Despite A Season Away, X-C and Swimming At Home In State Championships

Photo: Belmont’s Cross Country All-Star Stephen Carvalho

Due to the construction of the new Middle and High School, Belmont’s Cross Country and Swimming teams have lost their homes – the harrier’s Clay Pit Pond course and swimming’s Higginbottom Pool at Belmont High. But each program reached state finals this year with some strong performances.

Carvalho Leaves His Mark On X-C Honor Roll

Belmont’s Stephen Carvalho ended his high school harrier career with an outstanding performance at the Boys’ All-State Division l Cross Country Championships finishing 11th in a field of the state’s top runners.

Carvalho crossed the line of the 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) race in 16 minutes and 33 seconds, one second from a top ten finish and less than 30 seconds off the winning time of 16:06 set by King Philip Regional’s Mike Griffin.

It has been a stellar year for the senior capped by capturing the Middlesex League Championships title on Oct. 28 at Woburn Country Club as he broke away in the final stretch to out kick Lexington’s Adam Bernstein to win in 16:09.24, and being named Middlesex League Runner of the season.

In November, Carvalho paced the Marauders to a 16th place finish at the Division 2 championships in Wrentham. Once again placing 11th in 16:19.9, Carvalho was followed by junior Zach Gillette (17:25.7), sophomore Trevor Smith (17:34.6), junior Henry Yang (17:53.22), junior Alexan Athanasiou (18:07.50) and sophomore Lot Bates in 18:16.34.

The Belmont Girls’ X-C finished the season coming in 12th in the Division 2 finals. Junior Isabel Burger was the first Marauder across the finishing line in 45th place in 20:27.54. Junior Victoria Meringer (20:46.02), senior Joy He (21:05.65), senior Soleil Tseng (21:23.7), junior Matilda Hamer (22:20.4) and sophomore Zoe Dill (22:28.01) rounded out the runners from Belmont.

Running on opponents courses and riding the bus to meets, the Girls team finished with a 3-3 record and 2-3 in the Middlesex League while the Boys were 2-4 overall and 1-4 in the league.

Girls’ Swimming Score In DII Finals

Late evening practices at an undersized pool at the Belmont Country Club and weekends in Wellesley did not detour the efforts of the 4-6 Belmont’s Girls’ Swimming from a strong performance in the season-ending championship meets.

Belmont continued to show its decade long prowess in the 100-yard breaststroke as Katarina Chen led a trio of juniors into the top 15 at the Division 2 State Swimming and Diving Championship held at Boston University on Sunday, Nov. 17.

Chen erased nearly a second off her seeded time to power home in third place in l minute, 11.55 seconds. Alicia Lugovskoy came in fifth in 1:12.17 while Elena Li took more than a second off her season-best to finish 13th in 1:15.76 as Belmont took 34 points from the event.

And another group of third-year performers left their marks at the diving venue. Marina Cataldo took fourth in the one-meter event receiving 424.10 points. Sophie Cormier garnered 315.30 points for 11th while Samantha Burge survived the prelims and semi-final rounds to place 16th with 228.25 points.

Other Marauders in individual events included:

  • Junior Samantha Fogel, 16th in the 100-yard butterfly in 1:05.10.
  • Sophomore Alexandra Zarkadas, 100-yard backstroke.
  • First Year Alique Stepanian, 50 and 100-yard freestyle.

Belmont was represented in each of the relays contested at the meet:

  • In the 200 Yard Medley Relay: Zarkadas, Chen, Fogel and senior Meredith Chasse finished 9th in 1:58.73.
  • 200 Yard Freestyle Relay: Chen, Fogel, senior Chloe Park and Chasse came in 11th in 1:48.09.
  • 400 Yard Freestyle Relay: Zarkadas, First Year Clara Blagwati, Park and Lugovskoy finished 12th in 4:05.71.

Belmont finished the meet in 11th with 93 points. Wellesley took the title with 430 points.

Belmont High Football, At 5-4, Prepares For Watertown Riding High On Pair Of Wins

Photo: Preston Jackson Stephens at the receiving end of a 87 yard pass from QB Avery Arno for a touchdown.

When Belmont High Head Football Coach Yann Kumin met his team for the first time at the beginning of the season, he told them there were three goals they were going to strive for: winning, playoffs and a happy Thanksgiving Day.

Three months later on Thanksgiving Day week, Kumin and the team are a victory away from accomplishing the final two of their objectives.

