Fiesta Verano

Fiesta Verano

Alex Taborta and Esther A. danced inside Pan y Cafe during Fiesta Verano last Saturday, Aug. 4. The second part of the Chelsea Art Walk had a hard time avoiding rain this year, having been cancelled once due to rain. On Saturday, organizers decided to go for broke, and moved the event inside Pan Y Café – courtesy of owner Roy Avellaneda. Several acts performed inside, and the Latin-themed afternoon was a hit.

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The Trucks Stop Here:Chelsea Food Truck Festival Scheduled for Aug 14-16

The Trucks Stop Here:Chelsea Food Truck Festival Scheduled for Aug 14-16

What better way to introduce the new ordinance allowing food trucks in the city than with a Chelsea Food Truck

City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher (left) and City Hall summer
intern Katherine Cabral invite Chelsea residents to attend the first-ever Chelsea Food Truck Festival Aug. 14-16 at the Williams School parking lot.

Festival?

That’s the path that City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher and City Hall summer intern Katherine Cabral are taking with the city’s first food truck festival that will be held on Aug. 14-16 (Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) at the Williams Middle School parking lot at the corner of Arlington and Fifth Streets.

Watson Fisher, head of the Law Department for the city and a graduate of one of the nation’s finest law schools (Boston College), is the chief organizer, while Cabral, a CHS graduate and student at Bates College, is in charge of marketing for the organizing team.

Watson Fisher, who also supervises licenses in Chelsea, drafted the food-truck ordinance, which took one year to develop and gain approval.

“We’re trying with this festival to show that there is a customer base and market for food trucks in Chelsea,” said Watson Fisher. “We also want to get the food trucks here as an event for employees of City Hall. The Williams School is a good location for City Hall employees and other people who also work in the city during the day.”

Several employees from city departments, including licensing, law, DPW, inspectional services, schools, city manager’s office, will be in attendance and interact with the community at the festival.

Representatives from the National Institute of Justice will be conducting a survey at the festival. The Hubcats, which promotes the well-being of cats, will have an information table. The Archery, Limebikes, and Carter Park Crossfit are among the local businesses participating in the festival. There will be music and a possible appearance of the Chelsea Police “Copsicle” truck.

Attendees will have a wide of variety foods available for purchase, according to Watson Fisher.

“We’ll have a Chilean food truck, a Vietnamese food truck, a gluten-free, vegan truck, an American barbecue truck, as well as tacos, sausages, hot dogs, and hamburgers, and desserts,” said Watson Fisher.

Cabral said the festival will help determine which type of food trucks might be popular if the trucks were stationed here on a daily basis.

“We’re bringing in a big variety of food trucks to see what the people want going forward and whether the food truck operators are interested in collaborating with Chelsea,” said Cabral.

Though Watson Fisher is ready to review applications for food truck licenses and to potentially grant them, there are no food trucks currently operating in the city.

“We have allowed food trucks at certain events,” said Watson Fisher. “But at this point there are no food trucks operating in the city.”

Cabral believes the festival will ignite an interest in food trucks wanting to set up shop in the city.

“We really do want this event to be a springboard for food trucks to come to Chelsea and to expose our dayworkers to see this an opportunity to try new things, so we’re super excited to hold such a multi-faceted event in our city,” said Cabral.

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Marijuana Store, Education Facility Looks at Possible Parkway Plaza Location

Marijuana Store, Education Facility Looks at Possible Parkway Plaza Location

The Western Front company is proposing to locate a medical marijuana dispensary and a marijuana industry training program at the Parkway Plaza off of Webster Street.

A public meeting to hear and discuss the proposal will be held at City Hall tonight, Aug. 9, at 6 p.m.

Attorney Tim Flaherty said that Western Front is led by Marvin E. Gilmore Jr., a World War II veteran who has spent most of his life helping low-income people get into profitable industries so that they could move into the middle class.

