Belmont’s Beth El One Of Several Bay State, US Synagogues Targeted With Bomb Threat

Photo: Beth El Temple Center in Belmont

Belmont’s Beth El Temple Center was one of several synagogues in Massachusetts and more than 100 across the country that received bomb threats on Sunday, Dec. 17.

“I am following up on my earlier message regarding the bomb threat to the temple building, which prompted us to close this morning,” said Rachael Fagin, president of the Temple Center, building this m in an email to the congregation sent Sunday, Dec. 17. 

Belmont and Cambridge police, including a K-9 unit, searched the building and found no threat, according to Fagin. “Law enforcement has confirmed this to be a hoax.”

“We continue to be grateful for the attention and support of local and state law enforcement. There will be an increased presence from the Belmont Police Department this afternoon,” said Fagin.

Beth El was one of many Jewish religious and cultural centers that were targeted on Sunday, a day after Hannuakka ended.

According to a statement from the Massachusetts State Police, a Jewish community center in Framingham, a Jewish cultural center in Tisbury, and a synagogue in Florence received email threats. At the same time, a bomb squad swept a Natick synagogue in advance of an event, though there was no threat.

“Hundreds of similar threats have been received by Jewish institutions across the United States this weekend,” stated the state police.

Physical acts of vandalism of Jewish institutions and religious centers are occurring. A menorah at the Framingham Centre Common Cultural District was toppled, and a sign voicing support for Israel was taken on Saturday, Dec. 16, according to Framingham law enforcement, which is investigating the incident as a potential hate crime. 

Two New Belmont Police Officers Sworn In

Photo: (from left) Town Clerk Ellen Cushman, Belmont Police Officers Brian Conneely, Evan Nichols, Belmont Chief Richard McLaughlin.

New Belmont Police Officers Brian Conneely and Evan Nichols were sworn in by Belmont Town Clerk Ellen O’Brien Cushman at a ceremony held in the Board of Selectmen’s room at Town Hall on Friday Dec. 21.

On Thursday Dec. 20, Belmont Police Chief Richard McLaughlin along with command staff attended the graduation ceremony for the Conneely and Nichols graduated from the Randolph Regional Police Academy 8th R.O.C. on Dec. 20 after a 21-week intensive academy program hosted by the Randolph Police Academy.

The new officers are pictured with McLaughlin and Cushman.


Resident Dies Of Injuries After Pedestrian/Vehicle Accident

Photo: Sachi Thanawala (Belmont Manor website)

A 39-year-old Sycamore Street resident who was struck by a van and injured Tuesday walking in a crosswalk a few feet from her house died Thursday, August 30, according to official reports released on Friday.

Sachi Thanawala, 39, died at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where he was taken after being hit by a 2015 Ford Transit commercial van at the intersection of Lexington and Sycamore street at approximately 8:25 a.m.

The mother of two, Thanawala was the Director of Rehabilitation at Belmont Manor since March of 2016. She was an occupational therapist with 12 years of clinical and management experience in Geriatric care, according to Belmont Manor, a nursing and rehabilitation home located on Agassiz Avenue, a few blocks from the accident scene.

The driver of the van has not been charged with any traffic violation or crime in connection with the incident. An investigation by Belmont and State Police is ongoing. Belmont Police said there was no sign of driver impairment at the time of the accident.

Town Settles With Superior Officers, Only Dispatchers Without Contract

Photo: Superiors officers settle, now it’s up to the dispatchers union to sign on the dotted line.

The Belmont Board of Selectmen voted Monday, Aug. 22 approving a three-year deal – from July 2014 to June 2017 – between the eight members of the Belmont Police Superior Officers Union and the town.

The agreement, negotiated by Belmont’s Human Resources Director Jessica Porter, means only the Dispatcher’s Union remain without a current contract among the town’s unions.

The contract’s highlights include:

  • An annual two percent cost-of-living-adjustment which is consistent with other town/union contracts.
  • While not random testing, the union agreed to drug and alcohol testing “based upon reasonable suspicion.” 
  • Newly hired/promoted superior officers as of July 1, will see their health insurance contribution rate go up from 20 percent to 25 percent in exchange for a 25 cents an hour increase n hourly pay. 
  • A “nominal” increase to established stipends will be paid to superior officers serving in special assignments which include as a prosecuting officer, community services officer in command and the department’s two detective positions. 

Belmont Police Unveil Traffic/Parking Plan for PGA Tournament

Photo: Belmont Police Capt. Peter Hoerr talking with a resident during a public meeting,

When suggesting what residents in and around Winter Street can do to assist police when a PGA golf tournament come to the Belmont Country Club next month, Belmont Police Assistant Chief James MacIsaac said that week might be “a good time to open the summer house and go to the Cape,” to chuckles in the room. 

