Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019

'Had there been better safety pedestrian measures, my mother would still be alive today. '
    -- Marcy Beck

UPDATED, July 14: In the light of the pedestrian fatality at the Chestnut Terrace crosswalk in December 2019, the Select Board on June 21 unanimously approved the following improvements: install crosswalk warning signs on both approaches to the crosswalks at Chestnut Terrace and Medford Street, repair the sidewalk across from the Russell Common Lot driveway and install panels on both sides of the driveway.

The Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) “took careful consideration of this sensitive and important issue. Chestnut Street is dominated by vehicular traffic, and TAC is looking at all modes of transportation. Our recommendations will improve safety for both pedestrians and bicyclists, while not reducing vehicular traffic,” said Jeff Maxtutis, TAC group lead. See all agenda documents here >>

Marcy Beck, daughter of the pedestrian who died, said, “I’m very aware of the dangerousness of crossing there. Had there been better safety pedestrian measures, my mother would still be alive today. I approve of TAC’s recommendations, and appreciate their hard work. I hope these safety measures can get going as soon as possible, to prevent another such tragedy.”

Linda Varone, Chestnut Manor resident, said: “The traffic is dangerous, the sidewalks are narrow and there’s no buffer between the street traffic and someone walking on the sidewalk. This is not a quiet neighborhood street. Crossing the street even without traffic is dangerous.”

Ortona Street to be repaired

Ortona Street, a private way, will be repaired, as unanimously approved by the board.

“As private-way abutters, we suffer from the deteriorating conditions of our private way, and we request that these repairs get done as quickly as possible,” said abutter Serdar Dogulu.

Abutter Jon Gersh said, “Ortona Street is a very short road, which everyone in the area uses as a cut-through between Appleton Street and Route 2 to get to Trader Joe’s. We get hundreds of cars a day, and every delivery truck uses this road. It’s a burden on the abutters.”

Two-thirds of the abutters of Ortona Street signed a petition requesting these repairs. Town bylaws state that the Select Board “shall consider any private way . . . for . . . repairs after having been petitioned to do so by at least two-thirds of the total number of abutting property owners.”

However, “The abutters are not happy that they must each pay $4,416.67,” said Dogulu. 

Town Counsel Doug Heim explained, “The town is prohibited from making repairs to private ways. It can provide only low-cost mechanisms, one-third of which is paid for by the town. If the abutters cannot pay their part up front, the cost can be put on their tax bill to pay over time.” 

Prince Hall Day proclamation read

Arlington now celebrates Prince Hall Day every June 24, as approved at this year's annual Town Meeting.

This annual event honors Prince Hall, a Revolutionary War-era black leader, community leader and abolitionist in Boston, who is believed to have fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill. He served as one of the United States’ first civil rights leaders, petitioning the General Court in 1777 for the abolition of slavery. Hall also founded the country’s first black Freemason lodge.

Board Chair Steve DeCourcey read the proclamation, which the board unanimously accepted.

Timothy Downes, Masons' lodge grand master, and The Rev. Brother Justin Petty, attended the meeting via Zoom.

“Thank you for this proclamation, and for the town of Arlington celebrating Prince Hall Day. We all stand on his shoulders because he did some great things that were difficult to accomplish,” said Downes.

Hurd said, “It’s an incredible story of what Prince Hall accomplished, with all the barriers he faced.”

Board member Diane Mahon said, “This wonderful historical story is an overlooked jewel and opportunity. We don’t promote and educate our historical stories enough.” 

Board member Len Diggins concurred, “I want everyone to get an education on this.”

Mugar homeless outreach team recognized 

The board honored the Mugar Woods Homeless Outreach Team for their recent heroic activity.

On June 2, while Officer Joseph Canniff and Hannah O’Halloran, a Somerville Homeless Coalition social worker, were conducting their weekly outreach in East Arlington’s Mugar Woods, the previous living quarters of several unhoused people, a homeless woman handed a homeless man a rifle, who then became aggressive. Through de-escalation efforts, Canniff calmed the man down and prevented any injury. Fortunately, the gun turned out to be a BB gun. 

