Saturday From The Town Of Homes – It’s ‘Belmont Together: Live!’ [Video]

Photo: Belmont Together: Live takes place Saturday, May 16

Coming this Saturday to a TV or computer screen near you: Belmont Together: LIVE, a community-wide celebration of the stories of hope and neighbors helping neighbors and it will be starring … you? 

Singers, actors, musicians, poets, students, seniors, kids and everyone in-between: you’re invited to star in this event!

Belmont Together: LIVE is a one-night-only-event this Saturday, May 16 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to benefit Belmont Helps, which serves the local COVID-19 needs of the community. Donations to the group are welcomed at

Belmont High alumni Elisa Bello and David Green brought their vision of sharing Belmont residents’ strength and resiliency. Belmont Together: LIVE will showcase our community’s talents and messages of hope to all of Belmont.

The evening will feature a slate of live co-hosts, local celebrities and talent who will appear via Zoom with pre-recorded video clips for a spotlight upon our local entertainment and warm wishes for you and yours.

And you’re invited! Be a part of the show yourself, your family, your neighborhood, your club or team, your band or singing group, in one of two ways:

  • Submit a picture or short video by clicking HERE and we’ll contact you about your submission. Tell your story, sing your song, do your dance, share an encouraging message to help uplift our community. Be creative – be different – and have fun.
  • Appear LIVE via Zoom and be a guest by sending an email to Brandon Fitts HERE

SUBMISSION DEADLINE is Tuesday, May 12 at 5 p.m.

On Saturday, tune into Belmont Together: LIVE one of two ways:

On cable: Channel 9 on Comcast and channels 29 and 2130 on Verizon.


  • Facebook/belmontmedia

For more info: Please visit

Victim ID’d In Birch Hill Road Blaze, Fire Alarms Found Not To Be Working

Photo: Non-working fire alarms were a likely factor in the death of a Belmont resident last month.

A pair of non-working residential fire alarms were a likely factor resulting in the death of a woman on Birch Hill Road last month, according to Belmont and State Fire officials.

While the cause of the 4 a.m. blaze on April 24 officially remains “undetermined,” it appears the fire was accidental, said Belmont Fire Chief David Frizzell and State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey in a joint statement on May 8.

“Fire investigators determined the fire started in the kitchen. They found no signs of an intentionally set fire. There was evidence of several potential accidental causes, but not enough to narrow it down to one most probable cause. Therefore, the fire will remain officially undetermined,” said the release.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan has identified the victim as Alison Bane, 55, who was the only occupant of the house. Bane, who previously lived in Arlington and Maine, graduated from Boston College in the 1980s with a BA and a law degree and practiced in Maine. The house is owned by a trust in her parents’ name.

There was one minor firefighter injury. A cat was rescued from the house and is being taken care of. Damage to the split-level single-family home is estimated at $150,000.

Frizell said first arriving firefighters did not hear any smoke alarms sounding. During the investigation, one battery-operated alarm on the lower level of the home had no battery and appeared to be of 1980s vintage. Pieces of a similar style smoke alarm were found on the second floor, but it may not have actually been installed. There were no carbon monoxide alarms in the home.

“It is important to replace smoke alarms … every ten years. Like every other appliance in your home, they do not last forever,” said Frizzell. “Time is your enemy in a fire where you may have less than three minutes to escape. Expired alarms cannot be counted on to work in a fire.”

Ostroskey said the Belmont incident was the second fatal fire in April where the smoke alarms were decades old and failed to work when residents needed them most.

“I urge everyone to take the time this spring to ensure all smoke alarms that need them to have fresh batteries and replace any alarms that are more than 10 years old.” he added.

“Ask yourself, ‘when did I last replace these smoke alarms? Were they here when I moved in?’ Smoke alarms made in the last decade have a date stamped on them. Older alarms do not.”

Investigators from the Belmont Fire and Police Departments and State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal and to the Office of the Middlesex District Attorney jointly investigated the fire. The Department of Fire Services’ Code Compliance Unit provided assistance.

