Private To Public: Belmont Adding A Circle To Its Streets

Photo: Carleton Circle will soon move from a private way to a public road.

It’s been so long since the town of Belmont took ownership of a private street that Town Engineer Glenn Clancy can’t recall the last time it’s happened.

So next month’s Special Town Meeting will have a unique opportunity to approve the town’s taking of Carleton Circle, a 455 foot private through-way connecting Common and Washington streets.

“This is a rarity that something like this happens,” said the Select Board’s Adam Dash.

“A public road would mean that it would be cared for and maintained by the town,” said Patrice Garvin, Belmont’s town administrator.

That doesn’t mean the town hadn’t had some involvement in the current road’s upkeep. Private roads are plowed for snow and some patching is done by the town’s Highway Division, according to Garvin. But significant improvements is the responsibility of the owners which are the homeowners that abut the roadway.

Why private to public is such an anomaly is due to two major factors. First, all property owners must agree to the taking. And second, the roadway must be meet the “standards of a public way” in terms of road surface and if it has the necessary width, which in nearly all cases requires the abutters to come up with a significant amount of coin to reach that milestone.

“We don’t want to inherent any problems,” said Clancy.

In the case of Carleton Circle, one advantage is there are only nine abutters to the road, a small enough number that led to a successful outcome.

There have been initial attempts since 2000 to turn a few of the several private roads on Belmont Hill into public ways. But with between 50 to nearly 200 homeowners, it quickly became evident to campaigners they could never achieve an unanimously vote on those roads.

“We’ve been working with other people and other streets and it’s been very frustrating because you’ve got some holdouts who just won’t do it and it’s private property … so we can’t afford to go in and take this if people aren’t going to go along,” said Dash.

But just as important, the owners had the advantage of having the street recently repaved for free. During National Grid’s two year long improvements to the infrastructure under Common Street, the neighbors allowed a portion of the road to be a staging area for construction equipment. As part of the contract, the multinational utility agreed to repave the potholed asphalt surface at no cost.

Usually, the expense to homeowners of a private way to reach the public standard is significant and requires the abutters to seek a betterment assessment, a special property tax that lasts for 10 to 15 years in which the property receives a special benefit or advantage from the construction of a public improvement such as a new roadway.

But for the homeowners along Carleton Circle, the National Grid paving job “significantly helped” the road to reach the town’s pubic way standards, said Garvin.

“The most expensive element in a road project is the roadway itself. And because we were able to work with National Grid … it took the cost of asphalt in the road off the table,” said Clancy.

With much of the potential price tag reduced, the owners petitioned the town to make their street a public way. The town determined that a minimum amount of sidewalk maintenance and tree work would address the town’s remaining concerns. The owners anted up about $1,400 each and all signed a waiver to allow the road’s ownership to be passed over to the town.

A warrant article with an adopted layout of the street created by the Board of Surveyors was approved by the Select Board in early August.

New Rules For Wintertime Trash/Recycling Pickup

Photo: Not the way to leave your trash. (

As wintertime ice and snow begins to pile up on sidewalks and roadways, the Highway Division of the Belmont Department of Public Works want to inform homeowners and businesses of some simple rules that will allow for efficient removal of trash and recycling over the next few months.

  • During the winter if there is snow and/or large snowbanks please park on one side of the road. This will allow the trash and recycling trucks to maneuver streets quickly and not become blocked. The DPW has called the Belmont Police to certain addresses to assist with on street parking.
  • Do not placed carts on snowbanks.
  • Carts must have lids closed and placed in front of snowbanks.
  • The trucks can’t reach the cart if it is on or behind the snowbank. The carts can be placed on the street in front of snowbanks after plowing has ended. This means carts should be set out the morning of pick-up before 7 a.m.
  • Do not leave carts out overnight during a snow storm.

Got questions? Call the DPW at 617-993-2680.

Mack Truck Takes A Pleasant Street Tumble, Halting AM Traffic Into Center

Photo: Speed may have been a factor in the one-vehicle accident near Belmont Center on Thursday, Aug. 25.

Late morning traffic came to a halt at one of the busiest town intersection when a dump truck carrying gravel took a tumble sometime before 8:30 a.m. at the corner of Pleasant and Leonard streets, on Thursday, Aug. 25.

No injuries were reported in the one-vehicle accident that shut down the busy intersection for nearly three hours as it took two heavy duty tow trucks to right the rig.

According to an eyewitness, speed was possibly the culprit leading up to the mishap. The Mack truck operated by Ritacco Bros. of Millbury was traveling down the steep slope of Clifton Street attempting to make the right hand turn onto Pleasant Street. Apparently, the truck was going too fast to navigate the corner and tipped onto its driver’s side.

Belmont Fire quickly arrived at the scene – the accident location is one block from the Leonard Street firehouse – and police closed to traffic on Pleasant in both directions.

Waltham Auto Tow arrived and successfully righted the truck at 10:10 a.m. Belmont Public Works’ Highway Division removed the gravel and inspected the roadway. The streets were opened about an hour later.

Belmont Police said any citations for possible traffic violations leading up to the accident would be issued once a formal investigation is completed by the department’s Traffic Division.

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The Aftermath: How to Get Rid of All That Holiday Cardboard in Belmont

Now that all your holiday presents are unwrapped, the Highway Division of the Belmont Public Works Department asks that residents recycle all of their cardboard in the following way:

  • All boxes must be flattened with a dimension smaller than 3 feet by three feet (3’X3′) about the size of your average four year old.
  • The cardboard must be cut, not folded, to make the above measurement.
  • If you have a great deal of cardboard, tie or tape them in stacks not higher than nine inches wide. Residents can leave an unlimited number of stacks for pickup.