Select Board OKs RePrecincting; Changes To Four Precincts Will Impact Town Meeting Terms

Photo: Town Clerk Ellen Cushman presenting the town’s reprecincting draft before the Select Board

The Belmont Select Board approved a new town precinct map at a special meeting Monday, Oct. 25 resulting in half of the town’s residents with new boundaries for the next town election.

“The point of reprecincting is to balance our population amongst our eight precincts and we will balance the representation of our Town Meeting members,” said Town Clerk Ellen Cushman who heads the town’s Reprecincting Team.

The map and the board’s vote will now go to the state for final acceptance, said Cushman. The new map will go into effect on Dec. 31 and will be used in the 2022 annual Town Election in April.

The changes to four of the town’s eight precinct is in response to 10 percent increase in residents since the 2020 census, now at 27,295. Three precincts – precincts 8, 1 and 6 – will see significant changes while precinct 2 will see a minor addition of a few census blocks. After the rearrangement, each precinct will represent approximately 3,400 residents.

More information on reprecincting can be found here.

The changes will result in all Town Meeting Member positions in the altered precincts to be vacant with 36 open seats for candidates to contend over this coming April. The terms for each of the 36 successful candidates will be determined by a “first across the line” distribution: The first 12 will serve three-year terms, the second 12 serving two years on Town Meeting and the final 12 will have a one-year term.

After consulting with Town Counsel, Cushman said current Members will be considered a candidate for re-election, which will free them from collecting signatures on nomination papers.

The board’s action will not effect the student school districts or zoning areas, said Cushman.

“Wouldn’t it be nice that any redistricting throughout the country was done in such a wonderful, thoughtful and objective way which is not the case,” said Select Board member Mark Paolillo.

Select Board Approves Vaccine Mandate For Belmont Town Workers

Photo: Vaccination is a requirement for town employees

The Belmont Select Board voted unanimously Monday night, Oct. 18 to mandate all town employees to be vaccinated for Covid-19.

But the requirement will likely take at least a month, if not longer, before it goes into effect as the town must complete impact bargaining with the seven labor unions representing the 300 full- and part-time municipal employees. During those talks, it will be determined what administration action will be taken against workers who remain unvaccinated.

“This is a public health emergency,” said Select Board Chair Adam Dash before the vote. “I think [the board] need[s] to stand strong and do the right thing.”

“The goal here is for people to get vaccinated and stay employed. They’ve sacrificed quite a lot in their lives to [be in public service] and this is one of those things for the greater good,” Dash said.

The town mandate comes after the Belmont School Committee approved an agreement on Sept. 10 with the Belmont Education Association to require teachers and school staff to be vaccinated.

Spurring the board’s vote was the lastest data on Covid-19 infection rates in Belmont. Data (see at the bottom of the article) compiled by Public Heath Agent Lindsey Sharp showed higher 2021 infection rates than in the same month in 2020. For instance, while there were 11 new cases in August 2020, Belmont recorded 96 in 2021. And since June of this year, Belmont has seen 233 new cases, with nearly half being breakthrough cases occurring to residents who are fully vaccinated.

Sharp said the surge in the past few months are likely related to the highly virulent delta variant of the virus and the reopening of schools and businesses during the summer and fall. “There’s just more people out and about doing activities, traveling,” said Sharp.

In a voluntary survey of employees conducted by the town’s Human Resources Director Shawna Healey, a little more than a third participated of whom all said they have received at least one shot of the Covid-19 vaccine. The town’s Labor Counsel Brian Maser told the board it could require the other employees to provide their vaccination status by exercising its managerial prerogative as part of a vaccination mandate.

But even if the board went that route, “what does that get us?” said the Board’s Mark Paolillo. If, for example, 80 percent of employees are vaccinated, “what do we do with the other 20 percent?”

