Moving Forward: Community Preservation Invite Proposals To Submit Final Application For Funding, 3 Will Be Early Off-Cycle Decisions

Photo: A new paint job for the Homer House, just one of eight proposals submitted to the Community Preservation Committee that were approved for final applications

It was moving day last week at the Community Preservation Commiittee as eight proposals were approved to submit final applications. A final CPC decision will be made on Jan. 10, 2024.

At its regularly scheduled monthly meeting, Wednesday, Oct. 11, Chair Elizabeth Dionne said the CPA has approximately $3 million to distribute for projects involving recreation/open spaces, housing and preservation. The Community Preservation Act, adopted by Belmont voters in 2010, is financed by property tax surcharges and annual distributions received from the state’s Community Preservation Trust Fund.

The CPA will present the applications it approves in January to a vote before the annual Town Meeting in May 2024. Due to the “urgent need for funding,” three of the eight proposals will be presented as “off-cycle” applications which will be voted at the Special Town Meeting in early November.

The projects which will proceed to a final application are:

The off-cycle proposals are:

Of the projects two of the requests are connected by a single project. First, an engineering study for a proposed revitalization of the playground and activity areas at the Chenery Upper Elementary School for $105,000.

The study dove tails into the second, more substantial request of $1 million for the actual construction of the Chenery “complex.” Recreation Department Director Brendan Fitts told the committee this request will be an initial cost “guestimate” for the project in the $3 million range.

“What we are doing is setting aside some funding for [the reconstruction] now,” said Fitts.

“This is a high priority project,” said Dionne, saying parents, the PTA, and school officials have been clambering for an overhaul of the thread worn recreation area. “And I hope it’s only $3 million,” said Dionne whose worried there could be some “inflation” that’s being baked into the project.

In what Dionne called “starting something that I think could be a tremendous benefit for the town and its employees,” $250,000 is being asked by the town would be used to sow the seeds of increasing affordable housing directed towards assisting town employees to live in the community which they work.

“The number one reason we’ve been losing [employees] is the commute. It’s not that I don’t want to work here” said Town Administrator Patrice Garvin, but many are living west of Route 128 while municipal salaries can not support purchasing a home or to pay rents.

But rather than use this fund to purchase a property outright, Dionne envisions the fund being an annual CPC allocation approved by Town Meeting that would be used by developers to free up capital to build multi-unit residential projects in which some units would be dedicated to town employees. Belmont will be following in the footsteps of municipalities in California and in nearby Nantucket which are securing town employee housing in partnership with builders.

On the affordable living front, the Belmont Housing Trust is applying for $250,000 for the purpose of creating more affordable housing in town by investing in new developments prompted by the anticipated approval of the MBTA Communities Multifamily Zoning law. Belmont will have the ability to invest in new projects in exchange for more affordability or deeper affordability as the Trust funds projects, either through financing the development or subsidizing the operating costs.

The Belmont Woman’s Club is seeking through the HDC $99,000 to paint the exterior of the Homer House on Pleasant Street opposite Town Hall as part of its long-term renovation of the historic house.

Of the off-cycle proposals, a initial proposal of $160,000 from the Historic District Commission will make significant roof and repairs to the School Administration building on Pleasant Street. “People are putting out buckets out [when it rains]” with the damage reportedly in the superintendent’s office due to deficiencies in the roof’s flashings and gutters causing internal damage, according to Gabriel Distler, staff planner for the HDC.

Along with the roof, other time sensitive items include shoring up the main retaining wall at Town Hall while there is a need for a redesign of the commuter rail pedestrian tunnel connecting the Winn Brook neighborhood with the new Belmont Middle and High School and Concord Avenue after the MBTA and Massachusetts Department of Transportation reversed an earlier design decision to now allow a less expensive tunnel.

“I think the one thing that everyone in town agrees on is that the tunnel is really important,” said Dionne. “And if we don’t fund this [proposal], we can’t get to the design drawings that we need for [federal] funding, it delays this decades long process.

2023 Town Meeting; First Night, Segment A: CPA Articles Go 7 for 7 As Town Meeting Returns Live

Photo: Mike Widmer, Belmont Town Moderator, opens the 2023 annual Town Meeting on May 1

It was a clean sweep for the seven Community Preservation Act projects as they were overwhelmingly accepted by members on the opening night of the annual Belmont Town Meeting held in person for the first time since November 2019.

