What’s Opened, Closed This Labor Day

Photo: Workers at the Belmont Middle and High schools construction site.

Labor Day is the last big get away weekend of the summer.

It’s one of ten holidays recognized by the federal government, although the feds don’t require employers to pay workers for this holiday. Businesses traditionally provide their employees with a paid holiday as part of a benefits package because most other employers do the same.


Belmont Town offices and Belmont Light are closed.

• US Postal Service offices and regular deliveries.

• Banks; although some branches will be open in some supermarkets.

• MBTA: Operating on a Sunday schedule. See www.mbta.com for details.

What’s Opened:

• Retail stores

• Coffee shops; Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts are open

• Supermarkets

• Convenience stores and,

• Establishments that sell beer and wine are also allowed to be open.

Belmont Boosters Holding Pats Q&A,Trivia Thursday


COVID-19 can’t stop the Belmont High Boosters from holding its annual New England Patriots event. This year, the Boosters will be holding a Q&A/Trivia Zoom Webinar event on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m.

The night will feature “Big Game” winners and their memorable stories.

Check the Belmont High Boosters or Belmont Boosters Facebook page for Zoom link, information and updates.

Three Public Meetings To Discuss Civil Service, McLean Rezoning, Special Town Meeting Articles

Photo: Special Town Meeting Public Meetings

The Select Board has authorized at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 31 the remote Special Town Meeting for up to three nights this month:

  • Monday, Sept. 21
  • Wednesday, Sept. 23
  • Wednesday, Sept. 30

Town Moderator Mike Widmer has asked that all Town Meeting Members make time to participate in the topical meetings or watch the recordings before Town Meeting begins so that all can start on the same baseline of information.  

  • Tuesday, Sept. 8: McLean Zoning By-law,  hosted by the Planning Board Chair Steve Pinkerton
  • Wednesday, Sept. 9: Removal of Police and Fire personnel from Civil Service, hosted by the Town Administrator Patrice Garvin and Select Board Chair Roy Epstein
  • Thursday, Sept. 10: League of Women Voters Warrant Briefing hosted by Laurie Slap, Chair of Warrant Committee

Below is additional information including meeting access information. 

Amend Zoning Bylaw: McLean District Zone 3 Overlay

The McLean Zone 3 Overlay zoning article relates to a residential housing development proposed for in the area of McLean Hospital. Details on the proposed project can be found here


The article amends zoning originally adopted in 1999 for a project that was never built. After much negotiation between the town and the current developer, the proposed zoning amendment allows 40 age-restricted (55 years of age or older) townhouses and 110 apartments (57 age-restricted apartments and 53 non-age restricted apartments). The townhouses will be 2.5 stories with one to four units per building. 15 percent of the townhouses (six units) will be set aside for affordable housing. The apartments will be contained in two buildings with a garage and four residential floors above. The apartment layouts include studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. 25 percent of the apartments (28 apartments) will be set aside for affordable housing. Permitting for this development will be through the Planning Board under Design and Site Plan Review. 

Webinar ID: 820 1129 4827

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

To join by telephone, 
Call: 1 (929) 205 6099 
When prompted, enter:  820 1129 4827 # 
When prompted, enter # 
To ask a question or raise your hand, enter *9 on your phone. 

If you are just interested in following along, watch on Belmont Media Center.
Channel 8 on Comcast
Channels 28 or 2130 on Verizon
Watch online at > belmontmedia.org/watch/govtv

Removal from Civil Service: Police and Fire

This article seeks the approval of Town Meeting to remove all uniformed Police and Fire Department personnel from the provisions of the Civil Service laws, which removal would become part of a negotiated agreement between the Town of Belmont and the Belmont Fire Fighters Local 1637, Belmont Patrolmen’s Association and Belmont’s Police Superiors Officers Associations.  Civil Service was adopted in Belmont for Police and Fire in 1915, before the existence of collective bargaining agreements.  The Select Board believes the interests of the town employees and the Town would be better served in the modern era by withdrawing from Civil Service.