After making the football playoffs for consecutive years, Belmont could secure its first winning season in more than a decade by beating its traditional rival Watertown (5-5) on Thanksgiving.

“We have two goals packed into one game,” said Kumin of his 5-4 team as it prepares for the annual grudge match this year at Watertown’s Victory Field at 10:15 a.m. “We have a team that has the ability to be explosive and effective on both sides of the ball. We’ll be prepared for our big game on Turkey Day.”

Belmont’s Head Coach “Q”

Belmont is riding high into Turkey Day after a pair of post-playoff victories against Malden Catholic and Beverly.

It’s what senior wide receiver Justin Rocha didn’t do which turned out to be the pivotal single play in Belmont’s 24-21 victory over Beverly High during a Nov. 16 Saturday matinee.

After Beverly High’s Duncan Moreland (who’ll be playing at Division 1 FCS University of New Hampshire next year) scored his third touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter, it was up to Belmont’s offense to take as much time off the clock to stop the momentum the Panthers’ built in the final 12 minutes.

At the end of a critical third down play, a Beverly lineman went after Rocha with a couple of well-chosen arm chops to the head, then proceeded to clap his hands at Rocha. And through it all, the Belmont co-captain refused to retaliate.

All the better since a referee followed the altercation and flagged the Beverly player for a 15-yard personal foul penalty and a first down for the Marauders. And Rocha? He turned to the Belmont sideline with his shoulders and palms up and an “all’s good” look on his face.

A few plays later, a second Panther’s personal foul sealed a gritty victory by the Marauders.

Belmont QB Avery Arno

“I’m really proud of the guys showing they had cooler heads. It was really two big moments and not to react was the smart thing to do,” said Kumin after the game.

It looked early on that Belmont would walk away with the win as it dominated both ends of the field. After senior kicker Hampton Trout made a chip shot field goal to give Belmont the lead, 3-0, Belmont’s defense dominated the line forcing the Panther to go three and out.

Belmont’s senior QB Avery Arno sprung into action driving Belmont down the field before connecting with junior WR Matt McHugh for a 23-yard pass down the middle of the field. The Marauder’s next possession saw Belmont facing a third and long in the shadow of its own goal line when Arno found junior WR Preston Jackson Stephens streaking down the right sideline for a 87 yard TD.

Beverly came back behind Moreland and three interceptions to cut the score to 17-14 only to see Belmont’s all-purpose senior RB Chad Francis to take the majority of carries before running to increase Belmont’s lead to 24-14.

The Beverly win came after the Marauders in a thoroughly workmanlike manner defeated Malden Catholic, 28-7,

The final home game of the season saw Francis run for 206 yards on 28 carries, earning him his fourth mention in Boston’s daily papers this season as either a Star or Player of the Week.

Belmont RB Chad Francis

Tennis, Anyone? Proposed Rink Delayed As Schools Seek Site For Varsity Courts [Video]

Photo: Belmont HS Juniors Brett Stievater and Phoebe Gray of the tennis teams seeking to bring back tennis courts to the new school campus.

After being delayed by more than six months due to concerns that the oversight process was too compressed, the anticipated solicitation of proposals for a new Belmont skating rink has again been put on hold as a last-minute appeal from supporters of Belmont High tennis has forced the School Committee to include five courts in the proposal.

The release of the request of proposal (RFP) for the new skating rink on school property west of Harris Field is now scheduled for Jan. 15, 2020 with the deadline for bidders to submit responses by Friday, March 20.

Additionally, the critical Town Meeting vote to approve the project and the transfer of the land for a public/private operation has been kicked from the first Town Meeting session in late April to the second night of the second session on June 1.

“There’s been an increasing call for the RFP to contain a programmatic need of tennis courts on the site and it finally came to a head,” said Jeffrey Wheeler, the town’s senior planner who is managing the RFP process.

The delay comes as the result of a last-minute push by a coalition of members of the high school tennis squads and racquet-loving residents who contend tennis was slighted in the design of the Belmont Middle and High School, the new 425,000 sq.-ft., $295 million school building that will house grades 7th to 12th.

While detailed plans for the new building and the land has been approved earlier in the year, the initial protest occurred when an army of supporters squeezed into the Chenery Middle School’s small conference room as if it was the Wimbledon grandstand before a championship final.

But the crowd of students, parents, and friends that came to the Belmont School Committee’s Nov. 12 meeting to express the collective unhappiness of their sport being ignored in the new school’s sports community.

“This is a simple question of equity,” said Katherine Stievater, a resident, parent of two varsity tennis players and boys’ tennis liaison to the Belmont Boosters Club.

