Next Generation Of Baghdady Grapplers Already Winning On The National Stage [VIDEO]

Photo: David Baghdady after winning the Reno Worlds championship

Say the name of certain Belmont families and you immediately associate it with what they do: French and construction; Shea and law enforcement, Muzzioli, landscaping (and hockey); and Flett with development and heavy equipment, to mention just a few.

And while they have become successful in real estate, say the name Baghdady in Belmont, and the image that’s conjured up is of wrestling glory.

When banners were hanging in the Wenner Field House at Belmont High School, an entire corner of the gym was a visual litany of the Baghdady’s prowess on the wrestling mat: league, state and region champions from the 1980s till today. And those honors include a national title won by Samir Baghdady in 1991.

And the family’s legacy continues from father to son as David, Samir’s son, is making a name for himself at the young age of 10. Earlier this month, the Chenery Middle School 5th-grader won the Reno Worlds, a prestigious national tournament, by defeating the number-one ranked wrestler in the country from Pennsylvania in the Under 10 Boys, 85-pound division.

David Baghdady

“I was a little bit nervous but then when I was wrestling I was fine,” said David during a recent interview about his week in Nevada.

The finals, comprised of three 90-second periods, was a tactical affair, with David scoring a two-point takedown in the first period and then gaining a point early in the third to go up 3-0. His opponent – who had won four national tournaments before Reno – earned his lone point as David was called for stalling but never got a chance to score as David had his leg in a hold when the match ended.

“Honestly, it feels awesome,” said David of his victory. “Now, every day, I can walk into my room, and I can see my trophy.” His first-place trophy, including a massive bald eagle statue, caused a stir among Starbucks customers during the interview.

While he is a naturally shy 10-year-old with a happy smile whose favorite subject is maths; on the mat, David will turn most of his opponents into a pretzel in short order. David quickly dispatched his challengers in his four preliminary matches before the Reno finals with pins. So it’s little surprise to learn that David is a four-time Massachusetts and two-time New England winner.

Baghdady began learning freestyle wresting at four and placed second in his first competition at six. His day comprises daily exercises and practice in New Hampshire, Lawrence and Natick. He’s learning to improve his skill set as everyone in his group has the basics down.

“It’s who has more technique, the more toughness and who’s stronger with more speed” who will come out on top, said David.

Compared to the wrestling meccas such as Pennsylvania, any number of Midwest states, and the west coast, Massachusetts is an outlier in the sport, one where there are just not the numbers or expertise especially at the younger age groups. For that reason, Baghdady travels throughout New England and the eastern seaboard to tourneys looking for competition up to his skill level.

David Baghdady in action in Reno

And Baghdady’s talent is in demand, with all-star teams across the country wanting him to wrestle for them in upcoming tournaments. He was recently invited to participate in an elite dual-team meet in Virginia Beach in July after taking part in a large regional competition this month in Rochester. His next goal is to wrestle in the Super32 in North Carolina, “which is one of the toughest in the world.”

Some could see this focus on a sport as blocking out new activities that many of his age first experience in middle school.

But Baghdady, who lives with his parents and four siblings, doesn’t feel that he is missing out with his schedule filled with this activity.

“I honestly don’t care if I miss something for wrestling. I’m not really an instrument or play guy,” he said.

For Samir, if his son is excited and energetic about the sport, “I leave it up to him” whether he continues. “The other day, he said to me, ‘Dad, if I weren’t wrestling, I’d be sitting at home watching TV and playing video games’.”

David points out that wrestling has allowed him to travel throughout the country – David will list off that impressive number on demand – and make friends with fellow grapplers in far-flung places such as Hawaii and Florida.

“It’s been great,” said Baghdady.

A Champions’ Goodbye: Owner Of Belmont’s Iconic Sports Store Retiring After 35 Years

Photo: Gerry Dickhaut, owner of Champions Sporting Goods in Belmont Center

For the past 35 years, Belmont’s sports universe has revolved around a small elongated storefront smack in the Center. Need your child’s first hockey equipment? How about a lacrosse stick? A bag of Little League baseballs? Swimming goggles? A sweatshirt with “BELMONT” stitched across the chest? Skates sharpened? Tickets for the spring musical? You’ll find it there.

And there you’ll find the proprietor of Champions Sporting Goods on Leonard Street Gerry Dickhaut. And make no mistake, Gerry is the business. He’s taking inventory, finding the correct size soccer cleat, sharpening the skates, stocking the youth team’s uniforms, and sending his teenage employees to Rancs for ice cream.