Webinar ID:  815 5872 3892

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

To join by telephone, 
Call:  1 (929) 205 6099 
When prompted, enter:  815 5872 3892 # 
When prompted, enter # 
To ask a question or raise your hand, enter *9 on your phone. 

If you are just interested in following along, watch on Belmont Media Center.
Channel 8 on Comcast
Channels 28 or 2130 on Verizon
Watch online at > belmontmedia.org/watch/govtv

League of Women Voters Warrant Briefing

This will review all other Warrant Articles that will be sent to Town Meeting Members once the Warrant has been finalized. 

Webinar ID: 839 3666 6891

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

To join by telephone, 
Call:  1 (929) 205 6099 
When prompted, enter:  839 3666 6891 # 
When prompted, enter # 
To ask a question or raise your hand, enter *9 on your phone. 

If you are just interested in following along, watch on Belmont Media Center.
Channel 8 on Comcast
Channels 28 or 2130 on Verizon
Watch online at > belmontmedia.org/watch/govtv

School Committee Drops Kindergarten Fee ‘Forever’

Photo: Kindergarteners heading to class

With the avalanche of changes and challenges foisted upon the Belmont public schools since March, Belmont School Superintendent John Phelan told the Belmont School Committee on Wednesday, Sept. 2, he finally had some good news to announce, akin to “chocolate chip ice cream [with a] nice hot sauce.”

The $3,500 tuition fee for kindergarten is being dropped.

“This is a great news story,” said Phelan as the committee voted unanimously to approve the district’s recommendation. In fact, the committee approved the motion where the fee is eliminated “for this year and forever.”

Belmont had offered a full-day, fee-based kindergarten program or a cost-free morning program of three hours and fifteen minutes which the state reimbursed parents costs.

For the past four years, the district has been charging its youngest students tuition to attend full-time after the state took away the Kindergarten Expand Grant that supported the all-day program since 1999.

But by making a one-time “investment” of $400,000 this year, the state will reimburse Belmont in subsequent years up to $1.3 million in added Chapter 70 funds, more than the $900,000 the district spends to operate the full time program.

“It’s basically the dollars the state was willing to pay us being used for kindergarten, that we didn’t collect from them because we were charging parents,” said Phelan.

“In the long run … it’s a good story for our families who don’t have to have money be the obstacle and from an equity standpoint, it actually increases the number of families that we think will go into kindergarten this year,” said Phelan.

It wasn’t a surprise that the school committee approved the measure unanimously.

“I mean, who can possibly vote against chocolate chips and nuts and whipped cream?” asked Committee Chair Andrea Prestwich.

Belmont Playing Modified Soccer, Field Hockey, XC This Fall; Volleyball, Swim, Football Move To ‘Floating’ Season

Photo: There will be a fall sports season at Belmont High School.

There will be Belmont High student/athletes playing this fall at Harris Field and on the links this fall as the athletic directors of the Middlesex League have approved their schools playing boys and girls soccer, field hockey, boys golf and boys and girls cross country, according to Belmont Schools Superintendent John Phelan who announced the decision at Wednesday, Sept. 2 School Committee marathon meeting.

But volleyball and swimming will be moving with football and competitive cheer to the newly created “floating” season that starts during the final weeks of February and ending in April.

School superintendents and athletic directors that represent Middlesex League schools approved a league-wide response to move forward with a fall season. It has been reported that Belmont will compete twice against teams in the league’s Liberty Division – Arlington, Winchester, Reading, Lexington, and Woburn – which will end for this year the annual competition against cross border rivals Watertown.

The decision by the Middlesex League comes as other athletic conferences such as the Mayflower and South Coast leagues on the South Shore and the nearby Northeastern Conference have canceled their fall schedule and moved it to the floating season, with the hope that the modifications would be suspended with changes in the severity of COVID-19.

