Belmont Declares Snow Emergency Parking Ban; Town Offices, Schools Closed Tuesday; Trash Pickup Delayed A Day

Photo: Tuesday will be a snow day

Due to the approaching winter storm, the Town Hall and Belmont Public Schools will be closed on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

A snow emergency parking ban on all roadways, as well as in municipal lots and Belmont Public School parking lots, effective at 11:45 p.m. and continuing until further notice. All vehicles parked in violation of the ban will be towed at the owner’s expense.

Trash, recycling, bulk pickups, scheduled cart repairs, and appliance pickups will be delayed a day due to the storm. The town is asking residents to remove carts, appliances, and bulky items from the public way on Tuesday to allow the plows to clear the roadways.

The last day for candidates to submit papers for town office remains Tuesday. Candidates must deliver their nomination papers to the Belmont Police Station, 460 Concord Ave., instead of Town Hall. Those picking up blank nomination forms may collect them from the Police Department. The deadline to submit all signed nomination papers is 5 p.m. Feb. 13.

The Town’s residential snow removal bylaw requires sidewalks along residential property to be cleared of snow and ice by 8 p.m. the day after the storm ends. Snow and ice should be cleared or treated from sidewalks to a width of at least 36 inches. We appreciate your attention to this very important public safety matter.

Please refer to the Town’s website for further information regarding winter weather, trash removal, and the Town’s snow removal bylaw.

Be Prepared For Tuesday’s Nor’easter With Important Belmont Safety Numbers

Photo: Get ready for a parking ban on Tuesday.

If you thought you wouldn’t need to use the snow shovel or salt on the sidewalk this warmer-than-usual winter, you would be in for a rude surprise on Tuesday morning as an old-fashioned nor’easter will slam into Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service, which has issued a Winter Storm Warning for most of the region.

For Belmont residents, Tuesday will be about parking restrictions and having town resources close at hand.

“A significant winter storm will continue impacting the Southern Rockies and High Plains today before turning northeast and aiming for the Northern Mid-Atlantic, New York, and New England early this week,” said an NWS press release sent out at 3 a.m. Sunday, Feb 11.

“Heavy snow is possible. Total snow accumulations of 4 to 8 inches are possible. Winds could gust as high as 40 mph,” predicts the NWS on Sunday. The storm will start late Monday night and last through late Tuesday night. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute.

Residents should expect the Belmont Police to issue a Snow Emergency Parking Ban just before the storm arrives. During the ban, vehicles parked on town roadways, and in municipal and Belmont Public School parking lots will be towed at the owner’s expense.

Residents should visit the town’s website for information on winter weather and the snow removal bylaw.

With high winds expected, there is a possibility power to residences will be impacted. Residents should contact Belmont Light to report outages – do not call 911 unless it is a true emergency.

  • Call Belmont Light at 617-993-2800 to report an outage.
  • To text an outage report, message your information to 617-993-6006 (message and data rates may apply) with your name, address, and outage information. 

No Arrest During Belmont PD/State Police Action On Channing Road

Photo: A screenshot from a video on several social media sites showing the police action that took place on Channing Road in Belmont on Saturday, Feb. 10.

For residents of Cross Street and Channing Road, Saturday’s false spring was greeted with a phalanx of law enforcement blocking the roadways as several police agencies descended on the neighborhood adjacent to Belmont Center, seeking a possible suspect in a suspected shooting that took place 65 miles away the night before.

At approximately 9:30 a.m., on Feb. 10, a tactical vehicle from the Massachusetts State Police was parked in the middle of the intersection of Channing and Cross with heavily armed officers in combat gear directing people from a residence. One person in a video uploaded to social media was assisted away from the house.

As of Sunday morning, no arrests were reported as part of the action.

“Today, the Belmont Police Department assisted the Massachusetts State Police in executing a search warrant at a residence in Belmont,” said Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac in a press release on Saturday.

MacIsaac said ”the circumstances prompting the issuance of the search warrant did not transpire within Belmont’s jurisdiction, [c]onsequently, there is no cause for concern regarding criminal activity in Belmont.” MacIsaac referred all inquires to the Bristol County District Attorney, which has yet to make a statement.

Social media has been actively speculating on the “Who, What, When, Why and Where” of Saturday’s action incident. Many agreed with noted attorney Wendy Murphy who wrote that it was “Related to a gang murder in Fall Riverr.”

