Library Building Committee Seeking To Use ‘The Ditch’ For Site’s Construction Staging

Photo: Lawn or ditch; the Library Building Committee wants to use the site as a staging area for the construction of the new library

The patch of sunken land adjacent to the Underwood Pool and Concord Avenue doesn’t have an official name attached to it. Some call it the Underwood Lawn, but it’s sort of an extended ditch.

In winter, the town fills the basin with water, and it’s used for outdoor skating like the ponds the old timers talk about. It gets pretty swampy in spring and summer after a couple of days of rain draining into the space. It’s principally where youngsters eat ice cream while taking a break from frolicking in the pool.

But to the building committee overseeing the construction of the $39.5 million, 42,000 sq.ft. new town library, that “ditch” is the perfect location to become the main staging area for the project, where tons of steel, building materials, and parking for the construction team.

During a project update before the Select Board, Clair Colburn, chair of the building committee, presented a first draft plan in which the land would be fenced off and prepared for construction and parking use – mostly layering the site with stones and gravel – then returning the land to its present state. In addition, the committee will make pains to protect the existing culvert that takes Wellington Brook from the library property, under the ditch and Concord Avenue, to Clay Pit Pond.

The committee is eyeing the site for staging and parking to keep down expenses. Colburn said if they can not use this location, the committee will be required to rent a warehouse to store the material and truck it in and out on an already congested Concord Avenue. Also, without dedicated parking, construction workers will take up scarce spaces on Concord and residential side streets.

“The best option is to keep it there,” said Colburn.

Just how receptive town officials, residents, and especially the adjacent neighbors will be to a supply location and five-days-a-week parking for one “pool season” – spring through fall of 2024 – is a request the committee knows will come with its own issues.

“We know this will be a hot-button issue for some people,” said Colburn.

And the Select Board is already asking if transforming the drainage ditch with a culvert is possible.

“Can you park cars there? Can you do that?” queried Select Board Chair Mark Paolillo, who will either deny or approve the ask with his two fellow members. Town Administrator Patrice Garvin said several town offices are “running all that down” to determine if it can be done safely.

An official request will come for town consideration as demolition of the current library and the construction of the new facility are scheduled to begin around the New Year, according to Building Committee Member Kathy Keohane, who joined Colburn before the committee. However, before that occurs, the committee will hold at least two public forums to discuss the project.

In other news of the new library, one of the significant architectural features that library proponents pointed to for the past three years is receiving a haircut. The impressive main stairs that would allow patrons to work, seat and ponder life’s questions as patrons moved between floors is no more. Not that it’s gone; it’s just been squeezed a bit with only three levels of seating and a more typical turn (to the right) to reach the second floor.

A Round Of Golf … In The Belmont Public Library? Come By On March 10, 11 For A Quick 18

Photo: Putt and Pints this weekend

New England winters are long and cold. Sometimes you just need something “new” to do. Well, the Friends of the Belmont Public Library has come up with just the solution as the non-profit is hosting a pair of mini golf event … indoors! That’s right, for two days in March, you can swing a golf club in the Belmont Public Library (the building IS coming down this fall). On top of the putting, there will be beer and snacks available on Friday!

As part of the Friends 50th Anniversary celebration, the non-profit support group of the library are offering two days of mini golf: Friday, March 10, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. for adults ($15) and Saturday, March 11, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for families and friends, all for free.

Whether you are a regular on the links, or have never swung a club, this weekend is for you. It’s likely you never had a round of golf in a library, put it on your calendar.

A Sleepy Special Town Meeting In Belmont As All Articles Pass By Wide Margins

Photo A view of the new Belmont Public Library that will open in the fall of 2025

No controversy, no post-11 p.m. debates, and no problems.

In an efficient and timely manner, Belmont’s town legislative representatives approved five articles by a wide margin at the Fall Special Town Meeting held over two nights, November 29-30.

Not that there was any foreseen trouble from articles that included a compromised agreement on the future use of leaf blowers, three “housekeeping” financial items, and the reaffirmation of the will of the voters who passed a debt exclusion to build a new town library.

On night one of ”the special,” the body heard a proposed general bylaw to ban gasoline-powered leaf blowers. The impetus for the new regs came after residents stuck at home during the Covid pandemic began complaining to the Select Board about the noise from multiple blowers used by landscape businesses at all daytime hours, including early weekend mornings.

While initial public meetings and Select Board discussions on a bylaw pitted those residents who wanted to limit the noisy and polluting machines and small landscaping businesses who saw the ordinance hurting their bottom line, and residents who find the blowers are far more efficient than picking up a rack.