The good natured quip to the 15 residents who attended the community meeting at the Belmont Hill School on Thursday, May 14, spoke volumes about some of the challenges facing homeowners in what is being called “the triangle” of streets and roads adjacent the club and Marsh and Winter streets beginning Tuesday, June 9 and lasting (weather permitting) until Sunday, June 14, when 8,000 people will descend daily on Belmont attending the PGA Tour Constellation Senior Championship.  

“There are a lot of moving parts in this plan and along the way there has been challenges for the PGA to do the plan correctly,” said Belmont Police Chief Richard McLaughlin to the residents.

“So I want to know your concerns and we’ll work to alleviate those [issues],” McLaughlin said. 

The most significant of the week-long change will be the closure of Winter Street, a main thoroughfare from Belmont into and out of Lexington and Route 2. The street, according to BPD Capt. Peter Hoerr (who has been coordinating the effort between the town and suppliers), will be closed from:

  • Tuesday, June 9 – 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. 
  • Wednesday, June 10 – 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 11 – 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, June 12 – 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 13 – 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, June 14 – 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Closing Winter Street will also result in the popular Route 2 Exit 56 East to be shut down, with traffic being directed to use Exit 55 onto Pleasant Street in Lexington. This detour will result in traffic that usually travels on Winter will shift over to Concord Avenue. 

In addition to Winter, Marsh Street will be closed to non-residential motorists who are looking for Winter, Route 2, Lexington or Concord and Robinwood Road will be posted “Do Not Enter” at Concord Avenue. Hough Road residents will also be impacted.

While there will be restrictions to through traffic, residents in the impacted area will still be able to get to their homes by flashing a Mass Driver’s License with the current address visible.

“Residents will have easy access to their homes,” said Hoerr, who added that the department is developing a system of visitor passes for residents to have guests during the tournament. 

During the tournament, there will also be temporary “no parking” restrictions on the following streets:

  • Concord Avenue
  • Country Club Lane
  • Dundonald Road
  • Greenbrook Way
  • Grey Birch Park
  • Greybirch Circle
  • Hough Road
  • Marsh Street (between Concord Avenue and Country Club Lane)
  • Partridge Lane 
  • Rayburn Road
  • Robinwood Road
  • Winter Street 

Ticketholders will park at Bentley College in Waltham and arrive at the tournament via shuttle bus. Volunteers who need to park will be picked up at Minuteman Regional High School in Lexington. VIP and players parking will be at the club and at St Camillus in Arlington. There will also be shuttle buses from Alewife station.

Road Closures, No Parking Areas For Sunday’s Scharfman Run

While it’s nothing to the extent of what Newton residents deal with on Marathon Monday, this coming Sunday morning, Oct. 5 beginning at 9:30 a.m., several Belmont roads will be briefly closed while runners take over the streets for the second annual Dan Scharfman Memorial Run.

The Memorial Run takes a scenic route from the Belmont High School track at Harris Field past the town’s schools, Payson Park Reservoir and Clay Pond.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 1.39.40 PM

The following road closings will occur on October 5 to ensure the safety of participants:

  • 6 a.m. – 12 p.m.: No Parking on east/west side of Concord Avenue between Cottage and Bright avenues;
  • 6 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.: No Parking on Goden Street between School Street and Concord Avenue;
  • 9:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.: School Street closed between Orchard and Philip Road;
  • 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.: No exit onto Oakley from Selwyn and Hurd;
  • 10:45 a.m. – 11 a.m.: Concord Ave West Bound closed between Underwood and Goden – two-way traffic on Concord Ave East Bound;
  • Between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.: Drivers should be aware of runners on the 5K course (Concord Ave / Orchard Road / Stone Road / School Street / Philip / Elisabeth Road / Jacob / Payson / Oakley / Goden / Concord / Underwood); and
  • Between 10:45 a.m. and 11 a.m.: Concord Ave East bound will have two-way traffic between Underwood and Goden. Concord Ave West bound is shut for the 1-mile race.

The Foundation for Belmont Education thanks the residents of Belmont and the Belmont Police Department for their support of the Scharfman Memorial Run and appreciates the community’s understanding of the disruption in normal traffic patterns.

Online registration is available at the FBE website, through Sunday. Interested participants can also register the day of the race.

In 2013, the Memorial Run raised $20,000. Those proceeds allowed the FBE to fund new programs across all six schools in the Belmont Public School system to give educators and students the best tools, technology and training that foster innovation and love of learning.