“Members of the tennis team were disappointed and shocked when we learned that we’re the only varsity sport at Belmont High School that will not have its playing facilities rebuilt on the new campus,” said Belmont High Junior Brett Stievater who played varsity doubles last season.

The existing high school once had 10 courts near its east wing adjacent to the student parking lot, more than enough – five are required – to hold both the regular season and tournament matches.

But when the new school project was designed, it was discovered early on the building – which has a greater footprint than the existing building and roadways and parking – would put a squeeze on the playing fields surrounding the school. The solution was

Stievater noted that all other varsity teams will practice or play on the new campus

While the teams can use municipal courts to practice, that option will push residents off of playing surfaces that they have been using ,” said Donna Ruvolo, co-chairman of the Friends of Grove Street Park who was representing the municipal courts at the Grove Street Playground, adjacent to PQ Park and the Winn Brook Elementary School.

The campaigner’s support is wide and growing; petitions with several hundred signatures along with the support from the captains of each sports at the high school.

“It has been amazing to see other Belmont students support the tennis team being on campus. All varsity sports deserve to be represented on the new campus,” said Belmont High Girls’ Tennis representative Phoebe Gray.

“I think they know that it could have been them being sent off-campus,” said Gray.

While it appears movement has been made to restore the courts on school property, including those courts will likely force the schools to lose a playing field for other sports which it will be hard to replace, said Wheeler.

Wheeler noted the School Committee is planning to conduct a Community Impact Analysis which will determine the effect moving playing fields off-site will have for the students and other organizations such as Second Soccer. That analysis will. be completed by Jan. 7.

One longer-term hoped-for solution would occur with the construction of a pedestrian tunnel under the commuter rail tracks from Alexander Avenue to the high school campus, allowing for easier access for teams to the Winn Brook playing fields.

Worst Kept Secret Revealed: Donahue, MacIsaac Finalists To Be Next Police Chief

Photo: Belmont Police Chief search is down to two.

It must have been the worst kept secret around town for the past month.

But today, Thursday, Nov. 21, it can be revealed that Belmont Police’s Lt. Christopher Donahue and Assistant Chief James MacIsaac are the two finalists selected by the Police Chief Screening Committee and will be interviewed by the Belmont Select Board on Monday, Dec. 9, at 6 p.m.

Both candidates are currently employees of the Belmont Police Department. The interviews will be televised by the Belmont Media Center.

Copies of Donahue and MacIsaac’s application materials, inclusive of their respective plans for their first year on the job are available at

Housing Trust Applaud Increase In Affordable Units At ‘Final’ McLean Parcel

Photo: Northland Residential President and CEO John Dawley

You know you are doing something “right” when the same group that jeered you earlier is now cheering.

That’s what occurred at the Select Board’s meeting Monday, Nov. 18 after Northland Residential President and CEO John Dawley presented a revised residential development proposal at one of largest parcels remaining in Belmont’s McLean Hospital.

After coming under fire for a proposal critics called a “cut and paste” of its three existing developments at McLean, Northland’s revised blueprint for its fourth development in Zone 3 boosting the number of affordable units as well as provide housing to a broader spectrum of both income and population.

“I’m here tonight to try and be responsive to the voices that spoke at various meetings back in March on a project that appears to be responsive to the concerns that were articulated,” said Dawley Monday night.

The announcement brought praise from the representatives of the Belmont Housing Trust which has been a driving force in expanding economical living units in town.

“I’m really excited about this proposal and this is, indeed, a big win for Belmont,” said Trust Co-Chair Rachel Heller.

In January, Dawley’s firm presented to the town plans to build a “senior directed, independent living residential community” on nearly 13 acres of land set aside for housing when Town Meeting approved a mixed-use development program with McLean two decades ago in July 1999.

Similar to the Northland’s Woodlands development on the site, the project consisted of 34 large 2-to-3 bedroom townhouses with a sales price of upwards of $1.5 million along with 91 “flat” 1-to-2 bedroom apartments located in four-story buildings.

That first proposal was widely panned by affordable housing advocates and in March was quickly shelved by the Belmont Planning Board as it deemed the project was unlikely to pass Town Meeting’s two-thirds muster to alter six zoning bylaws required by the town.

“It was the belief, mistaken as it may have been, that replicating what I did on those parcels would be appropriate for Zone 3,” he said “I left on March 13, wounded but not dead.”

