Aside Posted on Updated on
Dealing with Belmont’s development needs will require balancing to be fiscally responsible while we make decisions for the timely remediation of our failing buildings. Belmont’s properties and land sites — specifically the incinerator site, old light building, high school (and ice rink on its campus), library and police station —are all in dire need of attention. In addition, roads and sidewalks require work and budgetary needs must be met. All in all, Belmont faces a daunting set of concerns. However, opportunities exist to both reinvigorate our land and building use and meet the rest of our development needs. In other words, the two can co-exist and flourish.
The Incinerator Site
With a growing school population and a much-needed focus on increased activity across generations, the incinerator site, which is not being used at present, should be utilized for parks and play areas. The growing interest of both boys and girls in Little League and soccer necessitates access to more play space. Further, the area is big enough to accommodate parking and to manage environmental impacts. Recreational use would occur after site remediation and possible capping.
My approach to the incinerator site is based upon many years of professional experience in the design and construction of buildings as well as in linear construction. This experience has been combined with a very successful law practice involving legal aspects of architecture, engineering and construction. This could address Belmont’s current and future sports needs and also deal with the state’s requirement that the site be closed.
The Municipal Light Building/High School/Library
I have been involved in many projects building and renovating buildings. They were similar to and took the same amount of time as will the upcoming Municipal Light Building project. I know that Belmont faces costly environmental concerns — lead and asbestos abatement — irrespective of whether the building is renovated or demolished. The problem goes beyond the Municipal Light Building since there are two other substations that must be dealt with. All of this will cost many many millions of dollars and take a number of years to accomplish.
Belmont must balance needed improvements to its infrastructure with the ability of its residents to pay for them in order to be fiscally responsible. Thus, recommendations for using the Municipal Light Building should be reserved until after Town Meeting has deliberated about design options for both the High School and the Public Library and we have some idea about what they will cost.
The Police Station
Belmont’s finest are located in a building that is not up to code and is in great need of upgrades to bring it into the 21st century. A new police station is essential.
One proposal would merge the police and fire departments and place them at the Trapelo Road station. I am opposed to this idea. Although other communities have merged their public safety units into one, under a director of public safety, I do not believe this is in the best interest of our residents’ security and safety.
- Policing constitutes the enforcement of the law, serving and protecting our community.
- The Fire Department is focused on serving and protecting the safety of our community.
Despite some common goals, these objectives create unique needs which could not be effectively served within the same building.
I would encourage and facilitate the renovation or construction of a new police department building that fits the needs of our force for years. This must be done in a way that meets the needs of our force for years to come but balances this with other municipal property requirements.
I intend to give Belmont’s processes the attention they need. The town should have a balanced budget and as few tax increases as possible. The work that municipal properties need should be done in a balanced and, thus, fiscally responsible manner. During my three-year term, I will work to leverage the 2015 override so the funds last as long as possible. In addition, Belmont should try to obtain federal/state or other funding so that capital projects can move forward more quickly than would otherwise be possible.