BELMONT — The three candidates for the one available seat on the Board of Selectmen made their final pitch for Belmont voters at a sparsely attended candidates' forum at the High School Tuesday night.
Candidate Dan McLelland, Sr. said his familiarity with Belmont's town government makes him the best qualified candidate. He served as a selectman before resigning his seat to become town administrator, a position he held from 2000 to 2005. Before that he had served on the Budget Committee.
Completely retired now, he said he has the time to devote to the town and said he would address issues that had been before the town since 2000 — the town hall building, the preservation of the Gale School and the completion of one Belmont section of the WOW Trail.
He said he inherited the Belmont Mill (as town administrator) when it was about three-quarters finished and he said there were a lot of problems then and he's not surprised there are problems today.
Incumbent Ron Cormier said he is running for a fourth term because he wants to see the Belmont Village Revitalization project through to its completion.
Born in Belmont, Cormier is raising his family and said he got interested in town government when he took over his family home in 2005 and got his first tax bill.
Since then, he said he's learned that "it's not as easy to lower a tax bill" as he thought it would be.
He said his goal shifted to finding ways to make the town better and that the Belmont Village Revitalization project is part of that goal.
The work Cormier said he wants to see through completion is the work on the Belmont Mill, the use of the former Northway Bank Building, the installation of a footbridge in the village center, and some landscaping and paving that must be done this spring to complete the water and sewer portion of the project.
George Condodemetraky has been a selectman twice before.
He said the town needs more long-term planning and that Belmont should have a growth plan in place. "Instead of reacting to problems we should be planning for them."
He said he is concerned with protecting Belmont's agricultural land because someday, residents will have to think about where they're going to grow their food.
Condodemetraky supports recycling and noted that Belmont is one of the only towns left in the area that doesn't have some kind of mandatory recycling program.
He also wants to protect the aquifer that run beneath the town and said it is unfortunate that the land above it was zoned for industrial uses before the town knew it was an aquifer.
"Industry and aquifer don't mix," he said. "We can't afford to loose the quality of our water."
Condodemetraky also said he has a plan to bring money into Belmont but he won't tell anyone what it is unless he is elected.
In response to a question about bringing business and industry to town, Both Cormier and McLelland agreed that Belmont is primarily a residential community and that its lack of infrastructure makes it difficult to attract commercial business and industry to town.
Cormier said studies have been done on the Route 106 corridor relative to water and sewer but adding those services is very expensive.
Referring to a planning charrette, he thinks Belmont's future lies in making it a destination center using the village as an anchor. He said the design is such that the area can be used for concerts and fairs and, coupled with the Riverwalk, he said the goal is for the village merchants to gain some revenue from that.
"The industrial piece just isn't there," he said.
Condometraky said the town is sitting on a gold mine but nobody knows about it except him.
"My plan that I'm not going to tell you about will attract plenty of money," he said.