Police Chief Julie Flaherty commended Canniff and Halloran on their actions.

“The actions of Officer Canniff are consistent with the highest levels of authority. He stayed calm, and fell back on his training, to deescalate the situation. Both the Arlington Police Department and the Somerville Homeless Coalition do excellent work.”

Canniff thanked Flaherty for his excellent training, which he said is “crucial.”

“The Arlington Police Department are the best trained officers I’ve ever worked with, and I’m grateful to be partnered with Joe,” said O’Halloran.

Select Board members also offered praise.

Diane Mahon: “I’m extremely proud and grateful for the Arlington Police Department and the Somerville Homeless Coalition, and thank their families for their sacrifices.”

Hurd: “I learned from training, in simulated situations, how tense these situations are. This town has incredible policing efforts.” 

Helmuth: “The work you do is hard. The extraordinary courage and care you showed during that extremely stressful time shows your values and integrity. You should be proud of that, as I am.” 

Mugar Property cleanup discussed

East Arlington’s Mugar Woods continues to be a health and cleanup challenge.

“The board tries to get cooperation regarding health and safety issues from the owners (the Mugar family), but they remain unresponsive. The conditions have worsened over time, and it’s a health hazard for the neighborhood as well as people who’ve been camping there. We’ve already given the owners cleanup deadlines that they’ve passed,” said Town Counsel Doug Heim.

The board unanimously recommended that Arlington’s Health and Human Services and Board of Health Departments calculate and assess any violations of the state’s sanitary code and fines, and explore and possibly deploy a “clean and lean” process (hire a company to clean the site, including any drug paraphernalia) for any losses the town has and will occur on the property. 

The board also recommended that the Conservation Commission investigate any wetlands bylaw noncompliance, identify and prosecute any financial penalties assessed, vote and authorize the town counsel and various town offices to investigate any and all possible costs incurred by the town, and calculate those recovery costs and suggest any legal actions.

Police Chief Julie Flaherty said, “I appreciate these recommendations and the work of the Somerville Homeless Coalition, which has reduced the number of the homeless population. As of today, the site is vacant. We want this property safe for anyone who’s in that neighborhood/area.”

“This is long overdue. We need to get the property owners to the table. I support any efforts to make the property owners accountable for all these transgressions against this property,” said Hurd. 

“We need to find a way for this problem to keep from rematerializing,” said Diggins.

Helmuth concluded, “We’re out of carrots and are ready for a stick.” 

Departing TAC chair receives appreciation letter 

The Select Board offered sincere thanks to Howard Muise for his almost 16 years of service to Arlington’s TAC as a member, cochair and chair. Muise is leaving the committee June 30.

DeCourcey read the June 7 letter, which states, “Your volunteer efforts have provided innumerable benefits to the Town and its transportation network, and the entire Town owes you a debt of gratitude.” DeCourcey said that Muise “always received top-notch reviews.”

Said Muise: “It’s been a pleasure and privilege to serve on this committee, which does a lot of good things for the town.”

Diggins, who’s also a member of TAC, described Muise as “welcoming, knowledgeable and calm.”

Hurd added: “People don’t understand how much is involved in TAC. Members spend hours and hours out in the field exploring the issues raised.”

Helmuth said that TAC is “one of the best committees in town, and a lot of that has to do with Muise.” 


International Film Festival Banners to be displayed this fall

Be on the lookout for brightly colored Arlington International Film Festival (AIFF) banners from Sept. 15 through Nov. 14, as unanimously approved by the board.

Now in its 11th year of production, the festival will be held at the Capitol Theater Nov. 4 to 14, according to April Ranck, AIFF executive director. 

Dec. 31, 2019: Pedestrian, 81, hit by SUV dies; driver cited


This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Thursday, June 24, 2021, and updated July 14, to add ACMi video window.