Early Voting For Primary Election Underway In Belmont, Ends Sept. 6

Photo: Belmont Town Hall is open for voting business

Early election balloting is currently underway in Belmont for the state primary election taking place on Tuesday, Sept. 6. There is no advanced application required to beat the rush on Sept. 6.

Early voting began on Saturday, Aug. 27 at Town Hall (the only location being used for early voting) and will continue until Noon, Friday, Sept. 2.

The hours for early voting are:

  • Monday, Aug. 29, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 30, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 31, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 1, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Friday, Sept. 2, 8 a.m. to Noon.

Mail-in ballots are also being received at Town Hall. According to Town Clerk Ellen Cushman, 3,600 of Belmont’s nearly 18,000 registered voters sought to vote via mail. They also can place their mail-in ballots into the secure dropbox at the Town Hall entrance. Cushman asks that mail-in voters to send their ballots in asap to avoid missing the Tuesday, Sept. 6 deadline.

Residents who will be out-of-town on Sept. 6, gave a religious or medical reason why they can’t come to their polling station can ask for an absentee ballot.

And voters who prefer the traditional method can show up at their local precinct between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Bring your ID to the polling station; you may be asked for it if you didn’t fill out the annual town census.

•Are you already registered to vote in Massachusetts? Check the website below to confirm whether you are registered and where you are registered. www.sec.state.ma.us/voterregistrationsearch/

•If you are not already registered or you need to change your address and you have a valid Massachusetts Driver’s License or ID Card, you can register to vote online. You must be a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years old on Sept. 6. Go to www.RegistertoVoteMA.com. Paper forms are available in the Town Clerk’s office.

Winter Storm Warning For Belmont: 5″ to 8″ Of The White Stuff On Friday


Belmont and communities inside the Route 128 corridor are under a Winter Storm Warning as between five to eight inches of snow is expected on Friday, Jan. 7.

The warning, issued at 3:24 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 6 by the National Weather Service, forecasts heavy snow from 1 a.m. to 7 p.m. in portions of eastern and southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Travel could be very difficult, warned the service, as hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute.

“If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency,” reads the press release. The latest road conditions for the state can be obtained by calling 511.

Register Now For Belmont’s Cardboard Drop-Off Extravaganza On Dec. 18

Photo: It’s all about the drop-off

The Belmont Department of Public Works is getting ready for the much anticipated Dec. 18 Cardboard Drop-Off to be held Saturday, Dec. 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the DPW Yard off Waverley Avenue on C Avenue.

And here is the pre-registration link

And don’t dawdle signing up! The drop-off is one of the most popular holiday events in town. You don’t want to forget this!

BHS Performing Arts Company Presents ‘The Servant Of Two Masters’ For Fall Play

Photo: From the poster of The Servant of Two Masters presented by the BHS PAC on Nov. 18-20.

The Belmont High School Performing Arts Company is presenting its fall play, THE SERVANTS OF TWO MASTERS, on Thursday, Nov. 18, Friday, Nov. 19, and Saturday, Nov. 20 in the high school’s Black Box Theater.

Written by Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni in 1746 and revised in 1789, The Servant of Two Masters is a comedy for audiences of all ages. Based on the traditional Commedia dell’arte, the play features physical comedy, wordplay, music, slapstick gags, wild costumes, candy colored scenery, and a madcap plot that will leave your head spinning.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $7 for children and $5 for BHS students/staff. Tickets can be purchased online, and advance ticket purchase recommended as these performances sell out.

Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., with a special 2:40 p.m. performance on Friday just for BHS students/staff.

Details about the show and ticket sales at bhs-pac.org

As we invite audiences back into our schools, here are some guidelines for those who plan to attend theater events this year:

  1. MASKS WILL BE REQUIRED for all audience members.
  2. Food/drinks will not be allowed in performance spaces.
  3. The size of our Black Box Theater means that there is not a guarantee of distancing for audience members. We encourage family units to sit together, but at sold out shows, you will be seated directly adjacent to others.
  4. Some students performing on stage for theater events will be unmasked. These students have been required by the Belmont School Committee to be vaccinated.
  5. Anyone experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19 should not attendperformances. You can reference the BPS Student Symptom Checker here.

