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

Photo: Most retail shops and offices are 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. 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 occuz r 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. It will be a great day for runners and fans as the forecast calls for highs in the mid-60s, with some clouds during the race.

So, what’s opened and what’s closed?

Closed

  • Belmont Town Hall, offices, and buildings are closed, as is the Belmont Public Library currently in the Beech Street Center and the Benton 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. 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 to submit or mail their federal and state taxes. The deadline is Tuesday, April 16 at 11:59 p.m.,

Open

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.

Marathon Monday on the MBTA

While the Red Line subway at Harvard and Alewife will be running on a weekday schedule, buses are on a weekend timetable. In addition:

  • 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.
  • Copley Station will be closed Monday. 
  • View the MBTA’s Patriots’ Day schedule here

Fourth Graders Appeal Rescues STEM Night At The Burbank; Thursday, April 11 At 6 PM

Photo: The Burbank School

A few months back, it didn’t look like the annual STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – Night would occur at the Mary Lee Burbank Elementary School this year, according to Kathy Posey, STEM Committee member of the Burbank PTA. There didn’t appear to be enough time to plan the event, and finding volunteers is difficult.

But don’t underestimate the will of Burbank students.

About six weeks ago, the Burbank PTA received a petition from the fourth-grade students requesting that STEM Night be planned for this year. The good news is that thanks to parent volunteers, local community organizations, and businesses, STEM Night is happening. On Thursday, April 11, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the Burbank students will learn about the excitement that STEM bring to everyday life.

Given the short time the event could be planned, the STEM Committee aimed to have 15 to 20 interactive exhibits. This past week, more than 30 interactive exhibits will encourage students to engage in STEM activities! The exhibitors include:

  • Belmont High School Science Club Air Trajectory: Students will try their hand at a catapult that shoots ping-pong and golf balls.
  • Belmont Police Department Drones and Fingerprints: Students will learn how the police drone works.  They will also learn how fingerprints are lifted from a crime scene and try it themselves.
  • Eversource Pedal Power: Students will pedal a bike to learn whether an incandescent or LED light bulb requires more power.
  • Record Robotics Robot Fun: Students will drive a robot as it shoots soft donut-shaped pieces at different heights, and students will catch them.
  • Matt Taylor, the newly elected Belmont Select Board member, and a Burbank parent, will present Everyday Things Up Close: Students will look at items we use all the time but at 60x to 120x magnification. What will they see?

Burbank owes a special thanks to Belmont Orthodontics and Belmont Pediatric Dentistry for their generous support has that helped defray event costs and allowed the PTA to raise funds for continued classroom enrichments, teacher support and community building events, such as STEM Night.

Foundation For Belmont Education Name Outstanding Teachers, Farrell Award Winner

Photo: Greg Bruce, (middle) the 2024 S. Warren Farrell Award for Educational Excellence honoree

The Foundation for Belmont Education has announced the recipients of the 2024 Outstanding Teacher Awards and the S. Warren Farrell Award for Educational Excellence. Sponsored by the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation, the recipients – selected among nominations submitted by students, parents, colleagues, and the community – will be honored at a public ceremony at the Chenery Upper Elementary School on Monday, April 29.

Greg Bruce, a Special Education teacher at Belmont High School and head coach of the current state champion Boy’s Rugby squad, is this year’s Farrell Excellence Award honoree, recognizes his long standing dedication and leadership both in the classroom and in the larger community. 

The Outstanding Teachers honorees are recognized for their excellence in the classroom and for consistently making a difference in the lives of Belmont’s students. 

 2024 Outstanding Teacher Award recipients are:

  • Joshua Streit, Belmont High School, Social Studies
  • Brenton Lussier, Belmont Middle School, Math
  • Sara Carson, Chenery Upper Elementary School, Music
  • Kendra Nnyanzi, Wellington Elementary School, Grade 1
  • Catherine Monnin, Winn Brook Elementary School, Grade 2
  • Molly Quinn, Butler Elementary School, Social Worker
  • Wendy Hurwitz, Burbank Elementary School, Grade K

The ceremony for this year’s recipients will be held on Monday, April 29, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Chenery Upper Elementary School auditorium where cookies and light refreshments will be served. The award celebration, sponsored by Belmont Savings Bank Foundation, is open to everyone.

State Rep Rogers Announces April Office Hours 

Photo: State Rep Dave Rogers

State Rep. Dave Rogers has announced his April office hours. They will be:

  • Tuesday, April 9, from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St.
  • Tuesday, April 15, from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Belmont Cafe, 80 Leonard St.
  • Thursday, April 18, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Dunkin Donuts in North Cambridge, 2480 Massachusetts Ave
  • Monday, April 22, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Robbins Library in Arlington, 700 Massachusetts Ave.

