The Belmont Emergency Rental Assistance Program Is Accepting Applications

Photo: Rental assistance in Belmont.

The Town of Belmont has launched today, Monday, July 27, an Emergency Rental Assistance Program to aid residents who rent in town and have suffered loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This initiative was authorized by the annual 2020 Town Meeting in June, which permitted the Belmont Housing Trust to use its previously allocated $250,000 CPA grant for the purpose of relieving economic distress among Belmont renters and their landlords due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic’s stay-at-home recommendations over the past few months have heightened for all of us the importance of having safe and stable housing. Right now, many local households need help making each month’s rent. The town has done the right thing to step in with this emergency rent relief initiative,” said Betsy Lipson, co-chair of the Housing Trust.

Among Belmont households, 36.5 percent are renters. Before the pandemic, one in four Belmont renters were already considered housing cost-burdened, paying over 30 percent of their incomes on rent, and that proportion has certainly grown with loss of jobs and income due to COVID-19.

The program is temporary and time-limited in nature. It offers up to three months of assistance toward rent payments to eligible households. Belmont residents who rent in town and have lost their jobs or had their incomes reduced because of the pandemic can now apply. Belmont’s property owners – many of whom are small landlords – will also benefit from this program.

Eligible households rent apartments or homes in Belmont, have reduced income because of COVID-19, and earn less than 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI). Priority will be given to households at less than 60 percent AMI.

The initial program deadline for applications is August 14. Applications will be taken after that date and added to a waiting list. Information about applying can be found on the Belmont Town website at

Town of Belmont High Heat/Humidity Advisory

Photo: The heat map from the National Weather Service.

Due to the current period of high heat and humidity, the Town of Belmont encourages everyone to stay cool and hydrated and to check on elderly friends and neighbors while following good social distancing practices. 

Seniors with questions about staying cool during this especially warm period are encouraged to contact the Beech Street Center by phone at 617-993-2970

Please help Belmont save energy by reducing your electricity consumption between 4 pm and 8 pm. Reducing electricity consumption helps Belmont Light maintain a safe electric delivery system and ultimately saves you money on your bill.

Please see, Belmont Light’s Facebook page or the bottom of the page for tips on how to conserve energy at your home.  If you have any questions, please call 617-993-2800.

Here are some tips to reduce Belmont peak electricity consumption:

  • Adjust air conditioners and turn off the AC in rooms that are not used. Adjusting the thermostat even by 2-3 degrees helps.
  • Use a microwave oven or an outdoor grill instead of a stove or a regular oven.
  • Shift laundry and dishwashing activities until after 8 p.m.
  • Unplug DVRs or gaming consoles when not in use.
  • Hold off charging electric vehicles until later in the evening.

Special Town Meeting Set For Sept. 21 Using Zoom, TurningPoint Voting


Belmont Town Meeting Members are being asked to SAVE THE DATES for a Special Town Meeting taking place on Monday, Sept. 21 at 6 p.m. Additional sessions will be held on Sept.  23 and 30.

The meeting will again be held by remote-access using Zoom and TurningPoint just as we did for the annual Town Meeting on June 16.

Over the next few weeks, the Town Clerk’s Office will be sending instructions to make sure everyone is up to speed to use both technologies and we’ll be scheduling just three training classes for new Town Meeting Members.  

“It’s vitally important that we have a current email address for every Town Meeting Member so that everyone will be included in the TurningPoint list of voting Town Meeting Members,” said Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman.

If you have changed your email address from the one where you are receiving this email, please inform us at and designate the email address as public or confidential. Remember that every Town Meeting Member must have at least one public contact, either phone or email.

Rec Commission OKs Month Long Trial To Bring Off-Leash Dogs Back To Parks

Photo: Off-leash regs revert back to pre-CIVID-19 days.

After pleas from pet owners to allow their pooches to once again run in town parks, the Belmont Recreation Commission in association with the Board of Health approved a return for a one month trial period to the pre-COVID-19 off-leash program for dogs.

With Massachusetts in Stage 3 of its plan to reopen the state from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, more activities have been approved in outdoor spaces including playgrounds and municipal parks.