A first attempt to bring a proposed bylaw to the annual Town Meeting was scrapped as the June warrant was oversubscribed, and the wording was less than ideal. During the summer, Select Board member Roy Epstein and members of the Warrant and Energy committees brought representatives of both sides – including landscape owner Dante Muzzioli – to hammer out a compromise, allowing landscapers to continue to use the equipment until a certain date.

“If you’ve read the bylaw, you’ll see it has several provisions that seem complicated, but the overall intent is actually quite straightforward,” Epstein told the meeting.

With both sides aligned with the fact that gas-driven blowers “produce wall penetrating noise and pollution that is incredible,” according to the Energy Committee’s Claus Becker, under the bylaw, ”in a few years all the leaf blowers in town will be a lot quieter and won’t be stinking up the neighborhoods.” Becker pointed out that communities across the country have established bans on gas blowers and that California – a trendsetter for the country – is banning the sale of this equipment in the next two years.

The Warrant Committee’s Geoff Lubien detailed the provisions in the new bylaw:

  • A ban on gasoline-powered leaf blowers starts in January 2026. The three-year” runway” for the end of gas blowers will correspond with technological improvements to electric-powered blowers, thus building a cushion to give homeowners time to switch. ”We feel this is a reasonable time horizon to give everyone to adjust,” said Lubien.
  • The Select Board will appoint an enforcing person. The property owner or property manager – not the operator – will be the responsible party when considering violations of the bylaw. Belmont Police Chief James McIssac believes the police should not be asking for identification from landscaping employees, many of who are undocumented workers. “I don’t want to put my officers in that situation. I don’t think that is the type of community we are,” said McIsaac.
  • A first violation will be a written warning; subsequent violations will see a citation issued.
  • Commercial landscape businesses will prohibit gas blowers at residential properties – single-family homes and condos and two to eight-unit multi-family – from May 13 to Sept. 30. ”Most noise complaints were coming from the dense residential areas,” said Lubian. The dates were chosen because grass and leave debris are the lightest and can be cleaned up with electrical blowers.
  • Commercial properties – town and public school-owned land, cemeteries, state property (such as Beaverbrook), MBTA property, churches, private schools, golf courses, and large apartment complexes such as Royal Belmont – were to be allowed to use blowers until 2026. An amendment to the article by John Robotham (Precinct 2) would add commercial properties to be added to the residential restrictions. While the amendment was not backed by the group or the Select Board, it narrowly passed by 124 to 114 with nine abstentions.
  • There will now be a limit on the number of blowers of any type used simultaneously on residential property; the number will be determined by the size of the lot. This provision will continue after gas blowers have been banned.

The debate of the amended article was lively regarding how effective the enforcement of the new bylaw will be, with a few members demanding from Epstein just how beneficial eliminating gas blowers would be to the environment and to residents hearing.

With the debate completed, the article passed 205 yes, 44 nos, and four abstentions.

On night two, Town Meeting was asked to authorize the borrowing of $34.5 million to demolish the existing building, create architectural drawings, and construct the new 42,000-square-foot structure on the current site. The library debt exclusion was passed by Belmont voters in the state election on Nov. 8 by a 1,800 vote margin.

The reason Town Meeting is required to vote on the debt exclusion that was approved by the voters is because each are “two different things, said George Hall, Belmont’s town counsel. Town Meeting is the appropriating authority to allow the town to borrow the $34.5 million while the voters approved that the principal and interest on the debt could be assessed as additional taxes over and above the level limit imposed by Prop 2 1/2. So both need to be passed to allow for the project to move forward.

The article’s presentation by Kathy Kethane, vice-chair of the Board of Library Trustees, and Clair Colburn of the Belmont Library Foundation noted that $5 million of the project’s total cost of $39.5 million would be paid for from fundraising.

With the feasibility study and schematic designs completed, the project calendar for the project is:

  • Starts immediately the design development phase in which the schematics design is refined; there will be public forums during this phase.
  • Construction documentation phase will come after the design development is complete.
  • There will be a competitive bid process for a construction firm to be hired when construction docs are complete.
  • Breaking ground will occur in the first quarter of 2024 with an 18-20 month construction period.
  • The grand opening of the new library will occur in the fall of 2025.