Flaherty said the state Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) has already certified Western Front as an Economic Empowerment proposal, which makes it unique compared to traditional proposals. It also puts it somewhat on the fast-track in the state process. Chelsea is designated as a community where Economic Empowerment proposals are allowed due to what is termed an inequitable enforcement of drug laws regarding marijuana in the past.

Flaherty said to be certified, a proposal has to meet three of six criteria, and Western Front met all six.

“This is a very appropriate site we think for this use and complies with zoning in Chelsea,” said Flaherty. “What we will do with the space is we will operate a dispensary on one side and we will operate the other side as a workforce training space. Our business model is to have Chelsea residents and have people previously impacted by the War on Drugs benefitting from this proposal. There are certain types of offenses that disqualify people from being hired by Western Front, but a conviction for possession of marijuana would not prohibit them.”

The proposal at the moment is for a medical marijuana dispensary to operate, but Flaherty said they would like to become a recreational facility if they can get the financing and approvals. For now, though, they will be apply for medical.

The workforce training center will exist to educate Chelsea residents about how to get involved and qualified to work in the burgeoning marijuana industry.

The proposal, Flaherty stressed, is unique in that it is meant to benefit people in Chelsea that have been disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs in the past.

He said they haven’t signed a Host Community Agreement with the City yet, but he said a standard condition is a 3 percent impact fee. Another 3 percent fee would be imposed as a local sales tax option. Other mitigation could come if the proposal is approved.

Flaherty said they will have 24/7 video and audio surveillance, with steel doors and a security guard on site.

After the community meeting, if there is not major opposition, the proposal would move to a full application with the state. If approved there, the application would come back to the Chelsea Planning Board for a Special Permit.

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Encore Boston Harbor Begins Monthly Job Clinics at Collaborative

Encore Boston Harbor Begins Monthly Job Clinics at Collaborative

Encore Boston Harbor and the Chelsea Collaborative started the first of many monthly job fairs last Thursday, Aug. 2, at the Collaborative’s Broadway headquarters.

The Collaborative’s Sylvia Ramirez said they want to make sure Chelsea residents can benefit from the 4,000 full-time casino jobs that are coming in June 2019, and time is of the essence.

She said Encore will begin coming to the Collaborative to discuss and assist potential applicants with the process. The first such meeting came last Thursday, and Ramirez said the next one will be Aug. 30.

“The Collaborative has a workforce development department and we are trying to forge partnerships for financial sustainability and better jobs,” she said. “We are collaborating with businesses around the community. It also has a lot to do with the casino. We want to teach career readiness so they can be prepared when the jobs come down the pipeline.”

Ramirez said the casino is going to affect Chelsea as much as it will Everett and Charlestown, and with that in mind, she said residents should be ready for the jobs that will be coming very soon. She also said Chelsea is falling behind, and now is the time to get ahold of the opportunities.

“This is the beginning of the conversation,” she said. “I don’t want to be behind on this. I think Everett is so far ahead of us with the Everett United organization. We need a coalition as well. We don’t know what it’s called, but we need to set goals and metrics to advocate for our Chelsea residents. Everett doesn’t have 4,500 people available to hire.”

By bringing in representatives from Encore once a month, Ramirez said it ensures that the company will commit to Chelsea. The city does have preference in line with Boston and Cambridge. Only Everett and Malden come ahead of Chelsea.

“We want to make sure they really commit to us and give some opportunities to our people. Just because some of our people in Chelsea have limited language, it doesn’t mean they can’t do a job there.”

Representatives from Encore will be able to help residents one-on-one in English and Spanish. They will be able to define the jobs that are available and what one needs to do to qualify for those jobs. Likewise, they will be discussing the new “dealer school” that is about to start at Cambridge College in Charlestown. The six-week course will begin in the fall, with applications coming soon.

Meanwhile, Ramirez said the casino jobs Ð whether in the gaming area or in non-gaming functions Ð can provide a better income to help solve the rising housing costs in the city.

“Anyone who lives in Chelsea, they pay $1,500 in rent now and they’ll likely be paying $2,500 in the next few years,” she said. “ How can they keep up? They need to stay in the city and have jobs like these that pay well.”

