Belmont’s Grappler Takes First Ever MIAA Girls’ Wrestling State Championship At 106 Lbs [VIDEO]

Photo: Belmont High’s Ava Svistunov in the first-ever finals of the MIAA D1 State Girls Wrestling Championship at 106 lbs.

When hearing last year there would likely be a separate state tournament for girls’ wrestling, Belmont High’s Ava Svistunov and Craig Janjigian, the team’s head coach, said they knew that if her progression continued in the sport, she would be topping the podium.

“We both said it, that I could win,” said Svistunov.

Svistunov with Belmont High Head Coach Craig Janjigian (left) and assistant Head Coach Andrew McCahill.

One year later, their shared vision came true as Svistunov placed her mark on Belmont High sports history, winning the Division 1 state championship at 106 lbs. at the inaugural MIAA Girls Wrestling tournament.

The 15-year-old sophomore dominated the final against Claire Roney of Wellesley High, shutting out the top seed, 7-0, in the Saturday, Feb. 17 match at Newton South High School.

“It’s a big deal, probably,” said Svistunov, still contemplating what she had done five minutes earlier.

“[Svistunov] got the job done. She dominated this tournement,” said Janjigian, who also brought three male wrestlers to the championships.

Belmont High’s Ava Svistunov won the first-ever MIAA D1 State Girls Wrestling Championship finals at 106 lbs.

Svistunov will next wrestle in the Massachusetts Girls’ All-State tourney in Salem on Saturday, Feb. 20, when the top grapplers from across the three divisions will meet to determine the best wrestlers in each of a dozen weight groups.

It was an impressive run through the tourney for Svistunov, who started early Saturday morning by pinning Jasin Abdella of Leominster in 37 seconds in the opening period. Svistunov would have her most difficult challenge in the semifinals against second seed Abigail Muller, also from Leominster. Muller would go up 2-0 early on a quick counter that landed Svistunov on her back. She would recover and score two points on a reversal just before the period ended. The second (of three 2-minute) period saw Svistunov take down Muller to go up 4-2. And for the next five minutes of the contest, Svistunov would use her weight to secure Muller – who would finish third – to the mat and counter every attempt the increasingly exhausted Leominster wrestler made to escape her opponent’s grasp.

The finals against Roney saw Svistunov being efficient and relentless, going up 4-0 early in the match and never looking back, employing the same punishing ground game she employed with Muller. It may not have been the most action-packed of the finals, but it was certainly the most effective. When the official ended the bout, Svistunov flew into the arms of her coaches and then went to greet her mother mat-side.

“Wonderful!” said Svistunov’s mother after the finals. “If I say anything else, I’ll start crying.”

Belmont High Hoops: Girls’, Boys’ Playoff Bound But A Way To Go Before Tourney Ready

Photo: Belmont High Senior Co-Capt. Mia Ferrari and sophomore Sophia McClendon vs. Lexington

The good news: Both Belmont varsity basketball teams are playoff bound having secured their 10th win this season.

The flip side: The Marauders Boys’ and Girls’ are not looking, just quite yet, ready to withstand a tournament game much less going on a playoff run in the MIAA Division 1 post season that starts next week.

Case in point: Seniors Night games on Feb. 9 against Lexington that both Marauder teams hosted at the Wenner Field House. It’s certain Belmont’s girls and boys will be meeting similarly skilled squads as Lexington in the playoffs which gave the games a Cassandra quality peering into the future. And while Belmont was able to keep both games outcome within a couple of baskets, the Minutemen demonstrated just a bit more basketball smart to carry off the wins by the final buzzer.

Too much second quarter Sam

In the opener of last weeks doubleheader, the Belmont Boys’ were coming off a 5-2 stretch to earn its 10th victory demolishing Woburn, 59-29. But despite a 10-6 overall record, Belmont’s all important MIAA Power Ranking – which is used to seed the teams in the playoff – was a paltry 41st in which the first 32 teams automatically make the tournament. Teams with a .500 record or better are added to the post season but must win a play-in game against the lowest automatic teams to make the 32-team tourney.

