Going Out On Top: Fred Allard Retires As Belmont High Hockey Head Coach

Photo: Fred Allard addressing his team after winning the Div. 1 North title over St. John’s (Shrewsbury).

Fred Allard, who in his six years at the helm of Belmont High Boys’ Hockey rebuilt the program into a champion-caliber squad that was, in 2020, a win away from the school’s first MIAA state championship, has announced his retirement from coaching in an email sent on Saturday, March 20.

“I am all in when coaching on and off the ice and ultimately after six years could not continue with the time commitment the program deserves and that I expect from myself,” said Allard.

“Coaching Belmont has been one of the most fulfilling and rewarding times in my life. I left Belmont for Matignon in high school and while it was for the best, I always had a sense of sadness not playing for my town,” he said.

“Coaching has given me the opportunity to feel that sense of town pride and for that I am eternally grateful. Program is in great shape for the future and I look forward to being a fan in the stands.”

Allard took over the head coaching position from the legendary Dante Muzziolli after the 2014-15 season having spent two years as an assistant coach. Allard was a youth hockey coach in town before heading to the high school.

Allard’s final two seasons were his pinnacle coaching on the bench. After finishing last in the Middlesex League in the 2018-19 season, Belmont forged a 10-5-5 season then proceeded to win four 1-goal games in the playoffs culminating in a 3-2 thriller against St. John’s (Shrewsbury) to take the program’s first Division 1 North title to set up a state championship final vs. Walpole. But the game was cancelled as the state entered quarantine due to the rapidly spreading world wide coronavirus.

In the shortened 2020-21 season, Belmont finished 7-3-1 and after winning games in overtime (over Wakefield) and in a shootout (against Arlington) was preparing to take on Winchester for the first-ever Middlesex League Tournament title when the game was cancelled due to COVID protocols.

In both cases, Belmont was named a co-champion.

Belmont born and bred, Allard attended Matignon (class of 1985) where he played on a pair of state championship teams (1983-84) under coach Marty Pierce. He matriculated at the University of Lowell, where he played four seasons under Billy Riley.

Belmont Will Keep Voting Precincts At Elementary Schools Despite Students Return

Photo: Voting will take place at elementary school locations in Belmont

Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman thought she had everything planned to manage the upcoming Town Election on Tuesday, April 6 as well as one can during a pandemic.

Cushman had her volunteers at the ready, enough PPE’s (personal protective equipment) on supply, and eight ballot locations with plenty of space to allow for six feet of personal distance for everyone. Three of those locations – the Winn Brook (Precinct 8), Butler (Precinct 4), and the Burbank (Precinct 7) – are located in the gyms of elementary schools closed due to COVID-19.

That all changed last week when Belmont School Superintendent John Phelan announced the town’s elementary students will be returning back full-time to the classroom one day before the election on Monday, April 5. And due to social distancing requirements and safety concerns on spreading the coronavirus, schools are using every nook and cranny have to turn into learning spaces: storage spaces, libraries, lunchrooms, and those previously empty gyms.

“We recognize that it could be somewhat challenging especially since the children will be returning to school just one day prior,” said Cushman.

Cushman wanted to “make sure that everyone feels comfortable, everyone is safe” working at those precincts. To accomplish those goals, there needed to be some thought on “what constraints and restraints we might be able to put in place to make sure that happens.”

A meeting was held with Cushman, Phelan, school staff, Town Health Director Wes Chen and Town Administrator Patrice Garvin to evaluate the town’s ability to run the election from those locations, with questions like is there any chance to move the precincts to other locations which are large enough to accommodate a very spread out election process.

But, considering all kinds of factors such as our ability to run these elections in other places, do we have sizes of buildings and facilities that are going to be large enough to accommodate a very physically spread out election process which has been done since the previous year. There were also issues of accessibility for voters and having enough parking, all the while “making sure that we could keep all these various populations separated properly,” said Cushman.

