Letter To The Editor: Chief MacIsaac Discuss George Floyd’s Death And Future Of Trust

Photo: Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac

On Thursday, May 28, I received an email from a Belmont resident who, in light of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer, felt it was necessary to ask me a few questions to proactively ensure the safety of Belmont’s minority citizens. I immediately answered the residents email. I have since heard from others with similar concerns, so I believe it is necessary for me to write this letter.

I watched the video of George Floyd’s death with dismay. As a police officer and former use-of-force instructor, I was sickened by the video. Speaking for the Officers at the Belmont Police Department, I can say that they, too, found the video disturbing. The death of George Floyd runs counter in every way to the values of democracy, justice, and fundamental fairness. Any officer who is not upset about the death of George Floyd, or seeks to justify the unjustifiable, should leave the profession of law enforcement.

Please know that our officers work very hard to build and maintain trust within our community. Our number one goal is to provide excellent, fair and impartial police services to the community of Belmont. Over the years, leadership at the BPD has infused an ethos into our Department requiring that all citizens and visitors to Belmont that we encounter receive fair, equal and compassionate treatment. Maintaining and cultivating this culture is our number one priority.

The most effective way we can build trust between the police and the community is for us to get to know one another.

Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac

Our officers are aware of the differences of explicit and implicit biases and have received annual training on how biases can affect their interactions with others. Belmont Police Officers are trained in de-escalation techniques that include de-escalating incidents involving people in crisis, people living with addiction, and people with autism.

The circumstances of the George Floyd death will and should cause police organizations across the country to take a hard look at their officers and their organizational cultures to prevent these kinds of tragedies from happening in the future. I can assure you that the Belmont Police Department fully embraces the six pillars of the principals found in President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

The Belmont Police will continue our partnerships and collaboration with existing and future groups that seek to bring social justice within our community. I have never been more proud of officers and our team at the BPD. At no time during my career, can I recall us having a group of professional and community minded officers like the ones that fill our ranks today. I will be attending each roll call in the coming week to discuss the incident in Minneapolis with our officers and to share the concerns that residents have expressed to me.

The most effective way we can build trust between the police and the community is for us to get to know one another. I, and the members of the Belmont Police Department, will always make ourselves available to anyone who has concerns or questions regarding operations, tactics and how we interact with the public.

As a police officer, it is heartbreaking to me when I learn that there are people in our community that fear the police. We will make every effort to alleviate that fear and build trust within the Community of Belmont.

James MacIsaac

Belmont Police Chief

Developer Seeking 16 Townhouses Off Frontage Road On Belmont Hill

Photo: An architectural rendering of the proposed 16 townhouse project off Frontage Road on Belmont Hill. (EMBARC)

The email message to this media outlet was a call to arms: “How can someone even think about placing an apartment complex in our neighborhood of homes? How?”

The consternation from at least one Belmont Hill resident comes as a Florida-based developer is proposing to build 16 townhouse units on approximately half an acre of land at 91 Beatrice Cir., located off of Frontage Road between Park Avenue and Pleasant Street.

The proposed project will highlight the Select Board’s Monday, June 1 remote virtual meeting at 7 p.m.

The development team has applied for a comprehensive permit under Chapter 40B, the sometimes contentious state law enacted in 1969 to promote the construction of low- and moderate-income housing.

The law allows developers to skirt local zoning regulations – such as for density and lot restrictions – if 20 to 25 percent of the project units have long-term affordability restrictions and the town’s housing stock is less than 10 percent affordable. The development team is setting aside four units as affordable to households earning 80 percent of the median income around Boston.

And Comprehensive Land will be seeking waivers from 10 zoning bylaws – including restrictions on attached apartments in the SR-A district, the requirement that a nonconforming development undergoes the Planning Board’s Design and Site Plan Review, minimum lot area, open space limited, yard setbacks and lot coverage, to name a few – and from the town’s stormwater management and control bylaw.