For more information on smoke alarms, go to:

Left No-No: Town Set To Experiment With Belmont Center Traffic Patterns

Photo: The WWI Memorial will become the new way to get onto Concord Avenue westbound from Belmont Center during an experiment to make the intersection with Common Street safer.

Whenever Glenn Clancy thinks Town Administrator Patrice Garvin needs cheering up, he will throw out something “crazy out there” at a meeting or in an email.

“I would talk about, like, my dreams for Belmont Center,” said Clancy, the town’s long-time director of the Office of Community Development as well as the town engineer. Those flights of fancy encompass a design – he is an engineer, after all – that will ease the daily bottleneck of commuters hammering through Belmont’s main business district by sending drivers looping around the center in creative new ways.

Then, last month, Garvin told Clancy that now would a great time to follow that dream.

Last Monday, Clancy received the initial go-ahead from the Belmont Select Board to try out one of a pair of ideas that will require drivers to begin looping around Belmont Center in the name of efficiency and safety.

“My real goal tonight is to have the board … maybe not necessarily say ‘Yes, it’s crazy enough that it might work,’ but say ‘Glenn, it’s crazy enough that we feel comfortable with you kind of taking it to the next step and continuing to do your homework here,” said Clancy.

It will all start with the town putting its foot down on left-hand turns.

“I have always been troubled by the left turn conflicts that are created at that intersection of Common Street and Concord Avenue,” said Clancy. A great amount of southbound traffic coming out of the tunnel wants to turn left onto Concord Avenue westbound towards Cambridge. At the same time, there is a good amount of southbound traffic on Common Street looking to take a left under the bridge entering the Center.

“And so you have these two left-turning movements that are in conflict with each other and with each other and they are creating queuing that is impacting the flow of traffic through Belmont Center,” said Clancy. It’s little wonder that this intersection has one of the highest numbers of fender benders in town.

This is not a new problem. A decade previously, the BSC Group, the Boston-based engineering firm that has been Belmont’s go-to for traffic studies, was looking “at a whole host of ways to manage traffic on either side of the bridge,” said Clancy.

“One of the ideas they threw out there was, ‘Hey, what if we turn the Memorial Island into a roundabout and make everybody come up off the bridge?'” said Clancy. The problem with that proposal meant redesigning the island and its near century-old monument for those residents killed in WWI.

“It would have impacted the Lions Club (located at the Belmont commuter rail station) in the activities that they’re involved with over there would have completely changed the landscape of the memorial island itself,” said Clancy.

“I didn’t have an appetite for that,” he confessed.

The perfect time to experiment

Just as that plan was set aside, an explosion of commuters from Arlington and points west began using Belmont Center as a cut though rather than battle with the gridlock at the Route 2/Alewife Station/Fresh Pond interchanges in Cambridge. With the center’s traffic becoming “so unmanageable,” Clancy put the idea to bed for the next 10 years.

Move forward a decade and due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting stay at home edict passed by Gov. Charlie Baker in mid-March, the traffic levels in Belmont today now resembles what the town sees on a hot Sunday afternoon in August – over 50 percent of the norm.

With traffic levels in Belmont greatly reduced, Garvin told Clancy now would be an opportune time to move forward with a trial balloon on easing traffic through town. “[W]e have a town-wide traffic study that’s informing us on where that traffic’s coming from where they’re trying to get to,” said Clancy.

Rather than attempting to reinvent the wheel, “I thought, ‘Geez, you know, maybe we should try to utilize the existing layout of the roadway’,” said Clancy, keeping the memorial as it is.

The main “experiment” would go back to solving the competing lefts by restricting vehicles from taking the left turn onto Concord Avenue eastbound towards Cambridge. Those looking to travel points east towards the high school or Cambridge would be directed to loop around the WWI Memorial where drivers would then proceed to take the left onto Common Street. (follow the red arrows on the illustration) And, voila! An end to the dueling left-hand turns.

“It’s that simple,” said Clancy. The experiment would last for two to three weeks to determine its impact and effectiveness. “I see us doing it long enough for us to determine whether or not it’s going to work.”