At the end of the evaluation, the group decided that it could “accommodate the voting activity in the elections at the three elementary schools in addition to our other five locations,” said Cushman.

“We will work with the principals of each of those schools as well as [the] facilities department to make sure that we make appropriate accommodations in line with any health guidance,” she said.

Belmont To Receive $8.6M From American Rescue Plan … With COVID Strings Attached

Photo: President Joe Biden signing the American Rescue Plan. Creator: Adam Schultz | Credit: White House

Not only will most Belmont residents receive a $1,400 check from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed into law by President Biden on March 11, but their Town of Homes is also set to be a beneficiary from the same stimulus package created to lessen the economic repercussions of COVID-19.

According to State Sen. Will Brownsberger, preliminary information from the state shows Belmont will receive approximately $8.6 million from the Rescue Plan with $1 million of the total targeted to Belmont schools.

“I would just like to underline that most of this money is coming from the federal government,” Brownsberger told the Belmont Select Board at its meeting held virtually on Monday, March 15. “This is rain comes falling from US Sen. [Elizabeth] Warren, Sen. [Ed] Markey and US Rep. [Katherine] Clark, so credit to them.”

In addition, both Brownsberger and State Rep. Dave Rogers, also at the meeting, said due to revenues coming into state coffers stronger than expected despite the pandemic’s economic downturn due to the pandemic, state aid to cities and towns will be greater than earlier forecast.

But before anyone in Town Hall or the school department begins spending this one-time windfall, Brownsberger told the board “that aid comes with a number of strings in terms of … how it can be used.” And nearly all of the threads have to do with COVID.

Brownsberger said the funding comes with defined eligibility criteria that will determine “how much of that money can be used for general government purposes and how much of it can be used only for particular projects” related to COVID relief.

According to preliminary reports, the money can be spent on one of four categories which includes:

  • Reimburse town funds spent responding to the public health emergency of COVID,
  • Lessen the negative economic impact on the community, (“So it could be broadly used to provide aid to small businesses, households,” Brownsberger said.)
  • Replace town revenue lost to the COVID recession, and
  • Make investments in water, sewer, or broadband.

To receive the funds, the town will commit to a certification process – rather than applying for the money – in which the town tells the state (which is running the program for the federal government for municipalities smaller than 50,000 people) that it understands the constraints of how the funds will be used.

Rogers said regulations are still being written by the US Treasury “on how the money can be spent as much of it is earmarked and targeted in very specific ways.”

Patrice Garvin, Belmont’s town administrator, said she has “not received enough information on how this money can be used.”

On the state side of the fiscal ledger, Rogers said the state budget is “in reasonably good shape given everything that has happened” and the legislature is now expected to have the ability to fund Chapter 70 general education aid formula at a level above Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s estimate for state aid announced on Jan. 27.

“We’re very committed to funding the Student Opportunity Act designed to increase local school aid to a level that’s really commensurate with a town’s need or actual spending, particularly for Belmont on the cost of health care and special education,” said Brownsberger. The end result is Belmont could see “maybe a few $100,000” more in Chapter 70 aid in fiscal 22.

One area the state is advising cities and towns not to do is make concrete fiscal decisions using these figures.

“[The Secretary of State’s office which distributed the data] said the information … should be viewed as preliminary and subject to change,” said Brownsberger reading from notes. “We’d strongly advise against the town making plans based on this preliminary information as the US Treasury will ultimately calculate the final amounts. So towns should not make plans about overrides based on these estimates.”

And that is the word coming from the campaigners seeking to pass the override on April 6.

Unfortunately, the stimulus money “doesn’t change the fundamentals concerning Belmont’s structural deficit, which is projected to be almost $20 million over three years even after spending down our cash reserves,” said Nicole Dorn, co-chair of Yes for Belmont which is advocating for the passage of a $6.2 million Prop 2 1/2 override on the April 6 town election ballot.