“I hate to mandate anything but these employees work for the town and we have to consider the safety of our residents,” said Paolillo. Saying there has been “chatter” on Facebook that the board is seeking to control worker’s lives, Paolillo “we’re just trying to protect the public.”

Vice chair Roy Epstein suggested a possible two track approach used at health sites such as the Boston Medical Center in which unvaccinated employees are required to be tested once or twice a week if they choose not to comply with notification requirements or outright refusal. But Paolillo countered that while religious or medical exemptions can be part of the measure, the board needed to take a strong stance on vaccinations.

“I just don’t think halfway [measures] helps anything. It’s either fully mandate or you don’t,” said Paolillo who backed Dash’s amendment.

The most notable of public comment came from resident Joseph Kelly who has questioned the vaccine mandates in Belmont at other venues, saying “there are a lot of things, short term and long term, that we don’t understand yet“ about the Covid vaccine, citing side effects to young recipients and a myriad of other issues. He also noted what he called the “Nuremberg Code” that he said that a person cannot be forced or coerced to be part of this “medical experiment” which, if the employee mandate is passed, would result in a person losing their job.

[Editor’s note: USA Today has produced a fact sheet on the Nuremberg Code and the misinterpretation of its main tenant.]

One area the board expressed concern was what to do with employees who flatly refuse taking the vaccine after an agreement is approved. While not wanting to fire an employee, Maser told the board it can follow the state’s mandate for its executive branch employees. Those who do not comply by a specific date would be placed “on leave” status when they would be required to use their accrued benefits charge, basically their holiday and other time off. When that is expired, those employees are not meeting the condition of employment and faces progressive discipline and ultimately termination.

Town Administrator Patrice Garvin said the practical issue facing the town is negotiating with seven unions who will could have different demands or requirements before signing an agreement with the town. Maser advised the board not to set a date certain that is at least four weeks from the vote for the mandate to take effect. It was agreed that after informing the unions of the vote on Tuesday, the board will meet in executive session next week with Garvin, Healy and Maser to discuss strategy relative to what the town’s proposal to bring to the bargaining table.

Trustees Want Residents To Take A Tour Sunday Through Belmont’s ‘Failing’ Library [Video]

Photo: Deteriorating infrastructure at the Belmont Public Library

On Oct. 4, the Belmont Select Board and Board of Library Trustees agreed a solution is needed for the failing library building. The constant failures – big and small – in critical library building systems are urgent, according to the Trustees; floods, leaks, electrical issues, an antiquated fire alarm system, and unreliable heating, air conditioning and elevators have put the building in a dire situation.

On Sunday, Oct. 17, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Belmont residents can take one of two tours of the inner workings of the library and see the condition of the building.

INDOOR OPTION: Take a small group guided tour to see the failing parts of the library building.

OUTDOOR OPTION: The committee has recreated the tour experience outdoors, using posters, video, and knowledgeable guides to walk through.

The tours are led by members of the Board of Library Trustees, Library Building Committee, and Library staff.

For more information, visit www.NewLibraryFund.org

On The Move: Half Of Belmont’s Precinct Will See Changes As Part Of Census Reprecincting

Photo: The proposed new precinct map of Belmont for 2022.

A boost of population from a condo development along Route 2 will require one of the town’s largest residential complexes to “move” into a new home precinct if the Select Board approves a new electoral map as part of the reprecincting of Belmont.

The town’s new precinct map in addition to the hows and whys that led to the four changes to the current chart will be explained at a public meeting to be held on Thursday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. as part of a Zoom Webinar.

In a preview sent to Town Meeting members from Town Clerk Ellen Cushman, the big news from Belmont 10 percent increase in residents since the 2010 US Census will see a pair of precincts “cross” current geographic boundaries to even out the populations in all of Belmont’s precincts as they increase from 3,100 to 3,400 residents.

