All Ages Invited To Belmont’s First Touch-A-Truck On Oct. 8

Photo: Touch-a-Truck is on its way

You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy Belmont’s first ever Touch-A-Truck event which is set to go on Saturday, Oct. 8, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Belmont Center Parking lot on Claflin Street.

Walk in the parking lot for an up-close view of tractors, trucks, diggers, police cars, and fire engines from Belmont DPW, Light, Fire, and Police along with several local businesses and potentially room for a couple more. Sit in the seats, honk the horns, or take your picture on the front end of the equipment.

Hosting the event is Belmont Youth Activities and D.A.R.E. Inc., with the support of the Town of Belmont as well as the Belmont Center Business Association.

Belmont Fire Pins Newest Member

Photo: New Belmont Firefighter Mike Nolan has his badge pinned by his wife, Brittney.

Belmont Fire added its newest member – for a second time – to the force at a pinning ceremony at the Select Board’s meeting Monday, Sept. 12.

Three years ago, Mike Nolan joined the Belmont Fire Department before heading off to another department a year-and-a-half ago, according to Belmont Fire Chief David DeStefano.

“He has since decided that the Belmont Fire Department is the place to be and we’re glad to have him,” said DeStefano.

Nolan had his badge pinned for the second time by his wife, Brittney. The pair was married just five weeks before – honeymoon in St. Lucia – the event at Town Hall.

Nolan will be a “proby” for the next year.

From left: Belmont Fire Chief David DeStefano, Asst. Chief Andrew Tobio, BFF Mike Nolan, Select Board member Roy Epstein, Brittney Nolan, Select Board members Adam Dash and Chair Mark Paolillo, Brian Nolan, Terrie Nolan and Ashley Tworig.

Belmont Police Chief To Parents: Don’t Drive Those Kids To School!

Photo: Congestion near the Wellington on Common

Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac has something to say to parents of school-age children: Tell your kids to take a walk! As in take a walk to school each day.

With vehicle trips returning to pre-pandemic levels and changing traffic patterns and street repairs leading to congested roadways during weekday mornings and afternoons, MacIsaac is asking parents to consider NOT driving the kids to school.

“Every week during the school year, we receive complaints that pertain to motor vehicle traffic around our schools” with “[t]he vast majority of violators we identify are parents,” said MacIsaac.

The troubles start with the realization that the parking lots of each school and the adjacent roads “are not conducive to the amount of traffic that occurs around start time and the end of the school day,” Belmont’s chief said in a press release.

Add to that road construction and new traffic patterns at the new Belmont Middle and High School, Chenery Middle School and the Wellington and Burbank elementary schools and the sum total equals a significant amount of traffic challenges that police are facing each day.

So MacIsaac is putting the question to parents: consider alternatives to the usual drive to and from school such as have children take the bus, ride a bike or walk with their child to school.

Rather than taking them to the schoolhouse door, parents can also park a block or two away so a student’s walk will be a short one. And if driving to school is the only option, parents should exercise patience and be considerate to walkers and other motorists while driving Belmont roads, said MacIsaac.

Thieves Target Belmont High End Vehicles With Telling Feature: An Open Side-View Mirror

Photo: A BMW with a power folding side mirror (BMW)

In poker, a “tell” is when a player makes a subtle physical gesture – repeatedly glancing at their cards – that betrays the strength of their hand. A good opponent will quickly jump on what they see and act accordingly to either win the pot or cut their losses.

And it turns out that vehicles – especially the expensive late model kind – have a “tell” of their own, one of which certain unsavory types took the ultimate advantage at the expense of four Belmont households.

According to a media release from the Belmont Police Department released on Aug. 29, unknown perps stole four vehicles from their owner’s property in the final weeks of August. Besides being high end recently built autos, they had one other thing in common: a conveyance that turned out to give a vital detail away to the thieves – that they were unlocked and ready to be stolen.

The tell? The side-view mirrors were in their normal outward position.

“Certain model vehicles that are equipped with side-view mirrors that automatically fold in when the vehicle is locked are being targeted by thieves,” read the report. “The perpetrators drive late at night, scanning the streets for open side-view mirrors. The open mirrors on certain makes and models is a telltale sign that the vehicle is unlocked.”

A popular feature in many models of vehicles – including from Tesla, BMW, Lexus, Cadillac, Ford and Hyundai – power folding side view mirrors can be folded inward to decrease the size of a car, helping to fit a car into tight spaces such as in parking lots, or as a safety feature when driving through an automatic car wash, or parking on a busy street.

But a number of auto owners either are inattentive or careless when parking their vehicles especially at their homes.