While most of the town meeting members expressed enthusiastic support for the article, a handful of members sought to convince their fellow legislators to spurn the will of the voters and reject the appropriation. Chief among of those members was Paul Looney (Precinct 7), who launched an 11th-hour campaign to defeat the debt exclusion. Looney did not curry the favor of the members when he suggested that most were not as informed as he was on the library’s impact to the town’s finances. (Precinct 7 voted 885 to 544 in favor of the library debt exclusion)

“Based on my personal conversation with well over 100 residents, I can tell you that non of them has a clue about the Collins’ report or the $8 million structural deficit projected for fiscal year 2024. Many are confused by what a structural deficit means. It’s easy to vote for something when you don’t know what may be lurking behind the curtin. I believe most voters fell in that catagory,” said Looney, who said library supporters used a campaign of “fear” that the current structure is a fire hazard.

Chris Grande (Precinct 1) said with the town’s current fiscal” position is “subobtionial and a plethora of other critical financial needs he would vote no. (Precinct 1 voted 901 to 594 in favor of the library). While “respecting” the large margin the library won in his own precinct and in town, Grande said the voters seemed “a bit out of touch” as there are budgetary issues that voters did to consider which he believes they didn’t when casting their ballots. They included contracts for public safety employees, the expenses of using an out-of-town rink due to the current ice skating rink breaking down, and an expected Prop 2 1/2 override in the next few years, and funding the town’s pension contribution.

“Interest rates are high. Inflation is high. We really can’t afford this,” he said in conclusion.

Most meeting members found the arguments from both Looney and Grande to be wanting. Adriana Poole (Precinct 1) said the article being voted on was not if Belmont voters were educated enough about the issues related to the library when they submitted their ballots on Nov. 8. “It’s about respecting the wishes of the voters. The trust they pit in us as their representatives to carry on this issue and finalize the project.”

Heather Brenhouse (Precinct 7) said “it’s dangerous to present our voters as being uneducated on these issues” as her interaction with residents found them to be informed and engaged in the debate. “We’re either going to be throwing good money after bad if we delay this project or we’re going to invest in our future like the voters have already voted for.”

The vote to approve the article comfortably received more than the 2/3 needed for passage: 228-27-8

On Tuesday, the special meeting was suspended to allow a special town meeting within the special town meeting – ”Special Town Meeting 2” – to vote on three financial articles which were seen as housekeeping

  • Article 1: Raise and appropriate $284,000 to add to the Fiscal Year ’23 Recreation Department budget. This was an example of having to spend money to make money: Since the easing of the Covid-19 restrictions, enrollment in Rec Department programs and sports has grown exponentially. The funds will allow the department to hold the programs this fiscal year, resulting in a spike in fee revenue. Passes 235-5-8.
  • Article 2: Reduce the town’s fiscal ’23 budget’s principal debt and interest line item from $15,778,851 to $15,243,002. This is an oops article; the town miscalculated its original budget.This technical change will lower taxes, so it passed 248-0-1.
  • Article 3: An off-cycle Community Preservation Committee appropriation; the committee approved a total of $266,300 to repair Town Hall’s slate roof. This has been an ongoing issue for the CPC.

Belmont Election Results: New Library Wins Big, Rink A No … For Now

Photo: The old and the new: The existing building and a rendering of the new structure.

Belmont voters gave a rounding “yes” to a new public library building as the debt exclusion to pay for the new structure passed by more than 1,800 votes on the Nov. 8 state election ballot. The final tally was 6,763 yes against 4,916 no votes.

The same voters narrowly defeated a separate debt exclusion for a new skating rink/athletic facility to replace the delipidated ‘Skip’ Viglirolo Rink. More than 300 votes defeated it; 5,613 yes to 5,978 no.

But rink supporters may get a second bite of the apple as at least one of the three Select Board members said the debt exclusion could be back before voters at the annual Town Election in April 2023.

The two debt exclusion questions increased interest in the election as nearly two-thirds of Belmont’s 18,187 registered voters cast 11,974 ballots in person or via mail.

Preliminary results for all state-wide races and the four ballot questions can be found on the Town Clerk’s website here

Due to changes in state law, the public got their first look at a new two-stage voting process. The first vote tally – a long tape with results posted at each of the eight precincts – was day-of-the-election voting. A substantial number of votes from early and mail-in voting were calculated after the polls closed.

When the eight precinct tallies were counted, the library inched ahead, with the rink holding a slim 17-vote lead. A dozen supporters and interested residents hovered around the second-floor vestibule of the Selectmen’s Room as Town Clerk Ellen Cushman announced the more complete but still preliminary results.

(Final results will be certified when remaining votes from overseas, military personnel, and mail-in ballots with postmarks of Nov. 8 and earlier are tabulated.)