Fast forward nearly eight months and Dawley came before the Select Board after meeting with the town and housing advocates who asked Northland to take its plan “and think of it in a different way.” He spoke to his McLean partners telling them “I think I can make this work.”

The new proposal will be of the same scale and massing as presented in March but the project’s programming has been changed resulting in a broader income and age component, said Dawley:

  • The original 125 units has been increased to 144 total units with 40 townhouses and 104 apartments located in a pair of structures.
  • The garden style units will all be rentals, smaller than originally designed as condominiums. There will be no age restriction on the units A quarter of the apartments, 26, will be under the town’s exclusionary housing allocation.
  • The townhouses – which will be senior directed – will have reduced square-footage to lower the initial price with five or six units set aside as affordable.
  • The project will commit to LEED Certifiable Design Standard while focusing on “electrification.”
  • Traffic in and out of the new residential with a traffic light at Olmsted and Pleasant across from Star Market. There will also be shuttle bus from the area to a transportation hub such as Waverley Square and/or Alewife T station.

While Dawley cautioned the proposal is in its genesis and will undergo changes and “times where I’ll have to say ‘no’ to requests’,” the response from housing campaigners and the Select Board was enthusiastic and positive, as those in attendance gave Dawley a round of applause at the end of his presentation.

“I really appreciate that rather than walk away, they chose to engage with us and work with us,” said the Select Board’s Adam Dash.

“Northland’s proposed development at McLean will expand opportunities for seniors and families to have an affordable place to call home here in Belmont,” said Heller, whose day job is running the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association, which encourage the production and preservation of housing that is affordable to low- and moderate-income families.

“Providing more affordable homeownership and rental opportunities is key to meeting the needs of people who live, work, or go to school here as well as ensuring that Belmont is a welcoming and inclusive community,” she added.

Garden Club’s Holiday Sale – Greens, Bake and Sparkle – Set For Dec. 7

Photo: The poster for this year’s holiday/winter sale.

The Belmont Garden Club announces its Winter Sparkle, Holiday Greens and Bake Sale will be held Saturday, Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Chenery Middle School cafeteria. The entrance for the sale is adjacent to the parking lot at the rear of the building off Oakley Road.

Talented club members have started to create a vast array of natural fresh greens-based and dried arrangements to give your home or office a little lift this season. The items, created for inside your home or office and your front door and entry are reasonably priced and artfully arranged. 

This year’s sale promises to offer a variety of sizes and prices to peak the interest of all Belmont residents, whether living in small apartments or in large homes. The Club’s member workshops will continue until just prior to the sale to ensure the freshest possible plant materials.

In addition, attendees will be surprised at the tasty delights created by Garden Club members for its delectable Bake Sale, that includes single serving and party-size items. Cookies, pies, brownies, fruit tarts, coffee cakes, and international items will be featured; the possibilities are endless and never disappoint.

The Belmont Garden Club is a non-profit organization; proceeds from Winter Sparkle, Holiday Greens and Bake Sale will help fund both the Club’s annual Scholarships for Belmont students of the natural sciences and its community beautification projects which have included the Club’s Woodland Garden at the Belmont Public Library, flower planters in the business/shopping districts and plantings at various traffic deltas around town.

Questions? Please email the club at  or visit the Belmont Garden Club Facebook page. 

Goodbye Minuteman Again As Town Meeting Re-Rejects Membership In Regional Voke

Photo: Bob McLaughlin, Pct. 2. speaking against the town rescinding leaving Minuteman.

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said, “There are no second acts in American lives.” Wednesday night, Belmont Town Meeting affirmed that saying when it rejected the opportunity to again become a member of the Minuteman High School district.

The article to rescind the 2016 Town Meeting decision to decamp from the vocational school failed, 140-95, as a majority of members are hoping there will be plenty of space in the foreseeable future for students from non-member towns to attend the Lexington school.

“It’s a lot to do with how strongly you believe your own projection of the enrollment numbers,” said Jim Gammill, whose argument for rescinding the earlier decision was voted down by the town’s legislative body.

Members who sought to have the school readmitted to the nine-town district – a position supported by the school committee and Belmont Superintendent John Phelan – are worried that a recent enrollment boom at the school could forecast in an increasing number of Belmont students without a desk waiting for them.

Gammill (Pct. 2) who headed the task force to find an alternative to Minuteman, told members that facts have changed over the past three years from the time when Belmont decided to leave to save a significant amount by not taking on the debt of a new building’s while being able to still send students to Minuteman.