“I’m delighted we’re back in person,” said Town Moderator Mike Widmer as he greeted the approximately 235 members to the Belmont High School Auditorium on Monday, May 1.

New and re-elected members being sworn in

Widmer acknowledged several members remained concerned about being indoors with the coronavirus remaining a health issue, which was one of the reasons Belmont trailed other communities returning to public meetings. With the help of the Board of Health, a special section in the auditorium’s balcony was set aside for those residents seeking a comfortable distance from their fellow members.

“Obviously, nothing is 100 percent perfect, but I’m confident that we’re making this step in a responsible way,” Widmer told the assembled body.

The night felt like a long-delayed family reunion, with members happily reintroducing themselves in the High School auditorium with hugs and pats on the back. Some expressed an almost nostalgic fondness for the battered original seats in the old High School “that poked you so you’d pay attention.”

The Boy Scouts from Troop 304 and Girl Scouts Troop 82109 presented the colors while Life Scout Karina Kinzinger led the meeting in the Pledge of Alliance. The Belmont High Chorus sang the national anthem, and Bishop Christopher Palmer of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints provided the invocation.

The Meeting has seen a historical change in its demographics since that last in-person get-together three-and-a-half years ago, noted Widmer. Since 2019, 100 new Town Meeting members have been elected, nearly a third of the legislative body, with 25 elected in April. Those include an 18-year-old and a growing number of People of Color joining the Meeting’s ranks.

Thanks, Fred

Long-standing Town Meeting stalwart Fred Paulsen was honored with a proclamation from the Select Board. Paulsen served 62 years as a Member, starting in 1959 as a member of the School Committee, which is likely the longest tenure of any resident on the body.

Fred Paulsen

“I think I’m safe to say it’s gonna be a long time before that record is broken,” said Widmer.

“Fred, you were always very incredibly thoughtful and respectful,” said Mark Paolillo, Select Board chair. “You always did your homework and were very analytical about the points that you made. I think you convinced a lot of people including myself, to vote your way when I felt differently about it.”

“Sixty-two years has passed in a flash,” said Paulsen as he received a standing ovation from the body. “I enjoyed every Town Meeting and always hoped I made a positive impact, even those times where my comments and ideas were cast aside.”

As is keeping with tradition, long-serving Town Meeting members who are no longer representing their precincts were recognized, with Katherine Lind (39 years), Linda Oates (36), Henry Kazarian (29), and Brett Sorenson (27) leaving with more than a quarter of a century of service.

The first night was dedicated to Article 11, the seven Community Preservation Committee projects presented by its chair and recently elected Select Board member Elizabeth Dionne.

Elizabeth Dioone

“The good news is that after adding interest on funds, Belmont’s total CAC funds raised to date (since 2012) is $16,694,344,” Dionne told the meeting, with the annual CPA charge for each residential taxpayer at $245.

The fiscal ’24 projects – and their price tags – included:

  • Conservation Fund, $200,000
  • Support for the creation of new affordable housing, $250,000
  • Grove Street basketball/baseball reconstruction, $941,935
  • Library historic objects preservation plan, $86,787
  • PQ Park basketball replacement in kind, $124,592
  • Rejuvenation of Sherman Gardens, $400,000
  • Homer House third-floor window restoration installation, $31,500

To take a deep dive into each project, a link to the Community Preservation Committee’s page is here.

The Grove Street project – the reconstruction of the basketball court and renovation and seeding of the baseball fields – was the only presentation in which an amendment was submitted. Presenting for a fellow Precinct 4 resident, Kate Bowen requested the article carve out the baseball field appropriation and leave $290,370 to replace the court.

Beyond the purview

While saying she values the three areas that the CPC funding targets – affordable housing, historic preservation, and open spaces that include recreation projects – Bowen said the amendment enables “Town Meeting to consider the proposal in greater detail than we would be allowed without the amendment.”

“Over these years, there is a growing concern that we are overbuilding for basic needs and basic maintenance oversights,” said Bowen. She pointed out the project is two proposals, one urgently needing repair while the baseball diamonds were deemed a want rather than a need.

Coming up to the mic

Yet the CPC Committee said the amendment went beyond the purview of Town Meeting. Dionne noted earlier that while the legislative body can reduce the amount of funding or reject the project, “the stated rational for the amendment to eliminate reconstruction of the baseball fields changes the project as recommended by the CPC.” If the amendment had passed, the reduced funding amount would be insufficient to construct the CPC-approved project, both the Select Board and Committee would then exercise their prerogative to table the project.