When parks were initially reopened in a limited way in May, the off-leash program – in which pets are registered by the town’ animal control officer to allow them to be unrestrained in certain parks around Belmont – was restricted daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

With the more expanded use of parks set forth by Baker, owners approached the Recreation Commission to either expand into the evening when dogs could exercise and socialize, or revert back to the original rules.

The Rec Commission – which manages town parks and playgrounds – stated the week previous it would approve the return to the original off-leash rules with the Health Board’s blessing.

While the Health Board was supportive of going back to regular hours, members were cautious if a full reopening would lead to an increase in dogs – both tagged and non-permitted – onto the public space.

“We’re just trying to do our best to make sure that we keep everybody safe,” said Suzanne Trasavage, Belmont’s animal control officer. “The dogs, the dog owners, visitors of the park, children in the park … and we’re trying to figure out what the best way to do that.”

Trasavage said COVID-19 has made it difficult for dog-owners to obtain permits or bring them up-to-date due to access restrictions to town buildings. But she said she knows a large majority of the dogs so if there is a pet without a permit, “I’m giving them extra time to go and obtain them.”

Health Board’s Donna David said she had “a lot of hesitation” returning to the original regulations “because it’s not the animals, it’s the people who continue to defy the rules in place.”

“One person can give a bad name to the whole program, and oftentimes those aren’t the dedicated people that are complying and cleaning up and doing all the right things,” said David.

In the past two month, Trasavage said there were a pair of incidents by dogs in parks where pets bit people and one incident in which a dog ran off with a cone.

Belmont’s Health Department Director Wesley Chin said one of the most effective measures to control the program is to rely on self reports from residents if they see something that’s not going right, they’re gonna let us know.”

Health Board Vice Chair Julie Lemay suggested a one month trial period to evaluate how the programs is performing with regular hours.

Stephen Fiore, the Board’s chair, said there hasn’t been a great number of vocal complaints and opposition by the public, so “if all goes smoothly, then that could be … the way things work.”

‘Vote By Mail’ Postcards Mailed To Belmont’s Registered Voters.

Photo: A sample of the ‘Vote By Mail’

Planning to vote in the State Primary Sept. 1 or the Presidential Election Nov. 3

This is certainly a different election season and different behavior will help to keep us all safe and guarantee your ballot gets counted on Election Day.  The Massachusetts Legislature voted new entitlements in the Election Laws that allow all registered voters to vote by mail, with no excuse necessary.

Every registered voter of Belmont who had not already filed an application to receive an Absentee Ballot or Early Voting Ballot by mail for the fall elections was mailed a postcard last week by the Commonwealth.  

Ellen Cushman, Belmont’s Town Clerk, encourages all Belmont voters to consider voting early by mail, instead of going to the polls on Election Day. Every voted ballot received by the deadline will be counted in the official election results.  

The postcard to “Vote by Mail” is pre-printed with the voter’s name and voter ID and is intended to make requesting a Vote by Mail ballot extraordinarily simple. The voter can choose to receive a ballot for the Presidential Election only or the State Primary only, or both.  

Voters wanting to vote in the State Primary must indicate the party ballot for us to send: Democratic, Republican, Green-Rainbow, or Libertarian. If no choice is made, no ballot can be sent. The voter must sign the card to receive a ballot.

How to Get Your Vote by Mail Card to Us

Once you’ve made your selections and signed your card, there are a few ways to get it to the Town Clerk’s office so your ballot can be mailed to you.  

  • The preferred method is to use our Town Clerk drop box located at the base of the stairs to Town Hall at parking lot level. We empty the box frequently and you will be certain of the date we received your application/postcard.  
  • You can drop the postcard at the Post Office or a US Mailbox. The card is already postage-paid and will be delivered to us once processed and sorted by the Post Office. Be aware that this can take several days.

Please consider filing your Vote by Mail postcard now; ballots are mailed out in the order that we receive the requests so the later requests squeeze the time allowed for you to receive and return your ballot to us.  