“This one-time infusion of funds won’t cover our operating expenses because it is restricted to certain programs or needed for COVID-related expenses. Every year we delay addressing our budget issues only makes our structural deficit worse, and means we’ll need a bigger override that is more expensive for taxpayers,” she said.

Belmont Readies For Schools Reopening As District Defends Restart Process; A Question of Whose Mandate

Photo: The elementary schools will be open for business on April 5 … if not sooner.

Days after the state’s education set dates for reopening of elementary schools, the Belmont School District revealed on Tuesday, March 9 its plan that will allow the district’s youngest students to return to full-time in-school classes on Monday, April 6.

Created from recommendations by the Return to In-Person Learning Working Group, the blueprint will provide an educational experience for children in Kindergarten to 4th grade lacking since exactly a year ago this week.

“Our administrators and administrative team at the central office have been working hard on this for over a month and a half and we’re glad we are making progress … and to let our families know that as we try to finish this year as strong as possible, that we are prepared to have a goal of opening [schools] in-person learning next year,” said John Phelan, superintendent of Belmont District Schools as he presented the plan to the School Committee at its regularly scheduled Tuesday meeting.

The new plan was being developed by the Working Group when the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) which oversees public education in Massachusetts, issued an edict requiring districts to replace their hybrid systems in elementary schools with full-day in-school classes.

The plan for in-person schooling at the town’s four elementary schools has been discussed for the past two weeks by the working group, school committee and district with the final recommendations released Tuesday:

  • Students in school 5 days/week with the same timing as our pre-Covid school schedule;
  • Offer academics, specials (art, physical education), lunch, and snacks as part of the school day. Lunch and some electives classes will be made possible by setting up large wedding tents at each elementary school and a pair at the Chenery Middle and Belmont High schools.
  • Include specialized instruction for students with disabilities and students who are English learners; 
  • Provide bus transportation to all student in accordance with DESE guidance;
  • Implement classroom capacity, individual distancing, and quarantining requirements from CDC and DESE guidance.

Parents who’ll choose to have their children attend classes remotely will also attend school five days per week. Yet one “trade-off” of moving to a full-time school day will be the end of live streaming that allowed for in-class and at-home students to learn together. This will likely require many remote students to “loss” their current teachers who will transition to in-class teaching, replaced by remote-only educators.

“These are some of the challenges that we are facing in order to be able to provide these two learning models,” said Phelan.

Parents were sent a survey last week on which learning model they would choose for their students which will, in turn, determine how many teachers would be in the classroom and those teaching online.

More specific information on in-school elementary education can be found in the form of a PowerPoint presentation at the Belmont Public School website which was presented at the Tuesday School Committee meeting.

You can see the March 9 Belmont School Committee meeting at Belmont Media Center here.

Phelan noted DESE is requiring middle schools to follow the elementary schools in full-time in-school learning by April 28. And even though the state has not made any time certain for high school students, Phelan said the Working Group will be moving forward on recommendations for reopening the middle and high school.

Tuesday also provided an opportunity for Phelan to defend the district and school committee’s deliberative approach to reopening the schools to the criticism from many residents who felt the superintendent and committee members were ignoring physical data compiled by parents indicating students could have safely returned to classrooms earlier in the school year.

“Why in person now versus earlier in the school year than in the winter,” Phelan asked as he spoke of the success of the Return to In-Person Learning Working Group in formulating the recommendations using data and information gathered internally. The superintendent pointed out that the following guidance from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that only within the past few weeks had it become the optimum time “about bringing more students back to schools.”

“But back in February and January, that was not the case,” he said.

Whose mandate is it anyways?

In a sidebar to the meeting, a question of who has the mandate to speak for educating Belmont students could preview issues facing the Belmont School Committee after Town Election when new members come on board.

