The Chelsea Fire Department is in the midst of its annual toy drive to help less fortunate families in the area during this holiday season.
“After doing some research we found that 400 to 800 children in the city of Chelsea are provided Christmas gifts through the Toys for Tots program each year,” said Captain Phil Rogers who started the department’s toy drive program. “We want to assure the children in our community will be taken care of throughout the holiday season.”
Anyone who wishes to donate can drop a new, unwrapped toy at Central Fire Station located
next to City Hall at 307 Chestnut St. This is a great opportunity to help less fortunate families in our community and throughout the Greater Boston area this holiday season. Donations are being accepted through Dec. 17.
With Santa Claus and Sen. Sal DiDomenico’s help, the City’s Christmas tree lights were turned on Tuesday evening in Chelsea Square, as scores of residents turned out to celebrate the season, drink hot chocolate and listen to music sung by a choir – the Chelsea Community Choir.
City Councillors, led by Councillor Judith Garcia’s committee, and Police Chief Brian Kyes are looking to push the default speed limit on Chelsea streets down from 30 mph to 25 mph. Though it is a slight difference, the density of the city would make it a meaningful change, both Kyes and Garcia said.
“Chelsea is arguably the most densely populated city in the entire state,” said Kyes. “In order to prioritize and greatly enhance the safety of all of our pedestrians, bicyclists and motor vehicles in traffic in makes perfect sense to reduce the speed limit of all motorists traveling in and through the city to 25 mph. I applaud the City Manager and the City Council for moving in this direction to increase public safety in our community.”
Garcia said a recent meeting of her Committee revealed that there were numerous accidents in Chelsea, including three incidents in one week last month.
Kyes said on Nov. 14, a Chelsea High student was struck by a bus on Everett Avenue. On Nov. 18, two pedestrian accidents occurred.
One was a highly publicized incident where a minivan hit a 72-year-old woman on Broadway and 4th Street and fled the scene. An arrest was made a few days later.
Later that day, an 18-year-old Chelsea High student was hit on Everett Avenue at Chestnut Street. The operator stayed on scene there and was cited for negligent operation
It is not believed that speed was a factor in any of them, but Kyes said density is the issue here.
“The reality is that 30 mph in a thickly settled district is simply too fast in densely populated city like Chelsea,” said the chief. “The definition of ‘thickly settled’ is an area where buildings that are less than 200 feet part for a distance of one-quarter of a mile. Other than Eastern Avenue or Marginal Street there is not a location in the city where buildings are ‘less than’ 200 feet apart.”
Garcia said they learned that there were 77 accidents where pedestrians were involved in 2014. This year, so far, there have been 49.
“It’s definitely a conversation that we think we need to take seriously because it will definitely protect pedestrians and improve the quality of life here,” said Garcia.
Councillor Leo Robinson said he is in favor of the change as well.
“It has to happen; it’s critical,” he said. “It’s just too dangerous on many of our streets at that speed.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino is also in favor of the change.
The change is permitted based on Gov. Charlie Baker’s Municipal Modernization Act, which had one component that allowed municipalities to lower their default speed limits.
Garcia said there will be a Traffic Commission hearing on Dec. 13 to vote on the change.
If it passes, the change will move to the City Council where a Dec. 19 vote is anticipated.
Chelsea Fire’s Tower 1 apparatus was called into service at the massive 10-alarm Cambridge fire last Saturday, Dec. 3. In addition, Engine 2 from Chelsea also responded and both groups of jakes were right in the thick of it all day, Chief Len Albanese said.
When the beginnings of a 10-alarm fire erupted quite suddenly in East Cambridge on Saturday afternoon, firefighters in Everett, Revere and Chelsea knew that their services would likely be needed sooner rather than later.
Chelsea Fire responded about the same time as Everett, taking its specialized Tower 1 and Engine 2.
Chelsea Fire Chief Len Albanese said his crews responded to the fire early and didn’t return until 3 a.m.