While Belmont will be playing this fall, some of the sports will look quite different. Field hockey will now be played seven-against-seven – under normal conditions, there are 11 on each team – while penalty corners which are an important part of the game have been banned.

Soccer will see corner kicks and sideline throw-ins ended, reduced to free kicks that can not be sent into the goalie’s area. Defensive walls that help goalies to protect against free kicks have been suspended. But the most significant ban will be the end of heading the ball.

Cross country will likely be a timed event where each participant starts a certain length of time – usually 30 seconds – from the next runner.

Opinion: It’s Time to Reopen Belmont Schools

Photo: One hundred years ago, New York City schools opened school building windows to effectively fight the “Spanish flu” pandemic. (Library of Congress)

In a recent survey of Belmont parents, 67 percent were in favor of opening the school in hybrid or in-person. Questions remain: Is the time now to reopen Belmont school in the hybrid? Is there a right way for opening Belmont schools?  

The case for reopening schools is simple. Kids learn better in schools; remote learning is less effective and is disproportionately felt by lower-income students and students with fewer resources. The CDC and mental health experts agree that schools should open this fall. The psychological toll on children is mounting, and school closing, quarantining and isolation are contributing to long-lasting effects on children. The data from Europe and Asia are encouraging. They reopened schools and, while they’ve seen cases of COVID, they haven’t seen schools as major vectors of infection.    These offer real-world evidence to inform our strategies for school opening.   In a recent analysis of the risk associated with school opening, the authors concluded that reopening schools will not significantly increase community-wide transmission, provided sufficient school-based interventions are implemented. Moreover, when the incidence rate in the community is at or below 20 per 100,000, Belmont is significantly lower than this threshold, the risk of infection in schools is less than one percent.

How we reopen schools matters. Florida is a great example of how NOT to reopen schools given its rising levels of infections. We support the risk assessment metrics set by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker for school opening. The rate of infection in Massachusetts is low despite the fact that more people are socializing outdoors, going to restaurants and nail salons, driving to work, shopping, or leisure. While there will never be enough testing, we can’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. There has been an uptick in testing in Belmont and the State, and, importantly, the rate of infection remains low and stable since June (Figure 1). At the local level, Belmont and all the neighboring towns remain in “green” or “white” (see Table 1) further reducing the risk of infection at schools. These are all encouraging signs and if Belmont were to follow the DESE recommendation, schools would reopen now.  So why is Belmont not opening in hybrid?

It’s Time to Reopen Belmont Schools

Figure 1. (WCVB)
TownRisk based on average daily cases per 100,000Positive cases last 14 days% positive last 14 days% Trend
BelmontGreen90.66No change
CambridgeGreen340.88No change
WalthamGreen340.88No change
ArlingtonWhite50.21No change
LexingtonWhite30.24No change
Table 1: Average daily COVID-19 case rate per 100K over the past two weeks.(WCVB on Sept. 1)

It is not lost on us that assessing the risk-benefit of opening schools in the middle of a pandemic is as much a scientific and policy question, as it is personal. At the heart of it, advocates of opening the schools are looking at the data and are saying we are making the uncomfortable judgment that taking a risk with someone’s health is OK in order for us to have these benefits. In the middle of an acute crisis, history has taught us that there is a tendency to be overly conservative and want to institute extreme safety measures. On balance and with the benefit of retrospective analysis, extreme measures have rarely been effective at keeping us safe. The question is therefore how much risk are you willing to tolerate? Zero risks are not only unachievable, but it rarely makes for a good strategy or informed public policy.

As Belmontians, we make these calculations all the time. We allow our teenagers to drive cars, our pre-teens to walk to Belmont’s Underwood pool, ride their bikes to the town center, and partake in a variety of other activities that have some inherent risk. So in trying to answer how large are the potential health risks, we need to anchor the discussion in what the evidence above says, how large are the potential benefits, and the long-term impact on kids, in addition to the immediate impact on their parents, their teachers and the economy.  