Committee member Mike Crowley chided the emergency mandate from DESE Commissioner (and Belmont High alum) Jeffrey Riley directing children back in the classroom either absent of any guidance on a number of issues including the social distancing for unmasked activities and conflicts with union bargaining agreements or “that “DESE guidance seems to be updated about every five minutes,” said Andrea Prestwich, school committee chair.

“I do not like that DESE has usurped the authority of the school committee to make decisions about these planning efforts. This is work that we asked for,” said Crowley, a sentiment seconded by Prestwich, saying she was “holding my tongue about my feelings about DESE, but you did say it nicely.”

Crowley’s statement is hardly a lone voice in the wilderness as many school committees, teacher unions and associations came out to pan Riley’s seeming overreach into local governance. Phelan joined a large group of nearby superintendents in signing a letter asking DESE to work with school districts to come up with a more concrete plan for a return to school, including joining the effort to vaccinate school staff.

While current members were expressing disappointment with the state, School Committee candidate Jamal Saeh, whose run for office is fueled by a growing populism among a segment of the community critical of what they perceive as unwarranted delays in reopening schools, wasted little time in castigating Crowley for his critical take on the state’s intrusion in the running of local government.

“When I hear a school committee member say that DESE usurped the authority of the school committee, I feel compelled to amplify the voice of those parents’ opinion of the school committee [that it] is not the mandate of the community,” said Saeh.

Saeh’s apparently offhand comment was interesting in so much that an elected school board, by state law, was provided a mandate by voters to run the municipality’s schools including managing its own budget, independent hiring practices, and creating policies on how to educate its students.

New ‘Fast Food’ Eatery, Market Coming To Former Seta’s Site On Belmont Street

Photo: The former Seta’s will soon become a “fast food” eatery with a new market/convenience store next door

An establishment doling out “fast food” will be opening in the next few weeks on Belmont Street at the corner of Newton. But don’t expect another Dunkins’ or a franchise operation coming to the Town of Homes.

To owner Zohreh Beheshti, the fast food she’ll be serving is an eclectic variety of specialty dishes – fried chicken, deli sandwiches, dairy samples, falafel “and maybe hamburgers … and coffee.”

On Monday, March 8, the Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously approved a special permit under the zoning bylaws to operate a fast-food restaurant, joining an international market the couple are about to open next door.

The store – which will sell Middle Eastern staples and spices along with the usual convenience store fare – is located at 273-5 Belmont and the 16-seat restaurant will be at 271 Belmont taking over the former Seta’s Cafe (which closed in September 2019) located across Newton Street from Sophia’s Greek Pantry. The businesses will be connected in the rear so employees can move between the two locations.

Parking will be in the rear of the building off of Newton. The town said the new store will run on the same hours as Seta’s: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Beheshti and her husband are running Roksana’s Persian Foods, a small 800-square foot storefront at 509 Mt. Auburn in Watertown.

“My customers actually pushed me to do this and that’s why we’re doing this,” said Beheshti

Even before opening, Beheshti has her fans in town as the board was bombarded with supportive emails and one town employee can attest to the food she sells.

“I’m just gonna warn everyone here that anything from her store that’s called gata is very fattening,” said Ara Yogurtian, assistant director of the town’s Planning Division. “It’s full of butter, full of sugar; it’s so tasty that once you begin [you can’t stop],” he said.

Belmont World Film 19th International (Virtual) Film Series Begins March 16

Photo: A scene from Majid Majidi’s “Sun Children,” which is representing Iran in at the 2021 Academy Awards.

Belmont World Film announced the lineup of its 19th annual International Film Series, running March 16-May 10, and featuring the virtual screening of eight of the world’s top films accompanied by online discussions with filmmakers or expert speakers.

Entitled “Family Ties,” the series features films from Belgium, Bhutan, the Czech Republic, Cuba, France, Iran, and Tunisia that focus on the varied definitions and configurations of family.

More than a third of the films are directed by women and half the films are carried over from last year’s Series, which was canceled at the last minute due to the pandemic; half are completely new films screened recently at leading international film festivals.

