Brouhaha breaks out at redevelopment meeting 

While Belmont officials hope redevelopment could bring new life and new revenue to town, residents are up in arms over talk of developing the city’s sports complex at Island Park.

Consultants at the Thursday meeting were given the go-ahead to explore redevelopment options at Village Center, Firehouse Square, Belmont Station and Shoreway Place. However, few of the residents at the meeting were there to talk about storefronts, increased revenue or "mixed-use development." Instead, public outcry focused almost entirely on the possible development of Island Park, the home of the Belmont Sports Complex soccer and baseball fields.

Resident Kay Bell, among others accused the city council of not viewing Belmont as a "family oriented city," and said that local fields paled in comparison to their counterparts in surrounding cities.

Mayor Coralin Feierbach moved to close the public comment portion twice during the meeting, once after residents had spoken and a second time after the audience began shouting at the council for not working to prevent Island Park from being redeveloped.

Feierbach, responding to public comments after formally closing the comment period the second time, said that nothing has been finalized with Island Park, and that it was merely "suggested to look at making some money."

She urged the crowd to remember that the council has to look at Belmont as a whole, not just one specific part. "Sports are not the only thing in Belmont that are important," she said.

City officials hope the redevelopment efforts could generate much-needed revenue for city services and potentially leave parts of Belmont looking like Mountain View’s Castro Street or Palo Alto’s University Avenue.

Redevelopment proposals for Island Park — which would account for up to half of the anticipated $5 million in revenue the proposed developments could generate — will be addressed separately because the state will need to be involved in any redevelopment of open space.

With the council’s approval, consultants including Frank Fuller from Field Paoli, the architectural firm that build the city’s new library, will begin working on plans to redevelop the first four sites. Public hearings will be held for each redevelopment project, up to and including the council’s final approvals of each project’s specific plan.

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