December 31, 2014: The year in review

December 31, 2014: Belmont Citizen-Herald

As another year closes in Belmont, I offer some random thoughts about things happening in our community.

I concede, I’m a sports fan.  I’ve had season Red Sox tickets for more than 25 years. I dutifully fill out my March Madness brackets.  And I follow the Bruins, from season opener through the Stanley Cup playoffs.

But, I’ll tell you, Belmont High basketball is just flat out good entertainment for everyone.  For less than the price of a burger at Fenway Park, one can take in a BHS boys/girls varsity double-header, listen to Al Gledhill sing the national anthem, and converse with friends.  It’s hard to beat.

The Red Sox may not have done well this year, but they’ve had some good free-agent acquisitions this fall.  Belmont, too, has done none-too-poorly for itself with recent signings.  New School Superintendent John Phelan has proven to be a superb pick-up.  New Town Administrator David Kale continues to be the kind of “ace” that any community would want to lead its rotation.

Even as we appreciate our recent hires, we shouldn’t overlook the old guys.  The Big Papi of Belmont is our Director of Community Development, Glenn Clancy.  Not only can you count on Glenn for the big hit with the game on the line (e.g., the Trapelo Road reconstruction, the new storm water regulations), but (like Papi) he does so with humor and a smile that almost (but not quite) makes folks forget that what he does is such hard work.

How could Belmont ever express adequate appreciation for the last 24 months of work that Ellen O’Brien Cushman has put in?  She oversaw a series of special elections (one on top of the next) that flowed into an Annual Town Meeting preparation that flowed into a primary election that flowed into a Special Town Meeting and General Election, all while doing the full range of day-to-day tasks of being Town Clerk (such as issuing licenses, responding to requests for information, and maintaining town records). She’s taken on new projects such as digitizing old town records.  A simple year-end “thank you” to Ellen (and her crew) seems, somehow, insufficient.

Recognizing the good, however, should not blind us to the problems that Belmont faced in 2014.  The Cushing Village development, the construction of which was scheduled to start in the Fall of 2013 (and then the Spring of 2014. . .and then the Fall of 2014. . .and then by “the end of 2014”), remains a hole in the ground.

Despite that lack of progress on Cushing Village, one benefit that arises is that the Town receives $20,000 for each month construction does not move forward.  I wonder if any of that money will be devoted to the repair of our streets and sidewalks?

There was a disturbing rise in the rhetoric in 2014 that new families, and the kids who comprise them, are a burden to the town because they impose costs on the schools rather than a resource to welcome and nourish as a continuing renewal of our community.

While Belmont successfully raised funds for a new Underwood Pool in 2014 (right on the heels of the fabulous community effort to rebuild Joey’s Park), the Belmont police station and DPW yard remain a disgrace to the officers and employees who we call upon to work there.  We continue to let needs languish when they don’t have a specific constituency.

As we remember 2014, and wonder what 2015 might bring, we should remember Abraham Lincoln’s counsel that “the best way to predict your future is to create it.”

Happy holidays to all.

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