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Large Crowds Enjoy Live Racing, Food Trucks at Suffolk Downs

Large Crowds Enjoy Live Racing, Food Trucks at Suffolk Downs

More than 13,000 people came to Suffolk Downs this weekend to enjoy live thoroughbred racing and a food truck festival.

And what a show it was. There was a carnival-like atmosphere on two hot summer days at the popular East Boston racetrack.

Longtime horseracing fans stood trackside next to some some young families who were getting their first, up-close look at what was once one of the most popular sports in the United States. The Kentucky Derby, for example, is still often called “most exciting two minutes in all of sports.”

Chief of Operations Chip Tuttle, a giant in the industry of horse racing, was very pleased with the large turnout on both days. He said the food trucks are always a nice draw that gives people variety over the standard racetrack faire.

There had been some concern at mid-week that the weekend of racing might not materialize after the State Legislature failed to vote on the measure during the last day (July 31) of its legislative session. But the legislature met informally Thursday to reinstate the law and Gov. Charlie Baker signed it, thus allowing for simulcasting and live racing to resume.

“Thankfully it was taken care of quickly and we appreciate the work of the House leadership, and the Senate, and the governor to get it remedied in less than 48 years hours,” said Tuttle. “We thank Speaker DeLeo for his efforts especially.”

Tuttle said that Suffolk has a request before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to add another weekend of live racing on Sept. 15-16. “It’s on the Commission’s agenda for their meeting on Aug. 14,” said Tuttle. “We’d really like to run one more weekend. There’s certainly funding to do it in the Racehorse Development Fund and it helps the local horsemen, the Massachusetts breeders. They don’t have as many opportunities to run for purse money as they like and we’re doing our best to accommodate them.”

Tuttle said that Suffolk Downs will be open through the end of the year (2018) for simulcasting.

“And we’re already in discussions with both the horsemen and HYM [the real estate company that will be redeveloping the Suffolk property] about dates for the first half of 2019,” he added.

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Frustrated House Waited for Horse Racing/Simulcast Bill All Night

Frustrated House Waited for Horse Racing/Simulcast Bill All Night

Live horse racing and simulcasting took a topsy-turvy ride over a period of 48 hours last week, when the Sport of Kings became illegal in the Commonwealth for the first time in generations.

All of it came as a result of the State Legislature’s run up to the end of its two-year Legislative session on Tuesday and into Wednesday (July 31 and Aug. 1) night Ð and it was a frustrating end for Speaker Bob DeLeo, who said they waited all night for the Senate to send back an approved Racing Bill.

It was considered a non-controversial, annual renewal, but it was a wait that proved fruitless and frustrating for the Speaker.

When the bell sounded to end the session, racing hadn’t been done, and that technically made it illegal Ð something with dire consequences for Suffolk Downs and Plainridge Race Course, both of which had major racing events last week.

“We were waiting for it to come back from the Senate so we could vote on it,” DeLeo said this week. “It never made it back to the House for a final vote so that there would be no disruption in racingÉI have to say, it was very frustrating to be waiting all night for the legislation to come back and it never did. I know that things get lost. I appreciate that, but we’re talking about people’s livelihoods and people who rely on that paycheck. I thought it was important that got done and that’s why we moved so quickly to get it straightened out the next day on the governor’s desk to sign by mid-day.”

Indeed, by Thursday afternoon, racing had been restored, and DeLeo said that was because he and his team moved immediately all night long to make sure it passed.

It didn’t stop the talk, however, about why Senate President Karen Spilka hadn’t taken up a matter so important to Speaker DeLeo’s district in a session that ended with a bit of animosity between the two bodies Ð particularly on the failure to pass an education funding and health care bill by the end of session.

Some inside sources have said that it was retribution from Spilka to DeLeo for not passing certain things that were important to her Ð essentially, they said, making racing a pawn in a larger political spat.

