Baghdady Pins Selectman’s Post; Pool Passes Swimmingly

The Baghdady’s knows a bit about being tough on the wrestling circle – two from the extended Belmont family fought their ways to state wrestling championships – and on Tuesday night, April 1, Sami Baghdady took to the political mat and battled his way to the close victory to succeed the retiring Ralph Jones on Belmont’s Board of Selectmen at yesterday’s annual Town Election.

At 8:30 p.m., Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman announced that Baghdady, who is a member of the Planning Board and Warrant Committee, beat Energy Committee Co-Chair Roger Colton, 3,033 to 2,784, as nearly 6,000 voters, or about 32.9 percent, took out ballots on a beautiful, sunny spring day.

Baghdady joins his former Planning Board colleague Andy Rojas and current Selectmen’s chair Mark Paolillo on the board. Tonight, Wednesday, April 2, the board will vote on this year’s chair and committee representatives.

In the co-main event of the night, the $2.9 million debt exclusion to pay for the majority of the $5.2 million new Underwood Pool proved to be extremely popular, approved overwhelmingly by Belmont voters, 3,377 to 2,093, as taxpayers decided to pay an extra $43 (for a house valued at $777,000) in the first of the 15 years of the bond, falling a dollar a year over the term of the loan.

In the other competitive race, newcomers Kathleen Keohane and Gail Mann beat out incumbent Matt Sullivan for the two open seats on the Board of Library Trustees in a close race: 35.6 percent for Keohane (2,908 votes), 34 percent for Mann (2,787 votes) and 30.3 percent (2,475 votes). But each of the candidates were “beaten” by the 3,718 voters who didn’t mark their ballot for either of the three challengers.

No Fooling: Belmont Votes Today, Tuesday, April 1

Today, Tuesday, April 1, Belmont voters will be casting ballots for town-wide office holders, town meeting representatives and on a $2.9 million debt exclusion for a new Underwood Pool.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Who can vote

Any resident registered  to vote: this is a non-partisan election; any party members can vote.

List of the candidates on the ballot

Check out who is running on the sample ballot provided by the Town Clerk. Precinct 7 voters will have some extra writing to do as they will have the opportunity to add six names as write ins as only six neighbors are on the ballot. Write-in candidates must be Belmont residents so don’t write in people such as Edward Snowden or Vladimir Putin in the ballot.


Transportation to the polls

Rides to the Polls will be provided by the Belmont League of Women Voters. If you would like a ride to a Belmont polling place, please contact:, or call 617-771-8500. Please include your name, address, precinct (if you know it), phone number, and what time you would like a ride.

Questions about or during voting

Most questions – including who is eligible to vote in Belmont – that arise during voting can be answered by the precinct warden at the polling station. Other questions should be addressed to the Town Clerk’s Office at 617-993-2600.

Voting Info

Polling locations: To find polling locations and precincts, click here.

Where do I vote?

Some questions voters may have today:

I’m listed as a voter, but it says “Inactive” next to my name. What does that mean?
Inactive status merely means that you did not return this year’s census which is mailed to every household in Belmont, per Massachusetts General Laws AND the voter did not return the pre-paid postcard notifying individuals of the change from active to active status.

Can I still vote even though I’m “Inactive”?
Yes, an “Inactive” voter may still vote but first must provide adequate identification proving the voter’s identity and current place of residence.

How do I return to “active” status?
There are two ways to convert from Inactive to Active Status. One at the polls on Election Day and one by appearing in person at the Town Clerk’s office at least 20 DAYS BEFORE Election Day. Whichever the voter chooses, proper identification must be shown and a form must be completed. Signing and returning the yearly census is the easiest way to keep your name on the active voter list.

The Library Book That Returned Home Four Decades Late

The book returned to the front desk of the Belmont Public Library last week was like no other waiting to be placed in the stacks; “Lorenzo De’Medici & The Renaissance” by Charles Mee did not have a bar code or a classification number.

When the librarian opened the book, there were two pieces of documentation. The first was printed on a single sheet of paper: “It appears that I am late returning this book. My apologies.” The other was an old-style library slip with the due date stamped on the top: Oct. 15, 1979. The book was overdue for 34 years, 5 months and 12 days or 12,582 days.

“We have no idea who returned it and no way of finding out because we haven’t used the ticket system for years,” said Reference Librarian Corinne Chan, who said every library has a book that shows up sometimes decades later.

And if you are trying to calculate the fine on the tardy borrower, the library would have fined the scofflaw the maximum $5 for overdue books despite the lateness of the return.

“We’re just happy that it’s back,” said Chan.

The Week to Come: Town Election, Great Music,
So Long Mr. Jones

It’s a busy week ahead for Belmont residents as voting, music and sporting events crowd the calendar:

• The annual Town Election is Tuesday, April 1 with polls opened from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. There are competitive races for Selectman, the Board of Library Trustees, in most of the precincts for representative to Town Meeting and there is the $2.9 million debt exclusion vote for a new Underwood Pool. Stay connected to the Belmontonian for up-to-the-minute results and analysis of the vote on Tuesday after 8 p.m.