But the meeting would have none of that as member after member spoke out to make the ball fields safe to play on.

“You’re right, we are supposed to be critical when things come before us,” said Kathleen “Fitzie” Cowing, Precinct 8. But Cowing said there had been ample opportunities to attend the months-long CPC vetting process and countless Recreation Commission meetings to debate separating the proposed work at Grove Street.

“Now is not the time for us to decide to pick it apart because we didn’t like how it panned out,” said Cowing.

Bowen’s amendment was pushed overboard, 10-224-3, and the project sailed through 219-3-0.

Each project was approved with little opposition, and the affordable housing appropriation passed by the “narrowest” margin of 215-13-1 with the PQ basketball court – all three public hoops courts are now under repair – being accepted unanimously, 221 yeas, zero nays.

Wendy Murphy (left) and Mark Paolillo

With the goal of finishing before 10:30 p.m., the final four presentations were presented under the “brevity is your friend” maxim. The last Article 11 project, the third-floor windows reconstruction at the Homer House, took Belmont Woman’s Club’s presenter Wendy Murphy a quick two minutes to present and then one minute for the meeting to approve.

Town Meeting returns for the final two nights on Wednesday, May 3, and Monday, May 8.

Community Preservation Committee Votes Six Projects Worth $1.7 Million Forward To Town Meeting

Photo: The Grove Street basketball court will be reconstructed as part of the $1.7 million CPC package

The town’s Community Preservation Committee is sending six applications totaling $1.7 million to the annual Town Meeting for the body’s approval in the spring.

After some wrangling and reductions in two grant amounts, the projects which won the committee’s recommendation on Wednesday, Jan. 18 are:

Each project, which has undergone five months of financial scrutiny and applicability by the committee, was approved unanimously by the six members who attended the meeting.

Passed by town voters in November 2010, Belmont raises money for its Community Preservation Fund by imposing a 1.5 percent surcharge on local real estate taxes, collecting approximately $1 million annually. Additionally, each year the state distributes limited matching funds to the towns that have passed the CPA. These funds are collected from existing fees on real estate transactions at the Registry of Deeds.

CPC Chair Elizabeth Dionne noted that for the first time in many years, the dollar amount of the grants – $1,753,343 – nearly reached this year’s available funds of $1,757,666.

A preliminary grant application for $50,000 to begin design and engineering drawings for a renovation of the Underwood Playground above the Underwood Pool was withdrawn in December when CPC members felt the project could be delayed until the next CPC cycle beginning in the summer of 2023. Dionne also pointed to advocates of a Belmont Skate Park who view the park as a possible location for its park which would require the applicant to redefine the project’s scope.

Due to rules that require the CPC to have an adequate reserve for the three CPC “buckets” – the committee funds projects in historic preservation, affordable housing, and land conservation – the CPC approved cutting the original ask for the affordable housing application and the new conservation fund by $30,000 each with the $60,000 going into the historic reserve. The two grants will revert to the initial request if current projects turn back any extra funds when they close.

In addition to the final vote, the CPC voted unanimously to establish a reserve fund, serving as an “escape hatch” for emergency, off-cycle requests; the most recent example was the Town Hall slate roof that was underfunded at its initial request and the collapse last year of the Benton Library’s chimney.

Dionne’s suggestion was for 10 percent of CPC total budget, which would be approximately $140,000, but it was reduced to $100,000.

Letter To The Editor: Historic Clock Tower Needs Community Support

Photo: The clock on top of First Church in Belmont

To the editor:

Over centuries, since the invention of mechanical devices for keeping time, community elders have placed a clock in a prominent building in the village center to announce the local time. This practice traveled from Europe with migrants to North America. In New England, many of the clocks that we see in churches on town greens were bought by town meetings.

In 1889, Belmont’s Town Meeting voted to purchase a clock to be installed in a new church – today, the First Church in Belmont, Unitarian Universalist – being constructed on the Belmont Town Green. That clock is still there, keeping time dependably until the early 2000’s. It stopped only from an accumulation of environmental dust over the years.

Based on several quotes from qualified craftspeople, the cost of the cleaning and renovation of the clock will be about $29,000.

In Autumn 2021, the First Church and the Belmont Citizens Forum teamed up to seek funding to fix the clock.