In a letter to Select Board Chair Roy Epstein dated May 13, MassHousing, the state agency that oversees 450B proposals, has already begun the process of reviewing the application and seeking information from the town on moving forward with the project.

For the developer, this townhouse project will allow moderate-income families the opportunity to live in Belmont.

“Through Chapter 40B’s streamlined permitting, the proposed project creates affordable rental opportunities, with larger units that have the potential to provide much-needed family housing,” said the developer in its application to MassHousing. “The average single home sales price in Belmont over the past twelve months exceeded $1,250,000.”

Comprehensive Land Holding, LLC – made up of Joseph, Jacob and Stephen Tamposi on this project – of the Gulf Coast community of Hernando has long roots in New England (Samuel Tamposi Sr. made the family fortune in real estate and business holdings in southern New Hampshire) constructing upscale homes in upscale communities such as Wayland while expanding to the Sunshine State where it built “our family’s flagship community.

The Tamposi’s 40B project in Belmont is not their first in the area. In fact, the family has made quite a splash down in Milton where it’s proposing two large scale affordable projects totaling 252 units with 380 parking spaces.

The developers purchased the existing structure – a seven-room brick ranch built 72 years ago – after a wave of activity as the property was sold three times in the past three years. The 2,700 sq.-ft. structure was bought for $1.4 million, a cool $300,000 over the assessed value.

The project consists of a pair of buildings – laid out east to west on the lot – each with eight connected wood-framed townhouses. The southern row of housing will consist of three bedrooms in three stories, 1,480 sq.-ft townhouses; the building closest to Frontage Road will be four bedroom, four stories at 1,800 sq.-ft.

There will be a parking space inside each townhouse and 10 additional spaces for overflow parking. The lot is situated across from a number 84 MBTA bus stop with access to Alewife Red Line station.

The unnamed Belmont project is following a decade long development trend of building residential apartment and condominium blocks along Route 2 inbound towards Cambridge. Multi-unit blocks now dot the landscape from the Belmont line – including the Royal Belmont – to a recently opened 320-unit apartment complex where the Lanes & Games bowling alley and the Gateway Motel once stood.

What Every Parent Needs: A Summer Tip Sheet As COVID Restrictions Are Lifted

Photo: Open to the community.

Prepared by Lisa Gibalerio, prevention specialist, Wayside Youth and Family Support Services

As towns and states pull back on the restrictions imposed to “flatten the curve,” and society tries to re-open businesses and resume “life as usual,” questions arise:

  • What’s safe for our families to do now?
  • Can my kids see their friends? get jobs?
  • Can we eat in a restaurant? go to the beach?

The most important thing to realize as you venture out into the world is that the coronavirus has not been eliminated — COVID-19 is still around us, it is highly contagious, and it can be fatal. 

Shifting From “Prevention” to “Minimizing Risk”

“Flattening the curve” was part of a strategy of prevention and containment: we kept our distance to avoid overcrowding hospitals.  Now, as society moves to open up and we venture forth, our strategy needs to change accordingly — to minimizing risk.  

How do we do that?

First, remember how COVID-19 spreads:

  • Airborne transmission – particles spread from one person to others via coughing, sneezing, and talking, this is by far the most common means of transmission.
  • Surface (“fomite”) transmission – particles spread from contaminated surfaces; this seems to be a much less significant source of transmission for COVID-19.

Core Guidelines to Keep in Mind

  1. COVID-19 spreads by airborne transmission in closed spaces, so….

Avoid closed spaces and crowds as much as possible, and instead meet others in open, well-aired spaces; outdoors is best.

  1. COVID-19 spreads via droplets in the air & stays airborne for long periods of time, so….

Use face masks and keep social distancing (6 feet minimum — 10 feet is better) even while outside, to keep out of the “particle cloud” created by others’ speaking and coughing; realize that sometimes you might pass through a cloud left minutes before, so protect yourself. Wash with soap and water after any interactions with others.