Clancy told the board he would wait until the state begins lifting the stay-in-place restriction on non-essential businesses to better resemble what a typical traffic flow will be. He said the proposal will be studied first by the BSC Group to see if there are “any fatal flaws” in the plan.

What Clancy is aware of is that some residents will see his dream as their nightmare. “I acknowledged that there’s going to be inconvenienced for people to always have to take that right.”

“If this works and this becomes a long term solution, at 11 o’clock in the morning, when you’re going under that bridge and you’ve got all that wide-open terrain in front of you and you’re forced to take a ride and go all around the world to get back to where you want to go, people are not going to be happy,” said Clancy.

But Clancy countered his own observation by stating the vast majority of peak hours traffic is from out of town, commuter traffic.

“They are the ones impacting the quality of life in the town. And there are going to have to be sacrifices made with the residents of the town to mitigate the impacts of the traffic that is coming in going through Belmont, through no fault of the residents who live here,” he said.

The second proposal would be a second looped detour, prohibit left turns onto Concord Avenue towards Town Hall and Pleasant Street after entering Belmont Center from the tunnel. (see blue arrows).

Cutting the queue

Drivers wishing to continue on Concord Avenue westbound towards Lexington and McLean Hospital would be required to travel up Leonard Street to the lights and take the left on Pleasant to reach Concord Avenue. Clancy said this restriction would only be needed for a couple of hours (suggested times: 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.) during the morning and evening commutes.

“What that does is it eliminates any of the bottlenecking that’s occurring right now at the Leonard/Channing/Concord intersection,” said Clancy. The current gridlock can result in traffic backed up on Concord Avenue all the way to Underwood Street adjacent to Clay Pit Pond.

Clancy told the board he’s eager to find a way to unplug the congestion in Belmont Center because a traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of Goden Street and Concord Avenue as part of the new Belmont Middle and High School project. And as it stands now, “that signal is not going to allow a lot of traffic to release off of Goden Street because the queue on Concord is going to be so unmanageable.”

“This is really an effort to try to look not only at the way traffic is flowing in and around Belmont Center but also take an opportunity here to see if we can alleviate the backup that’s occurring on Concord Avenue westbound in the evening,” he said.

While Select Board member Adam Dash dubbed the first plan “brilliant,” he was concerned that halting the left onto Concord Avenue after the tunnel would require anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to navigate the “loop” to return to Concord Avenue. Clancy said he will see if the lights at the intersection of Leonard and Pleasant has the ability to manage additional traffic and if a dedicated “left” lane can be added on Leonard Street.

Garvin advised the board that the town will have a limited window of opportunity to introduce a new traffic pattern to residents and commuters as traffic begins to “ramp back up.”

“What we’re doing trying to do is gather some information to then bring to the public to see if it worked,” said Garvin.

Both Dash and member Tom Caputo did feel that public input through the Transportation Advisory Committee should be sought but were satisfied that the “experiment” was temporary and there would be public meetings on the result.

With the board’s thumbs up to move forward on the first plan, Clancy will begin meeting with Belmont Police and Public Works on a traffic management proposal that will include the locations of barrels and barriers and where police officers would be stationed.

“And if successful, this will be a full-time change to the traffic pattern coming out of Belmont Center,” said Clancy.

COVID-19 Deaths Stabilize As New Cases Remain On The Rise In Belmont

Photo: Responding to COVID-19

As the number of new cases of COVID-19 continues to grow in Belmont, the number of deaths related to the virus has stabilized over the past six days, according to statistics provided by the Town of Belmont and Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

As of May 5, Belmont currently has 181 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 56 related novel coronavirus deaths; 45 of which are confirmed by filed death certificates with the Belmont Town Clerk’s office and 11 are unconfirmed.

The number of positive cases increased by 15 since the last day of April, deaths have remained at 56.

In Massachusetts, the number of confirmed cases has topped 70,000 at 70,271 with deaths now at 4,212 as of May 5.