This past June, Town Meeting appropriated $26,100 in Community Preservation Committee funding for the clock project. None of the funds will end up in the reserves of the church. The money will be paid to contractors and craftspeople who do the work of repairing the clock.

As part of the CPA approval, $2,900 – or 10 percent of the cost of the project – must be raised privately. The church has created a special account to receive community donations to the project cost. The fund has received approximately $1,050 to date.

Please consider contributing to this historic town restoration. Contributions can be made using this link:

Michael Fleming

Town Meeting Votes To Move Forward On Community Path Review; A New Court Coming To Winn Brook

Photo: The easement along the north side of the MBTA commuter rail tracks adjacent the French/Mahoney property off of Brighton Street.

An attempt by a prominent Belmont resident to kill off funding for a next step review of the proposed community path was beaten back by Belmont Town Meeting on Monday, June 7 showing the at times controversial project continues to hold wide support in town.

The amendment submitted by Frank French to return $200,000 to the Community Preservation Committee was defeated handily, 64-192, coming after a wild debate that saw French’s attorney make what appeared to be not so subtle threat the town is likely to face millions in legal judgments if it pursued the path project. That was followed by Belmont’s long-time state senator Will Brownsberger informing Town Meeting that it was French who wasn’t holding up his end of a decades-old bargain with the state that allowed his family to build on an old railroad right of way.

In fact, according to town officials, the engineering firm working on the path submitted a revised plan Monday morning that no longer required any forced taking which French was opposing, rendering his amendment – which took nearly two hours to debate – effectively moot.

Monday’s meeting – the second of four nights in which members would debate budget and financial issues – followed the script of the first in which a single binding article dominated the nearly four hour session as the meeting took up four projects presented by the Community Preservation Committee. Two projects, transferring $250,000 to the Belmont Housing Trust to initiate affordable housing partnerships and $35,000 in design costs as part of the renovation of Payson Park, breezed through with little trouble.

It didn’t come as a surprise the $200,000 sought by the Community Path Project Committee to determine the right of way for phase one of the path – from the Clark Street bridge to the Cambridge line at Brighton Street as well as a pedestrian tunnel under the MBTA commuter rail tracks at Alexander Ave – was set to begin a lively discourse as French filed his amendment to put the brakes on the project placing the path’s future on hold and effectively in doubt.

A great primer of the community path project can be found here.

Russ Leino, the chair of the Project Committee, told the assembled members (attending over Zoom or viewing on community television) the funds would be used by Nitsch Engineering to prepare a detailed Right of Way (ROW) plan as part of the requirements to obtain federal Transportation Improvement Program money that will pay for the majority of the construction.

The work will determine if any private property will be impacted by the construction, most likely that will be temporary and minor such as access to the property to complete the design work, said Leino, although there could be permanent impacts such as repairing retaining walls and at pinch points “but will not actually run over the property.” Owners can “donate” that access to the town or have an appraisal done to determine a fair dollar compensation which will require another Community Preservation Committee request to fund. ROW work isn’t new to Belmont as the town did a similar project when the state renovated Belmont Street and Trapelo Road and the recent completed Welling Safe Routes to School project. The plan is critical as the federal government and state will not move forward funding without it.

Saying his committee – as well as the town and Select Board – are committed to minimizing impacts to private property, Leino noted a project of this magnitude will effect someone’s lands. “The funding by this appropriation really has to be completed in order to fully understand and quantify … those impacts for the Town Meeting to decide what you want to do with that information,” said Leino.

French, Precinct 2, said he and the Mahoney family that jointly owns the land at the corner of the Brighton and the commuter rail tracks and from where they run their businesses, have granted an easement to the path but are opposed to any permanent takings. French mentioned the long-stand complaint by those opposing the path that it should have been placed on the south side of the commuter tracks (more on that to come). Because there was the likelihood of an eminent domain taking, the families have “consulted” attorney and Belmont resident George McLaughlin.

McLaughlin initially came before Town Meeting not forwarding his client’s claim but his own experience of 37 years of successfully litigating Eminent Domain lawsuits winning millions for his clients. When McLaughlin returned to the amendment at hand, he spoke at length that in his opinion, Belmont has “vastly underestimated” the potential damages from this path to residential property along Channing Road.

