Forum This Thursday To Discuss How Belmont Can Reach Goals Of Equitable, Affordable Housing

Photo: A road towards more equitable housing in Belmont

Belmont Against RacismThe Belmont Housing TrustThe Belmont Media Center, and the Belmont Human Rights Commission are hosting an informational public forum titled “Belmont’s Road to Housing Equity this Thursday, April 29 at 6:55 p.m. via Zoom or live on Belmont Media Center.

It will be an evening to explore historical and present day housing issues an how Belmont can reach its goals of equitable and affordable housing.

Zoom link at or Channel 96 (Comcast) or Channel 30 (Verizon)

  • How can Belmont reach its goals of equitable and affordable housing? 
  • What’s the historical background and how does it relate to fair housing law?
  • Who shapes local housing and zoning decisions?
  • What does new zoning legislation mean for Belmont?
  • Where is Belmont today on meeting its housing goals?
  • How does Belmont fit into the wider transportation picture, with its new zoning rules and tools as well as its financial incentives for the Town?

Learn from a panel of experts as we explore these questions. There will be a Q & A opportunity.

  • State Rep. Dave Rogers(24th Middlesex District), 
  • Robert Terrell (Fair Housing, Equity and Inclusion Officer at the Boston Housing Authority and previously Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston); 
  • Katherine Einstein (Assistant Director of Policy at Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research); 
  • Jarred Johnson (Executive Director of TransitMatters); and
  • Judie Feins and Betsy Lipson of the Belmont Housing Trust.
  • Moderated by Rachel Heller (Co-Chair of the Belmont Housing Trust and Chief Executive Director of CHAPA.

COVID Update: With J&J’s Return, Belmont Resumes Homebound Vaccinations

Photo: The latest update on the COVID-19 virus in Belmont

Three days after the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the resumption of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the general public, the Massachusetts Department of Health gave the “green light” for Belmont’s Health Department to resume its homebound vaccination effort, according to Wesley Chin, director of Belmont’s Health Department.

Speaking before the Select Board at its Monday, April 26 meeting, Chin said the town has vaccinated 46 at home residents with the help of the Belmont Fire Department.

“I just to encourage any residents out there who are homebound, please call our office at 617-993-2720 and we can schedule an appointment to get them vaccinated in their home,” said Chin.

As of the latest data, 80 percent of residents 75 and older have been fully vaccinated. A third of all residents have had their two shots with 55 percent of the population having at least one vaccine jab.

The temporary halt of the J&J vaccine came after reports of adverse effects primarily an increased risk of blood clots with low platelets in adult women younger than 50 years old. It was resumed after the government said the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its potential risks.

According to the Health Department, as of April 23, Belmont has 1,106 cumulative confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of 10 cases since April 16. There have been a total of 80 COVID-19 related deaths to date, all of which are confirmed by filed death certificates with the Town Clerk’s Office. 

Due to the new case count over the past two weeks, Belmont’s average daily incidence of 8.1 per 100,000, and the .90 percent positivity, Belmont remains “green” according to the state’s color designation metrics.

As Yard Sale Season Begins, Know The Town’s Bylaw Before Putting Out The Signs

Photo: Yard sales are just around the corner

Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman wants to remind all residents a permit is required for all yard sales according to the Belmont General Bylaw §60-910 setting the limit of three sales in a calendar year and articulates requirements for those holding private sales.

If you intend to hold a private sale – including garage sales, tag sales, moving sales, etc. – as defined in the Bylaw, you must first register and receive a free permit issued by the Town Clerk’s office.

Residents can file for the Private Sale permit by going to the Town Clerk’s webpage on the Town’s website  and select “Yard Sale Permit.” Registering for the free permit takes less than two minutes as the resident fills in an online form with the date, time, address of the sale, and contact information about the sponsor; the free permit will be emailed automatically; residents who do not have access to email may call the Town Clerk’s office and the staff will be happy to help. The Town Clerk’s office is reached at 617-993-2603 or

Sellers also get a bit of free advertising; Yard Sale shoppers may use the web page to view a map of registered Belmont Yard Sales or to print a list or registered Yard Sales for the upcoming two weeks. 