Of the eight films, previous Oscar nominee Agnieszka Holland’s (Europa, Europa) The Charlatan from the Czech Republic is currently shortlisted for this year’s Oscar for Best International Feature Film. Previous Oscar nominee Majid Majidi’s (Children of Heaven) Sun Children from Iran and first-time director Pawo Choyning Dorji’s Lunana from Bhutan were also their countries’ submissions for that Oscar category.

“We feel fortunate that we are able to continue to bring this annual film tradition to our audience members, even though we won’t be together in a theater and especially since we had to cancel last year’s Series just two days prior to its start,” says BWF Executive Director Ellen Gitelman.

“The few Zoom discussions we’ve had over the past year have confirmed that our audience members crave the opportunity to reflect upon, discuss, and understand the films’ both individual and universal topics.”

Seven of the eight films will be available for streaming for one week each, starting Tuesdays at 12:01 a.m. until the following Monday at 9 p.m.; A Son will only be available for streaming for 72 hours, starting Friday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m. until Monday, April 5, at 9 p.m. Each week concludes with a moderated discussion with an expert speaker or a Q&A with the film’s director on Mondays at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom. Films can be watched as many times as desired during a 48-hour period.

This year’s line-up includes:

  • March 16-22: Lunana directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji (Bhutan) New England premiere. An aspiring singer, living with his grandmother in the capital of Bhutan, dreams of getting a visa to relocate to Australia, but first must serve at the most remote school in the world, located in a glacial village in the Himalayas.
  • March 24-30: Charlatan directed by Agnieszka Holland (Czech Republic, Ireland, Slovakia, Poland) New England premiere. Oscar nominee Holland (Europa, Europa) directs this true story of a natural healer caught in the crosshairs of the former Czechoslovakia’s totalitarian regime in the 1950s.
  • April 2-5: A Son directed by Mehdi Barsaoui (Tunisia, France, Lebanon, Qatar) New England premiere. In the summer of 2011, in the immediate aftermath of Tunisia’s “Jasmine Revolution,” an upper middle-class family spends a weekend in southern Tunisia. A surprising story unfolds, resulting in an examination of the family’s liberal and modern lifestyle, as well as how religious traditions impact established medical practices.
  • April 6-12: Surprise Screening
  • April 13-19: The Dazzled directed by Sarah Suco (France) East Coast premiere. A 12-year-old girl’s parents join a controlling religious commune in southwestern France, making her on outcast at school and dashing her dreams of becoming a circus acrobat. Based largely on the director’s experience growing up in a community that espoused sharing and solidarity, this feature debut portrays the damaging effects such cults can have on family members, effectively brainwashing them into giving up their true selves for what appears to be a greater spiritual calling.
  • April 20-26: Sun Children directed by Majid Majidi (Iran) New England premiere Previous Oscar nominee Majidi directs this story about a 12-year-old boy and three friends who work to support their families by committing petty crimes to make fast money. When they are given the job of finding an underground treasure by the local crime boss, they must enroll in a charitable school that will give them access to an underground tunnel.
  • April 27-May 3: Gloria Mundi directed by Robert Guédiguian (France, Italy) New England premiere. Guédiguian (Snows of Kilimanjaro, BWF 2012) reunites his regular cast of actors in this family drama about surviving in today’s gig economy. Set in Marseille, the story centers around the birth of baby Gloria. Despite the family’s joy, some family members have fallen on hard times, pinning their hopes on the baby’s uncle when he opens a successful business.
  • May 3-10: Agosto directed by Armando Capó (Cuba, Costa Rica, France) New England premiere. A Cuban teenager, the primary caretaker for his beloved grandmother, develops his first crush during the summer of 1994, when the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ensuing shortage of food, supplies, and electricity compel people to make the perilous journey to the US by boat. Set in the director’s rural hometown of Gibara and loosely based on his experiences.