Friday’s matinee game set two teams with nearly identical records. Lexington’s power ranking was 40th and they were seeking its 10th win. The Marauders took advantage of its tall, physical forwards – senior co-Capt.’s Donovan Holway and Gabriel Meyer-Herron with junior Ryan O’Byrne – to get off to a 15-10 first quarter lead.

But the second quarter quickly turned into “Showtime with Sam” as Lexington’s Sam Myerberg had career eight minutes. The sophomore guard started by hitting consecutive 3’s, then going one for two from the free throw line then hit two more treys finishing the quarter with 17 points and 22 for the half to push the Minutemen to a 35-29 lead after the first half. Belmont relied on its big men specifically Meyer-Herron but too many times on the court the Marauders were not executing with quickness allowing Lexington to hold the advantage to the frustration of Head Coach Darren Martinez.

The Minutemen continued their onslaught this time highlighted by senior co-capt. guard Derin Ongur (19 points for the game) who canned two threes and a straight away jumper to increase the lead to 48-31 with three minutes left in the third quarter. While this could have been a good time to think about its next game, Belmont got back in the game as Meyer-Harron and O’Byrne headed inside the paint to score and drag the team to within nine at the end of three, 48-39.

Belmont up the tempo in the fourth and got to the charity stripe three times only ending up missing the six free throws they were awarded. The Marauders kept chipping away, cutting the Minutemen lead to 57-53 with two to play. But a technical foul on a Belmont player gave Lexington four shots from the line and they didn’t miss to put the lead back to eight, 61-53 with 1:05 to play. And when Myerberg hit for a three – he finished with 32 points – on the next time down the court, that was all she wrote as Lexington eased to a 68-63 win.

Stella stellar for Lexington

The nightcap saw Belmont Girls coming into the game on the wrong end of a three game losing streak, seeing them drop to 14th in the power ranking at 10-7, getting uncomfortably close to the 17th ranking which would result in the Marauders missing out on hosting a home game. Facing them was 12-4 Lexington – 8th in the power rankings- squad that defeated Belmont earlier in the season, 48-39.

After the tipoff, the Minutemen showed immediately their skills, using quick cutting runs through the paint to open space against Belmont’s zone defense for easy baskets to lead 9-4 midway through the quarter. But lead by senior capt. Mia Ferrari and sophomore Sophia McClendon, Belmont fought back to where a pair of free throws from junior Brynn Connolly to tie the score at 13 after one.

Belmont came out with purpose and snatched the lead, 18-17 off a junior co-captain Linda Sheng drive with 6:20 to play in the quarter. But just like the boys’ game, a Lexington player took hold of the game in the second quarter and didn’t let go. Junior guard Stella Crinti started with a three pointer, followed by a stop and shot basket, than a layup on the break and then handing out two pitch perfect assist to take the Minutemen from one down to 10 up before a three from finished a 13-0 run to give the Minutemen at 30-18 lead that the visitors would not give up. Belmont through Sheng would cut the lead at the half to 30-23.

If there was a statistic that showed the advantage Lexington brought to the game occurred early in the three quarter when the Minutemen took down five offensive rebounds on two possessions resulting in two baskets, one courtesy of a Crinti turnaround to up the lead back to 12 at midpoint in the quarter. Lexington led by 18 – 48-30 – when McClendon went on her one run with two in close buckets and a three to pull Belmont back to 11 only to see that Crinti player hit a three to give Lexington a 51-37 advantage with six left in the game. But Belmont made it interesting with McClendon and Sheng cutting the lead to 56-47 before – guess who – Crinti putting the knife in any hope of a miracle comeback with a straight away three making the score 59-47 as the Minutemen put this win to bed, going home 63-55 victors.

The Belmont Girls would subsequently loss their remaining three games of the regular season to finish the campaign at 10-10 and likely miss out on holding a playoff game. The Boys’ went 1-1 since the Lexington game – a loss at Winchester before winning against visiting Billerica. They have two games left this week against Westwood and Malden Catholic before the start of the playoffs.