This line of argument apparently was far afield from a pre-meeting agreement with Town Moderator Micheal Widmer on what would be discussed. That consensus quickly blew up as Widmer and McLaughlin took issue with how much leeway would be given in arguing the amendment.

”Mr. McLaughlin, as we’ve discussed before this meeting. Eminent Domain is beyond the scope so I’ll repeat, you need to talk about the path,” said Widmer.

“What I’m trying to inform the Town Meeting members is that if they go ahead with this plan, I think they are pursuing a plan that explore exposes the town to, you know, $4 million in damages,” claimed McLaughlin.

While saying that McLaughlin’s general point on eminent domain was “fine” to bring up, Widmer requested the attorney to “please adhere to my request that you stay with the scope of the discussion,” noting he had done so three times. The back and forth continued with both men saying they had grown frustrated with each others stance with McLaughlin claiming Widmer had “changed the rules” of the debate.

As Widmer attempted to wrangle McLaughlin in – with little success – Town Meeting members began bombarding Town Clerk Ellen Cushman with Point of Order claims noting McLaughlin was well outside the scope of the matter at hand. Widmer pointed out that a town meeting could not be run by those citing rules violations.

While French and McLaughlin spoke on the town taking a portion of the property, Leino presented an “11th hour” development in which Nitsch determined on the previous Friday that the latest design no longer required taking a permanent easement of the French/Mahoney property. “It can be done there on the existing easement. I was happy to see that as a positive development,” said Leino.

And Brownsberger turned French’s claims on their head by reviewing the context of how French’s secured the site in the first place. Brownsberger said in 2008, French – who Brownsberger called a friend who he respects – approached Brownsberger seeking his support in building his business office on the site knowing the right of way would bisect the property. French building sits on a historic railroad right of way, used as far back as the 1870s as the Fitchburg to Lowell connection until passenger service ended in 1927 and commercial rail halted in the 1980s. State statutes requires anyone attempting to build on a rail road right of way to first obtain a determination of inapplicability from the Department of Transportation.

In 2009, Brownsberger helped French get the process rolling to build but only if the Mass DOT which regulates rail right of ways would preserve the possibility of building a bike path from Brighton Street to Belmont Center and not give away the entire right of way which it did.

“So the point is that MASS DOT gave the ability for Mr. French to build … but retains the right to build a bike path through it,” said Brownsberger. While he was allowed to build up to the easement, French also crossed into it to install a stone sign, curbing and parking with the hope that a possible bike path would never be built.

“Now I was chagrined when I learned that Mr. French was upset about this process,” said Brownsberger. While acknowledging that previous design plans from Nitsch appeared to violate the decades old compromise between the state and French, Brownsberger “is very relieved that the discussion over the past week … that there is no need” for any additional land taking in the latest engineering blueprints.

With French’s concerns apparently addressed, “I look forward to continuing to support this path,” working with the state so to “keep solving problems and keep moving this fast forward,” said Brownsberger. “As an elected official, I am absolutely committed to making sure this works within the easement.”

Select Board Member Mark Paolillo next spoke in greater detail how town officials and representatives from Nitsch would keep the path within its prescribed easement. He also addressed the need for the route to travel along the northside of the commuter tracks as being due to the reluctance of the owner of an essential rail spur to negotiate with the town.

With debate open to the public, members sentiments ranged the gambit of why the French amendment was allowed to move forward if the “problem had been solved” to Stephen Rosales from Precinct 8 expressing his support for French via the lyrical talents of Kenny Rogers.

”You got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away and know when to run,” Rosales said, not sung. Despite the Yeoman efforts by the town, “the time has come. Belmont can no longer hold them,” he said noting that the CPC will “ante up” $1.7 million in studies and engineering work without any guarantee of federal or state funding.

Mark Kagan, Precinct 8, said roadblocks such as the French amendment is the reason that popular infrastructure projects are delayed or killed off. Having lived in bike happy the Netherlands, Kagan said cycling is the wave of the future as it promotes safe, fast transportation that is climate friendly. “Let’s vote this down this amendment and move on Belmont, the greater Boston area and the United States into the future,” said Kagan.

The question was called and the subsequent vote on the Amendment was an overwhelming defeat for French. The debate on the $200,000 allocation for ROW costs was anticlimactic and speedy with the article passing, 200 to 50.

Tennis plus one at Winn Brook

Town Meeting voted to add a single tennis court to the existing facility adjacent to the Winn Brook Elementary School playground and the Joey’s Park Playground.