Feel free to contact Rogers’ office anytime with questions by phone at 617-722-2263 or email at dave.rogers@mahouse.gov

Select Board Votes To Return To A Live Only Annual Town Meeting

Photo: The newly organized Select Board: (from left) Member Roy Epstein, Chair Elizabeth Dionne, and Vice Chair Matt Taylor.

For the first time since 2019, the annual Town Meeting will be in person without a virtual component to assist members who may find it difficult to attend due to medical concerns or competing interests.

The vote on what format the town meeting will use—required by a state law that will sunset next year—was held at an abbreviated Friday morning session on April 5, during the board’s yearly organizational meeting. Elizabeth Dionne was selected as the group’s Chair, Taylor as vice chair, and Roy Epstein reverted to being a member. Epstein will continue to chair the board to allow for continuity during the two Town Meeting segments in April and June.

Dionne will take the middle seat at board meetings beginning July 1, the first day of the fiscal year.

The newly constituted board’s initial business was determining the setup of the annual Town Meeting. Town Moderator Mike Widmer and Town Clerk Ellen Cushman—the two officials who manage the Town Meeting—were asked for their recommendations on whether the meeting should be held in person, in a hybrid setting, or virtually, as has been the case for the past four years.

Widmer emphasized his own “strong feeling of the importance of an in-person meeting,” citing the value of community engagement and active debate, which has been tempered ever since the meetings were held virtually due to restrictions on large gatherings after the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020.

When the town switched to a hybrid mix of live and virtual attendees at the 2023 annual meeting, more than 25 percent of members chose to stay at home rather than venture to the high school auditorium. This high number of virtual attendees “undermines the in-person nature of the event,” Widmer said, begging the question of even having an in-the-flesh gathering.

“Because if you think a remote meeting is the equivalent to a live meeting, you may as well dispense with live meetings,” said Epstein.

Cushman acknowledged the challenges of hybrid meetings on the time of town staff and the added cost of $2,100 per hybrid session. Like Widmer, Cushman believed that a live meeting allows members to “read the room” during debate on articles.

“And it’s not just the social aspect … it’s deciding to listen a little more closely when you hear that people are in favor of someone, it’s deciding to understand a little bit better when people aren’t in favor,” said Cushman. “I’m leaning towards, in person [Town Meeting], for connections, community, and understanding.”

Dionne said that in addition to the fact that the quality of debate is better in person and an important piece of community building, “[u]nfortunately … during remote-only meetings, it was fairly clear that often times people were not paying attention to the presentations, based on questions that were asked that had clearly been already answered.”

While the virtual component of a hybrid format was meant for emergencies. “that’s not how it was used,” said Dionne.

He said that he “love[s] in-person town meetings. I think everyone should give it a try,” Taylor told his colleagues that the issue facing the board is “access to being a representative … the ability to attend town meeting still, if you have an illness, or mobility concerns or caring for family or other needs, that might otherwise need you to miss Town Meeting, and not be able to represent our precinct,” which a hybrid option can make a difference.

For Dionne, it is up to members to decide if they can be full-time Town Meeting members.

‘There are different points in your life that you can take on this challenge. ‘Can I give eight nights?’ ‘Can I do that for my community?’ Or is it just not the time I can do that because I care for an elderly parent or children at home. I’m a single parent, and I fear I cannot make childcare arrangements. So [members] need to make that choice long before the Town Meeting happens. Whether they really can do that and I appreciate that it’s not everyone can do it all the time,” she said.

While the board was open to setting aside a small number of hybrid slots for members who need medical care or have unexpected events, the cost and how to allocate the virtual spots could not be resolved.

The board voted 2-1 (Taylor voting no) that the 2024 annual Town Meeting be held in person only, starting with Segment A, the non-budget articles, on April 30 at 7 p.m.

“Put [the date] in your book,” said O’Brien.

Town Election: Yes On Override; Wins For Taylor, Widmer, Moriarty And Kraft; Assessors Question Too Close To Call

Photo: Warden Robert McKie reads out the preliminary results from precinct 2 on Tuesday night

Belmont voters approved a record $8.4 million Proposition 2 1/2 override by a comfortable 1,000-plus vote margin at the annual Town Election held on Tuesday, April 2.

The final tally was 5,120 in the yes column and 4,050 nos as voters accepted the positive argument from the “yes” campaigners to preserve public services and safety and protect Belmont schools from losing educators and maintain its outstanding reputation.