All Belmont Public Students Are Back In School On Last Week Of April

Photo: Belmont student will be in classrooms after the Spring break. (Credit: Pixabay)

After two months of in-house analysis and some pressure from the state, all Belmont students will be back in school on the final week of April, according to John Phelan, Belmont superintendent of schools.

“We believe that we’re making really, really good progress so we appreciate everyone’s patience [during the pandemic],” said Phelan, at the Tuesday, April 13 Belmont School Committee meeting.

Chenery Middle School students and teachers will return full time on Wednesday, April 28 and those attending Belmont High School will be back in the on Thursday, April 29. Each school will reopen after the two student cohorts at the Chenery and High School are combined in the hybrid schedule.

Those students learning remotely will attend classes via live stream.

Students in Belmont’s four elementary schools have been in classes both in class and remotely since April 5, an experience so far, Phelan said, “students are doing very well, some kinks to work out for sure.”

Currently 83 percent of students district wide have elected to return to in-person learning at the six Belmont schools. Approximately 17 percent will continue to be taught remotely. Elementary students have the greatest in-person attendance at 91 percent while high schoolers are split 70-30 in-class vs remote.

Phelan told the committee that the district has taken “a real close eye on” the level of community transmission of the COVID-19 before moving towards a full return to in-class education.

In announcing the dates for the reopening, Phelan acknowledged the effort of the 32-member Return to In-Person Learning Working Group which over eight meeting since February drafted sets of “rolling” recommendations to the School Committee and District outlining the steps both in terms of public health and navigating logistic concerns that led to the return of full-time classroom education.

The group – made up of educators, students, parents, members of the Board of Health, School Committee and community – included:

“We truly appreciate the role that everybody brought to this work; the feedback, the healthy suggestions, the debate, the disagreement, and there was disagreement in this committee. There were recommendations that folks felt really good about, and there were recommendations that folks struggle with a little bit in these were hard discussions within our subgroups,” said Phelan.

“This was not all smiles in fun. This was work. This was debate, review and reflection. But ultimately we came up with an outcome that that put students in school in the month of April, to some degree ahead of time. So we’re thankful for their work,” said Phelan, who pointed to the leadership of the Working Group’s facilitators, Harvard-based Michelle Rinehart and Dr. Drew Echelson, who provided the analysis and just the hand-holding required to shepherd the group in its mission.

While finished with its initial goal, the work group will reconvene in May to tackle issues such as remote learning, creating contingency plans in the event of another surge and mapping out a seasonal strategy.

“We did do a little bit of reflecting on what this group could do better next time. How this type of work can serve the district well in any other type of challenge or with any other issues that need to be worked out with community support and feedback. So we think we have a pretty good format for future use,” said Phelan.

Registration Underway For Underwood Pool Summer Season


Registration for Belmont residents to purchase membership to the Underwood Pool is now underway. Any remaining passes will be released to non-residents on June 1 at 8 a.m.

Opening day at the Underwood is currently scheduled for Wednesday, June 23. The closing day of the pool is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 1. 

Belmont Recreation Commission’s video on the new summer season at the Underwood Pool

Public swim block will take place from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily while the pool is opened. Each public swim block will last for 1 hour and 50 minutes and will include a 10 minute transition. 

  • 10 a.m. – Noon
  • Noon – 2 p.m.
  • 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
  • 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
  • 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. 

There will be two primary options for gaining access to the pool:

  • Memberships passes
  • Daily Drop-in passes

MEMBERSHIPS: Under the current COVID-19 state guidelines, the Underwood pool capacity is limited to 50 percent of the bather load or 165 people at the pool at a time. If the restrictions loosen, we will be able to register residents for more passes and guarantee more visits per week.

FAMILY ($305): We have 520 FAMILY passes available. These are family passes that admits everyone in your household account

INDIVIDUAL ($110): We have 82 of these available
. These passes are singular passes for one person

SENIOR ($50): We  have 25 of these available.
 These are individual passes for people 65 years of age and older.