  1. COVID-19 is highly contagious and people can have the virus without showing symptoms for days — everyone is a potential carrier, so…

Recognize that this is not about you alone. The danger you personally face is only part of the equation. You are potentially dangerous to others around you. Think of yourself as a potential link in a chain of disease, and try to minimize your role in that chain.

Can the kids see friends, or visit our extended family?

  • Check in with parents of your kids’ friends, and try to assess the potential risk they pose. Ask about their practices for the past 10 weeks, e.g., “Have you been physical distancing?” “Have you been working from home?”  “Do you wear masks when outside the home?”
  • Outdoors is the safest option; keep well spaced (at least 6 feet apart, even further is better).
  • Wear a mask.
  • Keep hand sanitizer close by.
  • If a food event, bring your own food, and avoid sharing serving utensils.
  • Discourage sleep-overs, indoor play dates, or any activities that involve extended periods together in closed spaces. There is much more risk.
  • To allow for lower-risk play dates and teen gatherings: keep them outdoors, everyone use masks, and maintain distance.

Can my teens have a summer job?

There is no “one size fits all” answer. There are a variety of factors to consider, and the decision will still be a personal one within a given family. Consider:  

  • Does the job involve crowds?
  • Is the place well ventilated?
  • What is your teen’s tolerance for wearing a face mask?
  • Is there anyone in your family who is high risk?

Where can my family go?


  • Maybe.  Call ahead.  Only if outdoors, tables are well spaced, and staff are fully masked.

Backyard BBQ?

  • Gather information:  How many people will be there?  Will masks be required?  Can I bring my own food?  Is there a plan for bathroom use?


  • Maybe — off hours are best.  Avoiding crowds is the goal.

Hair Salon?

  • Maybe.  Call ahead.  Ask about the precautions that are in place:
  • How many people will be in salon?  Are chairs wiped down?  Is mask wearing required for all?  Skip the shampoo and blow dry – get in and get out.

Public Transportation?

  • Only if you must.  Be very cautious.  Wear a mask.  Sanitize before and after.  Spread out.

Concluding Thoughts: Be intentional, thoughtful, and plan ahead.

A Letter To Patrons: Belmont Library Preparing To Reopen In Phases Over Coming Months

Photo: Peter Struzziero, Belmont Public Library director

Dear Belmont Library Patrons:

Thank you so much for your support of the Belmont Public Library during this time. We have enjoyed connecting with many of you virtually over the past few months. We are looking forward to getting library materials back into your hands soon.

We are putting together a phased reopening plan for the Library based on the guidelines from the Reopening Advisory Board created by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, as well as recommendations from the Belmont Health Department and State Library organizations. Our goal is to fully restore Library services over the next several months, while continuing to prioritize the health and well-being of patrons and staff. 

We hope to see staff return to the Library during the month of June and will be working on preparing the building, collections, and technology for reopening. We’d prefer that you keep your library materials at home still, but will be willing to receive them in our outside book drops if it would be inconvenient for you to continue to hold them for us. Due dates for items currently checked out are extended until June 30 so there is no rush to bring your returns back. The Friends of the Belmont Public Library are unable to accept book donations at this time, and we appreciate your patience with that. 

We plan to begin offering contact-free holds pickup to you as soon as we can safely do so. More information, including the specific date that this service will start, will be announced soon in through our newsletters.

To keep our community connected and informed, we send out regular email newsletters with the latest news. We’d love to see more of our users sign up for updates or read previous newsletters at belmontpubliclibrary.net/services/news/. If you are already a newsletter reader, if you’d help us spread the word among your circles, that would be great too.

Please contact me at pstruzziero@minlib.net with any questions or comments. Stay well!