Gerry has been the most ardent supporter of the Center and its businesses, president of the business association, runs the annual spring Town Day (Champions is the official sponsor of the dunk tank), and knows all the best gossip on Leonard Street.

But as with all good things, Gerry will soon bid a fond “adieu” to his business home for four decades as he’s retiring.

“October 8, 1988. That’s when I opened the doors, 35 years this year. I think I can say I deserve to retire,” said Dickhaut behind the cramped counter in his shop at 53 Leonard St.

“I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve been very lucky,” said Dickhaut, interrupting the interview to help a young father pick out socks for his son.

Gerry’s Champions, one of the increasingly rare independent sporting goods outlets in the US, harkens back to when the Center was the town’s business hub with a Filene’s, a supermarket, a specialty fish monger, an Italian market, a florist, and the century-old local bank. To stay afloat and remain profitable – it’s made money since the third year in operation – as small businesses are desimated by large box store and internet sales, three recessions and a devistating pandemic is remarkable.

Gerry Dickhaut, owner of Champions Sporting Goods

“My success has everything to do with the loyality of the people in town and the youth leagues. They come back time and time again. You can’t ask for anything more,” he said.

Besides selling sporting goods, Gerry has offered generations of Belmont High School students and alumni their first job in the store. Melis Demirtas, a highly proficiant kickboxer and high school rugby player, is one of many who lug new shipments here and there and helping customers putting shoes on kindergarteners.

“Gerry, he’s great,” Demirtas said.

Gerry said he was going to retire last year but was convinced by his landlord to “stay just one more year.”

“They gave me a break when I first opened the doors. They took a chance on me,” said Dickhaut.

The rumor that Gerry was ready to move on has been circulating among parents and league officials for a couple of months with many expressing their sadness to Gerry as some considered pooling funds and purchasing the business.

“I’m humbled and flattered that they see me as a [community asset.] And it goes both ways, I appreciate that they are loyal customers,” he said.

Knowing how the residents regard the store, Gerry has been working with a Belmont resident who is “interested” to buy and continue to run the business at its location. The possible buyer is, ironically, a former employee of Amazon – a scurge of small businsses – who has been working in the store to learn the ropes. The interested person is seeking a partner or a manager to run the store as the hours are quite considerable.

Gerry said there are others interested in running the shop, “and they’re all from Belmont.”

As for Gerry, he has some idea what he’ll be doing after he hands the keys over to the next owner.

“I want to go to London. I was there for two days once and it was fabulous. I want to go to Italy and get a real pizza. Then I want to go to Asia especially Bali, that part of the world. And also tour America. There are just so many beautiful spots in the country,” said Dickhaut.

But Gerry said he will be around to help the new owner “if they want me here.” But soon the golf enthusiast will be looking to the south for a place to hang up his clubs.

“I can’t handle the cold weather anymore. Really. It’s depressing, you’re always stuck inside,” said Gerry with an eye on someplace in Florida, around Pheonix or San Diego. A place with a golf course nearby.

A Surprise $908,000 Windfall From Low Bid Begs Question: Where Will Town Spend It?

Photo: Replacing the underground fuel tanks at the DPW Yard will cost half of what was estimated by a town consultant.

Some good news on a municipal project has presented a happy dilemma for Belmont Town Administrator Patrice Garvin and the Select Board after nearly a cool million dollars landed in the town’s lap earlier this month.

With a litany of funding demands across the town’s budgetary spectrum – notably more than $500,000 of an anticipated debt facing the schools at the end of this fiscal year on June 30 – this surprise financial bonanza could provide needed relief to existing shortfalls or be used for some needed quick fixes.

The sizeable windfall revolves back to the highly controversial decision on the future of the fuel tanks at the DPW Yard. Despite evidence that above-ground tanks are safer and less expensive to maintain than those in the ground, Town Meeting rejected the funding for above-ground tanks as a few neighbors sought ecstatic relief and successfully convinced members of their argument.

Back to today, with the inground tanks having exceeded their useful life and the threat of contaminate leakage ever growing, the town last year put out a request for a proposal to replace the tanks. The estimated cost for the replacement tanks from the town’s engineering consultant came in at $1,904,266, funded by a Town Meeting appropriation of $650,000 with the remaining $1,254,266 from the $8.6 million the town received in the American Rescue Plan Act.

Last month, four offers came in with a low bid from Franklin-based Green Site Services Group. The accepted offer? $966,0000, nearly half the estimated cost.