The town’s Reprecincting Team – made up of Cushman, assistant Town Clerk Meg Piccione, GIS Manager Todd Consentino and the Director of Community Development Glenn Clancy – worked with a proposed map created by the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office with the goal is to balance the population of the precincts to ensure equal representation by Town Meeting Members, while considering the neighborhoods, and geographic dividing lines.

The team’s recommendation to the Select Board on Thursday will be precinct lines for Precinct 1, 2, 6 and 8 would be changed and Precinct 3, 4, 5 and 7 would remain in place.

The current Belmont precinct map with proposed changes in pink.

Precinct 6, which saw a drop in residents in the past decade, will expand north across Washington Street to take a good chunk of Precinct 1 from Long Avenue to Fairmont Street, and Chenery Terrace, a small part of Bow Road, all of Lincoln Street, a small part of Washington Street and Goden Street to Long Avenue. The shift also includes all of Road, Cedar Road, Lambert Road, Highland Avenue and Lincoln Circle.

With the inclusion of the Acorn Park Drive and its transitory population, Precinct 8 will see three parcels leaving – two smaller parts moving to Precinct 2 – with the largest portion going to Precinct 1 as it will cross the commuter rail tracks north to appropriate the Hill Estate which includes Vale Road, Hill Road and Pond Street, Yerxa Road and Bailey Road.

The largest practical change for Town Meeting is that members in precincts that have change will require the entire group of Town Meeting seats must be elected to represent the newly-drawn precinct. For Belmont that equates to a massive 36 seats open for election per those precincts at the 2022 Town Election on April 5.

Thirty six people will be elected in each of the precincts to three, two and one year terms determined as follows: the 12 candidates with the highest number of votes will be elected for the three-year term seats, the next group of 12 winning candidates will be elected to the two-year term seats and the final group of 12 winning candidates will be elected to the one-year term seats.  

Once the Town Clerk and the State are satisfied with their joint draft map of the precincts, Cushman will review the proposed draft with the Select Board at its Oct. 18 meeting which must vote at its Oct. 25 meeting to approve the final map and legal descriptions for official submission to the Commonwealth by Oct. 30.

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.

When: Oct 14, 2021 at 7 p.m. Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

Passcode: 407802

Or One tap mobile : 

    US: +13126266799,,83908658063#  or +19292056099,,83908658063#

Or Telephone:

    Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

        US: +1 312 626 6799  or +1 929 205 6099  or +1 301 715 8592  or +1 346 248 7799  or +1 669 900 6833  or +1 253 215 8782

Webinar ID: 839 0865 8063

    International numbers available:https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kcbGQLdhV4

Saturday Trash Collection In Parks, Business Centers Approved By Select Board

Photo: Barrels in Belmont playgrounds and park will get add attention on weekends

With money “saved” in the Department of Public Works budget and a few tweeks to the pickup schedule, the Select Board approved a plan which they expect will make Belmont’s public spaces a bit more tidy.

At its Monday, Oct. 4 meeting, the board heard from town officials on a new initiative to reinstate weekend trash collection in Belmont’s business centers and public parks and playgrounds after residents this summer pointed to a ever increasing amount of garbage and waste overwhelming recepticals and sites near town eateries.

John Marshall, assistant town adminstrator and director of recreation, told the board that while bringing back Saturday collection does come at a cost – estimated at $10,000 a year – a funding source was identified that will allow the weekend collection to take place through fiscal year 2022.

“Luckily we had some [DPW] positions that took a little longer to fill … which opened up some salary items that we can use for the overtime to cover the weekend trash pickup,” said Marshall.

The new Saturday collection of the business centers by the DPW crew will begin around 4:30 p.m. while a Recreation Department truck will pickup at town parks and playgrounds starting between 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., said Assistant DPW Director and Highway Division Manager Michael Santoro.

Santoro told the board the collection times during the week in the business centers, including Bemont Center and Waverley Square, “have been tweeked a bit more” to provide greater coverage over the time leading and following the weekend when a majority of the trash complants occur.

