now a fading memory, cars, SUVs and minivans clogged Underwood Street before doubling back onto Hittinger Street and out through the Trowbridge neighborhood due to the large scale construction of the new middle and high school at the west end of the project.

But with so much that could go so wrong, opening day of the 2019-2020 school year went “very, very well,” said Phelan during the meeting of the Belmont Middle and High School Building Committee on Wednesday.

“The wait … was not too long into the [high] school” due in large part to the team of officers from the Belmont Police along with signs produced by the Department of Public Works and balloons used to identify where vehicles could come and go.

“It was good to see the kids back at school,” said Phelan, who when not running a school system of 4,200 students was also tasked with supplying the Building Committee with pizzas and drinks.

“All in a day’s work,” he said pushing a chart into the Homer Building.

While the work of bringing a new class of 9th – 12th graders, the largest and largest construction task to date is moving along quickly as 133 concrete piles have been driven into the ground to anchor the high school wing of the building. Just on Wednesday, 27 “corner” piles were secured, marking out the rough outline of the high school section, according to Mike Morrison, project manager for Skanska, the general contractor.

“We are one-third of the way in Phase 1 of the building,” said Morrison, noting that debris and soil is being removed from the site as construction beginning in and around the site of the school’s pool.

“All is going well,” said Morrison.