Photo: Belmont will soon have a press box at Harris Field: (from left) Jim Williams, Bill Webster, Bob McLaughlin, Rick Jones, Mark Paolillo and Sami Baghdady.
At Monday’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Dec. 12, Bob McLaughlin told the old chestnut of Winston Churchill speaking to graduates at a college commencement after WWII.
“He told them “Never, never, never, never, never, never, never give up,” said McLaughlin.
And when it came to getting a new press box at Belmont High’s Harris Field paid for, “Bill Webster is our Winston Churchill.”
Since 2001, Webster – a long time member of the Belmont Permanent Building Advisory Committee – has led the effort through some difficult times to where he and his team of volunteers gave a ceremonial “big” check of $75,000 to the Selectmen for the construction this spring of the long-sought-after amenity.
For a decade and a half, since 2001, a group of Belmont Boosters and interested residents attempted first to receive from the courts an exemption to the American with Disabilities Act – they never did – from building an expensive elevator to the top of the stands adjacent to the Skating Rink.
Then there was the challenge of raising the $150,000 needed to build the mechanism. Last year, an attempt at securing Community Preservation Act funds was turned down.
“It’s been a long, long road,” said McLaughlin. “But this year, the stars aligned.”
The town via Town Administrator David Kale, the support of the Capital Budget Committee and other left over athletic field funds provided $75,000 which would be released if the volunteers could match that amount.
McLaughlin praised Rick Jones – who was already instrumental in renovating the White Field House and the High School fitness center – who led the fundraising campaign which was supported by Belmont Savings Bank, the Brendan Grant Foundation, the Boosters and “lots and lots of great people” who contributed.
“This generous gift will allow us to move forward with this structure,” said Selectmen Chair Mark Paolillo.