We appreciate your compliance with these requirements. 

Mend Belmont: An Opportunity To Be Heard On Race, Inclusion On Tuesday, 7 PM

Photo: The poster for Mend Belmont

The Select Board, Human Rights Commission, and the Diversity Task Force are sponsoring a webinar series called  Mend Belmont. It is a public forum to discuss race and inclusion in Belmont. It will be a place to be heard. The forum will be moderated by Robert T. Jones.

The first night of the series is Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m.

Please click the link HERE to join the webinar by computer, tablet or smartphone.

Or Telephone, call:

1 312 626 6799 or 1 929 205 6099

When prompted, enter: 819 4570 8806 #

When prompted, enter: #

Watch it LIVE in Belmont on BMC GovTV, Ch. 8 on Comcast or Ch. 28 on Verizon

Watch from anywhere online: belmontmedia.org/govtv

Belmont To Honor Purple Heart Recipients Saturday At Vets Memorial

Photo: Poster of 2021 annual Purple Hearts Day ceremony to be held on Saturday

The town of Belmont will hold its annual Purple Heart Day ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 7 at 10 a.m. at the Belmont Veterans Memorial located at Clay Pit Pond.

The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed while serving, with the U.S. military. With its forerunner, the Badge of Military Merit, the Purple Heart is the oldest military award still given to U.S. military members. 

Belmont’s Veterans Services Agent, Bob Upton, will make the welcoming remarks followed by the National Anthem and an invocation from Bob Butler, pastor of the Open Door Baptist Church.

Opening remarks will be delivered by Adam Dash, chair of Select Board, followed by guest speaker Paul Mutch, Sergeant Major USMC (Ret.)

First West Nile Virus Case Of Summer Confirmed In Belmont

Photo: The infection cycle for the West Nile virus. (Credit: CDC.com)

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced on July 15 that West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes collected from Belmont.

WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes that carry this virus are common throughout the state and are found in urban as well as more rural areas. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection. 

By taking a few, common sense precautions, people can help to protect themselves and their loved ones:

Avoid Mosquito Bites

  • Apply Insect Repellent when you go outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.  Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear and should not be applied to skin. 
  • Clothing Can Help reduce mosquito bites. Although it may be difficult to do when it’s hot, wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
  • Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours – The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. When risk is increased, consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. If you are outdoors at any time and notice mosquitoes around you, take steps to avoid being bitten by moving indoors, covering up and/or wearing repellant.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home

  • Drain Standing Water – Many mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or getting rid of items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools and change water in birdbaths frequently. 
  • Install or Repair Screens – Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all your windows and doors.

Information about WNV and reports of current and historical WNV virus activity in Massachusetts can be found on the MDPH website at: www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito.

Town Meeting Votes To Move Forward On Community Path Review; A New Court Coming To Winn Brook

Photo: The easement along the north side of the MBTA commuter rail tracks adjacent the French/Mahoney property off of Brighton Street.

An attempt by a prominent Belmont resident to kill off funding for a next step review of the proposed community path was beaten back by Belmont Town Meeting on Monday, June 7 showing the at times controversial project continues to hold wide support in town.

The amendment submitted by Frank French to return $200,000 to the Community Preservation Committee was defeated handily, 64-192, coming after a wild debate that saw French’s attorney make what appeared to be not so subtle threat the town is likely to face millions in legal judgments if it pursued the path project. That was followed by Belmont’s long-time state senator Will Brownsberger informing Town Meeting that it was French who wasn’t holding up his end of a decades-old bargain with the state that allowed his family to build on an old railroad right of way.