“What changed … is the new building,” said Gammill referring to the 257,000 sq.-ft. structure that opened in September, a year early and under budget. With 20 different vocational and technical shop concentrations, Gammill said interest by middle-schoolers has skyrocketed, a trend he believes is sustainable.

“At this rate, three years from now there will be a full school,” said Gammill, with the real prospect of Belmont students looking from the outside in as member school students are expected to take the available slots. If that occurs, “we won’t have the $100s of thousands of savings” as was predicted in 2016.

In addition, “There is no Plan B,” Gammill protested, saying other vocational schools or programs in eastern Massachusetts are unable to accept Belmont’s students as they are filled or the cost in tuition and transportation would make them “cost prohibitive.”

Like Henry V at Harfleur, Bob McLaughlin (Pct. 2) led the Minuteman skeptics “once more into the breach” having been one of the most vocal proponents three years ago for a BelExit.

“This is a bad deal,” said McLaughlin.

While calling the school “the best vocational training for our kids,” McLaughlin reminded the members that the town left the district in 2016 (by a 72 percent to 28 percent margin) after the other members approved building a new school that was “too large and forced us to take on all that debt.”

‘Belmont was trapped in an agreement that it couldn’t get out of and every year they would hand us a bill that was non-negotiable” for a school that spends nearly $36,000 per student.

McLaughlin said Minuteman has seen student population free fall from 1,254 when it opened in 1977 to 383 in 2016 “and it’s going to continue to drop along with the need for vocational education.” Even if the pro-return enrollment numbers are correct, Belmont would see, at most, two to three students being denied a seat at the table.

”We’re going to spend $472,000 (as a re-entry fee), $200,000 a year (in tuition costs) and assume [a portion of the] $144 million in debt” to assure three students will have an education at Minuteman, said McLaughlin.

And with Belmont ready to undertake a $6 million Prop 2 1/2 override on the ballot in one year’s time, “we’re giving sound bites to the opposition [to the override],” said McLaughlin.

Proponents for taking a second walk down the aisle with Minuteman attempted to show the growing need for a quality school by a growing number of students in Belmont.

Caitlin Corrieri

Chenery eighth grade teacher Caitlin Corrieri said that while many students succeed in the current learning environment, “I also have students for whom sitting in a 50 minute traditional class is torture, who learned better using their hands to make and create, whose brains think outside the box.”

“There is no ‘one size fits all‘ school for everyone,” said Corrieri, an 11 year veteran in Belmont. The alternative provided by Minuteman would be a better fit for some students. And that message is being heard at the Chenery; currently 54 eighth graders signed up to tour the school and 10 have submitted applications.

“I’m here tonight on behalf of our eighth grade teachers to implore you to allow our student to have those options in the future,” said Corrieri, noting that higher education and the workforce are evolving “and Minuteman is responsive to these changes.”

“I hate to see students turned away for Minuteman on a long waitlist because we didn’t speak out on this,” she said.

Jack Weis (Pct. 1), who was Belmont’s representative to the Minuteman School Board in 2016, voiced the opinion of many stating “that there is no right or wrong decision on this question as there are risks associated with either vote. Town Meeting members are going to have to decide … which version of the future they think is more likely.”

“And if they are wrong, which set of downside risky they are more comfortable leaving the town exposed to,” he said.

Mike Crowley (Pct. 8) who is a member of the school committee said “continued membership assures access for our kids for years to come … a no vote tonight put the future in jeopardy.” Once students are “squeezed out” of attending Minutemen, “the quality and breadth of programming isn’t there in the other schools that we may be able to offer us a spot or two.”

Warrant Committee member Elizabeth Dionne (Pct. 2) wasn’t convinced there will be an “enrollment crisis” to require Belmont to spend a significant amount of money annually when the town is preparing for a $6 million override in a year’s time.

With the needs of the general student population and special needs pupils to be considered, Belmont should find a way to “provide vocational education in a more cost-effective fashion,” she said.

“We don’t need to buy 40 years of insurance to make sure this happens,” said Dionne.

Jessie Bennett (Pct. 1) agreed with Weis that the financial difference in staying in or leaving Minuteman is relatively small (a cost-benefit of $100,000 being a non-member using the average number of Belmont students and the current student population) considering the $130 million-plus town budget. “If these numbers are so close, than we should vote our values and our values are to support students and provide them with the best possible education they can get.”

“If we don’t have this available for all kids, we are introducing instability into the decision making process for eighth grade families, we are introducing instability into the decision making process for every family … and in our future as a town that provides the best education for all students.”