On Fridays, the town’s trash hauler, Waste Management, will make collections after they service the town schools as they exit Belmont sometime after 2:30 p.m. On Mondays, Waste Management trucks will start the day collecting at Belmont Center when they arrive in the morning around 7 a.m. Santoro said DPW staff will also monitor the pickup sites during the week.

While funding is secured for the current fiscal year, “we’ll have to go back to the drawing board for funding in ’23. That will now be part of the budget process,” said Marshall.

Trustees Presents ‘Dire’ Status Of Library Building To Select Board Monday

Photo: Belmont Public Library

When the Belmont Board of Library Trustees comes before the Select Board on Monday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m., it will with a simple request concerning the building on Concord Avenue that has for more than a half century housed the books, services and collections that is the Belmont Public Library: What’s the next step?

For more than 25 years, the trustees and volunteers have pointed to the aging building – opened in 1965 – with increasing concern that one of the most popular libraries in its population group in Massachusetts was falling into a condition of disrepair of its infrastructure and the lack of space to meet the library’s programming needs.

Since then, the deterioration of the building has accelerated to the point where the options facing the town going forward has dwindled to a stark pair in the view of the trustees: be a town without a library or commit to a new future.

”We are at the end of the road,” said Kathleen Keohane, the Trustee’s vice chair. “We have kicked this can down the road so many times. And unfortunately, we are about to hit the wall. It’s that dire.”

Trustee Chair Elaine Alligood ran down the list of structural failings: when it rains, there are leaks that pop up everywhere, a fire alarm system is out-of-code since 1992, heating and electrical systems whose useful life ended 20 years ago and are chronically in disrepair, a roof that is so fragile it can’t accept a modern HVAC system while the elevator has to checked at the end of each day to see if anyone is stuck inside because the alarm doesn’t work.

Any significant and needed repair in any part of the building will almost certainly create a cascade of required alterations which would accelerate the cost past the point of reasonable expenditures.

“We’ve deferred those big ticket items because if you repair one system, it pulls a thread that requires another expensive repair,” said Keohane, who said if one or two repairs exceeds a certain amount, it activates a trigger that requires the entire building to meet millions of dollars of American Disabilities Act-mandated improvements “which would be fiscally irresponsible for the trustees to ask the town to meet.”

The trustees said the time has come for a clear eyed decision on the future of a centerpiece of the Belmont community.

“It is a challenging time and if there were any other time to do it don’t you know we would do it then,” said Ellen Schreiber, a member of the non-profit Belmont Library Foundation that promotes and fundraisers in behalf of the library. “But we have no choice. The library is an urgent situation.”

Despite its popularity – during the pandemic the library’s circulation remained steady at 474,000 items – the trustees attempts to spur the construction of a building that would meet the needs a modern library failed to garner town and community support or the cooperation of the school committee in the latest attempt nearly a decade ago.

On Oct. 4, the trustees will present to the Select Board with the facts.

The latest Library Building Committee – authorized by Town Meeting in 2017 – spent two years holding meetings with the community and focus groups using a 2016 feasibility study to determine the best way forward on the future of the library building. In November 2019, the committee presented a final schematic design created by Ogdens Ella Architecture that took into account public and stakeholders feedback that revealed a plan of a modern library that would meet its patrons and the community’s needs.

“The new building design is focused on giving us more space [25 percent increase in square footage], will be ADA compliant and address all the failing infrastructure and business systems that are decades in the making,” said Keohane.

The trustees and the foundation will present what has been raised for a new library, a community fundraising initiative that will take place this month and an estimated cost for a new building. The last price tag was in the $34 million range.

Now nearing two years since the report’s release, the trustees say the building’s decline can not be halted with stop gaps or unrealistic hopes that renovations can add years to the building’s lifespan.

“So it’s up to the Select Board with our assistance to decide what is the next step,” said Keohane.

Vote On Town’s Real World ‘Experiment’ On Need For DPW Fuel Tanks Set For Tuesday

Photo: Will this be the location of Belmont’s “fuel supply” for town vehicles?