In fact, according to town officials, the engineering firm working on the path submitted a revised plan Monday morning that no longer required any forced taking which French was opposing, rendering his amendment – which took nearly two hours to debate – effectively moot.

Monday’s meeting – the second of four nights in which members would debate budget and financial issues – followed the script of the first in which a single binding article dominated the nearly four hour session as the meeting took up four projects presented by the Community Preservation Committee. Two projects, transferring $250,000 to the Belmont Housing Trust to initiate affordable housing partnerships and $35,000 in design costs as part of the renovation of Payson Park, breezed through with little trouble.

It didn’t come as a surprise the $200,000 sought by the Community Path Project Committee to determine the right of way for phase one of the path – from the Clark Street bridge to the Cambridge line at Brighton Street as well as a pedestrian tunnel under the MBTA commuter rail tracks at Alexander Ave – was set to begin a lively discourse as French filed his amendment to put the brakes on the project placing the path’s future on hold and effectively in doubt.

A great primer of the community path project can be found here.

Russ Leino, the chair of the Project Committee, told the assembled members (attending over Zoom or viewing on community television) the funds would be used by Nitsch Engineering to prepare a detailed Right of Way (ROW) plan as part of the requirements to obtain federal Transportation Improvement Program money that will pay for the majority of the construction.

The work will determine if any private property will be impacted by the construction, most likely that will be temporary and minor such as access to the property to complete the design work, said Leino, although there could be permanent impacts such as repairing retaining walls and at pinch points “but will not actually run over the property.” Owners can “donate” that access to the town or have an appraisal done to determine a fair dollar compensation which will require another Community Preservation Committee request to fund. ROW work isn’t new to Belmont as the town did a similar project when the state renovated Belmont Street and Trapelo Road and the recent completed Welling Safe Routes to School project. The plan is critical as the federal government and state will not move forward funding without it.

Saying his committee – as well as the town and Select Board – are committed to minimizing impacts to private property, Leino noted a project of this magnitude will effect someone’s lands. “The funding by this appropriation really has to be completed in order to fully understand and quantify … those impacts for the Town Meeting to decide what you want to do with that information,” said Leino.

French, Precinct 2, said he and the Mahoney family that jointly owns the land at the corner of the Brighton and the commuter rail tracks and from where they run their businesses, have granted an easement to the path but are opposed to any permanent takings. French mentioned the long-stand complaint by those opposing the path that it should have been placed on the south side of the commuter tracks (more on that to come). Because there was the likelihood of an eminent domain taking, the families have “consulted” attorney and Belmont resident George McLaughlin.

McLaughlin initially came before Town Meeting not forwarding his client’s claim but his own experience of 37 years of successfully litigating Eminent Domain lawsuits winning millions for his clients. When McLaughlin returned to the amendment at hand, he spoke at length that in his opinion, Belmont has “vastly underestimated” the potential damages from this path to residential property along Channing Road.

This line of argument apparently was far afield from a pre-meeting agreement with Town Moderator Micheal Widmer on what would be discussed. That consensus quickly blew up as Widmer and McLaughlin took issue with how much leeway would be given in arguing the amendment.

”Mr. McLaughlin, as we’ve discussed before this meeting. Eminent Domain is beyond the scope so I’ll repeat, you need to talk about the path,” said Widmer.

“What I’m trying to inform the Town Meeting members is that if they go ahead with this plan, I think they are pursuing a plan that explore exposes the town to, you know, $4 million in damages,” claimed McLaughlin.

While saying that McLaughlin’s general point on eminent domain was “fine” to bring up, Widmer requested the attorney to “please adhere to my request that you stay with the scope of the discussion,” noting he had done so three times. The back and forth continued with both men saying they had grown frustrated with each others stance with McLaughlin claiming Widmer had “changed the rules” of the debate.

As Widmer attempted to wrangle McLaughlin in – with little success – Town Meeting members began bombarding Town Clerk Ellen Cushman with Point of Order claims noting McLaughlin was well outside the scope of the matter at hand. Widmer pointed out that a town meeting could not be run by those citing rules violations.