The most recent shooting in Fall River occurred on Friday, Feb. 9, where a 34-year-old man was found suffering from gunshot wounds, according to Fall River police. The victim was taken to a trauma center in critical condition.

The last murder in Fall River occurred on Dec. 23 when a 44-year-old man was shot and killed on a porch, according to the Fall River Herald. A Connecticut man was later arrested in that case.

Select Board OKs New Three-Year Contract For Belmont Police Chief MacIsaac

Photo: Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac

The Belmont Select Board approved a new three-year contract for Belmont Police Department Chief James MacIsaac at its virtual meeting on Monday, Jan. 22.

According to Kelly King, the town’s Human Resources Director, MacIsaac’s new base annual salary will increase to $225,000 when the new contract begins on Jan. 1, 2025, and runs through Dec. 31, 2027.

King said MacIsaac is eligible for a cost of living adjustment (COLA) and a merit-based increase on July 1 of each contract year.

According to Roy Epstein, the select board chair, MacIsaac’s new salary “is certainly in the middle” of police chiefs salary range of comparable communities. “We believe it is reasonable,” he said.

Man Convicted In 2021 Murder Of Henry Tapia Sentenced To Life In Prison, Parole Eligible In 2036

Photo: Dean Kapsalis being sentenced in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn (Credit: Pool photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via AP)

Nearly three years after running down and killing Henry Tapia on Upland Street, the convicted assailant was sentenced to life in prison for what prosecutors described as “a hate crime.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 17 in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn, Hudson resident Dean Kapsalis, 58, was sentenced by Judge David Deakin to a life sentence after being found guilty in May 2023 of second-degree murder of Henry Tapia, 34, of Boston.

Henry Tapia (Credit: GoFundMe)

Speaking from the bench, Deakin said the sentence was “proportional to the crime,” adding that Kapsalis’ “record reflects essentially a lifelong tendency toward violence.”

The incident took place on Jan. 22, 2021 after both men exited their vehicles during what police and prosecutors described as a “road rage” incident. After a brief verbal altercation and as each returned to their vehicles, Kapsalis called Tapia a racial slur before entering his pickup and then struck and ran over Tapia, who was visiting his fiancee and child.

Belmont Police responded to a 911 call reporting that a man had been struck by a car in the area of 39-45 Upland Rd. Police located Tapia conscious but suffering from life-threatening injuries. Tapia was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he died from his injuries.

Having served three years in Middlesex County jail since his arrest, Kapsalis will be eligible to petition the state parole board in 2036 when he turns 70.

Belmont’s Beth El One Of Several Bay State, US Synagogues Targeted With Bomb Threat

Photo: Beth El Temple Center in Belmont

Belmont’s Beth El Temple Center was one of several synagogues in Massachusetts and more than 100 across the country that received bomb threats on Sunday, Dec. 17.

“I am following up on my earlier message regarding the bomb threat to the temple building, which prompted us to close this morning,” said Rachael Fagin, president of the Temple Center, building this m in an email to the congregation sent Sunday, Dec. 17. 

Belmont and Cambridge police, including a K-9 unit, searched the building and found no threat, according to Fagin. “Law enforcement has confirmed this to be a hoax.”

“We continue to be grateful for the attention and support of local and state law enforcement. There will be an increased presence from the Belmont Police Department this afternoon,” said Fagin.

Beth El was one of many Jewish religious and cultural centers that were targeted on Sunday, a day after Hannuakka ended.

According to a statement from the Massachusetts State Police, a Jewish community center in Framingham, a Jewish cultural center in Tisbury, and a synagogue in Florence received email threats. At the same time, a bomb squad swept a Natick synagogue in advance of an event, though there was no threat.

“Hundreds of similar threats have been received by Jewish institutions across the United States this weekend,” stated the state police.

Physical acts of vandalism of Jewish institutions and religious centers are occurring. A menorah at the Framingham Centre Common Cultural District was toppled, and a sign voicing support for Israel was taken on Saturday, Dec. 16, according to Framingham law enforcement, which is investigating the incident as a potential hate crime. 

Expect Delays On Trapelo Road Thursday, Friday As Waltham Honors Fallen Officer

Photo: Waltham Police Officer Paul Tracey (City of Waltham website)

Due to the large number of people and police departments expected to attend services for Waltham Police Officer Paul Tracey, who was killed last week, the Belmont Police Department is advising residents and commuters to avoid Trapelo Road heading towards Waltham on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 14 and 15.