DeLeo played that down, however, this week, saying only, “We were just awaiting the documents from the Senate.”

Spilka told the State House News Service last week that racing was simply one of many bills that failed to pass before the session’s end.

“Just like every single year, we don’t always get to everything,” she said to State House News.

Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle said he was glad to see that the matter was quickly resolved, which meant that it didn’t disrupt Suffolk’s weekend of live racing Saturday and Sunday.

“We want to thank the House, Senate and Governor for addressing this today and we’re looking forward to two great days of racing this weekend,” he said late on Thursday.

But Suffolk, Plainridge and Raynham didn’t get there without sweating it out for a period of many hours when their product has suddenly become unauthorized.

On Wednesday morning, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) put out a letter of direction to Suffolk Downs, Plainridge Park and Raynham Taunton Greyhound Park.

The letter said that the Commonwealth’s legislation for live racing and simulcasting had expired on July 31 at midnight and no action had been taken to renew or replace it.

“As of today, there is not statutory authorization for live horse racing or simulcasting in the Commonwealth,” read the letter. “Please be advised that until further notice from the Gaming Commission, simulcasting in all forms under any license at your facilities is suspended. Further, live racing at Suffolk Downs and Plainridge Park is also suspended until further notice.”

The MGC added the item as an emergency agenda item for its meeting on Aug. 2, in Springfield, but as they got to the matter, DeLeo had straightened everything out.

Getting it fixed was the main point of the matter, DeLeo said this week.

“Suffolk did have a very big live racing weekend coming up, but for meÉwe have a number of people who live and work in my district who quite frankly live paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford even one day without that paycheck,” he said. “That’s very important and that’s why the very next day we worked to get it passed on signed by the governor.”

The Racing/Simulcast legislation doesn’t sunset again until July 31, 2019.

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Beacham, Robin, and Dexter in Everett to Basically Shut Down through October

Beacham, Robin, and Dexter in Everett to Basically Shut Down through October

Facing a do-or-die situation for the completion of major off-site roadwork this summer, and a slower-than-expected work schedule on an Eversource project, Encore Boston Harbor and the City of Everett have announced on Tuesday the areas of Beacham, Dexter and Robin Streets will basically be closed off from Aug. 8 through October.

The change will likely have much more dire consequences for Chelsea than for Everett, as the roadway in and out of the New England Produce Center will be shut down for all intents and purposes. Beyond that, cab traffic from the airport will also be diverted away from the normal route through Beacham Street.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they’ll have to take a wait and see approach in the coming weeks to figure out the proper response.

“It’s just hard to say what the impact will be,” he said. “Given the Second Street alternative (for the Produce Center), I’m hoping the impact is not too substantial. But, we will have to wait and see.”

Chief Brian Kyes said the Police Department would employ its message boards around the city to inform people of the sudden change.

Many had hoped that the work could get done side-by-side, and by making the Eversource transmission line project and the Encore traffic project a dual project Ð it could bring down the pain associated with so much construction work in one small location.

However, that ended up not happening, said Everett Planner Jay Monti, who indicated that Eversource moved too slow on their project. That, in turn, has put things in jeopardy for the casino to get its work done before the end of the outdoor construction season Ð which closes in early November when the asphalt plants shut down.

“Due to delays in permitting and obstructions on the road, Eversource has gotten behind schedule to the point it’s going to threaten Encore in getting its [off-site] roadwork done and without that work they can’t open the casino next year. We’re up against a wall and the only way to get it to work is to go 24 hours a day and essentially shut down the roadsÉThings got critical last week and Eversource was just not making progress. Encore came to us and said they can’t wait any longer. They can’t risk not opening up the casino on time because of the Eversource project running behind.”

The shut-down began Aug. 8, and will run for about 10 weeks into October so that Eversource can work around the clock, three shifts, to get their work in the area done and move on to Chelsea and East Boston. Following that, the shutdown will allow Encore to work around the clock to get the work done that has been held up due to Eversource running behind.