“I think it’s that people love their community,” said Erin Rowland, the campaign manager for Invest In Belmont, the “yes” campaign, when asked the compelling reason voters where willing to increase the property tax just three years after rejecting a smaller override request.

”We want the to see the town thrive and continue to be successful, and that’s the reason people came together. What was so heartwarming about working on the campaign was the outpouring of support from a wide range of residents,” she said in a crowded second floor lobby in Town Hall where candidates, observers and many candidates came after the polls closed at 8 p.m.

Invest in Belmont Chair David Lind said the town has “been through a hard few years and we were in a tough spot financially. I believe that [the override] gets us back onto a better track so we can all work together and keep Belmont as the town that we all know land love.”

Rowland, who was a winner in her race to be selected to Town Meeting from Precinct 6, said she fully understood that Tuesday’s results will be difficult for many residents, especially senior on fixed incomes.

”We are one community and we want to do everything we can to see Belmont implement senior [property] tax relief. We understand that need and it’s very real and we’ll do everything that we can to promote that,” she said.

In the night’s nail biter, voters approved making the Board of Assessors an appointed body by a mere eight votes, 4,218 to 4,210. With 50 ballots – from residents overseas and in the military as well as provisional ballots – yet to be counted, the race is too close to be called.

Final results will be released by the Town Clerk’s office by Friday or Saturday. Unofficial results as of Tuesday at 10 p.m. can be seen here.

In the race to replace Mark Paolillo on the Select Board, Matt Taylor defeated his Warrant Committee colleague Geoff Lubien by 600 votes, 3,851 to 3,248, with newcomer Alex Howard taking home 659 votes.

“I began [this campaign] genuinely wanting to connect with people and doing that in a deeply personal way,” said Taylor after feeling “so separated from our local government and our residents coming out of the pandemic. So I knocked on nearly 1,700 doors. I had a lot of one-on-one conversations. It was very grassroots.”

”I have a lot of hope and I’m ready to work because this is a level where you get to make a real positive difference about the people around you,” said Taylor. “We have to reach out to residents and invite them in to have a broader two-way discussion. It brings us together. This is an “us” thing.”

Voters acknowledged incumbent Meg Moriarty’s successful tenure as the two-term chair of the School Committee by returning her to the board. Moriarty topped the three-person field for the two available three-year seats garnering 5,354 votes.

“[Winning] means I get to keep talking about all of our great students and it’s all about doing best for every single student in our schools,” Moriarty said at Town Hall Tuesday night after the results were read by Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman.

With her return to the School Committee, Moriarty will provide a continuity on the six member body “that helps tremendously” as it “helps keeps the momentum moving forward” on several of initiatives that Superintendent Jill Geiser has proposed.

Joining her on the committee will be first-time candidate Matt Kraft. The Brown University professor took home 5,176 votes, while recent Belmont High School graduate, current Emerson College student and Town Meeting member Angus Abercrombie collected 2,792 votes.

“I hope to take the opportunity to listen and learn both from my fellow school committee members and Belmont residents about our priorities and build on the three year strategic plan that the district is developing,” said Kraft who arrived to Town Hall with his wife and two kids after enjoying Taco Tuesday.

Speaking as the new body on the committee, “I think part of the hard work is to work collaboratively and collectively. And I look forward to those conversations that I know some will be difficult. But that’s the job. We all have a shared commitment towards strengthening our schools for all the students and in building towards, frankly, a brighter future.”

”People understood that experience is really important, and that running Town Meeting is very demanding. I’ve done it for all these years and voters felt that I had done well in the position,” said Widmer who announced earlier in the year that this term would be his final one as moderator.

Vote! Town Election 2024: Tuesday, April 2; All You Need To Know

Photo: Go out and vote!

Belmont’s annual Town Election is today, Tuesday, April 2!

A list of the candidates for town-wide office and Town Meeting, as well as information on the two ballot questions – for an appointed board of assessors and a $8.4 million Proposition 2 1/2 override – can be found in the Belmont League of Women Voters guide.

Registered voters may cast their ballots in person only on Election Day; polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the following polling locations: 

  • Precinct One: Beth El Temple, Zonis Auditorium, 2 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 Rd., enter from Cross Street.

If you are wondering if you are a registered voter and your voting precinct, go to the Town Clerk’s web page or phone the Town Clerk’s office at 617-993-2600.

Election results will first be announced at Town Hall after the polls close with unofficial results for the two ballot questions, town wide and Town Meeting races located on the Town Clerk’s website early Wednesday morning.