The wake and funeral mass will occur at Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted Church, 920 Trapelo Rd. in Waltham. The wake is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, the funeral services will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday. The burial will occur around 1 p.m. at Mount Feake Cemetery in southwest Waltham.

Waltham plans to close Trapelo Road for most of the day on Thursday and Friday to accommodate traffic to the church as thousands of uniformed officers from across the region, and country will come to Waltham to remember Tracey with his family and friends.

Tracey and National Grid employee Roderick Jackson were killed when a pickup driven by Peter Simon of Woodsville, NH crashed into them at a work site on Totten Pond Road, Dec. 6. 

Belmont Fire Department Open House Set For Sat., Oct. 28

Photo: Belmont Fire Department headquarters

The Belmont Fire Department invites you to join them for an Open House Event at Fire Department Head Quarters on Saturday, Oct. 28, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The event is free and is sure to be fun. There will be demonstrations, hands-on activities, actual firefighter equipment, and many fire-safety education opportunities. Pizza and soda will also be available. 

Police And Fire Chiefs Receive Merit Pay Increases As Of Start FY ’24

Photo: James MacIsaac (left) and David DeStefano

Recently, the Belmont Select Board approved merit pay increases for Belmont’s public safety department leaders. Each increase has an effective start date of July 1, 2023.

Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac received a 3 percent bump to his salary as part of his yearly review. The Board scored MacIsaac with an overall score of 4.93 on a scale of 0 to 5, with Board Chair Roy Epstein saying that “he’s a model of a modern police chief bringing a unique balance of experience, calmness, and humor, and to a host of challenges of management issues.”

Board Vice Chair Elizabeth Dionne noted MacIsaac’s “strength in public communication, leadership and tackling difficult issues head-on and is clearly concerned about the well-being of the department including the morale and adequate staffing while delivering effective and proactive public safety for the town.”

Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac

“When you hear stories about police departments everywhere in which things go wrong. I think consistently Chief MacIsaac has demonstrated an ability to take on difficult situations and have a positive outcome and avoid trouble,” said Epstein.

“Overall, Chief MacIsaac is a tremendous asset, and he looks forward to serving the community for many years,” he said.

MacIsaac’s annual salary is currently $210,642.79.

Belmont Fire Chief David DeStefano saw his pay increase by 2.5 percent to $168,642.79.

“I could not be more happy with the fire chief and his performance,” said Town Administrator Patrice Garvin of DeStefano’s tenure. “I think the department’s morale has gone up tremendously… and he’s building a great team. He’s instituted ways to make the department more visible in terms of promotions … and he’s always coming up with creative ways to get the fire department more visible into the community.”

Belmont Fire Chief David DeStefano

Belmont Police To Obtain Service Dog Through Largess Of The Allisons.

Photo: The Labrador Retriever is coming to the Belmont Police Department

Elisabeth and Graham Allison have been benefactors to the town of Belmont and its residents for many years, giving of their time and funds. And in the latest example of their largess, the Belmont Police Department will soon be the home of its first service dog.

At a recent meeting of the Select Board, the Allisons donated $9,525 for the purchase and training of a service animal. Unlike the department’s canine that goes on patrol with an officer, the service dog “will create a less stressful and more welcoming environment,” said Elisabeth Allison.

Elisabeth Allison told the board the donation will allow Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac to follow a trend begun by Middlesex District Attorney and Belmont resident Marion Ryan and that other police departments – including Reading, Maynard, and Tewksbury – have adopted.

“They are praising this program … I did some research, we put together a proposal, and I presented it [the Allisons] and they fully supported it,” said MacIsaac.

The service dog will venture outside the police station “to create a bond with the Belmont Police community, improve our public/police relations, and comfort the community during times of high stress,” said MacIsaac, noting the times a young person or someone in trauma or anxiety have been in the police headquarters for hours, “and it would be very beneficial to have a comfort dog present.”

The support from the board for the new addition to the police force was unanimous. “I’ve really seen how a dog can improve stressful and mental health situations,” said Elizabeth Dionne.

The dog will be arriving in December. And the bred? Why, the Labrador Retriever. Elisabeth Allison – a noted dog lover – said the Lab is often regarded as “the world’s best all-round dog who is ideal for this service.”