The third time was a charm for the supporters of the new library after two failed attempts to bring debt exclusions before voters in the past two decades. The new building, designed by Oudens Ello Architecture, will be built on the library’s current location at 336 Concord Ave. to replace the existing 56-year-old structure.

“This a huge victory for Belmont to get this library passed,” said Paul Roberts, who is associated with the “Vote Yes Library” campaign and was active on social media platforms presenting facts on the library project. He praised the work of the Board of Library Trustees, trustee Kathy Keohane and Library Director Peter Struzziero for “keeping a new library and bringing it back again and again so that we could bring this across the line.”

“It’s going to be a treasure,” said Roberts of the new library.

The cost of the 41,500-square-foot building is $39.5 million, with at least $5 million of that price tag reduced by an aggressive fundraising campaign from the Belmont Library Foundation.

An 11th-hour campaign to defeat the debt exclusion vote did not catch traction with the broader community.

What helped get the new library project to perform so well was its time before the community. The campaign began in 2017 with dozens of public meetings and forums over the past five years to review programming, design, and financing. The committee spent two years evaluating the current library’s building infrastructure and usage data, interviewing library staff and patrons, conducting wide-reaching community surveys, facilitating focus groups, meeting with community members, town organizations, and other key stakeholders, and holding multiple community forums, according to the trustees.

“[The library project] was very well known. Everyone who heard about the new building knew something about it,” said Roberts.

From treasure to disgrace

The defeat of the new rink proposal was surprising because there was no organized opposition. Of the two projects, the rink requires replacement, with the structure’s infrastructure and interior in dire condition.

Reactions from rink supporters to the vote were a mix of exasperation and despondency.

“It’s going to cost the town (an additional) $250,000 a year to field four high schools [hockey] teams,” said Mark Haley, chair of the Municipal Skating Rink Building Committee, after the vote was announced. “That’s a disgrace. This is disgusting.”

If the library proposal could be described as a marathon taking several years to present the plan to the public, the rink project was a sprint, having five months to finalize the design and finances and holding a handful of meetings with the public.

But Cheryl Grace, who headed the “Yes For Rink” committee, didn’t believe the project needed additional time before what was a large number of residents who were reluctant to support the proposal.

“There were a lot of people who were saying, ‘it’s not used by many people, so why should we put our money as a town into something that a small group uses’ and there’s nothing we can do to convince them. Time wouldn’t change those opinions,” Grace said.

What hampered the rink proposal was being on the same ballot as the library debt exclusion.

“I think the decision to put both of these (questions) on the ballot created some complexity, and clearly, there were voters who chose one and not both,” said Roberts. “Clearly, there were voters who said, ‘I can support one of these, I can’t support both of them’.”

And finally, there was the question of voter exhaustion, according to Lucinda Zuniga of the Belmont Youth Hockey Association.

“I think there’s fatigue from all the other projects, from the library, Middle and High School, police station, DPW, and the rest. And we were the last capital project remaining,” she said.

But as the sting of defeat was felt by supporters, a ray of hope that the proposal could be resurrected was provided by Belmont Select Board Chair Mark Paolillo who was in attendance at Town Hall.

“I think you have to think about [putting the rink back before the voters] long and hard, but it’s so close that it’s a split vote in town,” said Paolillo as Town Hall cleared out.

Paolillo said once the final tally in late November is certified and if the margin remains at 300 votes, “it’s pretty much a tie,” he said, noting that the Select Board – which placed the two debt exclusions on the same ballot – will need to talk to Town Moderator Mike Widmer to see if the Rink Building Committee can continue “for now.”

“So perhaps we go back out in the spring and continue to educate the residents about the need,” said Paolillo. “Clearly, we need a new building.

Letter To The Editor: It’s Well Past Time To Build A New Town Library

Photo: What the new Belmont Public Library will look like if the debt exclusion passes

To the editor:

We’re long-time residents of Belmont and heartily support the Library and the Rink projects.

When we were finally able to afford a modest Belmont house, we moved here for the fine schools (by reputation) and the “well-managed” Town. We soon found out that “well-managed” meant the Town wasn’t spending money on infrastructure or materials. We were shocked to find that the Burbank School
had cracked and lifting asbestos tiles, water-damaged and crumbling plaster walls, rickety and failing windows, faulty plumbing, very dated mechanical systems, lack of educational materials and equipment, etc. etc. The Burbank was in worse shape than the old 1920 elementary school I first attended in the 1950’s, right before it was replaced. Fortunately, the Burbank staff was superb and creative. Small classes after kindergarten were great for the students!