An three month “experiment” using the local gas stations as the prime supply for the town’s nearly 180 vehicles could be voted on this week to determine the real world impact of removing the town’s municipal fuel tanks.

The Select Board is holding its second public forum on the possible replacement of the two 6,000 gallon underground fuel tanks at the DPW yard off C Street. On the agenda will be a discussion and possible vote on the trial program for off-site fueling of town-owned vehicles at the neighborhood service station including fire engines, police cars, highway department snow removal equipment and Belmont Light repair trucks.

A preview of the forum took place at the Select Board’s Monday Sept 19 meeting as Glenn Clancy, the director of the Department of Community Development, who is leading the Herculean effort to determine the future of the tanks and the size of the tanks that would supply the town vehicles. While the first forum on Aug. 3 focused on the topic of insuring above and underground tanks, residents opposed to the town’s “large” tanks at the June Town Meeting took to surveying gas stations as an alternative of the town’s fuel supply. It soon became an issue those residents took to heart as one reason to remove the tanks.

In response to several board members to wanted an analysis conducted, Clancy presented to the board a highly-detailed draft report (the main report is 13 table-laden pages with a large number of supporting data) on the fuel consumption for all the town’s 179 vehicles in fiscal year 2020 from July 1 2019 to June 30, 2020. The culmination of three months of work, Clancy studied the when and how much each vehicle consumed either diesel or unleaded gas .

“The report is supported by a lot of data, there’s a lot of information in there in terms of consumption when and where,” Clancy told the board of the draft that took three months to prepare.

“The report will be the centerpiece of the next fuel forum,” Clancy said, culminating with the board possible approving one of two recommendations: the first is allow diesel fuel to remain at the DPW yard.

This is going to show whether you save money or lose money, but it’s not going to show if we have a Blizzard of ‘78 whether or not we’re going to be completely screwed because we’re going to private stations that [will be] closed for two weeks

Adam Dash, Chair Belmont Select Board

The second is what Clancy dubbed the “experiment” in which the town vehicles will fuel up at the town’s nine private service stations from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The trail will take place over three months beginning Oct. 15 with the hope it will “capture at least one snow event.”

The trial will produce “real world experience” using a gas station vs. the pumps at the Town Yard.

Clancy said the department heads who rely on the fleet have been informed of the possible trial.

“My hope is that at the end of the [Sept. 28] forum, the public and the board both agree that it makes sense for us to move forward with that [experiment],” said Clancy.

On area the report has analyzed is the cost difference using private gas stations and the town’s current practice of being a member of a fuel consortium with a dozen eastern Massachusetts communities that purchases fuel at a group discount. Clancy’s data indicates the town saving up to $14,700 if it remains in the partnership.

Board Vice Chair Roy Epstein said the draft “is really an enormous amount of work and I think it provides the basis for a much more informed discussion of this issue,” adding the report’s detail analysis provides “the rational for keeping diesel at the DPW yard.”

Yet Epstein noted making conclusions with data over several years can be troublesome as underlying economic factors – recessions, Covid downturn, unsustainable recoveries – must be factored into the analysis as well as calculating productivity effects when fueling at the private service station vs. at the DPW yard and the special case of police vehicles fueling at the DPW yard rather than at a service station because they operate a third shift.

“Predictions are not guarantees but in terms of making predications, that [the data] is reliable,” said Epstein.

Clancy noted part of the goal of the three month trail is to look at those types of operational issues “and see whether or not they work.”

Adam Dash, the board’s chair who said he would want to hear public comment before a vote after the forum either on the 28th or Oct. 4 when the board is scheduled to meet, said his major concern is fuel security.

“This is going to show whether you save money or lose money, but it’s not going to show if we have a blizzard of ‘78 whether or not we’re going to be completely screwed because we’re going to private stations that [will be] closed for two weeks,” said Dash.