Since the $908,266 bunce was not part of the funds allocated by the Town Meeting, the surplus will not be “clawed back” to the town’s free cash account but will be reallocated by the town.

Since the Select Board makes ARPA decisions, “so conceivably we could repurpose the money if we had to,” Board member Elizabeth Dionne asked.

“It would be a simple vote [of the Select Board],” said Garvin.

“We have some big capital needs coming up,” noted Dionne.

“I have some ideas,” said Garvin. When asked at the close of the meeting what the board’s priorities would be for the windfall, Garvin smiled and said she’d first have to let the Select Board see her recommendations before making it public.

As for the project, Department of Public Works Director Jay Marcotte said even though the funds are available now, the actual work on the tank replacement will begin in the spring of 2024 as the construction time frame will take up to eight months and it would not be advantageous to work through the winter months.

League Of Women Voters Town Meeting Warrant Briefing On Thursday, April 27

Photo: A screenshot of last year’s meeting

The Belmont League of Women Voters will hold its annual Warrant Briefing before the start of the annual Town Meeting on Thursday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m.

At this virtual meeting held over Zoom and broadcast via the Belmont Media Center, the briefing – cosponsored by the Warrant Committee and the League’s Education Fund – will allow Town Meeting members and residents to ask questions about Warrant Articles prior to Town Meeting, Segment A, that begins on Monday, May 1.

Town Officials and Department Heads will be present to provide information. Leading the meeting will be Geoffrey Lubien, chair of the Warrant Committee.

Viewing options include:

Participating on Zoom 

Zoom meeting ID: 867 1988 6843

Watching on cable television or live stream

Live broadcast: Belmont Ch 8 (Comcast); Ch 28 (Verizon). Livestream or on-demand:

Who’s That Tall Runner With Becca? Belmont Well Represented at 127th Boston Marathon

Photo: Belmont’s Becca Pizzi with former Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chára with their medals after finishing the 127th B.A.A. Marathon (credit: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Seconds before former Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chára crossing the finish line at the 127th running of the BAA Marathon on Monday, he reached down to grab the hand someone town residents know fairly well, Becca Pizzi, to share this special moment.

Turns out that Belmont’s 5’2” marathon champion was a big reason the 6’9″ Bruins legend was able to complete the 26.2 mile race which both would be raising money for the Hoyt Foundation. Being it was Chára’s first attempt at the distance, who better to be partnered with than the two-time winner of the World Marathon Challenge in which Becca ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven consecutive days.

In a twitter message before the race, Boston Marathon’s long time race director Dave McGillivray wrote: [Chára] is READY due in big part to Coach Becca Pizzi and has EARNED THE RIGHT to do this race.”

On Monday, Belmont’s 29 finishers were part of the 30,090 who completed this year’s marathon.

Belmont’s Brian Harvey at the Newton Firehouse.

Five men ran under 3 hours and four women broke 3:45 with Brian Harvey finishing 47th overall while 52-year-old Laurie Nahigian raced to a 3:44:47 finish which was the 367th finisher in her division, while long-time State Sen. Will Brownsberger was 395th in his division with a time of 4:22:54.

RunnerOfficial Time
Brian Harvey2:22:40
Cheng Zhong 2:47:42
Donal Reynolds 2:53:44
Mathew Swanson2:55:53
Tony Luongo2:58:54
Matthew Taylor3:03:31
Jacob Scott3:05:22
Lixin Qin3:05:22
David Marchefka3:05:41
Jeffrey Roth3:13:22
Douglas Hall3:16:16
Sam Belcher3:22:32
Nicholas Gallo 3:28:06
Lisa Engler3:36:22
Becca Pizzi 3:38:23
Xiaomei Zhou3:39:50
Laurie Nahigian3:44:47
Yi Zhang3:48:20
Catherine Wall3:52:37
Michael Ascione3:59:38
Yufei Xu3:59:43
Jenna Vargas 4:11:05
Erin Woodbury4:19:37
Will Brownsberger4:22:54
George Grant4:23:23
Meaghan Murphy4:54:41
Sylvia Limm5:15:42
Rachel Heller 5:15:42
Mandela Toyo5:49:23

Select Board Increases Most Parking Tickets To $25

Photo: A close call whether this vehicle is impeding sidewalk travel

For the first time in more than a decade, most parking ticket fines are increasing, going up $10 to $25 after a vote by the Select Board on Monday, April 11. But it could take a while before scofflaws hand over the higher fine.