We take the risk to teachers and staff seriously. To that effect, we want to end with a positive example that showcases the power of engagement with the Belmont parent community.  

Much of the discussion, especially in Belmont social media circles, has been productive, but understandably visceral when it comes to how much risk people are willing to take and how it affects teachers and staff. The school district, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and the Belmont School Committee have identified air quality as an area of major concern for opening the school. This is not an unexpected request given that the District has already run similar analyses in the past. A solution that requires the building of new schools or upgrading all HVAC systems is costly and unrealistic options as preconditions for opening schools. Two Belmont parents authored a well researched white paper that suggested a simple, cost-effective solution to mitigate the air quality concern. To his credit, Belmont School Superintendent John Phelan met with the parents and ordered 150 portable commercial filters that can be deployed as early as next week. Further, the group highlighted the results of a study done by a group from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health that showed that opening a window as little as six inches can provide superior air exchange and be used as an effective strategy to augment mechanical-based solutions to air quality control. In listening to issues like air quality that are central to the School Committee, the superintendent, and the MTA decision to reopening schools, the community has demonstrated how it can act as an effective resource to solve critical problems and support the need for a resource-constrained school district.     

The community is actively listening and wants to be part of the solution. The time is now to go to hybrid. We urge the school committee to accelerate the timetable for opening the school in hybrid. Let’s give our kids an opportunity to work together with their peers and their teachers, even if it were for a short time while Belmont is in the “green” zone. The benefits to their psychological well being and educational equity will be immeasurable. Let’s avoid creating obstacles that are red herrings, and keep the decision for opening the schools science-driven and anchored in the state guidelines and local data.

Jamal Saeh, Larry Schmidt, Martin Zwierlein, Kerry O’Grady, Maysoun Shomali, Patrick Whittemore, Christine McLaughlin, David Thesmar, Mikhail Zaslavsky, Ron Creamer, Carrie Bryan, Christine Regan, Liane Brecknock, Pamela Schmidt, Valerie Krempus, Robi Krempus, Danielle Lemack, Karl Ivester, Sonya Santos, Maíra Rejane Marques Samary, Alex Danahy, Olga Shyshko, Kelley Moriarty, and Alicia Dimitruk

Belmont Helps FUN-raiser Challenge Has Begun, Runs Until Sept. 14

Photo: The Belmont Helps Challange logo

Need something to get your minds, bodies and hearts ready for school?  The Belmont Helps Challenge features two-time World Marathon Winner Becca Pizzi. Thanks to our generous partners (see below), this Fundraiser is now a FREE FUN-raiser for kids of all ages.

Activities include seven categories with seven ideas in each – 49 from which to choose. Complete at least one in each category by Sept. 14 to win a Moozy’s Ice Cream coupon. A Grand Prize of Becca Pizzi’s “Feat on Feet” book, autographed and hand-delivered, a run around the block goes to the competitor who completes the most challenges by Sept. 14. 

Thanks to all who have given to Belmont Helps with both time and funding – we are working hard to help in a huge variety of ways, including groceries, food support, providing resources, masking the town, and matching volunteers. Let’s continue working together to #BrightenBelmont together!  

Thanks to our Challenge sponsors for helping to make this a huge success:  Winn Brook PTA, our parent 501c3, People’s United Bank, Friends of the Belmont Public Library, Belmont After School Enrichment Collaborative (BASEC), Belmont Against Racism, Belmont Wellness, Coalition of Wayside Youth and Family Support Network, Moozy’s Ice Cream, Belmont Recreation Department and Becca Pizzi for their help raising much-needed funds to support the work of Belmont Helps.

Sign up at belmonthelps.org/challenge and download the app – or print an activity sheet to scan and send – and start winning prizes.

Markey Sweeps Away Kennedy In Dems US Senate Primary; Rogers Defeats Fries For State Rep Seat

Photo: A voter using the town’s drop box to cast her ballot in Belmont, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020.