If You Didn’t Receive a Post Card but Want to Vote by Mail

Registered voters who already have valid requests to receive an absentee ballot or an early voting ballot would not receive the new postcard. Voters can confirm that they have a valid current request by visiting the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Elections site:

Application forms to request a Vote by Mail Ballot or an Absentee Ballot are also available on the Town Clerk pages on the Town of Belmont website: and select the link on the left of page. These applications, containing the voter’s information and signature, can be emailed to  or faxed to 617-993-2601.

In Person Early Voting dates and hours have not yet been established; stay tuned for updated bulletins.

The Town Clerk and the Board of Registrars of Voters Encourages All Belmont Voters to take advantage of Vote By Mail to keep Belmont voters and Belmont election workers safe.  If you have any questions, please email or call the Town Clerk’s office at 617-993-2603.  All voted ballots received by the Town Clerk by the deadline will be counted.

Register to Vote Now if You Aren’t Already Registered to Vote in Belmont

Voter registration, and change of party deadlines:

  • August 22 to be eligible to vote in the Sept. 1 State Primary
  • October 24 to be eligible to vote in the Nov. 3 Presidential Election

Once you’re registered to vote and remain at the same address, there is no need to register again. 

To register to vote, or change your voting address, party affiliation or name, to find out whether and where you are already registered, or where you vote, visit:

Once Thought Gone, Payson Park Music’s Summer Concerts Are Back

Photo: The logo of the Payson Park Music Festival

After nearly being cancelled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, the third time was a charm as the founder of the Payson Park Music Festival was successful in getting the four-decade old summer tradition underway Wednesday (before the rains came) with the perennial favorite THE LOVE DOGS.

Tomi Olsen, who founded the music series in 1990 and continues to run the operation, last week convinced the Recreation Commission and the Board of Health on Monday to grant a permit for the first in an abbreviated concert season at its home venue in Payson Park.

“I know we can bring in more as people have been asking for the music. We definitely don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize the [concerts],” Olsen told the board Monday.

But the festival known for its Woodstock-like concert setting with attendees bunched up near the stage and kids running around this year will have the feel of a theater performance with assigned “seating” and ushers as prescribed by the Health Board to the annoyance of Olsen.

The festival’s season – filled with a lineup of pop, rock, blues and country groups – appeared all but dead when the state’s shut down order in mid-March.

In June, Olsen believed she could make a go of it by moving the concerts to Belmont Center to the patio of the Bellmont Caffe on Leonard Street. But the alternative plan was squashed by the Health Department as being far too risky in the early stages of reopening the state.

But Olsen received her own last minute reprieve when Gov. Charlie Baker announced the state was entering Phase Three of a planned reopening on July 6 which allows for greater use of outdoor space. Olsen with the help of Juliet Jenkins came before the Recreation Commission which controls the operations of the park with a vague concept on opening the festival and asking the commission for ideas.

The commission told Olsen and Jenkins they would tentatively approve weekly permits if the festival won approval from the Health Department. At Monday’s meeting, Olsen announced a lengthy list of safety measures include mask wearing and a diagram of the park with 25 10-foot circles spaced 6 feet apart where patrons would sit. The park’s children’s playground will be off-limits and kids will need to stay with their parents during the concerts.

Board of Health Chair Stephen Fiore told Olsen the board agreed with a Recreation Commission recommendation to issue permits “week-to-week” rather than the standard season permit “just so that you know everything is following the process … and everyone feels comfortable that it’s in a place where it needs to be.”

It was the final requirements requested by the Health Board – volunteer ushers and patron’s contact information – that appeared to rankle Olsen as the impositions were going beyond the template used for the Farmers Market.

But the last minute additions did not deter Olsen from getting her permit and holding the first concert on Wednesday, July 22.

“In a world where people [are] a little touchy … our goal is to bring just a little bit of joy,” said Jenkins.

The next concert is scheduled for Wednesday, July 29 at 6:30 p.m. with Tomi’s All Stars featuring Binny Stone, James Brown Jr., Billy T.,
Karl Bryan, Lee Lundy, & Sir Cecil and sponsored by East Boston Savings Bank and Belmont Against Racism.