The hike in the parking penalties came as part of a presentation of a citizens’ petition that will come before Town Meeting on May 3.

Town Meeting Member Gi Yoon-Huang of Winn Street (Precinct 8) told the Board of a safety issue involving vehicles that jut out of driveways and block the sidewalk. She said in her precinct, this is forcing children and parents heading to the Winn Brook School to enter the street to go around them.

She was spurred to launch this effort after speaking to a resident who uses a walker and fell attempting to move past a car blocking the sidewalk.

Yoon-Huang said while police would respond quickly to calls and the owners eventually move their vehicles, “it would often be a repeat offender … and it took us years to have this one street cleared.”

“The main goal [of the petition] is to bring awareness that this is a problem, but also to further clarify it further,” said Yoon-Huang.

Her petition would also increase the parking fine for this offense – after a first warning – which will increase with each infraction; a second ticket would be $50 and a third and more at $100. The petition would require stepped up communication with residents on the new bylaw.

“This is to help improve safety for everyone,” said Yoon-Huang, who has agreed to make a presentation before Town Meeting at which time the town will adopt the bylaw provisions into the existing parking regulations. Her petition will then be tabled, and a motion to dismiss will be presented to Town Meeting.

Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac said his department actively targets any vehicle that is an obstruction, including those crammed into driveways to avoid violating the town’s 60-year-old overnight parking ban enforced between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m.

“So they have a choice to make. They leave the car out at night, and they absolutely get a ticket, or they squeeze it in the driveway. An officer working the midnight shift is not going to probably tag those cars in the drive way as they are making an effort to be off the street,” said MacIsaac.

But for a group of residents, the current $15 fine isn’t much of a deterrent. “Some people pay them and just go on violating it,” he said, noting the last time Belmont increased ticket fees was 2005, and before that, in the 1980s.

A few parking violations have unique penalties, such as parking at an MBTA bus stop which is $100, and $50 for stopping in a designated bike lane.

MacIsaac noted that during his nearly quarter century in law enforcement, residents’ first and overriding complaint about his department is parking tickets. “I’ve been people get ten times more upset getting a $15 parking ticket than a $200 speeding ticket.” The chief said officers issue an average of 28 parking tickets daily, of which eight to nine are overnight violations.

MacIsaac said that of the two sections of state law (MGL 9020) governing traffic citations, Belmont adopted the one where most tickets top out at $25. He said creating a unique violation with an increasing fee would run counter to state law. If the town wants to raise ticket fees, it should adopt the other section of the ticketing law – which only Boston and Cambridge have adopted – under which Belmont can jack up parking ticket fees to $60.

“I actually think that the dollar fine would really spur good behavior,” said Elizabeth Dionne on her first meeting as a board member. “I think $20 is not that significant. I think $50 and $100. The goal is never to collect the money. The goal is to have clear sidewalks.”

Board member Roy Epstein believes that “it’s not necessary to jump to a very high fine right away” to force compliance; instead using the existing enforcement options available to the town. He said under the current traffic citation law, the police can return to towing vehicles (suspended during COVID) for someone with a significant number of tickets as well as “boot” vehicles “just to let them know that we are serious about this.”

While not wanting to impose a significant increase in the parking fee structure, Epstein said it was time to bring these penalties to a more realistic level.

“I think its time to increase all of the $15 to $20 because of 20 years of inflation,” said Epstein, with Dionne suggesting upping it to $25.

The discussion then proceeded to whether the town needed to include vehicles as an “obstruction” impeding pedestrian travel on a sidewalk. Town Moderator Patrice Garvin said town bylaws already call for action on any “obstruction,” whether it’s a car, shrubbery, or snow.

Rather than bringing complicated issues on enforcement before the 290-member Town Meeting, Paolillo said the board would “combine the spirit of some of the things [in the citizens’ petition] into our parking regulations and increase our fines. I think that goes a long way to address the concerns of the petitioners.”

While the board quickly passed the new $25 parking fine, there will be some leeway before the bylaw goes into effect. MacIsaac said the department will need to finish the existing supply of ticket books with the old fine before ordering a new batch with the $25 fee.

Back Live! Annual Town Meeting Begins On May Day At BHS Auditorium

Photo: Town Meeting is coming to the Belmont High auditorium

For the first time since November 2019, Belmont’s Town Meeting will be held live and in person at the Belmont High School auditorium.

The 2023 annual Town Meeting begins at 7 p.m. on the following dates:

  • May 1, 3, 8, 10  (Segment A); and
  • May 31, June 5, 7, 12 (Segment B, the budget section). 