Peter J. Struzziero
Belmont Public Library director

Early Morning Smokey Fire Damages Purecoat Plating Plant on Hittinger

Photo: The Purecoat North site

An early morning two alarm fire involving chemicals used in the plating process occurred at the Purecoat North facility adjacent Belmont High School property at 39 Hittinger St. on Friday, May 28.

Belmont Fire Chief Divid Frizzell said in a press release that a call was received by Belmont Fire from Purecoat’s monitoring company at 12:51 a.m. reporting a fire alarm activation at the location. All on-duty Belmont personnel and apparatus responded. 

Upon arrival there was a large amount of black smoke coming from the building, involving equipment, chemicals and storage vessels used in the plating process. Due to the nature of the chemicals at the site – that can include solvents such as:

  • Benzene
  • TZE
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Methylene chloride
  • Tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene)

a second alarm was transmitted which brought local aid from Arlington, Cambridge, and Watertown to the fire while Waltham Fire covered one of Belmont’s stations. 

The fire was brought under control in about 30 minutes. The Massachusetts District 2 Hazmat Team had a Tier 1 response to the location to check for hazardous materials. They found the chemicals were contained inside the protective barriers within the building. 

The building was unoccupied at the time of the fire and there were no injuries to firefighters. The cause of the fire is under investigation and a dollar loss has not been established.

Belmont High’s Graduation Celebrations Start With A Grab and Go [VIDEO]

Photo: No need to leave your car to start the graduation celebrations at Belmont High.

It was one stop shopping for Belmont High’s senior class as graduates came back to the school in vehicles to pick up their diplomas, caps and gowns as well as some swag and loud, sustained congratulations from teachers and staff.

In a year when a world-wide viral pandemic ripped to shreds the traditional events – prom, cruise, get togethers and a happy graduation ceremony in the field house – associated with the final days of public school, the high school administration team came up with safe, festive occasions to demonstrate to the students and their parents that their 13 years of schooling would be acknowledged.

Under summer like conditions, nearly the entire class of 2020 – about 330 students – drove into the school’s parking lot to an assembly line of facility who handed out diplomas, the swag bag and a line of teachers beating drums, holding signs and singing. And the kids, many with parents, family and friends in their cars and SUVs, appeared to appreciate the gesture.

What Do Belmont Voters Need To Know To Cast Ballots By Mail

Photo: Absentee ballot

It is now less than a month before Belmont voters head to the polls – or a post office – to cast their ballots in the annual Town Election.

The Select Board voted to postpone the local election from April 7 to Tuesday, June 23 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And due to safety concerns related to the virus, the state has made it easier for residents to vote via the US Postal Service after the Massachusetts legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker have temporarily expanded the acceptable reasons for voting absentee to include any person taking precaution related to Covid-19.

In response, Belmont Town Clerk, Ellen Cushman encourages people who want to vote in the local election to consider doing so by mail. Voting in person will be different with social distancing protocols and other safety measures in place to protect Belmont’s election workers and voters.

Ideally most people who want to vote in the local election will do so by mail to limit exposure. Voters choosing absentee voting must submit a written signed request to receive ballots by mail.

It is easy to sign up for ballots to be mailed to you by using the application form or writing a letter.

  • Requests for absentee ballots must be in writing and signed by the voter.
  • Completed, signed requests may be submitted to the drop box outside of Town Hall (parking lot level), US Mail (Town Clerk, P.O. Box 56, Belmont, MA 02478), fax (617-993-2601), or email (mpiccione@belmont-ma.gov).
  • You may request ballots for all elections remaining in 2020: June 23: Belmont Local Election; Sept. 1: Massachusetts State Primary; Nov. 3: Presidential Election.
  • Apply early. All absentee ballots are counted every election.
  • Town Clerk’s webpage with more details: https://www.belmont-ma.gov/town-clerk/pages/elections-absentee-voting-early-voting
  • Questions? Email to townclerk@belmont-ma.gov or leave a voicemail at 617- 993-2603.

