This piece was jointly submitted to the Belmont Citizen Herald by Representative David Rogers and Will Brownsberger.
We are pleased to announce that the state’s positive financial position has allowed the legislature to make new contributions to Belmont’s capital improvement program — supporting forward movement on the library, the skating rink, public housing and economic development.
Roughly thirty years ago, Belmont’s citizen and professional leaders recognized that Belmont’s roads and water infrastructure and many of its public buildings had been allowed to deteriorate. Reports prepared earlier in the twentieth century had identified urgent major capital needs, for example in the fire stations and the town pool. But in an excess of thrift, these capital needs had been ignored.
In the 90s, the town increased its investment in roads and water infrastructure. Early in the 2000’s, the town’s leadership came together to inventory buildings that needed major maintenance and replacement.
At the time, the inventory was daunting. It seemed doubtful that the town would be able to afford the necessary projects and also support its daily operations.
Never knowing when or whether all the projects could be tackled, a series of task forces prioritized and reprioritized the projects to assure that the most urgent needs would be addressed before public funds and good will were exhausted.
Over the past 20 years, dedicated citizen volunteers and Belmont’s public-spirited voters have assembled funding for a series of major projects – including the senior center, the Wellington School, the town pool, the public works building, the police station and most significantly the new high school.
The library and the skating rink – as important as they both are to the town – were at the tail end of the priority list. Their most committed supporters demonstrated great patience as other projects moved forward ahead of them.
The state’s operating surplus recently allowed us to make some modest local investments over and above the state’s major ongoing support programs for municipalities and their schools.
We chose to dedicate $250,000 to the library project and $250,000 to the skating rink project. For the skating rink, these funds will allow more detailed design and feasibility work to define a future funding vote. For the library, it is our goal to make a contribution in support of the already designed project which may soon be before the voters for approval.
We especially appreciate the cadre of spectacularly well-qualified and committed volunteers who have steered the town successfully through the many projects it has completed over the past couple of decades. We are confident in their judgments about project value and also in their project management skills.
We hope that our modest contributions to the remaining pair of projects, the library and the skating rink, help build support for their ultimate approval by the voters.
Improvement of the town’s public housing stock has followed a separate path. Public housing has long been maintained through the state budget as opposed to the local budget. We have both strongly supported the statewide investment programs in public housing and other affordable housing. With great respect for the residents of public housing in Belmont, we were pleased to be able to allocate $500,000 for urgent improvements in Belmont’s public housing as part of the recent spending bill.
Finally, in support of Belmont’s local businesses and local business vibrancy, we allocated $100,000 to further public realm improvements identified by the town’s economic development committee.
We hope that this total investment of $1.1 million will effectively complement and support the town’s own investments in its important civic goals.
Will Brownsberger is the state senator serving Back Bay, Fenway, Brighton, Allston, Watertown and Belmont. Dave Rogers is the state representative serving Belmont, and parts of Arlington and Cambridge.