• Music lovers, rejoice! Two great events are occurring this week: Tonight, Monday, March 31 at 7 p.m. at the High School is “Jazz Night” featuring the Belmont High Jazz Collective along with the Chenery Middle School Jazz Ensemble. The special guests at tonight’s concert is the Quintessential Brass and tenor sax extraordinaire Jim Repa.

Cruzamente (which means “crossroads” in Portuguese), a Boston-based, all-female band led by lead singer Maria ‘Lutchinha’ Neves will be preforming a variety of musical styles of Cape Verde as part of the Library’s  free “Music on Saturday” series on Saturday, April 5, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the library’s Assembly Room sponsored by the Friends of the Belmont Public Library.

• The Powers Music School is celebrating its half century of providing musical education to Belmont and Boston with the 50th annual Mildred Freiberg Piano Festival Student Concerts, Each concert will feature a special short performance by a regional teaching artist. The concerts are 

Saturday, April 5 and Sunday, April 6 at 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and  7:30 p.m.

The concerts are free and will take place at All Saints’ Church, 17 Clark St.
Concert admission is free.

• The town will be holding a retirement ceremony for Selectman Ralph Jones today, Monday, March 31, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Town Hall’s Board of Selectmen’s Meeting Room. There will be cake.Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 1.48.00 AM

Waverley Square Municipal Lot/Church Street to be Closed April 14

The Belmont Police Department and the town of Belmont will be closing the municipal parking in Waverley Square and the portion of Church Street running from Trapelo Road to Lexington Street from April 14 to May 30 as part of the reconstruction of Trapelo Road/Belmont Street.

Contractor Newport Construction advised the town that it would be necessary to close the including Church Street for curb and resurfacing work beginning April 14. The anticipated re-opening of both Church Street and the Municipal Parking lot is May 30.

Church Street will remain closed to traffic during construction hours and will be open to one-way traffic in the evening. Local businesses will remain open throughout the construction work.

Due to the loss of more than two dozen parking spaces at the Waverley Square commuter line stop and the MBTA’s popular 73 bus route to Harvard Square, the Belmont Police will not be enforcing parking time limits on the following streets for the period that the Municipal lot is closed:
• Thayer Road
• Sycamore Street (from the Watertown line to Lexington Street)
• Chandler Street
• Trapelo Road (from Sycamore Street to Church Street)

Belmont’s Own Speakers’ Corner

A cold Saturday wind played havoc with signs and banners in what has become an annual tradition prior to Belmont town elections: supporters crowding the sidewalks across or next to the MBTA commuter rail bridge at the corner of Common Street and Concord Avenue.

While there has yet to be an appearance by sign holders for the three residents seeking the two seats on the Board of Library Trustees, supporters for Roger Colton and Sami Baghdady – including family members and one candidate – who are running to succeed retiring Selectman Ralph Jones on the Board where out in force at what has become Belmont’s own Speakers’ Corner, an open-air space for free political “speech” where all sides can come and advocate.

What’s Up this Week in Belmont: Candidate’s Night Monday, Shopping at Wilson Farm

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 9.09.01 PMWith many residents apprehensive that the nor’easter anticipated mid-week will bring another blast of snow and with it a chance of a snow day for district schools and snow shoveling, there are several interesting events happening that should pique the interest of many Belmontonians:

• On Monday, March 24 at 7 p.m. at the Chenery Middle School, the Belmont League of Women Voters is holding its annual pre-Town Election greet and meet with the candidates for town-wide office and Town Meeting representatives. The town-wide candidates – including those in the contested seats for Board of Selectmen and Board of Library Trustees – will be asked questions by League members.

• Tuesday, March 25, the Belmont Public Schools will be holding its annual “Shop at Wilson Farm Day” in Lexington. Download the online flyer and present it at checkout on the date listed above and Wilson Farm will donate 20 percent of your pre-tax subtotal purchase to your Belmont school. Last year’s event raised $1296, making Belmont one of the top performing schools in the program. And that money was spent on:
– Supplies, equipment & materials such as computers, books & tablets.
– Plantings & school grounds improvements like additions, gardens & trees
– School field trips
– Clubs & extra-curricular activities
– School bands
– Sports teams & cheerleading squads Your school principal will decide how to allocate any funds earned through Shop at Wilson Farm Day so you know the money will go where it’s needed most. Wilson Farm is at 10 Pleasant St., Lexington. Call 781-862-3900 or go online to

• At the Belmont School Committee’s scheduled meeting on Tuesday, March 25 at 7:30 p.m. the committee will vote on school choice within the district as well as discuss this year’s statement of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority to renovate the High School and create a science wing.

• If you are a high schooler looking for a job, head on down to the Belmont Public Library on Wednesday, March 26 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. for a Teen Interview Workshop. Join Gary Gekow in this interactive workshop and hone your interview skills. Space is limited & registration required so head to the library’s web site to sign up.

• The Belmont High School Band and Orchestra will be in concert at the High School’s auditorium beginning at 7 p.m.

• While there will likely be snow on the ground – you could film a documentary on living in the Alaskan outback in many Belmont backyards – spring is nearly on us as the Belmont Food Collaborative’s Stephen Pinkerton will be giving a Pomona Small Fruit and Bramble Plant Clinic in the Flett Room (across from the Children’s Room) at the Belmont Public Library at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, March 27. It’s free and open to the public. So come by to be reminded that the season’s do change, even in New England.