Recognizing Graduating Seniors, One Cup At A Time [VIDEO]

Photo: The finished product: A seniors sign of the times

It’s been an unsettling time for the graduating class of Belmont High School; a pandemic that caused the sudden cancellation of classes, the transitioning to on-line learning, missing their classmates, the shutting down of long rehearsed concerts and the Spring Musical and the loss of an entire season of sports.

And for the seniors, what was unthinkable on March 1 became a reality weeks later: no prom, no senior events, no live awards ceremonies and the cancellation of a traditional graduation. The response for many was of sadness, lost moments that should have been happy memories of the last days of public school.

Yet even the smallest of gestures can show the community and families know that this time of year remains a special time. For Liz Biondo and Joan Horgan, it took the form of red plastic party cups.

On a warm Wednesday late afternoon, the mom and daughter (both are Belmont High grads, Liz – who attends Simmons – in 2019) were wedging cups into the chain link fence adjacent the athletic fields along Concord Avenue spelling out “We [heart] Our Seniors” for the youngest Biondo, Anna, and all her fellow graduates.

“This is a special graduation because she’s my last one to graduate,” said Horgan of Anna.

“Knowing what my sister is missing really hurts so we really wanted to do something that shows we care,” said Biondo.

“It’s a weird time so we wanted to do different things and make the most of it,” said Horgan.

Belmont Moves On Host Agreement Negotiations With Two Pot Shops

Photo: A Mint dispensary in Tempe, Arizona

Belmont has established its team to broker a deal with a pair of firms seeking to open retail marijuana establishments on Pleasant Street.

The Select Board voted on Monday, May 18 to have Town Administrator Patrice Garvin, Office of Community Development Director Glenn Clancy and Board member Adam Dash to negotiate the Host Community Agreement with the owners of Mint Retail Facilities LLC and Cal Verde Naturals.

Meant to mitigate the local impacts of the businesses such as increased traffic, host agreements are limited to five years from the day the dispensaries open their doors, and the fees paid to the town cannot exceed three percent of the businesses gross sales.

Late last year, the state legislature passed a law prohibiting communities from gouging pot shops with added fees and “contributions” above the three percent threshold. In 2019, Falls River Mayor Jasiel Correia was arrested for extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from businesses by accepting bribes in exchange for license approval.

The host agreement is one of two requirements – the other is for the applicants to hold public outreach meetings in the community – the businesses must have before they can apply for a license from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, according to Blake Mensing, who is an owner of a dispensary.

In addition to the host agreement negotiations and the applicant’s public meeting, residents will have a third opportunity to speak out concerning the businesses when they go before the Planning Board.

Arizona-based Mint, which has three other applications in the state, is seeking to rehab the Lenny’s Service Center site at 768 Pleasant St. into a “world class adult-use“ retail operation.

Winchester couple Kelly and Stephen Tomasello have leased 3,600 sq.-ft. of commercial space at 1010 Pleasant St. where they hope to open Cal Verde Naturals, which will include a 2,100 square foot dispensary.

Belmont Light’s Chris Roy Leaving To Run Shrewsbury’s Utility

Photo: Chris Roy, Belmont Light GM

Belmont Light’s General Manager Christopher Roy, who brought much needed stability to a sometimes troubled utility, is leaving his post to take over the running of the Shrewsbury Electric and Cable Operations.

Roy told the Light Board at its Monday, May 18 meeting that his first day in his new position will be Monday, July 13. He is replacing Mike Hale, who spent 32 years managing the utility.

“I’ve really appreciated the things we’ve been able to do so far and really enjoy the opportunity to talk transition planning,” said Roy, who was hired two years ago last month. Roy said he’s willing to provide his suggestions on the transition including personnel moves in executive session.

“I guess I can speak for the rest of us that we were surprised and disappointed but also wish you well because when you’re good, you get outside offers and that’s the way the world works,” said Belmont Light Board Chair Roy Epstein.