7 p.m.: Welcome to the second night of the 155th edition of the Belmont Town Meeting here at the Belmont High School auditorium.
Tonight will see the – hopefully – the final night for non-budget articles.
First up is an update report on the “quaint” Belmont Center reconstruction being presented by Glenn Clancy, director of Community Development and Selectmen chair Andy Rojas. The days of doing nothing or just fixing the pavement is not what is needed, said Clancy.
The work, costing around $2.6 million, could be funded with a state grant, capital funds from the Cushing Square parking lot ($850,000) and the Woodfall Road payment (just north of $2 million), a debt exclusion, Chapter 90 fund, town reserves or existing pavement management funds, said Town Administrator David Kale. The town will come back at the fall Special Town Meeting on how to pay for it.
This presentation is the first volley by the town in the public campaign for funding.
7:35 p.m.: Long-term Town Meeting members are being honored. And Marty Cohen, 39 years of service, speaks before his colleagues on the differences from when he first came to the meeting in 1974 including that women now constitutes 50 percent of Town Meeeting. Speak loud and learn the rules, is his advice.
Dave Rogers, our active State Rep., is going over what’s happening on Beacon Hill impacting Belmont. There is largely good news with an increase in state aid for general government and schools along with special funding for energy efficient buildings.
7:50 p.m.: First up for debate and a vote tonight will be the two articles concerning the funding of the proposed new Underwood Pools complex scheduled to replace in June, 2015 the 102-year-old swimming “pond” adjacent to the Belmont Public Library at the corner of Concord Avenue.
Members will vote on a $2 million grant from the town’s Community Preservation Committee as well as allowing the town to borrow $2.9 million the town’s voters approved by 62 percent on Town Election on April 1.
Selectmen Chair Andy Rojas wants to give an update on some design changes after the April 1 vote. Rojas said that the design voters selected is a preliminary one so new revisions and changes can be made with a “more rigorous” process. This process could save money, but please note there will be more public comment on the pool. “Tell us what your thought are.”
Ann Paulsen, the Pool Building Chair, is presenting the history of the design process. She highlights that there were many meetings, multiple changes the committee made with other groups, and a design that has won the approval of the Underwood family. “This will keep a community amenity for the next 50 years.”
8 p.m.: “Let’s dive in,” said Underwood Pool Building Committee member Adam Dash – to a collective groan – who is reviewing the design and changes that will be made.
Much of what Dash is explaining has been reported in the Belmontonian, including a detail of the current design – a two pool complex (a “kiddy” pool and a more “adult” oriented one with laps and a diving pool) with updated bathhouses on both ends, greater green space, and a revamped parking lot design.
For more information, go to the Underwood Pool Building Committee Facebook page.
This is what people wanted to see [in the pool design]” said Dash.
Now for something different: the first image of the new design for the bath houses, on a more historic theme. With HIP roof, nice airy design, easy to clean and a “Belmont” feel. And the view from Concord Avenue is “inviting.”
Dash also explains how the money is coming from. “We got our monies worth out of the pool,” he said. Will he get a hand for his presentation? He does.
Questions? Jim Stanton, Pct. 1, asks why there is a historic preservation element in the CPA funding when the bath house is being razed? Floyd Carman, town treasurer and vice chair of the CPC, said the committee just doesn’t look at small bits of money but how it effects Belmont as a whole. Stanton, who said he will be voting for the pool, said the CPA is a “law” and it should be followed and is “not for us to decide the Belmont way” in interpreting the law. Paulsen then comes up and said that what is historic is that the site is the location of the first outdoor municipal pool in the country “and we are maintaining the site that is historic.”
Funny moment: Dash explaining why two pools: “If there is a child has an ‘accident’ in the kiddy pool, and let the record show that I am using air quotes when referring to ‘accident’,” to the laughter of the members.
The article is called and is passed with a single “no” vote.
8:44 p.m.: Now up is article 17 allowing the town to borrow $2.9 million from the town election. It will cost residents $48 but that will be offset by a $108 reduction with the expiration of the Chenery Middle School debt to considerable cheers.
The article is called and easily passes the 2/3 barrier to applause. The town officially has a new pool!
8:48 p.m.: Now up, CPA grants. You can approve or deny, said CPC chair Paul Solomon.
Five grants to be approved:
- $8,700 for the JV Field irrigation upgrade.
- $165,000 for the electrical upgrade at town-owned housing.
- $66,524 for phase 2 of the Butler Elementary playground project.
- $100,000 for the renovation of the Winn Brook field (Belmont Second Soccer)
- $375,000 for first-time homebuyer’s assistance (Belmont Housing Trust)
- $12,000 for the Belmont Community Moving Image Archive.