Weeks of Leaks: Nat. Grid says larger fix needed on Brighton St.

Residents in the neighborhood of Brighton St. who have grown weary of the smell of natural gas wafting past are going to have to hold their noses a bit longer: an earlier “fix” by utility National Grid did not stop a leak that cropped up in December, and the company now says that it will have to replace replacement of around 200 feet of gas line on Brighton Street to stop it.

Blogging Belmont reported on the leak earlier in January, at which point National Grid had stationed a truck to “watch” the natural gas leak and assuage residents concerned about the smell. More than a month later, the truck is gone but the leak — noticeably — is not.

National Grid media relations representative David Graeves says that the company repaired initial, “low grade” leaks but concluded that a larger repair was necessary to properly address the problem. He said the company was planning to replace around 200 feet of 16″ gas line along Brighton Street, close to the intersection of Brighton and Flanders Rd.

But National Grid’s claims to have fixed the leak don’t pass the “sniff” test — you can clearly smell natural gas leaking in the vicinity of the original leak. They also don’t jive with the Belmont Fire Dept. Dispatcher Pendergas, who said that the Department is receiving calls every day about the leak, prompting visits to the Brighton St. location in response. He says those reports started weeks ago, and have not abated, even after National Grid claimed to have fixed the problem. As it stands, BFD reports those calls to National Grid, but has no authority to force the utility to take action to fix it.

Graves of National Grid said that the company has been in the area completing its engineering studies and maintaining an onsite presence to deal with any other leaks that arise. He said work on the replacement gas main would begin this week — weather permitting.

LeClerc looking for compromise on budget, capital spending

With the town facing a swift economic contraction and the loss of state aid, even as it juggles multiple, competing spending issues, Selectman Dan LeClerc is hoping Belmont will steer a middle path: accepting some cuts in services while supporting important projects such as the construction of a new Wellington Elementary School and the preservation of teacher positions at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

LeClerc shared his thoughts with BloggingBelmont in a one-on-one meeting on Thursday, during which he laid out a possible compromise plan to address the most pressing issues before the town. That plan includes:

  • A vote on a debt exclusion to fund the reconstruction of the Wellington Elementary School on the April ballot — LeClerc said he has and will continue to strongly push for passage of the debt exclusion. “I’ve always supported the Wellington, and I don’t plan to deviate from that position,” LeClerc said. “This is a moral issue. Frankly, we owe it to the kids in that district, who have had to wait for the fire stations and the athletic complex and everything else.”
  • A smaller Proposition 2 1/2 override vote, possibly scheduled for a June vote, and possibly in the neighborhood of $2.5 million — far short of the amount needed to patch a structural budget deficit that is estimated to be closer to $5m annually. 

Upcoming events: critical school funding meeting and BSEAC documentary

A couple of notices for the next week that you in the B2 community should put on your calendars.

The first is a very important joint meeting of the School Committee, Warrant Committee and Board of Selectmen on February 4th at 7:30 PM. This meeting, in the Community Room at the Chenery Middle School. This will be where the rubber meets the road with the proposed school funding cuts and we need as many concerned parents and community members to show up and to show support for continued funding of the public schools.

The next notice came to me from the Belmont Special Education Parents Advisory Council (BSEAC), which is hosting a FREE screening of  “Including Samuel: A Film Documentary about Inclusion”  on February 11, 2009 between 7:00pm and 9:00pm in the Chenery Middle School Auditorium.

BSEAC writes “Please join us and bring a friend to see this internationally acclaimed film, which weaves together the stories of five families’ efforts to include their children with disabilities in every facet of their lives. The film includes interviews with teachers, young people, parents and disability rights experts, celebrating the benefits of inclusion and struggling with its challenges.”

Attendees can also hear guest Speaker Dr. Joseph Petner, Retired Principal of the Haggerty Elementary School, Cambridge, who is featured in the film and will speak about his experiences with inclusion and take questions after our screening.

For more information, please contact BSEAC Co-Chairs Amanda Green (617-484-2218) or Stephanie Woerner (617-484-5833) . This showing is FREE, open to the public, and disability accessible.