Newly sworn-in councilmen Eric Reed and Charles Stone say they plan on staying true to the issues they focused on in their successful campaigns for Belmont City Council.
Both began their tenure Tuesday during the council’s reorganization that also saw Councilman Warren Lieberman become mayor and Councilman David Braunstein become vice mayor. Reed and Stone said they are looking forward to working with others on the council as a collaborative body to address Belmont’s economic development, downtown and aging infrastructure.
Reed and Stone took the seats of longtime councilmembers Coralin Feierbach, who retired, and Dave Warden, just elected to the Mid-Peninsula Water District Board.
Everyone on the council wants to derive a solid economic development plan and see something done with downtown, Stone said.
“I’m open to listening to the community and I think that’s important. I’d like to see high-quality aesthetics, something that’s very appealing and fits in with the village feel of Belmont,” Stone said.
For years, the city has been trying to balance retail development while keeping with a quaint hometown feel. Reed wants to pick up where others left off and push forward with the development of downtown’s Firehouse Square.
“I would like to see us begin work, actually begin work and put shovel to dirt in the Firehouse Square project in 2014. I know that’s extremely ambitious, but I think that should be our target,” Reed said.
City concerns and challenges haven’t changed much, but there is one momentous difference since Reed and Stone ran for office. The Crystal Springs Uplands School purchased the 6.5-acre Davis Drive property in a bold move few knew about until it announced its finalization of escrow Nov. 26. It was a risky move to purchase the multi-million dollar property with no guarantees of entitlement, Reed said.
“But I’m very excited to be able to see that project in front of the City Council and discuss it and see if it aligns with Belmont’s priorities for the future,” Reed said.
Belmont’s apparent loss of the Crystal Spring Upland Schools’ offer to construct a private middle school in the city in October 2012 became a contentious debate about the council’s actions that may have given Reed and Stone an advantage in the election.
“I really think that the process that was followed last time needs to be improved upon. … I’m optimistic that city staff and Crystal Springs [Upland School] can work together and find a way to alleviate citizens’ concerns and make this a win-win for Belmont,” Stone said.
Although he wasn’t privy to previous council’s closed meetings, this time around they have to establish a level of trust and mutual respect as soon as possible, Reed said. He looks forward to sitting with other councilmembers in study sessions to talk about their priorities and how to work together, Reed said.
“There’s a lot that we need to do in Belmont, but I think the most pressing concern right now is developing a working style of a council that is collaborative,” Reed said. “I really like Mayor Lieberman’s working together theme and that is on the top of my agenda list right now.”
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