What’s Open/Closed On Presidents’ Day 2024 In Belmont; Trash/Recycling Delayed A Day

Photo: Presidents’ Day in Belmont, 2024

Two for the price of one. Living in Massachusetts allows residents to have your choice of who we are celebrating on the third Monday of February.

Presidents’ Day is a commemoration of George Washington’s Feb. 22 birthday. And since it fell near the Feb. 12 birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the federal government in 1971 included the two birthdays under one holiday.

And here is a bit of trivia: The Bay State officially celebrates “Washington’s Birthday” on the same day as the federal holiday. So take your pick.

Trash and recycling curbside pick up is delayed by a day.

Closed

  • Belmont Town offices – Town Hall, Homer Building – and Belmont Light.
  • Belmont Public Schools are on winter recess.
  • Belmont Public Library at the Beech Street Center and the Benton Library.
  • US Postal Service offices On Concord Avenue and Trapelo Road: No deliveries.
  • Banks; although some branches will be open in supermarkets.
  • MBTA: Operating on a Saturday schedule. See www.mbta.com for details.

Open

• Retail stores

• Coffee shops; Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts are open

• Supermarkets

• Convenience stores, and

• Establishments that sell beer and wine are also allowed to be open.

Belmont Declares Snow Emergency Parking Ban; Town Offices, Schools Closed Tuesday; Trash Pickup Delayed A Day

Photo: Tuesday will be a snow day

Due to the approaching winter storm, the Town Hall and Belmont Public Schools will be closed on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

A snow emergency parking ban on all roadways, as well as in municipal lots and Belmont Public School parking lots, effective at 11:45 p.m. and continuing until further notice. All vehicles parked in violation of the ban will be towed at the owner’s expense.

Trash, recycling, bulk pickups, scheduled cart repairs, and appliance pickups will be delayed a day due to the storm. The town is asking residents to remove carts, appliances, and bulky items from the public way on Tuesday to allow the plows to clear the roadways.

The last day for candidates to submit papers for town office remains Tuesday. Candidates must deliver their nomination papers to the Belmont Police Station, 460 Concord Ave., instead of Town Hall. Those picking up blank nomination forms may collect them from the Police Department. The deadline to submit all signed nomination papers is 5 p.m. Feb. 13.

The Town’s residential snow removal bylaw requires sidewalks along residential property to be cleared of snow and ice by 8 p.m. the day after the storm ends. Snow and ice should be cleared or treated from sidewalks to a width of at least 36 inches. We appreciate your attention to this very important public safety matter.

Please refer to the Town’s website for further information regarding winter weather, trash removal, and the Town’s snow removal bylaw.

Be Prepared For Tuesday’s Nor’easter With Important Belmont Safety Numbers

Photo: Get ready for a parking ban on Tuesday.

If you thought you wouldn’t need to use the snow shovel or salt on the sidewalk this warmer-than-usual winter, you would be in for a rude surprise on Tuesday morning as an old-fashioned nor’easter will slam into Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service, which has issued a Winter Storm Warning for most of the region.

For Belmont residents, Tuesday will be about parking restrictions and having town resources close at hand.

“A significant winter storm will continue impacting the Southern Rockies and High Plains today before turning northeast and aiming for the Northern Mid-Atlantic, New York, and New England early this week,” said an NWS press release sent out at 3 a.m. Sunday, Feb 11.

“Heavy snow is possible. Total snow accumulations of 4 to 8 inches are possible. Winds could gust as high as 40 mph,” predicts the NWS on Sunday. The storm will start late Monday night and last through late Tuesday night. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute.

Residents should expect the Belmont Police to issue a Snow Emergency Parking Ban just before the storm arrives. During the ban, vehicles parked on town roadways, and in municipal and Belmont Public School parking lots will be towed at the owner’s expense.

Residents should visit the town’s website for information on winter weather and the snow removal bylaw.

With high winds expected, there is a possibility power to residences will be impacted. Residents should contact Belmont Light to report outages – do not call 911 unless it is a true emergency.

  • Call Belmont Light at 617-993-2800 to report an outage.
  • To text an outage report, message your information to 617-993-6006 (message and data rates may apply) with your name, address, and outage information. 