The festival is funded in part by a generous grant from the Belmont Cultural Council and is sponsored by the Belmont Food Collaborative. Community partners include the Boston Latino International Film Festival, Café Czech, the Czech and Slovak Association in Boston, and Iranians in Boston.

Individual film tickets are $14 each. A “Passport” includes eight films for $85 (as much as $3.37 savings per film). Memberships, which include complimentary tickets or passports and other benefits, are also available. EBT, WIC, and ConnectorCare cardholder tickets and passports are half price.

To purchase tickets and passes, or for more information visit www.belmontworldfilm.org or call 617-484-3980. Like us at www.Facebook.com/BelmontWorldFilm or follow us on Instagram @Belmont_World_Film or Twitter at @BelmntWorldFilm

Friday’s Online Trivia Night To Benefit Belmont High’s Performing Arts Company

Photo: This year’s BHS-PAC Trivia Night poster

There’s nothing trivial about Trivia Night being held this Friday by the Belmont High School Performing Arts Company.

Last year the popular event, hosted by Parents of Performing Arts Students (PATRONS), raised over $3,500 to support the PAC, with the funds going toward expenses such as props, costumes, lighting and sound equipment, theater workshops, student awards, and scholarships.

This year’s edition takes place, once again, online this Friday, March 12, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Individual tickets are $15, and patrons can join teams of up to eight people.

Because there hasn’t been much opportunity for students to socialize, PATRONS is following up the Friday night adults-only competition with a Saturday night, March 13 trivia event just for students. While purchasing tickets, donors will have the option to sponsor a student participant with a $10 donation.

“Trivia Night is always a lot of fun,” said Carolyn Boyle, co-president of PATRONS. “Supporting theater during a pandemic is hard, but the kids work really hard to produce quality shows and it’s worth it. We’re excited that the online format will allow friends and relatives who don’t live in Belmont to participate.” Boyle noted that director Ezra Flam and his team of trivia ringers usually dominate the night.

Sign up at the Performing Arts Company website, www.bhs-pac.org. Top finishers will receive prizes donated by local businesses along with year long bragging rights.

One Way Leonard: Town Seeks Comments On A Return To One Lane Traffic

Photo: Leonard Street down to one lane last summer

The Select Board will hold a public meeting to discuss a proposal to restrict Leonard Street to one lane of traffic between Moore Street and Alexander Avenue from April through October. The virtual meeting will take place on Monday, March 8 at 7 p.m.

“The town is eager to hear comments and get feedback to determine the level of interest of this proposal,” according to the announcement sent by the Town Clerk’s Office.

Last year, the Select Board instituted the one way traffic plan to allow restaurants to expand their al fresco dining area onto Leonard Street to assist those business owners impacted by COVID-19 restrictions on indoor operations. While many enjoyed the increased pedestrian opportunities created by the measure, retail shops said the loss of parking spaces on Belmont’s main commercial center hampered their businesses.

Join Zoom Meeting 

Meeting ID: 882 0940 4357 

To join by telephone, Call:  1 (929) 205 6099 

When prompted, enter: 88209404357

When prompted, enter # 

To ask a question or raise your hand, enter *9 on your phone. 

Moving Day: Belmont Police Returning To Renovated Headquarters On Monday

Photo: The Belmont Police Headquarters ready for the move Monday

The painting is done, the new furniture is in place, and come Monday, March 8, the staff and officers of the Belmont Police Department will be moving back to its long-time headquarters at the corner of Pleasant Street and Concord Avenue.

And the change of addresses from the temporary headquarters – located in modulars on Woodland Street they entered in August 2019 – is scheduled to take just one day to accomplish.

“Overall, the project is in very good shape; the interiors are wrapping up and we should have a final [town] inspection Friday,” said Ted Galante, the principal of the Galante Architecture Studio in Cambridge which designed the police headquarters’ extension and interior as well as revamped the Department of Public Works structure.