The final vote – after which the Town Meeting showed its appreciation of Gammill’s work with a standing ovation – revealed the majority of members voted on the belief that interest in Belmont and surrounding towns in attending Minuteman will abate.

“That’s a lot to hope for because we really don’t have a Plan B,” said Crowley.

Special Town Meeting Starts Wednesday At The Chenery With Minuteman Redux

Photo: The new Minuteman High School in Lexington.

It’s the return of the Minuteman to Town Meeting as Belmont’s legislative body will convene in a special session on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Chenery Middle School as the high school auditorium will be filled with student/athletes on Awards Night.

Minuteman Returns As Members Ponder A … Return

The majority of the first night will be a debate and vote on Article 4 will be whether the town should reconsider its 2016 BelExit decision to bolt from its four-decade-long membership (by a 141-81 Town Meeting margin) in the Minuteman Career and Technical High School in Lexington and ask nicely to re-join the school district again.

The Minuteman redux is that since rejecting paying $144 million of its share of funding the new school, two major facts have come to the fore: first, after three years, the town has discovered there is no practical alternative for the two to three dozen Belmont students seeking a vocational education. Second, the new school which opened this year has been extremely popular and it’s forecasted there will not be the necessary classroom seats for all the students who want to attend from non-member towns.

Complicating matters is that the town will be required to hand over a one-time buy-back fee of $472,000 on top of paying the annual tuition assessment of approximately $255,000 in the 2020 school year.

It will be a debate with Minuteman supporters pointing to the corner the town has been painted into and their critics basing its “stay the course” plan on the Groucho Marx quote: I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.

Other Articles Set For Wednesday

Article 1 will allow for reports, proclamations and recognitions. Expect the late Lydia Ogilby to be acknowledged.

Article 2 is a capital appropriation for $347,700 to pay for the second half of the funding (the first at $347,100 was approved at May’s Meeting) to purchase a new fire department pumper truck. Expect easy passage as to why would members only want half a pumper truck?

Article 3 – which will follow the Minuteman article – will seek the approval of transferring an undetermined amount of money from Free Cash, which is at $8.1 million, into the General Stabilization Fund. The amount will be around $2.5 million to forego until November 2020 the all but inevitable Prop 2 1/2 override vote. Some questions on this and the odd “no” vote.

A Word From Mike For The Members: Limits Will Be Enforced

Town Moderator Mike Widmer has asked that Town Meeting Members be reminded of the following:

  • All meetings will start promptly at 7 p.m.; please plan to arrive in time to secure parking, sign in and obtain your electronic voting device.
  • The Moderator will strictly enforce the five-minute rule as well as the Moderator’s rules for speaking on any motion, rules that have already been distributed to Town Meeting Members.
  • Presenters will be held to the 10-minute limit and reminded at the nine minutes mark that there is one minute remaining.
  • Town Meeting Members will be required to sit in the designated sections of the auditorium – for the Chenery, the center section and the left section as seen from the rear of the auditorium and for the High School, the front section of the auditorium. We anticipate that there may be a number of non-Town Meeting Members who will attend these sessions of Town Meeting and by law, we must keep them separate from the Town Meeting Members.

Lydia Ogilby, Belmont’s Grande Dame, Dead at 98

Photo: An image of Ogilby at Richardson Farm

The old John Bright house (c. 1790), on Washington Street at the confluence of Grove, Blanchard, and Bright is quiet as the grande dame of Belmont, Lydia Richardson (Phippen) Ogilby, died on Friday, Nov. 1 in the home she called home for more most of her life.

Ogilby was 98.

“I really liked and admired Lydia,” said Pricilla Hughes of the Belmont Historical Society which Ogilby was long associated with.

“She was everything I hope to be if I live that long. She was smart, involved, and had strong opinions that she was not afraid the express. She truly was a grande dame,” said Hughes.

Ogilby with her grandson, Henry, on Memorial Day, 2019

The daughter of Clement Lowell Phippen (1885-1944) and Grace Richardson (1882-1969), Lydia was born on Aug. 7, 1921. She had two older brothers, Hardy who died in 2004 and Clement who died in 1939.

Her grandfather, Jay Richardson, was a market gardener with a pair of large greenhouses – that included a boiler house to heat them – who sold his produce at Quincy Market, using a large horse-drawn cart to make the trip from Belmont to Boston.

“My grandfather grew the best beets around,” said Ogilby in a 2012 interview by Belmont resident Jane Sherwin in Edible Boston.