In Mike Widmer’s Final Election For Moderator, A Challenger Emerges For The First Time

Photo: Mike Widmer

Mike Widmer will have a challenger – his first ever – in his final campaign to return as Town Moderator.

Filing his paperwork with the Town Clerk’s Office on Feb. 5, former school committee member Michael Crowley will seek to replace one of Belmont’s longest-serving public officials in what Widmer told the Belmontonian will be the last time his name will be on the ballot.

First elected to the one-year term in 2008 when he ran to fill the open seat previously held by Henry Hall, Widmer has been unopposed in 15 subsequent town elections. Before his current post, Widmer has been a member of the Warrant Committee from 1993 until 2008 – three years as chair – and a Town Meeting Member since 1981.

Crowley was a school committee member for four years, eight years on Town Meeting, and six years on the Warrant Committee. He also served on the Long Term Capital Planning Committee, which drafted the recommendation to form the Comprehensive Capital Budget Committee.

Mike Crowley (courtesy photo)

One of the best descriptions of Town Moderator’s functions is by Town Meeting Member Paul Roberts in his “Blogging Belmont” preview of the 2023 town election.

“In addition to presiding over the annual Town Meeting, the Moderator plays a critical role in setting the agenda for Town Meeting – working with the Town’s various committees and professional staff, residents and Town counsel to set the warrant.”

“In Belmont, the Moderator also has substantial appointment powers. They appoint all members of the Warrant Committee – the Town’s main financial oversight committee – as well as three members of the seven person Capital Budget Committee, a majority of the Bylaw Review Committee and members of the Permanent Building Advisory Committee. The Moderator is also tasked with appointing members to special purpose committees, such as [building committees].”

No Arrest During Belmont PD/State Police Action On Channing Road

Photo: A screenshot from a video on several social media sites showing the police action that took place on Channing Road in Belmont on Saturday, Feb. 10.

For residents of Cross Street and Channing Road, Saturday’s false spring was greeted with a phalanx of law enforcement blocking the roadways as several police agencies descended on the neighborhood adjacent to Belmont Center, seeking a possible suspect in a suspected shooting that took place 65 miles away the night before.

At approximately 9:30 a.m., on Feb. 10, a tactical vehicle from the Massachusetts State Police was parked in the middle of the intersection of Channing and Cross with heavily armed officers in combat gear directing people from a residence. One person in a video uploaded to social media was assisted away from the house.

As of Sunday morning, no arrests were reported as part of the action.

“Today, the Belmont Police Department assisted the Massachusetts State Police in executing a search warrant at a residence in Belmont,” said Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac in a press release on Saturday.

MacIsaac said ”the circumstances prompting the issuance of the search warrant did not transpire within Belmont’s jurisdiction, [c]onsequently, there is no cause for concern regarding criminal activity in Belmont.” MacIsaac referred all inquires to the Bristol County District Attorney, which has yet to make a statement.

Social media has been actively speculating on the “Who, What, When, Why and Where” of Saturday’s action incident. Many agreed with noted attorney Wendy Murphy who wrote that it was “Related to a gang murder in Fall Riverr.”

The most recent shooting in Fall River occurred on Friday, Feb. 9, where a 34-year-old man was found suffering from gunshot wounds, according to Fall River police. The victim was taken to a trauma center in critical condition.

The last murder in Fall River occurred on Dec. 23 when a 44-year-old man was shot and killed on a porch, according to the Fall River Herald. A Connecticut man was later arrested in that case.

Unbeaten Belmont Girls’ Hockey Prepares For Burlington Rematch By Shutting Down Reading, 1-0

Photo: Senior co-captain Molly Driscoll has 16 goals this season

The script the Belmont High Girls’ Ice Hockey squad has been following in the 2023-24 season is fairly straight forward: Have Molly score and let Jil do the rest.

That was certainly the case on Wednesday, Feb. 8 when senior co-captain Molly Driscoll scored in the first period and sophomore goalie Jil Costa stopped each of the 44 shots for her 8th shutout of the season as the host Marauders secured a hard-earned 1-0 shutout against the Reading High Rockets in a Middlesex Liberty showdown at John A. Ryan Rink in Watertown.