Last year, the Fairfield Police, CT twitted that “[i]n certain luxury vehicles side mirrors fold in when the key fob is not in the vehicle. Suppose side mirrors are still open on a parked car. In that case, thieves know the key is in the vehicle, making it an easy theft target, said the Fairfield Police using information from the North Miami, Florida Police Department and the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators.

An informational notice from the North Miami Police Dept.

According to the website locksmithspro, “thieves will either take advantage of this vulnerability and try to steal the car using various engine start tricks or even the key that has also been left behind in the ignition.”

While these incidents are likely the first ones in which vehicles were stolen in Belmont under these circumstances, this theft is becoming better known over the past few years. First seen in Staten Island around 2017, it’s becoming more prevalent along the Jersey shore.

In Avalon, New Jersey, police urged people to lock their vehicles and homes after four luxury cars were stolen a week after the July 4th holiday. Avalon police say a group of suspects wearing masks and gloves stole the vehicles – a Bentley, a Mercedes, a BMW, and a Porsche – between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Three high-end cars were also stolen over the Memorial Day weekend.

Avalon detectives believe the suspects are from the Newark area and drove around before the thefts to scout their targets.

Nor is this just an east coast problem: England is suffering from this US import.

In a recent story in The Telegraph, Dr. Keith Floyd, a former police chief inspector and a criminologist at Huddersfield University, who interviewed convicted car thieves in prison, said most of their thefts stemmed from what participants described as “lazy” motorists failing to lock their cars even when they had valuables inside.

Floyd said opportunistic thieves could easily bypass all the alarms, keyless defenses, and other hi-tech security that car giants have spent millions of pounds developing.

“With many modern cars nowadays, open door mirrors equate in the thief’s mind with an open door because by default, many are set or can be modified by software to close when the car is locked as a lock confirmation. It’s as simple as that. Open door mirrors can be a green light to theft,” said Floyd.

Breaking: Belmont, Region Under Flood Watch ’til 5 PM Tuesday, Sept. 6

Photo: Flood Watch in effect in Belmont

The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for Belmont and communities in eastern Massachusetts that will last until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Rainfall amounts of three to five inches are expected over much of southern New England with localized amounts of five to seven inches or more.

During this period, flooding caused by excessive rainfall continues to be possible.

Earlier Monday, the NWS issued a Flash Flood Warning for most of northern Massachusetts before downgrading it at 10:47 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 5. A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area move immediately to high ground. A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible.

Flooding of small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses as well as
other poor drainage and low-lying areas is possible and citizens should stay vigilant.

Locations that will experience flash flooding include Belmont, Cambridge, Newton, Somerville, Waltham, Arlington, Watertown, Lexington, Tewksbury, North Andover, Melrose and Saugus.

The NWS warns drivers to “Turn around, don’t drown” when encountering flooded roads. Most flood
deaths occur in vehicles. Be especially cautious in early morning hours when it is harder to recognize the
dangers of flooding.


Concord Avenue’s New Traffic/Bike Lane Configuration Up And Running

Photo: Drivers parking their vehicles in the new parking lane in front of the Post Office on Concord Avenue.

If you were startled recently seeing cars and SUVs seemingly abandoned in the middle of Concord Avenue, no, it’s not evidence of the beginning of a zombie apocalypse or the Rapture. What you have come across is the new traffic and parking scheme for one of Belmont’s busiest thoroughfares to promote safe cycling for bike commuters and students traveling to the new Belmont High School.

As part of the Concord Avenue restriping project, the Transportation Advisory Committee, in conjunction with designer Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates and Belmont’s Office of Community Development and the Department of Public Works, has reorient the road lines so the bike lane is closest to the curb, separated by a three-foot buffer, then the parking lane and then the travel lane, according to the TAC.

“The Department of Public Works expects to finish the painting [Thursday, Aug. 18],” said Glenn Clancy, director of Community Development. ”There will be green colored crossings added at side streets but likely not until September given DPW workload and constraints.”

Belmont Police graphic on new traffic/parking pattern for Concord Avenue

This new configuration is eastbound from the Unitarian Church to the Cambridge border at Blanchard Road and westbound from Underwood Street to just past the US Post Office.

The project came about when in 2021 the High School Traffic Working Group expressed a desire to explore the possibility of reconfiguring the bike lane and parking lane on Concord Avenue.

A deep dive into the year-long TAC process and the decisions made by the designers can be found here: Concord Avenue Striping Plan Briefing

With the striping complete, Belmont Police’s Traffic Division will now step in to help with the transition.

“In regards to enforcement, we have started educating drivers about the new pattern,” said Sgt. Paul Garabedian, supervisor of the department’s Traffic Divison.