While French and McLaughlin spoke on the town taking a portion of the property, Leino presented an “11th hour” development in which Nitsch determined on the previous Friday that the latest design no longer required taking a permanent easement of the French/Mahoney property. “It can be done there on the existing easement. I was happy to see that as a positive development,” said Leino.

And Brownsberger turned French’s claims on their head by reviewing the context of how French’s secured the site in the first place. Brownsberger said in 2008, French – who Brownsberger called a friend who he respects – approached Brownsberger seeking his support in building his business office on the site knowing the right of way would bisect the property. French building sits on a historic railroad right of way, used as far back as the 1870s as the Fitchburg to Lowell connection until passenger service ended in 1927 and commercial rail halted in the 1980s. State statutes requires anyone attempting to build on a rail road right of way to first obtain a determination of inapplicability from the Department of Transportation.

In 2009, Brownsberger helped French get the process rolling to build but only if the Mass DOT which regulates rail right of ways would preserve the possibility of building a bike path from Brighton Street to Belmont Center and not give away the entire right of way which it did.

“So the point is that MASS DOT gave the ability for Mr. French to build … but retains the right to build a bike path through it,” said Brownsberger. While he was allowed to build up to the easement, French also crossed into it to install a stone sign, curbing and parking with the hope that a possible bike path would never be built.

“Now I was chagrined when I learned that Mr. French was upset about this process,” said Brownsberger. While acknowledging that previous design plans from Nitsch appeared to violate the decades old compromise between the state and French, Brownsberger “is very relieved that the discussion over the past week … that there is no need” for any additional land taking in the latest engineering blueprints.

With French’s concerns apparently addressed, “I look forward to continuing to support this path,” working with the state so to “keep solving problems and keep moving this fast forward,” said Brownsberger. “As an elected official, I am absolutely committed to making sure this works within the easement.”

Select Board Member Mark Paolillo next spoke in greater detail how town officials and representatives from Nitsch would keep the path within its prescribed easement. He also addressed the need for the route to travel along the northside of the commuter tracks as being due to the reluctance of the owner of an essential rail spur to negotiate with the town.

With debate open to the public, members sentiments ranged the gambit of why the French amendment was allowed to move forward if the “problem had been solved” to Stephen Rosales from Precinct 8 expressing his support for French via the lyrical talents of Kenny Rogers.

”You got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and know when to run,” Rosales said, not sung. Despite the Yeoman efforts by the town, “the time has come. Belmont can no longer hold them,” he said noting that the CPC will “ante up” $1.7 million in studies and engineering work without any guarantee of federal or state funding.

Mark Kagan, Precinct 8, said roadblocks such as the French amendment is the reason that popular infrastructure projects are delayed or killed off. Having lived in bike happy the Netherlands, Kagan said cycling is the wave of the future as it promotes safe, fast transportation that is climate friendly. “Let’s vote this down this amendment and move on Belmont, the greater Boston area and the United States into the future,” said Kagan.

The question was called and the subsequent vote on the Amendment was an overwhelming defeat for French. The debate on the $200,000 allocation for ROW costs was anticlimactic and speedy with the article passing, 200 to 50.

Tennis plus one at Winn Brook

Town Meeting voted to add a single tennis court to the existing facility adjacent to the Winn Brook Elementary School playground and the Joey’s Park Playground.

Jon Marshall, the assistant town manager and recreation director, said an additional court was suited to the site because 1. the town can always use more courts, and 2. an additional tennis court will make for a total of five which is needed to hold regular season and tournament contests by the Belmont High School tennis teams.

Opposition to the new court came from two camps: nearby residents and those who wish to see courts on the high school campus. Melissa McIntyre, Precinct 8, opposed the article, not so much the courts being placed in the neighborhood but the public process the Recreation Commission undertook in approving the location. McIntyre said the strip of green space between Joey’s Park and the courts which will be reduced is an important place that is a place to take a break from the hurly burly of the playground and sport fields. Kathleen “Fitze” Cowing, also Precinct 8, asking why unlike other park and recreation projects the tennis court didn’t go through a two-fpart approval process with a design phase followed by CPC construction funding.