Passes will be available to resident to purchase though out the summer until we sell out. On June 1, if there are any membership passes remaining, Non-residents will be allowed to purchase the remaining passes. If a waitlist forms, residents will be given priority.  


FAMILY – ($610)INDIVIDUAL – ($220) There is no Senior option.

There are 40 drop in spots available per time block
Child Resident: $10
Adult Resident: $15
Child Non-Resident: $20
Adult Non-Resident: $25

Pool members are guaranteed a minimum of two visits to the pool per week. Reservations for any given week will be open to members the Monday morning at 8 a.m. the week prior. They will remain open until they are sold out or until that morning.

On the morning of any given day, Belmont Recreation will release any un-claimed member slots back to all member. This will enable members to book additional time at the pool. It is possible for a member to attend the pool more than twice a week depending on the demand and availability. 

Drop in passes will open three days in advance of any given date to Belmont resident. They will open two day in advance for Non-residents.

Letter To The Editor: Designate At Least One Day To Honor Indigenous Peoples

To the editor:

In third grade, my Winn Brook class went on a field trip to Plymouth Plantation. Furious that I got separated from my best friend, I stomped through the English village where costumed colonists wished us a “Good morrow.” At the Wampanoag Homesite, we watched Indigenous women dressed in deerskins cooking next to a bark-covered wetu (house). Exhausted, I breathed in the warm smokey air, recalling my preschool Thanksgiving crafts: the black Pilgrim hat and the colorful turkey shaped like my little hand. My teacher taught us that the Native people had saved the Pilgrims from starvation and celebrated the first Thanksgiving together.  

Four years later, I attended the first of many powwows – a large gathering of Indigenous people dancing, singing, and celebrating traditions – organized by the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness. At Claudia Fox Tree’s workshops, my re-education about American history began. I learned about famous Indigenous people and contemporary issues like the struggle against denigrating Native mascots. As I watched Aquayah Peters in her vibrant jingle dress and the Edmond brothers’ joyful dance, I understood that the Wampanoags at Plymouth were not actors in historic costumes or relics of the past. They were living on their own homelands, preserving their way of life. 

For me, Indigenous Peoples’ Day is about the past and the present. It is an opportunity to acknowledge that Belmont is located in the homelands of the Massachusett and the Pawtucket. Reminders of Indigenous presence are everywhere: place names like Pequossette Park on Trapelo Road, Native artifacts discovered near School and Grove Streets, and a burial mound on land bordering Pleasant Street. Indigenous narratives were mainly absent from my Belmont education. On my own, I read about the devastating violence of colonial history like the Pequot massacre of 1637 celebrated at the first officially proclaimed Thanksgiving, and ongoing harms to Indigenous communities. The poet Mary Ruefle observes: “[L]istening is a kind of knowledge, or as close as one can come.” The students of Belmont deserve to hear truthful historical narratives.

We can also celebrate the knowledge of Indigenous peoples who have lived in harmony with the natural world for centuries and are at the forefront of climate justice. Belmont readers can discuss books by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Dina Gilio-Whitaker, Terese Marie Mailhot, and Tommy Orange. We can choose to honor Indigenous people on at least one designated day.

Natalia Freeze, Leicester Road

Final Day Of The 2020-21 School Year Is …


Now for a little math or maths as it’s known in other English-speaking countries. If students are required to attend 180 days of school and each school districts adds 5 ‘snow’ days to the calendar and there were a pair of actual days cancelled due to weather but the state did not give permission to add 10 days to the beginning of the school year so the required number of days is 170, what is the last day of the 2020-21 school year?

OK, all you need to know that it’s earlier than normal: Wednesday, June 16.

That’s, of course, if there are no more snow days from now until the third week in June. “We’ll knock on wood as we say that. If it snows, I’m sorry,” said Janice Darias, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

Veterans Site At Clay Pit Pond Gets A New Name

Photo: The dedication of the Belmont Veterans Memorial, Nov. 3, 2019.