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to upend the way elections are conducted – with the greater use of mail-in ballots and dropping off votes to the town’s drop box – it took a bit longer to calculate and report the results of the 2020 state primary held on Sept. 1.

But at approximately 10 p.m., Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman could announce the unofficial results for the primaries held by four political parties on Tuesday. (The ballots of residents living overseas and in the military remain to be counted to make the count official)

And despite it all, just about half of registered voters (48.6 percent or 8,741 of 17,991) cast ballots at the town’s eight precincts, via the mail box and taking advantage of a week of early voting.

In the most watched state-wide race, Belmont gave incumbent US Sen. Ed Markey a resounding victory, defeating Fifth District US Rep. Joe Kennedy III by a wide three-to-one margin in the Town of Homes, 5,948 to 2,009. Markey’s 74.8 percent of the vote was one of the largest percentage results in the state with the likes of Amherst (81 percent), Cambridge and Somerville (80 percent), Northampton (78 percent) and Arlington and Lexington (76 percent).

Markey retained his seat for another six year term winning comfortably statewide with 55.5 percent of the vote compared to Kennedy’s 44.5 percent.

In November’s general election, Markey will face Republican Kevin O’Connor who defeated Belmont resident Shiva Ayyadurai, 60 percent to 40 percent, in statewide voting. The Snake Hill Road resident did take the majority of ballots cast in his hometown, 400 to 325.

In the local reps race, incumbent Dave Rogers retained his seat on Beacon Hill as he defeated Cambridge newcomer Jennifer Fries. With 87 percent of the votes tabulated, Rogers received 6,753 (59.5 percent) of the district-wide vote compared to Fries’ 4,593 (40.5 percent). Only Cambridge’s vote have yet to be announced.

The four-term representative of the 24th Middlesex district – comprised of Belmont and precincts in Arlington and east Cambridge – Rogers took 4,379 (60.3 percent) of the votes cast in Belmont compared with 2,872 for Fries (39.5 percent).

To see the results of all the race by precinct and totals, head over the Town Clerk’s web page or click here.

Belmont Votes: 2020 In-Person State Primary Election

Photo: Voting is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Voting in the Massachusetts State Primary will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 1. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

All voters wishing to cast their ballot on Election Day must go to their assigned voting precinct. Polling hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

All voters are requested to wear a mask when entering the polling place to keep our election workers and other voters safe. Please be alert to the changes in the flow of access for each precinct as the layouts have been changed to support proper social distance. In most cases, one-way access has been instituted. Please be patient as a limited number of voters will be permitted in the polling places at any time.

Belmont’s voting precincts:

  • Precinct One: Belmont Memorial Library, Assembly Room, 336 Concord Ave.
  • Precinct Two: Belmont Town Hall, Select Board Room 455 Concord Ave.
  • Precinct Three: Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St.
  • Precinct Four: Daniel Butler School Gym, 90 White St.
  • Precinct Five: Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St.
  • Precinct Six: Belmont Fire Headquarters, 299 Trapelo Rd.
  • Precinct Seven: Burbank School Gym, 266 School St.
  • Precinct Eight: Winn Brook School Gym, 97 Waterhouse Road, Enter From Cross St.

Inactivated Voters

Voters who have been informed that their voting status has been changed to Inactive should be prepared to present identification before being permitted to vote.

If You Requested a Vote By Mail Ballot But Prefer to Vote In Person

Voters who have requested an absentee or an early vote by mail ballot should expect that the precinct will check with the Town Clerk to determine if a ballot has already been received for that voter.

Voters who Need to Return their Mailed Ballot for Counting

Any voter who would like to return a voted absentee or vote by mail ballot  to be counted, must return the ballot  to the Town Clerk by the close of polls on election night, 8 pm.  It cannot be delivered to a voting precinct.   There is a dedicated drop box for the Town Clerk at the base of the steps to Town Hall along the driveway at parking lot level.