But by 10:45 p.m., the meeting had little energy to go against the CPC’s recommendation and there will be a fifth court at the Winn Brook by the start of the varsity tennis season next April.

Letter To The Editor: Override Will Allow The Arts To Enrich Students Lives

Photo: The BHS PAC production of the musical “Urinetown” produced in 2016.

We are writing as parents of students involved in BHS’s outstanding Performing Arts Company (PAC) and PAC alumnae/i to ask our neighbors to please consider voting YES for the Proposition 2 ½ override on April 6. Since our town’s last override passed in 2015, our expenses have risen beyond what our property taxes are able to cover, and our student population has grown by 333 students (a total of more than 900 since 2007). As we witnessed six years ago, overrides don’t just fill in our town’s economic gaps; they make it possible to hire new teachers, who in turn enrich our students’ lives. Among the tremendous benefits of the 2015 budget was the continued enhancement and development of the high school’s Theater program under the exceptional guidance of Theater Director and teacher Ezra Flam. Appointed fulltime in 2015 thanks to the override, Mr. Flam has expanded performing arts curricula to include new acting and production

Student Directed One Act Plays are a staple of the BHS PAC year. Above is from 2018’s WORDS, WORDS, WORDS By David Ives.

classes as well as extracurricular opportunities for students of varying skill sets and interests. Even as our exceptional Theater program has helped prepare students for some of the most prestigious college performing arts programs, including Berkeley, Tisch, Northwestern, Marymount Manhattan, and Syracuse, the program is also characterized by inclusion: there is space for any/all students in the musical and the Improv team. And those who prefer not to sing, dance, play instruments, or act may participate in set and costume design, lighting, sound, writing, and directing. Each of these roles is essential not only in producing entertaining and thought-provoking performances that the whole community enjoys, but in cultivating vital capacities – like technical production and project management, collaboration, self-confidence, responsibility, and perhaps above all, empathy – in young participants.

We’ve witnessed a dramatic increase in student participation in stage productions; last year more than 150 took part in the spring production of “Shrek” (compared to 100 just six years ago). Since 2013, Improv participation has doubled. At the school’s last Improv performance – just weeks prior to the coronavirus shutdown – the talented assemblage of “Improvites” barely fit on the stage of the school’s “black box” theater. Yet

We ask you to consider the tremendous good that was made possible from the last override, alongside the likelihood that – should this override fail to pass – we will face difficulty maintaining our current levels of funding for theater, music, and athletics.

Matt Cubstead and Caroline Light

the expanding numbers of student participants tell only part of the story of the benefits we reaped from the 2015 override. That vital funding contributed to the appointment of 33 teachers and staff, many of whom were appointed fulltime. Instead of having to juggle multiple part-time jobs, fulltime teachers can invest their energies where they are most needed: getting to know individual students, imagining and implementing new initiatives, collaborating with colleagues, and strengthening existing programs.

As we reflect with gratitude on what the last budget override achieved, we recognize that Belmont’s Theater program continues to do more with less. Our middle school currently lacks a theater teacher, making it difficult to support a high quality and inclusive program. And while the high school continues to “get by” with only one fulltime theater staff person, most comparable high school programs (taking into consideration number of students, number of shows, and scale of shows) have at least a part time technical director or facilities manager, and many have more than one theater teacher. Even as student interest grows, our resources have become stretched thin to the point where our levels of success and inclusion are not sustainable in the long term. Our Theater program is just one example where we lack the resources and professional personnel to imagine and implement the ways of improving our curricula and achieving excellence, since all energies are invested in just maintaining current levels of achievement for a growing population of students. 

2017’s musical Chicago, directed by Ezra Flam.