“They were involved in operations in the fire area for 12 hours or so,” he said. “There isn’t a huge number of Tower ladders in the area. Chelsea having a Tower ladder is a specialty piece of equipment, so it is often needed. We felt like our Chelsea guys did great work over there.”
Everett Chief Anthony Carli said that Everett’s Engine 1 and Ladder 1 were both called into service as part of the existing mutual aid agreement. They were called to respond at the 7th alarm, he said.
He said Everett firefighters, like the surrounding cities, were on scene about 30 minutes after the first dispatch and were in the thick of things right away.
Engine 1 returned around 9:30 p.m. from the fire, and Ladder 1 came back home at 1 a.m.
Anecdotal reports indicated that Everett jakes were stationed to the church that went up in flames, which was recently converted to affordable housing.
Revere Fire Chief Chris Bright said their Engine 4 responded to the fire early and returned around 1 a.m.
He said their Ladder 2 apparatus responded to cover the Harvard Square Fire Station. Once there, they had several responses he said, including two smaller, unrelated fires.
Bright said he felt the fire happened at the best time possible for such a thing, as it was in the daytime and that made it easier to evacuate people.
“Between Chelsea and Everett, Revere and all our neighbors, with our mutual aid agreements, we can be called up to duty anywhere,” he said.
He said Revere’s jakes were also right in the middle of the fire with the Everett crews.
“They were right in the thick of it and did a lot of work by the original fire building and the church too,” he said. “They rolled up and grabbed a hydrant. They were there up on a lift and it was already quite a fire.”
Bright also said Cambridge Fire did an admirable job in responding and coordinating the original efforts.
“They did a really nice job and they have a good department,” he said. “They did a good job realizing they didn’t have a handle on it and setting up a perimeter and being able to ensure there was enough water pressure on it. They really did a good job getting out in front of it. I’m glad we could all help them when they needed it.”
As an aside, Bright said on Saturday, he had a brand new firefighter who was on Engine 1, which could have been called to the fire instead of Revere’s Engine 4.
“Had they been called, it would have been his very first call on his very first day as a firefighter,” said Bright.
Tipping their hat to the beloved Latin American tradition of ‘Las Pasadas,’ the Chelsea Collaborative will sponsor an event on Dec. 20 from 4-7 p.m. where participants will march and sing through the streets in solidarity with all immigrants and refugees.
Las Pasadas is a tradition that recreates the Biblical story of Mary and Joseph’s perilous journey, running from danger and seeking shelter.
Collaborative organizers said it was the perfect backdrop to raise awareness and celebrate the strength of the Chelsea community in concert with all immigrants and refugees.
At 3:45 p.m., those interested in marching will gather at the Chelsea Police Station.
They will march through the streets and up to City Hall singing carols and chants, arriving at City Hall around 4:30 p.m.
At 5 p.m., they will proceed to the Collaborative, 318 Broadway, for a time of song, prayer and a community celebration.
As adults talked and listened to the potentially big plans for redevelopment of the Innes Housing Development on Central Avenue, off in the corner little children were also dreaming.
Coloring beautiful new homes with rainbows and swimming pools, the children were as excited as the adults – who had gathered at the Boys & Girls Club on Tuesday night, Dec. 6, for the first resident working group meeting looking at the potential mixed-income redevelopment at the old development.
“Seriously, I’m very excited,” said Ricardo Figueroa, who was participating in a visioning exercise that had residents list their greatest hopes for any new development. “I have lived in this city for 43 years, so I am allowing myself to dream a bit. I have said I would like an indoor pool. I like to have PlayStations and a clubhouse for the kids. I’d also like handicap accessibility. I think that’s really important.”
Figueroa was one of about 50 residents who turned out for the visioning meeting – a meeting where potential developer Corcoran/SunCal brought representatives and architects to listen and assist residents in their dreams for the new development.
Some simply wanted a safe and clean place to live; others had grander dreams like washing machines in their units, granite countertops, computer rooms and better parking configurations.
A previous organizing meeting was held in October, and more meetings will continue throughout the winter and spring.
Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) Director Al Ewing said nothing is set in stone, and there are a lot of hoops to jump through before any kind of development would happen. Right now, he said, the CHA is working off of a $300,000 planning grant it received – rather surprisingly – last September during a competitive grant process within the Department of Housing and Community Development.
“We have a lot of hurdles to go through,” he qualified. “This is a process and not an event. This is a feasibility study right now. We’re still trying to see if this can work. We’re still not at the point where the project is a definite go. We’re still trying to get there, but it is exciting to be at this point.”
Ewing and the CHA Board decided last year to go after state funding to rebuild the Innes Development – which is in dire need of huge capital expenditures that the CHA does not have and will not have. The competitive grant process was highly sought after, and Chelsea was lucky enough to win.
In August, to facilitate that planning process and to perhaps develop the project, Corcoran/SunCal – a partnership based in Dorchester that is currently trying to redevelop the Bunker Hill Housing Development in Charlestown in similar fashion – was brought on board.
Corcoran has proposed a $100 million development of the Innes, most of which would be privately funded.
They would put a total of 318 units of mixed income housing, and would retain all 96 public housing units that currently exist – and they would be in their current configurations (42 two-bedrooms, 48 three-bedrooms, and 6 four-bedrooms) but would be brand new units in the overall development. The public housing units would be mixed in with the market rate units and now separated out.
There would be 222 market rate units.
The housing units would be situated in four, six-story buildings – all new construction – with surface and below-grade parking, a community clubhouse, a fitness center and retail space.
Corcoran said it would privately fund 80 percent of the project with private equity and mortgage debt. The $4.8 million DHCD funding and a $3 million MassWorks grant would supplement that.
Ewing has said he would negotiate a 99-year ground lease to preserve the public housing if the state funds the CHA proposals. He said if the project is funded, residents would be relocated temporarily and would have the ability to return to the new units.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Jen Corcoran, of the development team, they will likely have another meeting in January to continue the work. In the spring, if all goes well, they will reach out to the greater Chelsea community and to neighbors to begin talking in greater detail about the potential project.
The potential timeline, she said, would include two phases of development.
Relocation efforts of tenants would begin in early 2018 by Housing Opportunities Unlimited – the group’s professional relocation team.
“What I want everyone to take home tonight from this meeting is we’re here to help you every step of the process,” said Damian Clark. “We will come into your home and work with you and make sure you are satisfied with your relocation. That’s what we do.”
The relocation does include all expenses, he said, including boxes, movers, and supplies.
Corcoran said that any resident in the development that is relocated during construction would absolutely be able to return.
“All residents in good standing have a right to return to the development of Innes aft a temporary relocation,” she said. “When they return they will pay no more rent and related occupancy costs, like heat and hot water, than they currently pay. They will also retain all their rights as public housing tenants once back.”
She said that by the summer of 2019, they expected to have the first phase open and occupied.
Gerry McCue of the Chelsea Public Schools said they had been working with the CHA and Corcoran to ensure that children would not have their education disrupted during the relocation.
Ewing said they are working to identify vacant units in Chelsea and other places in Chelsea – as well as utilizing the two-phase construction schedule – to prevent anyone from being sent outside of the city to places like Revere or Everett.
“We have vacancies in other of our developments we believe we can put people in so they don’t have to move out of the city,” Ewing said. “We’re trying to make sure there are a few disruptions as possible to the residents.”
The next resident working group is expected some time around Jan. 17.
Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes and Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley announced on Dec. 2 that the man wanted in connection with the June 4 hit-and-run death of 25-year-old Marco Salguero-Cruz has been apprehended as a result of an exhaustive investigation and the public’s help.
Jose Daniel Arevalo, 34, of Everett, was taken into custody outside Houston, Texas, by Texas Rangers late on Dec. 1 in connection with Salguero-Cruz’s death. He is expected to be returned to Massachusetts at a later date.
On June 4, Chelsea Police responded to the area of 284 Washington Ave. for a report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle that fled the scene. The victim, Salguero-Cruz, of Chelsea, was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he died of his injuries.