Daily updates on COVID-19 and local cases will continue to be posted on the town of Belmont’s COVID-19 webpage.

Face Coverings: Required use in essential businesses

On April 27th the Belmont Board of Health and Belmont Select Board enacted Temporary Emergency Regulation #1 to empower operators of essential businesses and their employees to require all members of the public to wear a face covering, and to practice social distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines when entering an essential business within the town of Belmont. This regulation also applies to the operators and employees when working inside of essential businesses.

Per Gov. Baker’s COVID-19 Executive Orders, an essential business includes, but is not limited to, grocery stores, pharmacies, laundromats, home improvement stores, banks, and restaurant pick-up sites.

This regulation does not require that individuals use face coverings when in public spaces outside (i.e. sidewalks, conservation land) or engaging in exercise activities (i.e. running, biking), however, the use of a face covering is strongly encouraged wherever it may be difficult to safely engage in social distancing practices.

Please visit the CDC’s website to learn more about its recommendation for face coverings. The CDC has also posted information on how to make your own face covering.

Face Coverings for Senior Citizens

The Beech Street Center has a limited supply of face coverings available to provide to senior citizens in Belmont. Senior citizens may contact the Beech Street Center to request either handmade washable cloth masks, or disposable masks.

Please note that your call will be answered and Beech Street Center staff will respond to your request within 48 hours. To make your mask requests, please call the main number at 617-993- 2970 or email .

Beech Street Center

Nava Niv-Vogel, Director of the Council on Aging, wishes to remind the community that staff at the Beech Street Center are available to help residents of all ages to access essential services during the pandemic.

Due to growing national concern that people are waiting too long to seek out medical treatment over fears of catching COVID-19, potentially contributing to poor health outcomes, all residents are reminded to always call their primary care physicians and/or other medical specialists for advice regarding ANY medical issue, even if it is not related to COVID-19.

Staff at the Beech Street Center can be reached at (617) 993-2970.

Undefeated: Belmont High Spring Season Coaches Praise Teams, Seniors [Video]

Photo: A baseball playoff game between Belmont and Masco in 2019.

With Belmont High School students being forced to stay home and learn remotely for the remainder of the school year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, gone was the hope of hundreds of athletes participating in sports, from seniors in their final campaign to first-year students about to experience high school athletics for the first time.

In its way of saluting those teams and especially the seniors, Belmont Athletic Director James Davis and the head coaches of each of sports teams produced a video as both a pep talk and a thank you to those who could not participate in the spring season.

State Rep Rogers Has Challenger In Dem Primary As Fries Qualifies For Sept. Ballot

Photo: Jennifer Fries

State Rep. Dave Rogers will have his first primary challenger since being elected to the State House in 2012 as North Cambridge resident Jennifer Fries has qualified for the ballot for the 24th Middlesex in the Democratic primary currently set to take place on Sept. 1.

The district, known as the ABC District, includes the entirety of Belmont and precincts in Arlington and Cambridge.

“The 24th Middlesex has been my home for twenty years, and as I crossed the district collecting signatures in February and had conversations over the phone with voters in March and April, I heard residents express many of the same hopes and frustrations that inspired me to run for office,” Fries said in a press release dated April 30.

“The progressive values that guide my campaign are the values of so many Arlington, Belmont, and Cambridge residents, and I will fight for them as our State Rep,” said Fries, whose campaign for the 24th Middlesex is her first run for elected office.

Fries stated in her release that transit equity will be “a cornerstone of her campaign.”

“I know first-hand that our transportation crisis influences the career and caregiving choices of families across the Commonwealth, and investing in and modernizing the MBTA through new revenue streams will be one of my top priorities,” she said. She also highlights

Fries is the executive director of ACE Mentor Program Greater Boston which offers an after-school program that providing students in grades 9-12 with an introduction to the design, engineering and construction disciplines. She spent more than nine years as executive director of Cambridge School Volunteers.

She matriculated at Brown where she received a BA in Public Policy then obtained a Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School at Harvard.