These dates the town has reserved as per custom; it is not likely that all eight nights will be required.  

The meeting will not be using any mobile voting for in-person, rather there will be a return to using of handheld voting devices, often referred to as “clickers.”

The Town Moderator has designated specific areas of the Belmont High School Auditorium for those Town Meeting Members who wish to observe a social distance from other Town Meeting Members during the meeting.

For those Town Meeting Members whose email or phone has changed, and for all new Town Meeting Members, submit a new contact sheet to the Town Clerk as soon as possible.

The order of articles will be determined by the Town Moderator, Mike Widmer, and will be distributed with the motions. In addition to articles and citizen petitions, the town meeting will have a “special” dropped into the proceedings.

How the Special Town Meeting will work

On the second night May 3, the meeting will begin at 7 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., the Town Moderator will briefly adjourn the annual Town Meeting and convene the Special Town Meeting to take action on the only article, the appropriation for the Rink and Sports Facility, the debt exclusion approved by Belmont voters on April 4. Once the votes under the Special Town Meeting are completed, the Moderator will dissolve the Special Town Meeting, and we will return to the business of the annual Town Meeting.

The Handbook for Belmont Town Meeting Members is available on that webpage but here’s a direct link.

Amending Articles

The deadline for amendments to the articles is at the close of business, three business days before the date the article will be taken up:

For Segment A:

  • Monday, May 1 deadline is 4 PM April 26
  • Wednesday, May 3, deadline is Noon April 28
  • Monday, May 8 deadline is 4 PM May 3
  • Wednesday, May 10 deadline is Noon May 5

Precinct 6 caucus

Due to a failure to elect at the annual Town Election held on April 4, Precinct 6 Town Meeting Members will attend an in-person caucus at 7 p.m. on April 27 at the Homer Building in the Town Hall complex. All Precinct 6 Town Meeting Members have been sent the notice.

“I hope that the caucus will be completed in time for members to participate in the warrant briefing that has since been scheduled for the same night.,” said Town Clerk Ellen Cushman.

32 Belmontians Set To Take On The Boston Marathon Monday

Photo: Brian Harvey (right) in the 2019 Brendan Home Run

A large contingency of Belmont racers, joggers, and charity runners will be toeing the starting line in Hopkinton on Monday morning to take on the 26.2-mile course in the 127th Boston Athletic Association Marathon.

High on the list of Belmontians in this year’s race is Brian Harvey, a two-time US Olympic Trials participant with a personal best of 2:17:40 wearing the impressive low number 59, who will be starting with the elite runners.

Well-known Belmont runners competing on Monday are marathon champion Becca Pizzi and State Sen. Will Brownsberger.

You can check on your favorite runner during and after the marathon by downloading the BAA Mobile App.

24773Ascione, Michael51USA 
2737Belcher, Sam30USA 
21503Brownsberger, William66USA 
20201Engler, Lisa45USA 
3698Gallo, Nicholas31USA 
21720Grant, George61USA 
4396Hall, Douglas45USA 
59Harvey, Brian35USA 
26779Heller, Rachel46USA 
26778Limm, Sylvia45USA 
6598Luongo, Tony51USACAN
6431Marchefka, David39USA 
30800Murphy, Meaghan32USA 
20365Nahigian, Laurie52USA 
2306Pickens, Carson37USA 
13751Pinault, Damien50USA 
13046Pizzi, Becca43USA 
7496Qin, Lixin49USA 
4262Reynolds, Donal46USAIRL
12373Roth, Jeffrey49USA 
10178Scott, Jacob40USA 
4801Swanson, Mathew45USA 
6051Taylor, Matthew45USA 
25625Toyo, Mandela38USANGR
671Vadenais, Evan28USA 
29277Vargas, Jenna31USA 
24837Wall, Catherine42USA 
25599Woodbury, Erin40USA 
27503Xu, Yufei42USACHN
20846Zhang, Yi42USA 
4248Zhong, Cheng41USACHN
20445Zhou, Xiaomei46USA 

What’s Open, Closed On Patriots’ Day; Trash/Recycling Delayed A Day

Photo: What’s open on Patriots’ Day

Patriots’ Day, the Bay State’s homegrown holiday, commemorates the battles of Lexington, Concord, and Menotomy on April 19, 1775, the first of the American Revolutionary War. 