“We will be giving out warnings and talking with people when we see a violation in hopes of people getting a better understanding. We will have officers on foot and bicycles to be able to talk with drivers over the new few weeks while people adjust to the new design,” said Garabedian.

So far, town officials have not heard much from the public on the new striping design.

“Other than occasional complaints that ‘Belmont is trying to look like Somerville and Cambridge’, I have not received any complaints about the new configuration,” said Clancy. In regards to inquires about the design, Garabedian directed those questions to the TAC Chair David Coleman “as they worked with the design team hired by the town on this project.” 

Where the discussion has been lively is on-line with comments to Police updates or Facebook pages running about 50/50 whether they love the new setup or hate it. One resident made a short video outside the Concord Avenue Post Office reportedly showing the danger in exiting adjacent the travel lane. Some residents were annoyed no notice was provided by the town of the change while others believe the new standards are confusing and unworkable.

Supporters, on the other hand, welcome what they consider provides a safer way along Concord Avenue.

Talk On How Supreme Court Ruling Effects Gun Ownership in Belmont Friday At The Beech Street Center

Photo: The talk will take place at the Beech Street Center, Friday, Aug. 12 from 1:15 p.m. – 2:15 pm.

The decision in June by the US Supreme Court to loosen handgun restrictions in New York City will have an effect on Belmont residents seeking to purchase a weapon that they wished to carry on them in public.

Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac will host a conversation and discussion about the court’s gun reform ruling, gun reform laws in general and how it impacts Massachusetts at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St., Friday, Aug. 12 from 1:15 p.m. – 2:15 pm. Cost is free.

“I was approached by the senior center about … the court decision and what effect it would have in Massachusetts,” MacIsaac told the Select Board at its Monday, Aug. 8 meeting.

The June 23 decision struck down a New York law requiring people to show a specific need to carry a firearm in public. Gun safety advocates, however, emphasize that the court’s ruling was limited in scope and still allows states to regulate types of firearms, where people can carry firearms and the permitting process, including requirements for background checks and training. 

MacIsaac said the commonwealth had “pretty good gun laws” prior to the ruling: an applicant would need to present three letters of recommendation and then questioned on their need to carry a weapon in public. In Belmont, the police chief who was the issuing authority could then either reject the application or grant either a Class A license – which allowed for a person to carry a concealed at any time – or a Class B which allowed them to carry to and from a shooting range.

The Supreme Court’s ruling did away with the classification systems and the need for letters of recommendation, said MacIsaac. “It’s still up to the police chief in the community if there’s a reason that they find someone’s not suitable and we still have the statutory exemptions that prevent people from obtaining a firearm.”

Belmont Fire’s Recruitment Open House: Tuesday, Aug. 16 At 6 PM

Photo: If you had a dream to become a firefighter, come by the Fire Department’s HQ on Tuesday.

Learn about how to become a Belmont Firefighter at a Recruitment Open House on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 6 p.m. at the Belmont Fire Department Headquarters 299 Trapelo Rd.

Learn more about …

  • Tour our headquarters station, view our apparatus and equipment, and talk with our firefighters.
  • Our modern apparatus, equipment and stations,Exemplary Advanced Life Support Services
  • Advanced training opportunities in Haz Mat, Technical Rescue and other skills,
  • 24/72 shift schedule,
  • Competitive compensation and benefit package

An innovative fire department where you can make a difference.

Belmont Opens Cooling Centers Over Weekend During Heat Wave

Photo: The town has opened cooling center over the weekend

Due to the current heat wave, the Beech Street Center at 266 Beech St, and the Belmont Public Library at 336 Concord Ave, will be open as cooling centers this weekend, according to a press release from the town. 

The hours will be as follows: 

Beech Street Center:  

  • Saturday, July 23, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 24, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Belmont Public Library: 

  • Friday, July 22 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for a free movie night
  • Saturday, July 23, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

“We encourage everyone to stay cool and hydrated,” read the press release. “We ask you to check on elderly friends and neighbors, and others who may need help, during this period of high heat and humidity.”

Town Negotiates Contract With Superior Officers Association; Three Unions Left To Be Settled

Photo: Contract settled with Belmont Police Superior Officers

Three down, three to go as the town reached a multi-year contract with another of it employee unions announced on Monday, June 27.

The Belmont Police Superior Officers Association reached an agreement on a new three-year contract to be in effect from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2023. The parties agree to three 2 percent base wage increases from 2020 to 2023, according to Shawna Healey, the town’s Human Resources director.

The contract also provides education incentives and adds the Juneteenth holiday as a paid holiday. As part of working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the town is providing a one-time payment of $2,000 for active employees who worked from March 2020 to March 2021.

There are 16 members in the association representing Belmont Police sergeants, lieutenants and captains.