This year has been especially challenging for our students, as the pandemic extinguished so many social and enrichment opportunities, and our performing arts program came through to provide generative space for creativity and collaboration. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Mr. Flam, along with dance choreographer Jenny Lifson and pianist Jonathan Kessler, students were able to stage their highly popular annual Broadway Night with full on-line access. This involved the resourceful construction of an outdoor stage, including lighting, filming, and audio capacities. The school is preparing for a March production of Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale,” as well as a spring Improv show. 

As we look ahead to April 6, we are grateful for the town’s generous support in the last override, which made so many things possible for Belmont’s young performing artists. We recognize too that the past year has been economically challenging, and that this additional imposition on top of our existing property taxes comes at a difficult time. But we ask you to consider the tremendous good that was made possible from the last override, alongside the likelihood that – should this override fail to pass – we will face difficulty maintaining our current levels of funding for theater, music, and athletics. As our town’s population of school-age children has grown in the past decade, we hope we may continue to provide them with the range of transformative co-curricular learning opportunities that distinguish our community as a uniquely special place to call home.

Matt Cubstead and Caroline Light

Anelise Allen ‘18

Annie Baker ‘17

Conor Bean ‘16

Silke Berlinghof-Nielsen

Elizabeth Biondo ‘19

Nicholas Borelli ‘18

James Boyle ‘18

Lilikoi Bronson ‘18

Holly Chen

Jocelyn Cubstead ‘16

Miriam Cubstead ‘18

Julia Cunningham ‘18

Sonya Epstein ‘18

Ben Geiger

David Green ‘15

Hannah Haines ‘15

Jonathan Haines 

Marcia Haines 

Rebecca Haines ‘11

Sammy Haines ‘19

Seneca Hart ‘18

Eva Hill ‘18

Alison Hughes ‘18

Amelia Ickes ‘18

Sri Kaushik ‘19

David Korn ‘17

Josh Lowenstein

Joshua Lubarr

Lisa Lubarr

Sophia Lubarr ‘16

Raffi Manjikian ‘18

Natalie Marcus-Bauer ‘18

Alexander Nielson

Maerose Pepe ‘17

Hannah Pierce ‘20

Olivia Pierce ‘18

Greta Propp ‘18

Anjali Ramakrishnan ‘19

Samuel Rogers ‘18

Elizabeth Sattler ‘20

Rebecca Schwartz ‘18

Dillon Sheehan ‘18

Kathleen Sheehan

Kevin Sheehan

Jesse Souweine

Tess Stromberg ‘18

Georgia Sundahl ‘18

Maria Triccia

Evan Wagner ‘18

Bruce Westgate

Bruce Westgate, Jr. ‘18

Marilyn Westgate

Michelle Yan ‘17

Belmont Back In The Green As COVID Infection Rates Continue To Fall In Town, State and Nation

Photo: COVID update for Feb. 26

With positive cases of COVID-19 over the past week nearing single digits, Belmont has returned to the state’s green color designation on Feb. 26, according to data from the state’s Department of Public Health.

Only 14 new cases were reported in Belmont over a seven day period beginning on Feb. 19, the new case count over the past two weeks indicates an average daily incidence rate of 9.1 per 100,000, and a positivity percentage of 0.98 percent positivity.

Belmont has entered the state’s green designation for the first time since Nov. 26, 2020 with less than 10 average cases per 100,000 or less than 5% positivity, over the past two weeks.

Belmont has reported 997 cumulative confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the state began reporting the data. There have been a total of 78 COVID-19 related deaths in the town to date, all of which are confirmed by filed death certificates with the Town Clerk’s Office.

Belmont schools reported six new cases in the six public schools; two each at the High School and Wellington, one at the Chenery and another district wide.

Nationwide COVID-19 transmission continued to fall in the past week as new cases are down by 14 percent, while hospitalizations and deaths are down by 15.6 percent and 5 percent, according to the New York Times.