While the first shot was fired in Lexington and the Regulars were halted at North Bridge in Concord, more than half of all casualties that day occurred in modern-day Arlington as Minutemen from surrounding towns converged on Menotomy to ambush the British over the short distance from Foot of the Rocks (at the intersection of Lowell Street and Massachusetts Avenue) to Spy Pond on their retreat back to Boston.

Arlington will celebrate on Patriots’ Day to greet National Lancers riders reenacting Paul Revere and Williams Dawes’s famous ride warning, “The Regulars are out!” The celebration will occur at Whittemore Park, in front of the Cyrus Dallin Art Museum, 611 Mass. Ave. While awaiting the riders, you’re invited to join the activities: crafts, snacks, and a scavenger hunt beginning at 11 a.m. The riders are expected around noon.

Most of the day’s attention is focused on the Boston Athletic Association’s annual 26.2 miles marathon that bifurcates a 26-mile stretch of eastern Massachusetts. It will be a great day for runners and fans as the forecast calls for highs in the mid-50s, and overcast skies, with the rain holding off until the afternoon.

So, what’s opened and what’s closed?


  • Belmont Town Hall, offices, and buildings are closed, as is the Belmont Public Library.
  • Belmont public schools are closed Monday as they are shut for the week-long spring-time break.
  • State offices such as the Register of Motor Vehicles and courts are closed.

Due to the holiday, trash and recycling curbside pickup is delayed a day, so if your removal day is Monday, don’t! Bring it to the side of the road on Tuesday.

And Massachusetts residents get an extra day, Tuesday, April 18 at 11:59 p.m., to submit or mail their federal and state taxes.


As it is a state holiday, the US Post Offices on Concord Avenue and in Waverley Square are open as are federal offices.

Star Market on Trapelo Road is open as are retail and convenience stores, eateries and restaurants, and liquor establishments. MBTA: All subway lines will operate on a regular weekday schedule with added service before and after the Marathon.

Marathon Monday on the MBTA:

  • Various bus routes on the marathon route’s North and South sides will be detoured.
  • Due to congestion, bikes are prohibited on any MBTA vehicles on Patriots’ Day.
  • An all-day pass is being offered for the Framingham/Worcester line.
  • Copley Station will be closed all day Monday. 
  • View the MBTA’s Patriots’ Day schedule here.

Planning Board OKs Belmont Hill School Parking Plan

Photo: The area which will become a parking lot for the Belmont Hill School

By the narrowest of margins, the Belmont Planning Board approved the Design and Site Plan Review for a proposed 140-space parking lot and 7,000-square-foot facilities building to be built on a seven-acre parcel off Prospect Street presented by the Belmont Hill School.

“I’ll go ahead and make a motion to approve design site plan review of the application as amended on the ground that the proposal complies with all elements of the Zoning Bylaw,” said Matt Lowrie, board chair who shepherded the contentious review over the past five months.

The vote was three-to-two, with Lowrie, Thayer Donham, and Karl Haglund voting to approve the proposal, while Carol Berberian and Jeff Birenbaum voted no at the meeting held virtually on Tuesday, April 11.

In a prologue to what was a swift review of the proposal, Lowrie presented the legal next steps for critics if they choose to challenge the board’s decision. But Lowrie expressed his opinion that since many of the most immediate abutters had come around to support the proposal after some mitigation by the school of its plans, “[W]ho would do this?”

When he met with those same abutters early in the process, they admitted that their legal counsel said litigating a favorable review decision, in this case, would likely result in them losing in court.

During the meeting in which public comment was not taken – the review was closed back in March – Lowrie presented a step-by-step overview of the process, highlighting the main campus parking, the facilities building, and the east campus parking off Marsh Street.

Lowrie ran down many of the “expressed concerns” that were brought up during the review process, such as the impact on abutters, the number of parking spaces, the clearing of trees and vegetation, traffic congestion, and stormwater issues.

Lowrie pointed to the legal decision Forster vs. Belmont when discussing whether parking for athletic events is considered an educational use. The court said the town could issue a special permit for tall light poles on athletic fields as the Dover Amendment protects it. The state law prohibits the Planning Board from regulating or restricting the use for an educational purpose – such as parking and the facilities building – assuming it’s a nonprofit educational institution.

Throughout his review, Lowrie relied on the opinion of town counsel George Hall in supporting the approval of the design and site review.

“In order to actually make sure that we have a decision, we need to be on the merits,” said Lowrie.

After members sought clarification of aspects of the stormwater runoff from around the new facilities building, the board voted to approve the measure. There is no indication from the Belmont Hill School on a start date for the parking lot construction.