Jon Marshall, the assistant town manager and recreation director, said an additional court was suited to the site because 1. the town can always use more courts, and 2. an additional tennis court will make for a total of five which is needed to hold regular season and tournament contests by the Belmont High School tennis teams.

Opposition to the new court came from two camps: nearby residents and those who wish to see courts on the high school campus. Melissa McIntyre, Precinct 8, opposed the article, not so much the courts being placed in the neighborhood but the public process the Recreation Commission undertook in approving the location. McIntyre said the strip of green space between Joey’s Park and the courts which will be reduced is an important place that is a place to take a break from the hurly burly of the playground and sport fields. Kathleen “Fitze” Cowing, also Precinct 8, asking why unlike other park and recreation projects the tennis court didn’t go through a two-fpart approval process with a design phase followed by CPC construction funding.

But by 10:45 p.m., the meeting had little energy to go against the CPC’s recommendation and there will be a fifth court at the Winn Brook by the start of the varsity tennis season next April.

New Clay Pit Path Set To Open Mid-November; Vets Memorial A Bit Later

Photo: Work has already begun on the new path around Clay Pit Pond.

It’s been more than two years after Town Meeting gave its OK, but finally, a premier Belmont recreation spot will soon have a new surface that the public will be able to use by Thanksgiving.

In fact, work on the Clay Pit Pond Intergenerational Walking Path had begun by contractor Ronald A Marini Corp. of Auburndale before the contract was signed by the Board of Selectmen on Monday, Sept. 17. The path’s route has been dug up and the ground is being prepped for the installation of the surface material

Marini, a firm Belmont Conservation Commission Agent Mary Trudeau said specializes in municipal parks and creating pathways, submitted the low bid of $388,000 which was accepted by the Selectmen.

The path will be permeable with a crushed stone top – quarried locally in West Roxbury – with drainage along the landscaped route.

Once completed, the path will “feel like you’re walking in a country meadow,” said Trudeau.

The path will stop where the proposed new high school will be built, but discussions with the school’s designers are for possible ways of “sharing” the area along the pond’s edge as a walkway, thus completing the path around Clay Pit. 

“It’s all very exciting,” said Trudeau.

While the contract signed by the board was for the path, in fact, the job includes work on the proposed Veterans Memorial at the Pond. “We really 

Glenn Clancy, director of the Office of Community Development, noted that the path and the Veterans Memorial were using Community Preservation Act funds – $216,550 for the path and $103,000 for the memorial – with an additional $68,450 being donated by the Belmont Veteran Memorial Fund to cover additional expenses not originally contemplated.

While the Veterans Memorial will take somewhat longer to complete – the low black granite markers for each of the conflicts Belmont residents are being made – “possibly the bulk of the work on the intergenerational path which will include hydroseeding the site will be completed by Veterans Day, Nov. 11,” said Trudeau.

With Two Days Left, Friends Of PQ Park Nears Fundraising Goal

Photo: Putting up the new sign at PQ Park.

With a deadline of Saturday, Sept. 30, to meet the town’s requirement for private funding of $35,000 for the renovation of PQ Park, the Friends of PQ Park announced today that it is $5,000 shy of its goal in these final days.  

This grassroots effort, led by a team of volunteers called Friends of PQ Park, has been very successful thanks to the generosity and support of the Belmont community. Donors consist primarily of those who feel connected to PQ and to preserving our playgrounds and fields. This funding will supplement Community Preservation Act funds approved for the renovation. 

“If we can raise the remaining funds, we can act upon our design team’s plan that is going to be delivered earlier than expected,” says Ogden Sawyer, Friends of PQ Park treasurer.

“This is fantastic news, making it possible to break ground in early spring of 2018,’ said Sawyer.

“While the effort to raise $30,000 in 30 days has been an ambitious undertaking, we are thrilled with the success of this campaign.  We really need to push these last two days,” Ogden continues.  “We are making this plea today to our community to help us raise the last $5,000 before this Saturday’s deadline.  Any and all donations are welcome!”

“We are making this plea today to our community to help us raise the last $5,000 before this Saturday’s deadline. Any and all donations are welcome,” he said.

Visit the website to learn more and make your donation. Alternatively, checks should be sent to “Friends of PQ Park,” 31 Walnut St, Belmont MA, 02478.