Belmont Likely To Start School Year With Hybrid Learning Option

Photo: Burbank Elementary School

The doors will be opening at Belmont’s six public schools in approximately 45 days and according to the educators in charge, the hows and whys of beginning the new school year remain, in two words, quite fluid.

With the COVID-19 pandemic in the US continuing unabated, the idea that simply ringing the bell and teachers welcoming school children into the building is a faded memory.

“These are going to be late decisions. These are going to be hard decisions,” said School Superintendent John Phelan at last week’s Belmont School Committee meeting.

Interest on how learning will take place in Belmont is sky high. A parents survey sent out last month by the school district had 880 respondents with 2,100 comments. And more than 100 residents swore off a beautiful summer afternoon to attend the remote committee meeting on Wednesday, July 16.

Opening day planning by the Belmont School District is about a third of the way through a feasibility study that will be sent to the state by Aug. 10 that will determine which of three models – in person, hybrid and remote – will use when the student’s first day of the 2020-1 school terms begins on Wednesday, Sept. 3.

While many parents and students can’t wait to have all students go back to a “regular school year,” more recently say they are “very nervous” about returning, said Phelan.

But as of mid-July, Phelan said all three options remain in the running. And “it’s very clear to us … that the year that we face in ’20/21 could quite frankly involve all three models,” said Phelan.

A June parents survey found that 70 percent of residents would prefer the traditional in-person school opening, many of those same residents also acknowledge that a full-day education is not be in the cards come the fall.

Since receiving the state’s guidelines on reopening schools on June 25, each principal created a master schedule – class and teaching and student – for in-person schooling with all the state restrictions including three to six feet social distancing, moving furniture, providing space for teachers, and how to create lunchroom distancing.

While telling the school committee he has not discounted any of the three options, Phelan did say that due to the district’s over-enrollment – accepting between 700-800 students in the district over the past five years – and limited class space, attempting to fit all students into the building under the state’s social distancing limitations and other restrictions would be “very challenging.”

“The class sizes just don’t fit [an in-person opening],” said Phelan.

The space constraints of the in-person option is leading the district to focus its efforts on a hybrid plan in which half of the students will attend school while the other half are schooled remotely in a digital classroom setting.

In a hybrid option, it’s easier to achieve social distancing since only half the number of pupils are in the building, which allows for better circulation of students between classes and airflow. The district has also purchased $200,000 of personal protection equipment for teachers and staff when schools are opened.

Sometime in the week ahead, a decision on which hybrid schedule will be used; one which students alternate days in school versus a week in school and a week at home. In the parent’s survey, both schedules were equally supported by parents.

With the likelihood the remote option will be used, the district is distributing computers or tablets to all students to allow for true synchronous learning which will allow for students and teachers to collaborate and learn in real time in virtual classrooms. A major complaint from parents when the district shut down in mid-March during the initial wave of the coronavirus was that students were unable to interact with classmates and teachers, which Phelan attributed to a lack of computers to each pupil.

When the doors do open, the first few days could be for “teachers only” so they can prepare rooms for the new health protocols, accommodate social distancing requirements and to set up new technical equipment.

By Aug. 10, the district must pick one of the three options and get ready to move forward but there remains plenty of unknowns that haven’t been addressed by the state such as the use of buses, utilize outdoors and large indoor space such as cafeteria or gymnasium.

And the district will need the help from volunteers in Belmont such as the PTOs and PTAs, the Foundation for Belmont Education and the various Friends groups to assist in material and educational needs.

“As the Commissioner of Education Jeff Riley has said to all the superintendents … is we need to be flexible,” said Phelan.

“So we’re trying to plan flexibly in where we’re trying to communicate with our community as well as we can so when we get back to making decisions in August that people are up to date and feel like we’re making decisions … preparing for a safe entry to school.”

Belmont Center Parking Meters Back In Operation Beginning Friday

Photo: Inactive no longer as parking stations will be activated on Friday in Belmont Center.

The days of free parking throughout Belmont Center will come to an end beginning Friday, July 17, after a vote by the Belmont Select Board at its remote meeting on Monday.