Wednesday night’s victory gives the Marauders double digit wins this season and they remain the only undefeated team in all divisions of the MIAA at 10-0-3 record.

Driscoll scored her 16th goal of the campaign on a nice pass from line mate sophomore Evey Long less than four minutes into the game. It was up to Costa to stand tall in net in the second period with Belmont playing short handed including nearly two minutes when they were down to three skaters.

“That was a good effort, obviously from [Costa] who turned everything aside,” said first-year Head Coach Brendan Kelleher. “We kind of bent a little late in the second [period] and the third but we didn’t break and she was a big reason why we won letting nothing through.”

Belmont defense, lead by first liners sophomore Thea Monovich and senior co-captain Aislin Devaney, kept the Rocket attackers at bay forcing the wingers to the side boards while using their long reach to poke check Rocket forwards attempts.

“They’re blocking a lot of shots,” Kelleher said. “We kept shots contained to the outside and away from the goal scoring area in the middle.”

Belmont’s next big challenge awaits them in less than 24 hours on Thursday, Feb. 8, as the 14th-ranked Marauders head to Burlington for a rematch against the 5th-ranked Red Devils, a fortnight since the teams battled to an thrilling overtime 2-2 draw.

The Red Devils will host Belmont with an impressive 12-1-2 record, its only lost to Malden Catholic early in the season, a defeat Burlington redressed in beating the Lancers last month.

Belmont sophomore goalie Jil Costa making the save vs. Woburn to keep the game scoreless.

Burlington put on the ice a mix of experience – seven seniors, four of whom Renee Flett, and captains Shea McDonald (the team’s leading scorer with five goals and 11 assists), Katie Hayes, and Mia Lauder who are in their sixth season playing varsity ice hockey – and youth with five middle schoolers playing significant minutes.

On the Belmont side of the ice, the Marauders rely on its first offensive line for its scoring punch with Watertown-native Driscoll – a state all-scholastic in field hockey who is committed to Boston University – centering Belmont senior co-captain Lola Rocci and Long.

Thursday will be a night where a pair of sophomore goaltenders will be key for both teams. Burlington’s Isa Fischer and Belmont’s Costa each are allowing less than a goal a game. In Belmont’s past two games, Costa was a steady presence, shutting down Woburn while giving up a lone goal against Lexington while playing shorthanded five-on-three.

The last time they met, Burlington would take the lead twice through Abby Wojtaszik and McDonald only to see Driscoll come through with a brace, the final tally coming late in the third period. Draped by a pair of defenders, Driscoll sent a laser of a pass back to Rocci who took the shot. While Fischer made the initial stop, the puck rebound in the crease where Driscoll was parked. In true Phil Esposito fashion, the senior buried the puck with 2:59 remaining.

“[All] these games are big this time of year,” said Kelleher. “It could be a lot easier for me and the rest of the coaches to have a few more goals on the board.”

Select Board Sends $8.4M Override To Voters With A Compact In Tow

Photo: The Select Board voting to present a $8.4 million override to voters at the town’s annual Election in April

After Belmont’s Select Board voted unanimously on Tuesday morning, Jan. 30 to place an $8.4 million override on the ballot at the annual Town Election, Board Chair Roy Epstein believed their decision will be seen by the town’s voters as the necessary course to take.

“We’re relying basically on our experiences what might work,” said Epstein after the vote. “Some people have indicated they would like it to be smaller [amount]. Others said they would like it to be larger. So I’m hoping that means we landed at the right place.”

After nearly six months of meetings, public events, and the decision to pegging how much the “ask” of residents came down to two competing figures: a $7.5 million override that would protect the current level of full-time positions in the town and schools, and $8.4 million, which will allow the town and schools to invest in specific area. In the end, the Select Board settled on what they consider is necessary to carry the town over the next three years.

“We appreciate the concerns that some residents have expressed to me,” said Mark Paolillo, who will be retiring from the board at the April election. “But I think [the override] is absolutely needed in order for us to continue to serve the residents and provide services that they expect.”