Monti said the corridor will be open to pedestrians and bicycles during the 10-week shutdown.  To be clear, though, the roads will be open for drivers, but it will be more than difficult to get through at all hours of the day. So, they are suggesting people use other ways to get places like the airport, the Produce Center and other areas. “For all intents and purposes, it’s closed because anyone who goes down there will sit in traffic for three hours,” he said. “We want to send a message to people who use that corridor. If you’re a cabbie going to or coming from the airport, you have to take the Tobin and pay the toll. If you’re a delivery driver for Amazon, we don’t want you in that area because this work needs to get done. If you’re a driver for the Produce Center, we encourage you to take Rt. 16 and Second Street into Chelsea.”

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August Activities Posted at Local DCR Areas

August Activities Posted at Local DCR Areas

Celebrate DCR’s 125th birthday by exploring your state park system during the month of August. There are some wonderful programs happening statewide – below are few highlights!  For more information check out the DCR event and program calendar (https://www.mass.gov/service-details/upcoming-programs-and-events)!  Also, be sure to check out the DCR Waterfront Services Schedule for 2018 (https://www.mass.gov/doc/waterfront-services-schedule-may-2018)   for a complete listing of waterfront services.

The following local parks are holding events.

Revere Beach

Reservation

 Shorebird Surprises-

Afternoons

Aug. 21  1-2:30 p.m.

Explore beautiful Revere Beach for birds of the beach and shore. Walk up to three miles on the beach, on mud flats and paths. Some binoculars and a spotting scope will be provided but please bring these items if you have them.  Suitable for adults and children ages 10 and older accompanied by an adult.

Meet at: Revere Beach Reservation, across the street from One Carey Circle on the sidewalk of the semicircular parking lot.  Accessible by MBTA Bus # 441 or 442 to Point of Pines stop: Cross street, turn right and walk approximately 0.3 miles to the sidewalk of the semicircular parking lot across the street from One Carey Circle. Visit www.MBTA.com.

 Impact Travel workshop

Saturday,  Aug. 11

  10:30-1 p.m.

Join HI Boston and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation for an Impact Travel workshop! Take part in a morning of art through mindfulness on Revere Beach and discover the connection between travel and the local environment with DCR staff. Then participate in a facilitated discussion led by HI Boston staff on how to become a more environmental traveler, and share your thoughts over lunch! This event is FREE and open to the public! Light lunch will be served. However, space is limited so register soon to save your spot! Recommended for adults and teens, but all ages welcome. (Anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult) For more information and to register, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/impact-travel-workshop-tickets-46941868392.

For more information and with questions contact: Educational Programs at HI Boston, liora.norwich@hiusa.org, (617) 230-5798.

Meet At: Outside at the front entrance of One Eliot Circle, Revere, MA  (the tan house at the corner of Dolphin Avenue)  *Optional meet up at 9:45am at HI Boston, 19 Stuart St., 02116. From HI we will proceed together to Revere on public transit.

 Belle Isle Marsh

Reservation

 An Oasis for Birds  

Saturday,  Aug. 18,   

 8 -9 a.m.

Discover the abundant birdlife at Belle Isle Marsh Reservation, a restored wildlife sanctuary. We will walk while birding for a distance of a mile on easy level terrain. Some binoculars and a spotting scope will be provided but please bring these items if you have them.  Reasonable accommodations available upon request.   Suitable for adults and children ages 10 and older accompanied by an adult.

Meet at: On or near the boardwalk to the right of the Bulletin Board, located on Bennington Street, East Boston between address 1236 Bennington St., East Boston and 173 Bennington St., Revere. Parking is on a paved lot and is free of charge.   Accessible by public transportation: MBTA Blue line, Beachmont Station. Exit station, turn right, at intersection, cross State Road/Bennington Street, travel right along Bennington Street to park entrance on the left. Visit www.MBTA.com for bus and train information.

Co-sponsored by the Friends of  Belle Isle Marsh.

Lynn Shore and Nahant Beach Reservation

Exploration Station at the Ward Bathhouse

Saturday,  Aug.  18, 

1:30 -3:30 p.m.