Belmont’s Shea Places 15th In Under20 World XC Championships; Top American For Consecutive Years [Video]

Photo: Belmont’s Ellie Shea finishing 15th at the Under20 World Cross Country Championships held in Belgrade on March 30, the first American to finish the race. (Photo credit: CITIUS MAG)

After a quiet seven months since winning races in the Under20s at the US National and Pan American Games, Belmont’s Ellie Shea put her stamp on the international cross country scene for the second time, finishing 15th at the World Athletics Cross Country Under 20 Championships held March 30 in Belgrade, Serbia.

The 18-year-old Belmont Middle and High School senior was the first American athlete across the finish line held under bright, sunny skies in Belgrade’s Friendship Park, repeating as the top American at the world championships. Last year in Australia, Shea finished 10th to lead the US to its first ever podium finish in the championships, earning a team bronze medal.

”I just wanted to make the most of it and just really be competitive,” said Shea after the race during an interview with LetsRun.com

Wearing her trademark white framed cobalt sunglasses – which has its own on Google search page – Shea settled into the back of the large pack of front runners in the first of three laps, running the 2.1 kilometers in 6 minutes, 49 seconds. Notably, Shea was one of the few participants who hurdled the hay bale barriers to shave a few seconds on each loop.

The lead group, comprised of Ethiopians, Kenyans, and Ugandans, showed their quality in distance races as they pulled away during the second lap with Shea and fellow American Allie Zealand – teammates on last year’s U20 team – running in 16th and 17th, behind the UK’s Innes Fitzgerald who pulled away by seven seconds over the Americans with one lap remaining.

In the final loop, Shea returned to the top class runner she was last year, as she sped away from Zealand, catching and dispatching Fitzgerald before nearly nipping a pair of Ugandans and a Kenyan who were fading fast down the home stretch.

Shea finished in 20:50, completing the final lap and the home stretch (2.2K) in 7:29, finishing outside the top 12 by seven seconds. The race was won by 15-year-old Marta Alemiayo crossing the line in 19:29, leading a dominate Ethiopian team performance to sweep the first three places.

Zealand would overtake Fitzgerald to finish 16th in 21.08. The US team of Shea, Zealand, Mary Dalton (28th), Zariel Macchiato (29th), Jolena Quarzo (41st), and Maddie Gardiner (49th) would take 4th place in the team event with 88 points, edging out the UK (90) and Japan (98).

Town Raises Senior Property Tax Work-Off Amount To $2,000

Photo: Flag with the town seal of Belmont

After discussing the move for a better part of a year, the Belmont Select Board voted unanimously Monday, March 25, to raise by $500 to $2,000 the amount seniors can work for the town to pay off a portion of their local property tax bill.

The town’s Senior Citizen Tax Work-Off program is available to seniors 60 or older, Under this “work” initiative, cities and towns appropriate funds to employ seniors who perform needed work for the community at an hourly rate equal to the state’s minimum wage of $15 per hour, according to state documents.

Currently, eight homeowners participate in the program. The additional $4,000 expended in a full year with the same participants will come out of the overlay/free cash line item.

Details of the expanded program will be sent to seniors via inserts in town bills and through contacts at the Beech Street Center.

The state has recently given select boards and city councils the local option to raise the exemption to the $2,000 threshold amount without requiring Town Meeting approval, Patrice Garvin, town administrator, told the board.

When Board member Mark Paolillo, in his penultimate meeting before leaving the board after serving 12 years, asked what other municipal programs are available for senior tax relief, fellow board member Elizabeth Dionne said creating such a plan would require “the full and active participation of the Board of Assessors.”

“We would need to know what the cost shift [from seniors to the greater taxpayer base] and how many [seniors] are likely to take advantage of it,” she said. Since such a proposal would change every property owners’ tax rate, the town would need to send a home-rule petition to Beacon Hill for state legislature approval and finally for it to be placed on the town ballot for an up or down vote.

Even though the shift would likely be small, unless there is a specific dollar amount attached via the Assessors, “it’s probably dead in the water.”

Board Chair Roy Epstein said senior tax relief was actually a doable proposal in the past two years, only to falter due to inaction by the assessors in drafting the language to present to the legislature which was promised to Epstein.

“I think this is a question for, maybe, after April 2,” said Epstein, referring to after the town’s annual Election where a ballot question will determine whether the Board of Assessors will remain an elected committee or revert to an appointed one.

Opinion: To Save Belmont High School Sports, Vote Yes on April 2