And fortunately for the Town, gradually over the last 46 years most of the neglected Town buildings have been renovated or replaced. But not the Library. The deterioration we found in Burbank in 1979 can be seen in the Library today. The director can do only so much to upgrade the interior, but the structure isn’t sound. It’s time to rebuild.

Our family spent good times in the Children’s Room with Joyce. She, as well as the welcoming staff, gave all of the kids special attention. There were always good activities and programs. Free passes to various museums helped our budget. When they were older, the kids depended on the library for Young Adult fiction and reference materials. We have borrowed videos, audiobooks, periodicals, new books, and old. We’ve attended Library classes and special events. The Library was and is a central part of our Belmont lives. And when my parents retired to Belmont, the Library became my mother’s (a retired librarian) favorite, too. She loved the selection in the collection!

The Library is so much more today – I hope everyone knows how many more offerings are available these days – for free!

The time is right. We have substantial donations toward a new building.

Please support the new Library.

Nancy Davis
Emerson Street

Library Friends Annual Book Sale Has Returned Indoors; Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22-23

Photo: The annual Belmont Library book sale is indoors once again

The Friends of the Belmont Public Library’s annual Book Sale is back indoors after last year’s alfresco event. So come check out all the great, new-to-you titles.

The sale will take place on Saturday, Oct. 22 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 23 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Assembly and Flett rooms of the Belmont Public Library, 336 Concord Ave.

The sale’s proceeds allow the Friends to purchase museum memberships, bring authors and demonstrations to the library while adding to the technology available to all patrons.

Opinion: A New Library Is A Building Block Of The Commonwealth of Belmont

Photo: An aerial view of the schematic design of the proposed Belmont Public Library (credit: Oudens Ello Architecture)

By Mary Lewis

In 1980, Massachusetts passed Proposition 2 ½, a measure limiting increases on property taxes in municipalities to 2.5 percent per year. This ballot initiative was one of a string of similar laws inspired by California’s much more draconian Proposition 13. The story of what happened to public services in my home state of California offers lessons for Belmont as it faces crucial funding choices on Nov. 8.

I grew up in California in the 1970s and 1980s, and I can clearly remember the Prop 13 before and after. The biggest impact was on schools. But many other public services, from parks and pools to recreation centers and libraries were also affected. Before Prop. 13, I could walk to a branch library. Afterwards, it closed for good. Today, a private fitness studio occupies the building once filled with kids listening to story hour. I learned something from that experience: once the funding for a public building or service is taken away, it usually doesn’t come back.

Fortunately, Massachusetts’ Proposition 2 ½, although drawing on a similar desire to rein in taxation, had the wisdom to allow municipalities to pass debt exclusions, which allow adjustments to property taxes for fixed periods of time in order to fund capital expenditures like libraries.

We live in a Commonwealth – a term that literally means what is shared and beneficial for the members of a given community. It was in Massachusetts that the building believed to house the oldest public library in the United States was built. Belmont is the heir to that public library tradition. Our library ranks in the top ten of towns and cities for highest circulation per opening hour across the Commonwealth, and is a social center for our town. That statistic means we are in the same company as cities like Cambridge, Boston, and Quincy despite being a small town. But our library building is at the end of its life. Its systems are failing, and it would be irresponsible to try to fix these with band aids, only to watch them fail again – throwing away our tax dollars. Instead, we need a building that can last.

The new plan for the library includes not only traditional library services, but envisions what a 21st century library needs to be: a place to borrow books, of course, but also a place where job-seekers can have secure internet, or book a room for a Zoom interview. A site for hosting talks for the whole community. And yes, in the 21st century, it can and must be a site where people needing wheelchairs can finally make it to the main floor, in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed more than 30 years ago and with which our library is not compliant.

Library use rates aren’t just statistics; they’re an experience – yours, your child’s, or your grandchild’s. And when libraries close, it’s that experience that is gone: story hours lost, books unborrowed, community meetings not held, and stable internet access untapped for those who don’t have it at home. Make no mistake, if we have to shut our library, we will violate state certification rules, and there’s no guarantee neighboring towns will let us use their libraries under such circumstances. The Minuteman Library Network requires viable libraries that give into the system, not just take. Decertification has happened before. We cannot let it happen to us.