Learn from a Park Interpreter about the rich cultural history of Nahant Beach andor the  nature you may encounter at the Reservation at a station with natural objects and activities. You may arrive at any time from 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. on the dates listed.    Suitable for all ages.

Meet at: Inside the James J. Ward Bath House located on the Don John Aliferis Memorial Rotary aka Lynnway Rotary, Lynn MA.  Daily Parking Fee applies.  For a map of the park and information about parking fees visit www.mass.gov/dcr.  Please note that the entrance to the parking lot along Nahant Beach is at the South end of the beach.

Exploration Station at the Halfway Bathhouse

Friday,  Aug. 24

10 a.m.- noon

Learn from a Park Interpreter about the nature you may encounter at the beach and how you can be good stewards of the environment at a station with natural objects and activities. You may arrive at any time from 10:00 a.m.-Noon on the dates listed.   Suitable for all ages.

Meet at: Outside at the Halfway Bathhouse located at the approximate midpoint of Nahant Beach.  Daily Parking Fee applies.  For a map of the park and information about parking fees visit www.mass.gov/dcr.  Please note that the entrance to the parking lot along Nahant Beach is at the South end of the beach

 Winthrop Shores

Reservation-Short Beach

 What Lies Beneath the Sea-Afternoons

Wednesday,  Aug.  22   2-3 p.m.

Did you know that barnacles are an animal that sweeps its legs through the water to catch its food consisting of tiny floating plants and animals? Discover what animals lay beneath the sea on this tide pool exploration and learn how these animals struggle for survival and satisfy their voracious appetites.  Be prepared for walking on rocky and slippery ground and getting your feet wet. Some nets will be provided but bring a net if you have one.  Suitable for children ages 5 and older accompanied by an adult.

Meet at: Short Beach section of Winthrop Shores Reservation, Winthrop, MA, (Beachside on the sidewalk near the boundary between Revere Street, Winthrop, MA and Winthrop Parkway, Revere MA). Parking is free of charge but limited on the street and in a small lot across the street. Co-sponsored by the Friends of  Belle Isle Marsh.

What Lies Beneath the Sea-Mornings

Wednesday, Aug.  15   9-10 a.m.

Did you know that barnacles are an animal that sweeps its legs through the water to catch its food consisting of tiny floating plants and animals? Discover what animals lay beneath the sea on this tide pool exploration and learn how these animals struggle for survival and satisfy their voracious appetites. Be prepared for walking on rocky and slippery ground and getting your feet wet. Some nets will be provided but bring a net if you have one.  Suitable for children ages 5 and older accompanied by an adult.

Meet at: Short Beach section of Winthrop Shores Reservation, Winthrop, MA, (Beachside on the sidewalk near the boundary between Revere Street, Winthrop, MA and Winthrop Parkway, Revere MA). Parking is free of charge but limited on the street and in a small lot across the street.

Co-sponsored by the Friends of  Belle Isle Marsh.

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Jose ‘Josey’ Cruz has Lent His Hands to Chelsea Walk

Jose ‘Josey’ Cruz has Lent His Hands to Chelsea Walk

Jose Cruz is quiet at the first impression, but he is intentional about and committed to improving his community.

At 13-years old and a student at the Browne Middle School, “Josey” called by those who know him well, has been volunteering at the Chelsea Walk with artist Silvia Lopez Chavez since the beginning of the project. Throughout sweltering hot days, Josey has been on scene helping the artist prime and paint the transformative mural which will make everyone in Chelsea proud.

Josey is the president of the Explorer Post 109, a community service and leadership club for Chelsea adolescents, teens and young adults. He exemplifies all of the good in Chelsea youth Ð respectful, kind and committed to helping out.  He has aspirations to become an aeronautical engineer. Every person who walks by says “hello” to Josey and remarks about what a “nice kid” he is.

Josey is just one of the dedicated people who are working to ensure this mural is led by and created for the community.

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