She’s also is a volunteer with Girl’s Scout Troop 88277 and is part of a team of parents that ran 200 miles and raised more than $15,000 annually for the Friends of the Amigos School.

“I’m grateful to every voter who signed my papers to get me on the ballot,” said Fries. “This is just the first step, and I’m looking forward to speaking with and hearing from residents across the district in the months ahead.”

With New Buses Too Tall For Tunnel, Belmont Center T Stop Moving To UU Church

Photo: A current MBTA bus that fits under the commuter rail tunnel at Belmont Center.

The fleet of new buses purchased by the MBTA since 2017 will “help fulfill its environmental needs while increasing transit service,” according to the mass transit public agency.

The 350 hybrid Xcelsior vehicles manufactured by New Flyer of America are cleaner and far more fuel-efficient than the all-diesel buses being replaced, can hold more commuters, and best of all, will “provide a more comfortable ride for passengers.”

And they’re too tall to clear the Commuter Rail tunnel in and out of Belmont Center.

When the T took an XDE40 model for a spin to Belmont in the fall of 2019, it was discovered that the height of the new vehicles could not travel in the right-hand lane as it passed on Concord Avenue without taking off the top of the bus on the underside of the tunnel’s ceiling.

“The negative for Belmont and a handful of other communities that have this type of a bridge feature on their routes is the bus is too tall to get under the bridge,” said Glenn Clancy, director of the Office of Community Development and the town’s engineer before the Select Board this week.

The issue facing the T is the design of the commuter rail tunnel is a barrel vault which is a self-supporting arched form. Because the tunnel’s height diminishes as it curves to meet the supporting walls, a large vehicle that can successfully pass under using the middle of the road does not have the same clearance remaining on one side of a typical two-way road.

“I was at the MBTA in December and the new buses came up in conversation,” said Clancy. As a result, “the [MBTA bus lines are] not going to enter Belmont Center anymore.” The bus lines impacted are numbers 75 and 74.

The news couldn’t come at a more disadvantaged time for commuters as the new buses will come into service “at a June-ish timeframe,” said Clancy.

The current Belmont Center layover for MBTA buses at Alexander and Leonard.

For the faithful commuters who board the bus at the layover site adjacent to the Belmont Fire Station at the corner of Leonard and Alexander Avenue, the new buses will require riders to hike about a quarter-mile to a pair of proposed replacements stops and layover locations.

“[Town Administrator Patrice Garvin and I] were tasked with trying to find a new location for a layover. So working with the MBTA … we looked at some of the concepts and … there are two places where it would make sense: either in front of the Lions Club or in front of the First Church in Belmont, Unitarian Universalist on Concord Avenue across the street from the post office,” said Clancy.

But both locations have their own challenges. While the Lions Club site would be more convenient for commuters as they would not have to cross either busy Common Street or Concord Avenue, there’s this little thing called the Christmas tree sale, a more than 70-year holiday tradition that starts the Saturday after Thanksgiving and lasting until Christmas day week.

“I see that as one of the real civic functions that it’s a high profile thing that happens in the town. I don’t want to be known as the guy who resulted in the Lions Club not having this function every year,” said Clancy.

As a result, Garvin and Clancy had a conversation with a couple of members of the club stating their concern that the buses could make it by the club’s operation for the five weeks of the sale. Their response was positive.

“They’ve assured us that they can do that,” said Clancy.

But what determined the new location was an MBTA requirement a potential layover location would be long enough to accommodate two buses. The Unitarian Church has the space between their driveway curb-cuts while it would be a stretch at the Lions Club and along Royal Road.

Clancy said the First Church site has pedestrian access with the crosswalk in front of the post office, and while it would have been more desirable in front of Lions Club because there is a pedestrian underpass at the Lions Club, “we’ve settled on the [First Church] location to do this.”

“The T has already sent the bus out they’ve already made the route (which will require the bus to make a right-hand turn, loop around the WWI Memorial, and take a left onto Common towards Cambridge). They know they can make the turns so everything is great in that regard,” said Clancy.