“It’s a return to normality,” said Board Chair Roy Epstein as the members voted unanimously to honor an “explicit” request by the Belmont Center Business Association to reactivate the pay stations for parking spaces on Leonard Street, Moore Street, Alexander Avenue and Channing Road.

The ask from the business group came after their members observed many of the spaces being used by people leaving their vehicles all-day at prime locations. Paid parking in Belmont Center was suspended along the street and in the Claflin Municipal Parking Lot behind the center as a way to help merchants during the slow down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Board also decided to keep free parking in the Claflin lot through Labor Day.

Flattened: COVID-19 Barely Registers In Belmont With 2 New Positives In Past Month

Photo: COVID-19 numbers have flattened in Belmont

Just as the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping over the country, the coronavirus has all but vanished from Belmont.

In the month between June 12 and July 10, the Massachusetts Department of Health confirmed only two new positive cases of COVID-19 in Belmont residents – now at 231 – while deaths have remained steady at 60 since the third week of May, said Wesley Chin, Belmont Health Department director who announced this updated data at Monday’s Select Board remote meeting.

Chin told the board that it was the town’s residents strictly following health rules and advice – from wearing masks to avoiding crowds and washing hands – has flattened the coronavirus curve in Belmont.

“I just want to … recognize the hard work and sacrifice of all Belmont residents,” said Chin.

“I know that the past four moths have been a really challenging time for all of us in many different ways. We’ve been asked to change our way of life and to make sacrifices that sometimes doesn’t make sense to us at first, but ultimately it’s been a really good thing for the community,” he told the Board.

Chin said the town’s adherence to public health guidelines has resulted in Belmont’s positive testing rate – calculated by dividing the positive case number by the number of residents tested – to stay under 10 percent for the first six months of the year. And since the beginning of July, the positive tests rate has taken a significant drop to under one percent, an accomplishment town residents “should take a moment to just recognize and be proud of,” said Chin.

Unfortunately, said Chin, those numbers don’t mean our way of life can return to normal. “[We have] to encourage people to continue to engage in socially distancing and, please, wear face masks.”

Belmont’s accomplishment comes as the state has entered Phase Three in the reopening of the state from the impact of COVID-19, with more businesses and offices – movie theaters, gyms, non-contact outdoor sports – given the green light to open.

Community Path Public Meeting Set For Thursday, July 16, 7PM

Photo: The community path in Belmont

The Belmont Community Path Project Committee is holding a remote public information meeting Thursday, July 16 with the the town’s engineering consultant Nitsch Engineering to go over Phase 1 of the Community Path project.

The meeting will be a presentation by the Boston-based engineering firm regarding the draft 25 percent design plans for the community path, and an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on the draft design.

The presentation will include the path from the Clark Street bridge to the Belmont/Cambridge line and the proposed pedestrian tunnel under the MBTA commuter rail tracks at Alexander Avenue.

The CPPC also encourages you to review the draft design plans, which are posted and available for download on Nitsch’s project website at

This important milestone helps the project advance and remain on track to receive funding as part of the state’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).  

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m., and you can find the agenda and Zoom sign-in information is available on the town’s website:


FOR PARTICIPANTS: The Community Path Project Committee meeting will start at 7:00 P.M. and you may join the meeting remotely starting at 6:50 P.M.  The meeting will also be broadcast and recorded by the Belmont Media Center.



Enter your Full Name under participant if you would like to provide comments and feedback (only those with a name entered will be allowed to comment and provide feedback to the CPPC team)

When prompted by the meeting chair, you can “raise your hand” to be recognized by the meeting host

Comments will be limited by the Chair, shall be concise, and shall not repeat previous comments or questions presented by others before you Chair is not obligated to recognize all comments and may end comment period prior to your comment being heard


  • Dial-in: 1-929-205-6099
  • If you would like to provide comments: press *9 when prompted
  • When the host is ready for you, you will be called on by your phone number or name (when prompted always start by presenting your full name)


  • Channel 8 on Comcast
  • Channel 28 or 2130 on Verizon

Original Meeting Notice MeetingDownload