For those who oversaw the building project, the return of the department to its headquarters is a success story despite a few bumps in the road.

“It looks fantastic from where we started,” said Ann Marie Mahoney, the chair of the Building Committee and as long time head of the Capital Budget Committee who had spearheaded for more than a decade the drive within Town Meeting to provide “a humane place” for both the Police and Department of Public Works employees to work from.

While the year-and-a-half-year construction project was the rehabilitation and expansion of the now 90-year-old original structure, it will be a whole new experience for the men and women who endured its famously cramped and antiquated depths.

Where once were constricted spaces with no storage will be rooms with accompanying filing and cabinets. Rather than just a single stairway leading to the second floor, an elevator has been installed. The men’s locker rooms are expanded while female officers will have their first dedicated changing space and showers instead of a jerry-rigged set up they had languished with. The once constricted booking area – where the cells are – is now an expanded space, secured with an internal sally port to safely transfer detainees.

“The furniture has all been installed and … the little bit the punch list (the to-do’s list that need to be completed before a project can be considered finished) on the interior of the building has been cleaned up,” said Galante, who said the town’s certificate of occupancy was expected to be issued on Friday, March 5.

The project did not meet its scheduled opening day in October due to a COVID-19 delay receiving the charcoal black terra cotta panels (installed on the newly built extension) when the Italian manufacturer was forced to close shop last summer.

Finally, the landscaping and any leftover exterior work will be completed by the spring.

While the physical portion of the project is all-but completed, there still remains work to be done bringing the work in on a budget of just south of $11.8 million. And while she said the project was “a little bit on fumes,” Mahoney is confident that “when the project is presented to Town Meeting, every penny will be accounted for.”

What started as a $6.7 million renovation and expansion in 2018 ballooned to nearly $12 million a year later when the project’s scope changed to include a complete interior rehab, requiring a special town meeting vote for an added $3.76 million. While there were some grumblings at Town Meeting of a “bait and switch,” the additional funds were approved easily.

With a few “soft” costs remaining, the committee is sitting on about $31,500 in unencumbered funds with a commitment from the Capital Budget Committee to pay for “whatever odds and ends that may need funding,” said Mahoney.

Mahoney said a major reason the new headquarters will come in on budget is due to a shade under $30,000 in private contributions from residents and groups such as the Richard Lane Foundation, named after the late Belmont assistant Police Chief which will be paying for landscaping, a new flag pole and equipping rooms to be used by officers.

Actually the project will be returning approximately $35,000 to the Community Preservation Committee of the $100,000 it requested for exterior work such as masonry work while sending back to the Warrant Committee about $50,000 from a $250,000 transfer to repair a retaining wall and mitigate the “junk” soil on the site.

“This is fabulous,” said Building Committee member Stephen Rosales. “It’s close but it’s in the black.”

Healey Named Belmont’s New HR Director

Photo: Shawna Healey, Belmont’s new HR director

Shawna Healey can take the “acting” from her title as Town Administrator Patrice Garvin announced this week that the Woburn native has been named Belmont’s new director of Human Resources.

“Shawna was the obvious candidate [for the position],” said Garvin to the Select Board. “She’s experienced, solid and has the support of the staff.”

As the acting director, “she hasn’t missed a beat under some pretty hard stuff. She has been able to succeed and meet and surpass all those expectations,” said Garvin.

Healey has been the acting director since the departure of Jessica Porter in October. A non-contractional appointment, her annual salary is $108,000 with a start date of March 2. Phelan said the salary was selected after reviewing comparable salaries in surrounding towns.

Healy grew up and currently resides in Woburn. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business with a Human Resources concentration from Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire and a Masters in Business Administration in Human Resources from Southern New Hampshire University. Healey obtained a Society for Human Resource Management-Senior Certified Professional certificate in February 2020.  

Healey previously worked for Partners HealthCare in various human resource positions for five years before to coming to work in Belmont in September 2017.