After Richardson was badly injured after a cart accident in 1921, Grace Phippen moved her family including her newborn back to Belmont from Brooklyn in order to help run the farm, which she would inherit two years later. The land would continue to be farmed, after World War II with the help of a pair of tenant farmers, first the Sergi and later the Chase families.

Ogilby’s greatest legacy is the Richardson Farm the 10 acres of land between Bright and Blanchard owned by the family since 1634 when Charles I gave Abraham Hill a charter for a swath of land stretching from Charlestown to Belmont Hill.

By the 1990s, Ogilby was receiving a steady stream of offers for the land from various developers.

“It was suggested we turn the area into a train station and rent out parking spaces,” Ogilby told Sherrington. After consulting with her family, the Ogilbys decided to place the land under an Agricultural Preservation Restriction held by the Belmont Land Trust.

Ogilby told Sherrington it was a very hard decision for her family to give up the development rights of so valuable a property, but she believed that love of the land made it possible.

“It’s part of my children’s life. They’ve all lived in cities, every one of them has, but I think loving the land is in their DNA,” said Ogilby in Edible Boston.

Ogilby was also a constant serving in town governance, involved in a number of committees and Town Meeting:

  • . Town Meeting Member for 53 years spanning from 1963 to 2019 (with a couple of interruptions)
  • Capital Budget Committee 1970-1996
  • Solid Waste Disposal Study Committee and Solid Waste Disposal Advisory Committee 1974 – 1985
  • Historic District Commission 1978 – 2012 when she became an Emeritus Member to 2019
  • Library Site Planning Committee 2005
  • 125th Jubilee Committee  1983-1984
  • Republican Town Committee 1988

Her involvement in town matters did not diminish with age (nor did it stop her from driving to Star Market on Trapelo Road into her 90s). At 94, Ogilby led the opposition by longtime residents on plans to remove parking and a cut-through street in front of the former Belmont Savings Bank resulting in a Special Town Meeting after the Board of Selectmen eventually agreed with Ogilby’s position.

Ogilby would be an important voice at Town Meeting whether it was supporting an article or finding a way to relieve the tension at late night debates. Town Clerk Ellen Cushman recalled a particular night when voices were being raised over a particular measure, Ogilby got up to speak.

“Good news! My goat gave birth to four kids,” Ogilby proudly announced, reducing Town Meeting to giddy laughter, cooling the gathering’s temperature considerably.

Ogilby was a 1938 graduate of the Buckingham, Brown and Nichols School in Cambridge and received her Masters from Boston University’s School of Social Work. Ogilby worked as a clinical social worker and owned a nursery school in East Boston.

In 1949, Ogilby married John David Ogilby, a Harvard graduate who earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart as a naval officer at the Battle of Anzio in 1944. A sales manager for Philip Hano, Ogilby died in 1966 in Randolph, NH, where the Ogilby family has a summer home.

Ogilby is survived by her children; Henry, John David Jr., Clement and Lydia; nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be announced in the future.

Semis Bound Again: Belmont Boys’ Soccer Takes Down Arlington, Marblehead To Meet Winchester Wednesday

Photo: Senior Jon Brabo after scoring his second goal against Marblehead.

The 7th ranked Belmont High School Boys’ Soccer squad (12-4-2) will meet Middlesex League rivals and 6th ranked Winchester (12-3-5) one more time this season as the Marauders reach the MIAA Division 2 North semifinals for the third time in six years.

The game will be played on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 5 p.m. at Manning Field in Lynn. Forecasts call for temperatures in the upper 20s with winds around 10 mph so bundle up.

Poetic Justice: Belmont Opens Playoffs Beating SpyPonders In PK Thriller

With the game on the line, Belmont High’s senior goalkeeper Finbar Rhodes was in the zone.

With the opening game of the Division 2 North sectionals against neighboring Arlington High to be decided by penalty kicks, Rhodes got his gloves on four of the five shots, stopping two including Arlington’s fifth attempt giving the Marauders a 3-3 (4-3) victory on Wednesday, Nov. 6.

Those watching the action likely wondered if Rhodes had some intuitive understanding of where the SpyPonders would be placing the ball.

Well, he sorta did.

Going back a year ago, it was Belmont on the short end of a penalty kick decision, 0-0 (4-2), against Arlington which went on to the Division 2 state finals. It turns out that Belmont’s coaches reviewed the video of the game and discovered that many of the same players who took those penalty kicks were on the current team.