Belmont Is A Mess! Select Board Targets Growing Trash Complaints On Street, In Parks

Photo: Just another overflowing receptacle in Belmont

When Mark Paolillo decided not to run for re-election to the then Board of Selectmen in 2019, it was mentioned at the time that board meetings would miss his memorable discharges of distain for people who left garbage, trash and, yes, dog poop on the town’s streets and parks.

“This is outrageous, simply outrageous. This can’t happen,” he cried when viewing the aftermath – beer cans, food containers, plastic bags – of an adult softball game in 2016.

So with Paolillo winning a return to the board earlier this year, it was only a matter of time before the public would hear his clarion call:

”Leonard Street is a mess!” Paolillo said at the Monday, Sept 20 board meeting, barely containing his disgust of anyone knowingly throwing trash in overflowing barrels at parks and in the business centers.

But Paolillo’s anger is not attention seeking but well warranted as anyone who travels through Belmont Center, by eateries around town or in any park or playground can testify, trash is a real problem throughout the Town of Homes. Containers outside the town’s favorite take-out places are overwhelmed while barrels in parks are swamped with all manner of garbage and waste.

“The trash levels that we’re seeing now are pretty substantial,” Jay Marcotte, Department of Public Works director, told the board.

Topped out trash cans and garbage left on the ground is not a new problem. Over the years particular locations such as the aforementioned softball diamond off Concord Avenue, Belmont Center or at Joey’s Park at the Winn Brook School which has become an impromptu site for children’s parties, are in need of collection specifically during the weekend.

The trash cascade begins on Friday evening and continues all day Saturday as residents and visitors come for grab a bite to eat or to attend kids events at parks. And the trash doesn’t stay where its bought or brought. A study from a newly formed local environmental group, Clean Green Belmont, discovered the majority of waste at Clay Pit Pond comes from Belmont Center eateries.

And the jump in trash is more than just a litter or esthetic issue. All that out-in-the-open garbage quickly turns into a public health problem as improperly discarded food contributes to the introduction of rats and other rodents.

So how did the town get in such as predicament? According to Marcotte, much of the increase in waste began in 2019 when the town eliminated overtime for the DPW’s Saturday pickup schedule in a cost savings move. And despite the town’s hauler, Waste Management, emptying town reciprocals three times a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, it does not keep up with the volume for waste produced over the weekend.

Two years ago, the DPW issued a Carry in-Carry out policy that is successful at National Parks but didn’t work in Belmont other than making many residents angry that waste barrels were removed.

In addition, the town had “a very detailed discussion about trash” with Leonard Street businesses when the street became a one way to promote dining and shopping in the Center which led to an agreement that retailers and eateries would install their own trash receptacles which they would have removed.

”I think what we are starting to see is that’s not happening,” said Town Administrator Patrice Garvin.

Vice Chair Roy Epstein said it would be a reasonable takeaway to say that self policing by residents on controlling trash “is not working.”

“This is an example of a public good where the way to make sure it gets done is to have the DPW do it and not rely on somebody’s good intentions,” said Epstein.

Marcotte agreed, saying the return of a DPW weekend collect “is a venture we should look into it and start implementing sooner than later.” Garvin pegged the overtime price tag at $10,000 for two workers from April 1 until the first snow fall in late autumn/early winter.

The board agreed the dollars spent in reinstating the DPW pickup “are insignificant considering the benefit it will have to the community,” said Paolillo.

Garvin will “use her usual resourcefulness” to find the money, said Epstein, either by tapping into town resources or rearranging DPW schedules to allow for personnel to work on Saturday. A plan coming from Garvin will be presented to the board at its next meeting.

Fines Out, Signs In As Select Board OKs Measured Adds To Town’s Mask Mandate

Photo: It was a full Zoom house as the Select and Health boards approved additions to the town’s mask mandate.