“This is not an irresponsible number,” said Elizabeth Dionne to the half dozen residents attending the Town Hall meeting. “It is a painful number.”

According to Jennifer Hewitt, the town’s financial director and assistant town administrator, with the town committed to the override, the town and school district can now release their fiscal year 2025 budgets, on Friday, Feb. 2. The Select Board, School and Warrant Committee will meet Thursday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall for the fourth Budget Summit at which time the fiscal ’25 budget will be presented.

The expected override is by no means a surprise, as the town has been struggling for more than a decade with a structural budget deficit created by ever-increasing expenses and a difficulty to raise sufficient revenue with annual property tax increases capped at 2 1/2 percent. Add to that, the board has inherited a number of costly such as a large and growing pension fund liability.

With a $6 million cliff facing the town in fiscal ’25, even a “level” budget that seeks to keep personnel and services at the previous year’s proportions would require a significant increase in funding.

While the funds will fill the budget deficit in the next three years, the board views the largest override in Belmont’s history in terms of an investment that in the long run will benefit both the town and schools. Epstein noted “a potential for restructuring certain activities to free up monies to deploy them more effectively.” Case in point: School Superintendent Jill Geiser plans to use the extra funding to lay a foundation with added Special Education staffing and planning with the goal to reduce the number of students being placed “out-of-district” for their schooling, which Dionne said is the greatest financial burdens facing future school budgets.

Agreeing to the larger override amount “is the starting point of making that investment with potential long-term benefits,” said Warrant Committee Chair Geoff Lubien.

“That’s why I believe the $8.4 million is necessary to make that even a possibility,” said Epstein.

The alternative to the override would be cataclysmic to all municipal and educational functions in Belmont. A forecasting exercise on the impact of a “no” vote would force painful cuts in staffing and programs in public safety, public works, library and all other town services while the schools would see significant reduction in staff as students will be without extra curriculum activities, the elimination of popular classes and higher students-to-teacher ratios.

“It’s really easy to destroy institutions, it’s very difficult to rebuild,” said Dionne. “If we don’t have a successful override, we will lose a cadre of talent we cannot replace easily. It will cost us far more to rebuild and to maintain.”

Acknowledging the large “ask” of residents, the Select Board will attempt to placate voters anxiety voting for the override by “hammering out” what is being called a compact with the community. Under this informal agreement, the board, school committee and other town entities will work together to implement policies – such as revamping zoning bylaws to facilitate business creation – and initiatives to manage expenses in an attempt to “bend the curve” of ever rising costs all the while look for ways to maximize revenues.

“What we [as a town] have to be … is faster, better, smarter,” said Dionne.

Under the compact, the Select Board will commit funds to specific public concerns. One discussed Tuesday is appropriating override dollars to repair and replace the town’s threadbare and increasingly unsafe sidewalks, which have been a lament among residents for nearly two decades.

The compact will also “force us to be more fiscally disciplined” using one-time funds such as free cash and from out-of-town sources such as government grants, according to Lubien.

Belmont Voters To Decide Assessors Future As Town Meeting OKs Change To Appointed Board

Photo: Select Board Chair Roy Epstein

It will be up to Belmont voters to decide the future of the Board of Assessors when a special session of Town Meeting voted 156-87 with two abstentions to place a ballot question on this April’s annual Town Election to change the structure of the three-member board from an elected to an appointed body.

The vote, which took place virtually on Monday, Jan. 22, came nearly a year after a special Town Meeting voted 185-46 to change the town treasurer’s post to an appointed position, which town voters seconded in April 2023.

For Roy Epstein, chair of the Belmont Select Board, who shepherded the article through the public process and at the special town meeting, the article’s passage was a nod by the majority of Town Meeting Members on the willingness of town government to employ town resources to improve the town’s fiscal future.

“I would like to think people responded a little bit to what I said, but in a large sense, the vote was an expression of competence in the town administrator [Patrice Garvin],” said Epstein a day after the meeting. “It’s a vote of confidence of policy changes that the town will value and improve governance. That’s what people are looking for. And I think [Garvin] has been incredibly thorough in identifying ways to improve how government works, and I’m glad people are recognizing that.”