The Friends of PQ Park, Inc., is a non-profit organization formed in 2017, following the favorable recommendation of funding for the revitalization of PQ Park by Belmont’s Community Preservation Committee.

Applications For 2018 Community Preservation Funding Now Available

Photo: The Underwood Pool

Could your group or committee use a few dollars to complete a community project that involves acquiring or improving open space and recreation land, rehabbing or preserving historic sites, or goes to support affordable housing?

If “yes” is the answer, the town’s Community Preservation Committee has about a million dollars waiting to spend on your worthy venture in the coming 2018 fiscal year. And applications to start the process are available today.

The CPC, which distributes the total of a 1.5 percent surcharge on property taxes and an annual contribution of state funds for a wide range of proposals, has released preliminary applications for the 2017 funding cycle. You can download the preliminary application online here.

Applicants are invited to attend the CPC’s Public Meeting on Sept. 14 to ask any questions they may have regarding the application process.

The deadline for returning your application is Friday, Sept. 29 for those projects to be eligible for the next round in the process.

In the past, CPC funding has been distributed to the Belmont Housing Authority for much-needed infrastructure upgrades of housing under its control, to help fund the second phase of the PQ Playground Revitalization Project, updating the Town Clerk’s records, and for the repair of tennis courts at the Grove Street Playground. It was also instrumental in major projects such as the Underwood Pools and the building of Joey’s Park.

For more information, contact the Community Preservation Hotline at 617-993-2774 or send an e-mail to Michael Trainor at

Historic Resources Survey Makes Public Debut on Thursday

Photo: Redtop, the historic house located at 90 Somerset St. It was once the home of William Dean Howells and family.

After two years of compiling and sorting data and information, the summary findings of the Belmont Historic Resources Survey will be presented in the Board of Selectmen’s Meeting Room, at 7 p.m. this Thursday, Dec. 8.

The town-wide survey of historic properties, conducted by Preservation Consultant Lisa Mausolf, was funded by a grant of $115,000 from the Community Preservation Committee in 2013.

“The Historic District Commission is excited that the historic survey project is nearing completion,” said Lauren Meier, co-chair of the Belmont Historic District Commission.

“It fills in a number of gaps in the documentation about Belmont’s historic resources and will be a valuable tool for the Commission going forward. We are grateful to the Community Preservation Committee and Town Meeting for making this possible,” said Meier.

The survey is an update of the 1984 book Belmont: The Architecture and Development of the Town of Homes, a comprehensive architectural and historic survey of Belmont created by the Boston University Preservation Studies Program. 

In 2013, the Belmont Historic District Commission embarked on revisiting the data, hiring Mausolf to update forms with new information and prepare new forms for resources that had been overlooked in the previous effort.   

The information collected can inform state and federal agencies when federally or state funded projects are planned that might adversely affect a significant cultural resource.  

On the local level, the new inventory can help communities identify significant resources and prioritize future preservation activities including listing properties on the National Register of Historic Places and establishing local historic districts or neighborhood conservation districts.  

The inventory also serves as a basis for the Belmont Historic District Commission to determine which of the town’s significant historic buildings should be subject to the Demolition Delay Bylaw.

Preliminary Applications For 2017 Community Preservation Funding Now Available

Photo: A path along Clay Pit Pond has received funding from the Community Preservation Committee.

Do you or your group have a community project that could use a few dollars to complete?

Does the project involve acquiring or improving open space and recreation land, rehabbing or preserving historic sites, or goes to support affordable housing? If you can say “yes” to those two criteria, the town’s Community Preservation Committee has about a million dollars waiting to spend on your worthy venture in the coming fiscal year. 

The committee, which distributes the total of a 1.5 percent surcharge on property taxes and an annual contribution of state funds for a wide-range of proposals, has released preliminary applications for the 2017 funding cycle. 

The deadline for the initial applications – which is available online here – is Sept. 30 for those projects to be eligible for the next round in the process.

The CPC will also hold a public meeting on Sept. 9, at which time interested parties can ask questions regarding the application process.

In the past, CPC funding has been distributed to the Belmont Housing Authority for much-needed infrastructure upgrades of housing under its control, to jump start the construction of the new Underwood Pool, the design and construction of a multiuse path around Clay Pit Pond, updating Town Clerk’s records, and for the repair of tennis courts around town. 

For more information, contact the Community Preservation Hotline at 617-993-2774 or send an e-mail to Michael Trainor at