With opposition growing by members to a Health Board proposal to penalize store owners whose patrons repeatedly violate the town’s indoor mask mandate, the Belmont Select Board voted Monday, Sept. 20 to set aside a suggested $300 fine and replaced it with a watered-down compromise simply requiring businesses and large residential buildings to post signs informing the public of the town’s indoor mask mandate and ordering all employees to wear masks.

In addition, Belmont will delay implementing a vaccine mandate for town employees as it waits for possible action by the federal government on a proposed nationwide vaccine requirement for organizations with more than 100 workers.

The fine and employee mandate proposal was passed by the Health Board on Sept. 13 in response to the surge in positive cases of Covid-19 in town and across the country due in large part to the especially virulent Delta variant.

Donna David, the Health Board chair, said the recommendation “just gave teeth to what we were doing” in encouraging mask wearing. While admitting that enforcement could be “a little tricky’, the recommendation was no different to what the Health Department does when receiving complaints and food inspections.

“Like other health-related things in businesses, we’ve found the best to put the onus on the person who is responsible for the establishment,” said David, similar to enforcing the cigarette policy where the owner rather than the employee is ultimately the person who is held accountable.

Adam Dash, the Select Board chair, said the fine would “put a little ‘oomph’ behind what is already on the books.

While each of the board members supported some version of the fine, some where concerned the

Mark Paolillo worried that many businesses have “younger folks working behind the counter” who will be required to tell people to put on masks and they “say I’m not wearing a mask … [and] you set up a confrontation” because the owner doesn’t want to incur the fine. “That’s problematic,” said Paolillo who would rather see the individual violating the mandate fined.

Paolillo suggested the town should first discover if every business that is open to the public has been notified to have a sign at their location and if, in fact, they have one.

Epstein’s objection was the proposal was unworkable as Health Department employees would need to observe an incident with “an egregious violator” not wearing a face covering in the store.

”I just seems unworkable to me,” said Epstein.

Local businesses are also concerned with the introduction of financial penalties on the establishment because a patron is willing to violate the town’s mandate.

“There’s a help issue in small businesses … were struggling to get product in our stores and we’re struggling to retain customers. And for you to fine a customer or small business to me is ludicrous,” said Deran Muckjian, owner of the Toy Shop of Belmont in Belmont Center. He reiterated Paolillo’s worry that “a 16 year old Belmont High sophomore by himself in the store” will confront a 45 year old adult who says “No, I’m not going to wear [a mask.]”

“What do you do, how do you deal with that,” said Muckjian, who called the recommendations “a bunch of crap.”

By the end of the hour long discussion, the board coalesced behind Paolillo’s suggestion to require businesses have signs visible to customers and for managers of larger residential housing complexes to have signs in common areas that residents could congregate. The Health Board joined the Select Board in approving the new language to the mask mandate.

“I can live with that going forward. If we have issues, which I don’t expect … then we will come back to you,” said David.

While the employee vaccination mandate has taken a back seat to the federal government’s proposal, the town will be polling employees on their vaccination status. “If [the poll] shows we’re 99 percent or something, then maybe this is less of a driving concern,” said Dash.

Mend Belmont: An Opportunity To Be Heard On Race, Inclusion On Tuesday, 7 PM

Photo: The poster for Mend Belmont

The Select Board, Human Rights Commission, and the Diversity Task Force are sponsoring a webinar series called  Mend Belmont. It is a public forum to discuss race and inclusion in Belmont. It will be a place to be heard. The forum will be moderated by Robert T. Jones.

The first night of the series is Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m.

Please click the link HERE to join the webinar by computer, tablet or smartphone.

Or Telephone, call:

1 312 626 6799 or 1 929 205 6099

When prompted, enter: 819 4570 8806 #

When prompted, enter: #

Watch it LIVE in Belmont on BMC GovTV, Ch. 8 on Comcast or Ch. 28 on Verizon

Watch from anywhere online: belmontmedia.org/govtv