They took that information and wrote on a stripe of athletic tape the Arlington player’s number and where they took the penalty kick a year ago. For example, “7 L” told Rhodes number 7 would likely kick the ball to his left.

On Wednesday, each SpyPonder on the tape went where the tape said he would.

“It’s a big advantage to know where [your opponent] is going,” said Rhodes with a smile after the game.

“Poetic justice,” said a Marauder on hearing the story.

In a thriller of a game that contrasted Belmont’s patient passing with Arlington’s physicality, the Marauders played some of its most comprehensive soccer for the season as they held the majority of the ball throughout the first half and the first 10 minutes of the second.

Belmont Head Coach Brian Bisceglia-Kane gave all the credit to the players who were able to adapt to changes in positions and tactics to create the current winning lineup.

“It’s the guys and who they are, all the work that they put into the season and the composure and trust they have with each other. They kind of just have meshed together at the end of the season,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Brian Bisceglia-Kane.

“It’s just a good group of people that work well together,” he said.

It was the perfect start to the game for Belmont when senior co-captain Jon Brabo bundled in a bungled save attempt at the two and half minute mark. But the Marauders were brought back to earth when Arlington’s slotted in a rebound off Rhodes 40 seconds after the Marauders’ goal.

While the SpyPonders looked to grind down the Marauders, Belmont countered by forcing Arlington to chase the ball with a collection of short passes and constant movement from the midfield and forwards.

Belmont’s second tally came 10 minutes from the half when senior Theo DiTommaso hit a bullet from 25 meters that eluded Arlington’s goalie and settled in the left end of the goal.

It appeared Belmont had all but iced the game eight minutes into the second half when Belmont’s midfielders put together a three-pass combination ending with junior Theo Kargere sending a brilliant feathered pass onto a rushing Brabo who one-timed the ball into the net.

“We have been really connecting on those situations. It really comes down to our coaches who said [goals] will happen playing this type of game,” said Brabo.

But Arlington would not be deterred, scoring just 90 seconds later to keep the game close. The final 20 minutes saw the SpyPonders’ pressure and speed take the game from the Marauders scoring on a shot that eluded Rhodes with 18 minutes remaining in the second half.

Belmont would thwart a number of challenges by Arlington late in regular time to take the game into a pair of 10 minute overtimes. Despite returning to its game and dominating the extra time, the Marauders could not find the final touch on two near goals to end it in sudden death.

It was up to Rhodes and Belmont’s snipers to win it for the Marauders with Rhodes and his piece of tape giving the home team an immediate advantage turning back the first penalty. It was four to three Belmont in the fifth stanza when Rhodes dove to his left even before Arlington’s players sent the ball that way to parry it away.

“It’s great to redeem myself for those three [goals] that got by me,” said Rhodes.

“They’re just focused and there’s a lot of intrinsic motivation,” said Bisceglia-Kane. “It starts with the captains. Brabo and Spencer Price have unique traits and all do certain things really well like obviously Jon and Arista is more vocal. Spencer’s tends to be more quiet but when he speaks up man everybody, he has the room.”

“They just make my life a lot easier,” he said.

Brabo’s Brace the Marauders by the Magicians

With Marblehead’s upset of Lynn Classical, Marauders hosted the Magicians on Saturday, Nov. 9 at Harris Field, with Brabo ready to show his magic hadn’t worn off from the playoff encounter.

Brabo started his scoring with a hammer of a shot from 15 meters out that beat Marblehead’s goalie short side 10 minutes into the game. The senior co-captain registered his second goal 15 minutes into the second half off a corner, stretching his head over the defender’s shoulder and slotting the ball back across the goalmouth and into the net.

“Obviously I owe it all to my teammates. They put me in the position where I just have to do the last part which is finishing,” said Brabo.

Belmont’s combination passing allowed the Marauders to both keep possession and move the ball into the Magicians’ end of the pitch. This game Belmont’s back line stood up to the few Marblehead forays at Rhodes’ net.

Wednesday will be the season’s rubber match with Winchester, first losing 3-0 at home on Soccer Night at Belmont while winning away, 2-0, three weeks ago.

“We always respect Winchester. It’s a really good team in our league and they’re well coached. We’re excited with what we have and obviously we known them really well,” said Bisceglia-Kane.

“It feels great playing them again,” said Brabo.

“After that devastating loss on Soccer Night, we had a chip on our shoulder and that showed when we beat them at their house. This is the deciding game, there’s a lot riding on it. As a senior, I’m going to put my heart out there but I’m sure everyone’s gonna do the same because it’s such a huge game,” said Brabo.