Libraries, schools, community centers, recreational facilities, and parks. These are the building blocks of the common good – the Commonwealth of Belmont. Let us renew our commitment to community, and let it thrive. The Commonwealth spirit is alive and well in Belmont: the cost of this new library is being partly offset by the largest private fundraising drive in Belmont history, pledges we will lose if we don’t pass a debt exclusion to commit public funding for the rest. Please join me in voting Yes on Question 5.  You can vote early at Town Hall. Or you can go to your polling place on November 8.  You can still register to vote until Oct. 29. Vote for the common good, the Commonwealth of Belmont.

Mary Lewis is a Town Meeting Member from Precinct 1.

One Book One Belmont Author Susan Orlean Keynote Address Wednesday, Oct 12 at 7PM

Photo: Susan Orlean

Author Susan Orlean will give the keynote speech on her work, the New York Times bestseller, The Library Book, as part of this year’s One Book One Belmont on Wednesday, Oct. 12 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The hybrid event will take place on line or live at a viewing party held at the Beech Street Center.

Registration is required for the Zoom link; register here. People can also attend the event at the viewing party held at the Beech Street Center.

Orlean’s bestseller, The Library Book, is an exploration of the history, power, and future of these endangered institutions, told through the lens of Orlean’s quest to solve a notorious cold case: who set fire to the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986, ultimately destroying 400,000 books? Writing in The Washington Post, Ron Charles urged “Everybody who loves books should check out The Library Book…. You can’t help but finish The Library Book and feel grateful that these marvelous places belong to us all.”

It was named one of both The New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2018, The Washington Post’s Best Books of 2018, and was awarded the California Book Award and Marfield Prize for Arts Writing. Orlean will adapt The Library Book for a forthcoming series with Paramount TV.

Those attending can request a copy of the book here. The audiobook can be requested here.

Thanks to the Newton Free Library, the Friends of the Belmont Public Library and community co-sponsors who make this amazing series of events possible.

Town Opens Belmont Library As Cooling Center During Weekend Heat Wave

Photo: The Belmont Public Library will be a cooling center over the weekend

Due to the current period of high heat and humidity, the Belmont Public Library at 336 Concord Ave. will open as a Cooling Center over the next few days, according to a release from the town.

The hours will be as follows: 

  • Friday Aug. 5: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday Aug. 6: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sunday Aug. 7: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“We encourage everyone to stay cool and hydrated,” said the release. “We ask you to check on elderly friends and neighbors, and others who may need help, during this period of high heat and humidity.”  

Letter To The Editor: Fundraising For New Library Hits $5 Million Mark

To the editor:

We are excited to announce that the Belmont Library Building Project has received an historic $2 million grant intention from the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation, bringing fundraising for a new library building to a milestone moment: $5 million and counting.

The $2 million grant intention for the new library building from the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation is unprecedented for the Foundation, the Town of Belmont, and of course, the Belmont Public Library Building Project. For the past 11 years, the Belmont Savings Bank Foundation has supported important charitable purposes that significantly impact the Belmont community, including education and literacy, athletics and arts, food security, playgrounds, and the Underwood Pool. With the $2 million grant intention, contingent on a debt exclusion, the Foundation will create a lasting legacy through the Belmont Public Library that will improve life for Belmont residents.

Fundraising totals for the Library Building Project have now crossed the $5 million milestone and continue to grow. The fundraising team from the non-profit Belmont Library Foundation has created an inclusive fundraising effort that encourages participation at whatever level is appropriate for each donor, and the community has responded. More than 850 people and organizations have made contributions and pledges ranging from $1 to $2 million

Private donations are a crucial component of funding for the Belmont Library Building Project. The $5 million in available funds and pledges – restricted for the construction of a new library building – will offset the amount of public funding required for the project and reduce the financial impact on Belmont residents. To learn more about making a donation for the new library building and recognition opportunities, visit www.newlibraryfund.org.

The Library Building Project took another notable step forward last week when the Belmont Select Board voted to include a debt exclusion vote for the new library building on the Nov. 8 election ballot. The serious issues with the old library building make it imperative that the project move forward as soon as possible, and the Select Board’s endorsement of the project and action to send it to Belmont voters reflect the urgent need to replace the building. The debt exclusion is the next big step to achieve the greenlight for the project. For more information about the Belmont Library Building Project, please visit www.belmontlibraryfoundation.org.

We want to thank Belmont residents and organizations for their commitment to building a new library for our community. Together we have come far, and with these funding milestones, we are closer to making the new library the reality for Belmont.

Kathy Keohane, vice-chair, Belmont Board of Library Trustees
Marcie Schorr Hirsch, president, Belmont Library Foundation