Chelsea Police detectives and State Police detectives assigned to Conley’s office undertook an exhaustive investigation that recovered footage from multiple security cameras that captured the vehicle allegedly involved in the fatal crash, a silver Toyota Camry, both before and after the crash occurred.
With the assistance of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Digital Evidence Lab, investigators were able to retrieve images depicting the driver of the suspect vehicle.
Those images were released to the media on Nov. 21; a Spanish-language press release was sent to media on Nov. 22.
On that date, a person familiar with Arevalo identified him after seeing the photos broadcast on Univision. Additionally, detectives were able to separately identify Arevalo through witness interviews, social media, and Registry of Motor Vehicle records that same day.
Arevalo is believed to have fled to El Salvador two days after the crash but returned to the United States last month.
He was located in Texas and apprehended with the assistance of authorities in that state.
Efforts to return Arevalo to Massachusetts are currently underway.
Bryan Hernandez, 24, 30 School St., Gloucester, was arrested for destruction of property +$250, malicious and assault and battery.
Gabriel Medina, 35, 72 Spencer Ave., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.
Carlos Rivas, 23, 110 Orange St., Chelsea, was arrested for trespassing.
Elisa Marshall-Duran, 18, 466 Broadway, Chelsea, was arrested for sexual conduct for fee, and on a warrant.
Carlos Marin, 39, 104 Franklin Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for speeding, failing to stop for police, stop sign violation, operating motor vehicle without license, possessing open container of alcohol in motor vehicle, sell/deliver liquor to person under 21 and on warrants.
Benjamin Estrada, 57, Homeless, was arrested for drinking/possessing open alcoholic beverage in public.
Oscar Hernandez, 38, 84 Washington Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for drinking/possessing alcoholic beverage in public, warrants.
Joe Tejada, 59, Homeless, Chelsea, was arrested for drinking/possessing open alcoholic beverage in public.
Tammy King, 35, 35 Henry St., Medford, was arrested for shoplifting and on warrant.
Kerri Ferreira, 39, 425 Ferry St., Everett, was arrested for shoplifting.
Shangming Tung, 23, 150 Heard St., Chelsea, was arrested for animal cruelty.
Shannon Jette, 29, 56 Franklin Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for operating motor vehicle with suspended/revoked license.
Rose Sheehy, 34, 207 Shurtleff St., Chelsea, was arrested on warrants.
Brian Belew, 31, 179 Franklin Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for assault and battery on a police officer, resisting arrest, multiple warrants.
Auner Enriquez, 27, 42 Marlborough St., Chelsea, was arrested for lights violation on motor vehicle.
Melvin Ramirez, 25, 16 Herman St., Winthrop, was arrested for trafficking cocaine over 18 grams, unregistered motor vehicle, attach number plate.
Nelson Castro, 33, 767 Broadway, Chelsea, was arrested on multiple warrants.
Emerald Crowley, 20, 86 Holyoke St., Lynn, was arrested on a warrant.
Jose Aguilar, 49, 23 Orange St., Chelsea, was arrested for drinking/possessing open alcoholic beverage in public.
Jacquelyn Chenard, 36, 109 Congress Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for larceny of motor vehicle, possessing Class A drug.
James Chiarello, 49, 142 School St., Everett, was arrested on warrants.
Kevin Rosales, 24, Homeless, Chelsea, was arrested for possessing Class B drug, conspiracy to violate drug law.
Jammar Smith, 33, 117 Glenville Ave., Brighton, was arrested for possessing Class B drug, distribution of Class B drug (2 counts), conspiracy to violate drug law.
Joseph Rizzo, 68, 3 Prescott Ave., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.
David Kerns, 41, 30 Park Ave., Revere, was arrested for disorderly conduct, threat to commit crime, possessing Class B drug.
Katelyn Ferguson, 28, 86 Division St., Chelsea, was arrested on warrants.
John Gauvain, 51, 7 Meadow St., Salem, was arrested for shoplifting.
Nasie Ferderer, 47, 321 Princeton St., East Boston, was arrested for possessing Class B drug, and warrants.
Christopher Saravia-Guerra, 29, 52 Gale St., Waltham, waas arrested on warrant.
