Rec News: Underwood Pool To Open At 100% With Unlimited Residential Passes; Outdoor Movies At Town Field After July 4th

Photo: The Underwood Pool from 2019

Responding to the re-opening of public places as state COVID-19 restricts are being pulled back, the Belmont Recreation Commission unanimously voted on Thursday, June 10 to open the Underwood Pool to 100 percent capacity on Wednesday, June 23 with an unlimited number of family and individual passes (aka tags) for residents seeking to cool off this summer.

Residents interested in applying for a pass or more should go to the Recreation Department webpage.

Due to the lifting of the restrictions, patrons will no longer need to pre-register to attend the pool at specific two-hour blocks of time. According to Rec Department Director and Assistant Town Manager Jon Marshall, two green areas will be sectioned off and have spaces marked off “for people who are a little less comfortable can go to.”

As of Friday, June 11, any resident wanting a pass will receive one with the department limiting the number of non-residential passes to those on the waiting list.

So far this season, the Belmont Rec Department has issued 598 family, 104 individual and 62 senior passes – a total of 2,600 people – as the town had prepared to open the pool at 50 percent of capacity. It also has 110 non-residents on a waiting list, according to Brandon Fitts, rec department assistant director. In 2019, the town issued 1,050 tags.

Residents who purchased tags in the belief the pool would be at 50 percent and wish to cancel their passes will only have until June 21 to receive a full refund. Passes will also be sold at a reduced rate later in the season. The cost of passes are $305 for families; $110 for individuals and $50 for seniors.

Films on the Field

At Monday’s meeting, Fitts also announced a free summer-long movie series sponsored by the Rec Department and the Belmont Council of Aging. Using a generous donation from a Belmont couple, the Rec Department has purchased a projector/sound system and screen which will be set up at the Town Field baseball diamond on Thursday evenings.

“We worked really hard with a number of town departments to make this all a reality,” said Fitts, saying the department will screen seven family friendly movies. The events will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. running from July 8 to August 19.

It will be an opportunity for residents to come to the field and bring a picnic dinner [Remember: Town Field is a Carry In, Carry Out play area so bring a bag to remove any refuse]. The town will also hire a group to bring games, set up basketball hoops and “Gaga ball” pits for kids to play until the film begins at 8 p.m. Residents will also be able to use the restroom facilities at the adjacent Beech Street Center. One commissioner suggested “off the record” bringing food trucks to add some culinary choices to the night.

Fitts also said since the sound system will be owned by the Rec Department, there are opportunities to use the equipment for other events around town such as having music at the Underwood Pool, special events, and a possible “Rock the Rink” skating party at the “Skip” in which skaters circle the ice as high school bands perform.

The movies for this summer are the live version of “Aladdin,” the “Parent Trap” with Lindsay Lohan, “The Secret Life of Pets,” “Honey I Shrunk the Kids,” “Finding Nemo” and the movie version of “Grease.”

Controlling Trash And Rats: Carry-In/Carry-Out Trial Set For Joey’s Park, Town Field

Photo: Goodbye, rat magnet.

There were two photos projected on the wide screen at the Board of Selectmen’s Room during the board’s meeting on Monday, March 26.

On the left of the screen was a collection of garbage loaded up on a broken water fountain including what appeared to be a dirty diaper. The right side showed what appeared to be a birthday party but with all the paper plates and napkins, balloons, containers and food left on the benches and tables as if the people were suddenly taken in the Rapture.

The scenes presented to the board of recent conditions at Joey’s Park in the Winn Brook neighborhood was just the spark to light the fuse to launch Selectman Mark Paolillo into orbit.

“That’s disgusting! How do people do this? It’s so disrespectful!” said Paolillo in an extended animated response, sending a message to the community that he and the town have had enough of those who litter and run.

“Those of you at home who did this; it’s outrageous!” said Paolillo.

The evidence of residents and possibly visitors from surrounding communities behaving badly by illegal dumping trash in the parks is prompting the town to reintroduce a program removing all trash barrels in town’s eight parks and playground to be replaced with a program where if you bring something into the parks, you’ll have to take the resulting waste out yourself.

“While there is no silver bullet that will end illegal dumping, this [policy] will be a long-term benefit,” said Jay Marcotte, Belmont Public Works director, as he presented the plan to the board.