Supporters of the article were willing to agree that while there is a consensus the current assessors “operate at a very high standard” in determining the value of the real estate in town, said Epstein, there is an increasing need for the board to become a partner in the finance team – which includes the town’s appointed treasurer, the financial director, the town accountant and – that sets the town’s fiscal policy. The select board and town officials point to areas such as creating a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program and assisting in significant changes to the town’s zoning map in which the assessors’ knowledge and data will be the final critical piece in formulating “a more cohesive, collaborative working finance team,” said Garvin.

The select board or town officials expressed little confidence the current elected assessors are willing to support the town’s requests as both Epstein and fellow Select Board member Elizabeth Dionne each voiced their disappointment with the board’s response to numerous requests – such as establishing senior tax relief – from town committees and the board which were allowed to die on the vine.

“It didn’t happen and after four years of trying to make [senior tax relief] because it is a tax policy question. I just don’t think the collaboration between the Board of Assessors and the Select Board in the current form is working out. My view at this point is that there are better prospects for that type of coordination between different parts of town government if the board of assessors became appointed rather than elected, and that’s my principal reason for supporting the article in its current form,” said Epstein.

The Assessors’ long-time chair, Robert Reardon, defended the elected board in its current form since the town’s incorporation in 1859, calling it “an important aspect of checks and balances” in town finances with the prime role of the assessors “to set the [real estate] values independent of the budget process.”

While the assessors answer questions at public meetings and work with the town and committees on several fiscal areas, Reardon said the board rarely ventures beyond their core responsibilities of appraising real estate, deciding to grant or deny abatements, and voting on exemptions based on the person – such as seniors or disabled veterans – who owns the property. It has not expanded its reach into town fiscal policy due to state directives from the Department of Revenue.

“We don’t make policy,” said Reardon. “We have to take an oath to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and that oath is to uphold the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And by doing so … we’re limited on what we can do. We cannot implement any new tax policies in the town without the approval of the state legislature.”

Reardon also said that an elected board of residents “shows a commitment and a dedication by the candidates to serve the town,” which would be lacking by an appointed body that doesn’t have a residence requirement.

For most of the meeting, Town Moderator Mike Widmer successfully limited the debate to changing the board’s structure rather than discussing how either variation would alter town policies or finances.

Cosmo Macero from Precinct 5 said he would vote against the article as “there is accountability in elections … and being an elected official.” As for the lack of collaboration with town boards and elected officials, “it’s possible that the Select Board may need to look elsewhere as to what the problem was with the collaboration.”

“As a non-policy making body, I want them to only collaborate a little on policy. I want them to perform their very important duty which is to measure and assess the value of our property for the purpose of tax information,” said Macero.

Angus Abercrombie, Precinct 8, who submitted the citizen’s petition to bring the article before Town Meeting, asked if changing the Town Treasurer to an appointed post had produced efficiencies in that department that could be replicated in the Assessors’ office. Garvin said Treasurer Lesley Davison’s experience and knowledge in the position have resulted in “finding efficiencies every day which will only benefit the residents of Belmont.”

“I believe, based on the town and [its] managerial structure, we will be able to implement efficiencies that have long been long wanted by the finance team,” said Garvin.

Ira Morgenstern, Precinct 7, advocated the belief first mentioned by Liz Allison, Precinct 3, at a public forum a week earlier: Don’t fix what’s not broken.

“It’s not needed,” said Morgenstern of the article. Calling the current board “a great team,” Morgenstern then suggested that a “yes” vote would be “a further concentration of power to the Select Board [who would have appointing powers] and the Town Administrator … while reduces the oversight and … our internal controls.”

But for Claus Becker, Precinct 5, giving the Select Board the final say in appointing the assessors’ is the correct step as residents voted for the three-member body to enact its vision of the town’s fiscal future.

And just like last year’s vote to make the Treasurer an appointed position, the tally wasn’t that close, with the “yes” category garnering 64 percent of members.