The memorial on the bank of Clay Pit Pond that recognize Belmont residents who serviced in the US Armed Services has received a new name. The Select Board on Monday, April 12, voted unanimously to honor a request by the Veterans Memorial Committee to rename the site as the Belmont Veterans Memorial Park.

“If anyone’s gone by there or taken a look in the past 18 months, you can see what that has transformed into,” said Michael Callahan, a retired US Marine Corp colonel who was co-chair of the Memorial Committee told the board. “It’s something we’re very proud of.”

To give the memorial greater permanence, the committee asked the board to designate the site – a triangular area encompassing all of the monuments elements leading up to the pond – as the Belmont Veterans Memorial Park.

The memorial was dedicated on Nov. 2, 2019 on the site of a flag pole set up in 1940 to remember service members.

“We’re doing so and requesting this to formalize our commitment to care for the area. For some 70 odd years, it wasn’t take care for properly. We’re very proud of [the new memorial]. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” said Callahan.

Checkoway Named School Committee Chair. Vice Chair? Let’s Wait On That

Photo: A Zoom capture of Amy Checkoway

Amy Checkoway was unanimously elected chair of the Belmont School Committee at its organizational meeting a week after the Town Election. She takes over the reins of the six member board from Andrea Prestwich.

An education policy researcher for a large international consulting firm, Checkoway enters her third year on the committee having won a seat in 2019.

“I’m really committed to building and fostering really strong working relationships with all members of the committee, with our town leaders and perhaps most importantly with our community,” said the Pequossette Road resident, adding there is also a need to improve the committee’s governance structure, decision making and communications.

“I don’t think I have all the answers. I recognize what a challenging time this is, and the trust that needs to be repaired on many fronts,” she told the committee.

Newcomer Meg Moriarty was named the committee’s secretary.

A request to create the position of vice chair to the committee never got a chance to be voted as the committee decided to spend the fortnight between gatherings to allow the proposal to sit and wait.

Committee member Mike Crowley noted the need for the new post was necessary due to the avalanche of work Prestwich undertook during the height of the pandemic without a designated second in line to help manage it.

“The role of the chair in ordinary times, it can be an overwhelming amount of workload,” said Crowley. “It would be very helpful to be able to share the work that the chair currently has as their responsibility in order for this committee to be more effective,” said Crowley.

Prestwich, who led the committee for nearly the past year, said it was not just the volume of work but also the wide range of meetings – executive, negotiating, finance – that requires coverage.

While the vice chair position would be similar to the Select Board’s post, Moriarty wondered if anyone would wish to undertake the position noting that no one was eager to step into the secretary’s role – Moriarty was nominated for the role and accepted after one member deferred and the four remaining members were left quietly eyeing the others resembling a scene from the western “Deadwood.”

“That’s a very fair point,” said Checkoway.

While she acknowledges the need for the position, member Kate Bowen felt it would be helpful to have clearer guidance about the leadership roles and spreading the authority.

While Crowley pointed to an urgency to vote to add the vice chair position since the burden and volume facing the chair remains considerable, the measure was tabled as there are two new members who weren’t involved in previous dialogue, and despite having been discussed in the past, some agreed with an obscure parliamentary point that it wasn’t listed as an item in past meeting agendas.

Memorial Day Observance Set For Belmont Cemetery At 11 AM, May 31

Photo: The 2019 Memorial Day observance at Belmont Cemetery

After being cancelled due in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the annual Memorial Day Observance returns in 2021 as Belmont honors those residents who fell defending the country.

The observance will take place at Belmont Cemetery adjacent Grove Street on Monday, May 31, at 11 a.m. Following the state’s guidelines on outside gatherings, the event will be limited to 150 participants, according to Belmont’s Veteran’s Services Officer Bob Upton who spoke to the Select Board on Monday, April 12.

Due to the continued coronavirus emergency in the state, the parade from Cushing Square to the cemetery that usually precedes the observance has been cancelled, said Upton.

“Although the parade is traditional event and we’d like to see it continue, I think at this point it may not be possible to do that,” said Upton.