While many residents were not in favor of the program known as Carry-In/Carry-Out when it was first introduced a year ago, the proposed policy is now also being used as a weapon to attack another issue facing residents: rats.

The rodent infestation has begun to plague certain parks and neighborhoods as the rats have discovered a ready source of food, coming from compost piles, pet food left outdoors, birdseed dispensers and household trash. And one of the easiest is the waste and food scraps left in and around the many barrels located in each park.

Currently, the town empties barrels Monday, Wednesday and Friday and whenever they are called, said Marcotte. But just by having trash containers creates a problem. “If you build it, they will come. And if you have trash barrels, the trash will come. It’s just the nature of what humans do, even if its overflowing,” said Marcotte.

While some residents contend the problem can be solved with more barrel pickups, Marcotte believes the best long-term approach is a conscious and sustained effort of re-educating the public.

A pilot program at Joey’s Park and Town Field between Beech and Waverley streets beginning in the next few months. The policy of taking away the trash is gaining in popularity locally and around the country. Nearby Walden Pond in Concord, the Boston Harbour Islands, the National Park System and the municipalities of Gloucester, Beverly, Reading, and Needham have joined the trend.

The DPW is working with the Board of Health to bring its expertise in educating the public. 

Board of Health member Dr. David Alper said while the board had reservations on a complete ban of receptacles, “Let’s try it. It certainly doesn’t cost us anything to hit the two big parks.”

“It comes back to education. You wouldn’t think you’d have to educate the public to pick up after themselves but you do,” said Alper. He also said the DPW will work with Winn Brook Elementary students to create signs and message to be placed around the parks to reinforce the policy.

“And hopefully the byproduct will be the rats will look elsewhere for food,” said Alper.

Six Projects Clear First Hurdle Towards Securing CPC Funding

Photo: The Belmont Veterans Memorial project.

More fields being restored, a “re-do” and a saving a Belmont barn have submitted preliminary applications for funding by the town’s Community Preservation Committee, according to information released by the CPC on Tuesday, Oct. 3.

A total of six applications were received by the committee by its Sept.29 deadline,  according to Michael Trainor, who this week stepped down from the CPC Admin Coordinator position after five years of working for the CPC.

While five of the six have specific dollar amounts, one – the second request for an inter-generational walking path at the Grove Street Playground – was submitted without a price tag attached.

But in the preliminary application stage, “it’s not entirely necessary since the CPC is just looking at whether or not the project would be eligible to receive funding under Mass General Law and Belmont’s specific list of criteria,” said Trainor.

With the amount for the Grove Street project to come, the total dollars requested is $748,000. While the CPC will select the projects to obtain grants, Town Meeting will have the final say which receives funding.

The projects, the amount requested and the applicants are:

  • Town Field Playground restoration $180,000 (Courtney Eldridge, Friends of Town Field Playground)
  • Payson Park Music Festival shed/hatch $50,000 (Tomi Olson, Payson Park Music Festival)
  • McLean Barn conditions study and stabilization $165,000 (Ellen O’Brien, Lauren Meier, Glenn Clancy) 
  • Belmont Veterans Memorial restoration and enhancement $103,000 (Angelo Firenze, Belmont Veterans Memorial Committee)
  • Funds set aside for the Housing Trust $250,000 (Judith Feins, Belmont Housing Trust)
  • Construction of a Grove Street Park Intergenerational Walking Path TBD (Donna Ruvolo, Friends of Grove Street Park)

The Town Field project follows other park restoration projects including this year’s PQ Park renovation and the Grove Street Park path is similar in aim and name as the one approved for Clay Pit Pond. Tomi Olson’s hatch shell project was submitted last year but rejected after Olson could not produce the written support of abutters the committee had requested. Belmont received the abandoned dairy barn, located just south of the Rock Meadow Conservation Land off Mill Street, in 2005 from McLean Hospital. And the Belmont Veterans Memorial has been raising private funds to help pay for the renovation and construction on Clay Pit Pond.

Important dates for the applicants include:

  • Nov. 8, 2017: a public meeting to discuss the applications.
  • Dec. 4, 2017: Final applications are due
  • Jan. 12, 2018: The CPC selects projects
  • March 2, 2018: Project Summary Reports Due 
  • Late April 2018: League of Women Voters Meeting
  • Early May 2018: Town Meeting