Farah Ibrahim, 21, 4 Clinton Ct., Chelsea, was arrested for 2 counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.
Marissa, Mazzeo, 35, 20 Grandview Rd., Chelsea, was arrested for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, armed robbery, threat to commit crime.
Malcon Lima, 40, 353 Third St., Everett, was arrested or operation of motor vehicle unlicensed.
Juvenile Offender, 17, Chelsea, was arrested on probation warrant.
The Chelsea High School Class of 1976 held its 40th Reunion on Nov. 26 at Teresa’s in North Reading. Pictured at the reunion are, Jan Rubin, Bill Jarosz, Denise Karlin, and Nancy Miller Lord. More photos from the reunion will appear in next week’s edition.
Josh Kraft, president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, is pictured with the organization’s new executive vice president of operations, Michelle Perez Vichot (left), and new Jordan Boys and Girls Club executive director Gina Centrella-O’Hara (center), at the Chelsea clubhouse.
Michelle Perez Vichot has been promoted from her position as executive director of the Jordan Boys and Girls Club (JGBC) to executive vice president of operations for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston (BGCB).
She has moved to BGCB headquarters in Boston and will oversee clubs, shared-space sites, and designated sites in Boston, Youth Connect, and the JGBC, Chelsea.
In Boston, she will be reunited with Josh Kraft, founder and former executive director of the Chelsea club and the current president and chief executive officer of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston.
A graduate of Revere High School, Curry College, and New York University, where she holds a Master’s degree in Social Work, Vichot, 44, began her tenure at the Chelsea club as a social worker in 1999 and later served as the director of operations.
When Vichot began working at the club at the Clark Avenue School, there were 80-100 members. Today the club boasts a membership of 1,000, making it the largest after-school youth program in the city.
Vichot was a vital part of the transition team when the new Gerald and Darlene Jordan Clubhouse opened in 2003.
“It was exciting transitioning to our new clubhouse and putting the team together,” said Vichot. “I worked hard at developing community relationships and setting a warm, welcoming culture for our members and their families.”
Josh Kraft said that he’s happy to be partnering with Vichot again at the Boston offices.
“It’s great for me to be able to work with Michelle again. She’s so good at keeping me in line. She cares about every single kid and family we serve in Chelsea and she’ll bring that care and thoughtfulness to every single one of the 16,000 young people we serve every year as well as her great experience and years to all our staff as a role model.”
Vichot and Kraft were a dynamic tandem at the Jordan Boys and Girls Club, headlining a program that became a national model. Many JGBC alumni, who idolized both Kraft and Vichot during their years at the club, have gone on to college and they often return to express their gratitude for developing their talents and guiding them to a path of success.
“While working with Josh, I learned about community work, team building, and developing programs,” said Vichot.
She is “100 percent confident” that new executive director Gina Centrella-O’Hara will continue the excellence for which the club has become known.
“It’s been a pleasure watching Gina grow in to the talented, passionate, and enthusiastic youth development professional that she is,” said Vichot. “She has served well in a number of roles and been promoted to the next position. She has a breadth of knowledge about programming in each department and how the clubhouse runs. She has a keen understanding of our culture and our mission and vision for the Jordan Club.”
Vichot thanked the Chelsea community for its support of the club during her service at the JGBC. She noted the stellar contributions from board members Mark Robinson, Mark White, Joseph McNamee, Richie Voke, Matt Monkiewicz, Police Chief Brian Kyes, and Joseph Vinard, who were instrumental in the club’s growth and development.
“I think that is one of the most fantastic advantages to being in this clubhouse specifically. We have strong support from the business community and our local advisory board. They’re generous, committed, and active.”
She leaves Chelsea with mixed emotions.
“I’m going to miss being at the Chelsea club. I’ve made it a point to come back as frequently as possible and visit the kids, families, and staff. I enjoyed my time here. It was sad to leave Chelsea but it’s exciting to move on to new challenges.”
Vichot and her husband, Rick, have two children, Matthew, 15, and Michael, 12.