First Order of Broadway Business:Butt Out!

By Seth Daniel

Inventor Mike Roylos attaches one of the Butt-lers to a pole in the Square.

Inventor Mike Roylos attaches one of the Butt-lers to a pole in the Square.

Over the years, there’s been a shortage of just about everything in Bellingham Square, but there has never been a shortage of cigarette butts lining the brick pathways in and around City Hall.

Now, as one of the first orders of business in the re-shaping of the downtown business district, the City, The Neighborhood Developers (TND) and the Community Enhancement Team (CET) have banded together to purchase five Sidewalk Butt-lers to provide a receptacle for used cigarette butts and a way to recycle those butts into something useful.

In a gathering at the tip of the Square on Tuesday morning, the new Butt-lers were installed by their inventor, Mike Roylos, as many members of the various groups looked on.

“This is part of our efforts to improve the Square and Broadway,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “Our efforts involve things we want to do in the long-term and some things we can do right now. This is something we can do immediately. Many people will see this and see we are trying to do something here. We hope the people who frequent this Square will use them. This is step one in a long-term effort to improve the Square.”

As members of the CET like Mike Sandoval clipped around the little Square picking up cigarette butts and depositing them in their new home, TND’s Sharon Fosbury explained that the program will take things a step further by recycling all of the butts and creating no new trash.

“This is an extremely good option because it’s getting the butts off the sidewalk and taking the next step by recycling them,” she said. “It’s one thing to collect butts and throwing them away, but this is generating no new trash. It’s all being recycled.”

The cigarette butts are to be collected by the Department of Public Works and then stored at the City Yard. Once there are enough, the CET volunteers will ship the butts to a company called TerraCycle. The company separates the cigarette butts into several parts. On the whole, a cigarette butt is not recyclable. However, once the filter is removed, it is made out of plastic and can be melted down and recycled. The excess leftover tobacco is used for compost. Any remaining paper is also recycled. Over the long run, any money generated from selling the recycled materials is used for grant opportunities for community organizations around the country.

“It only costs us man hours and we’re volunteers,” said Fosbury.

Roylos invented the Sidewalk Butt-ler when he got tired of seeing and picking up cigarette butts outside his Maine restaurant every day. To solve the problem, he invented the little tubes that are locked at the bottom and instituted the recycling initiative as part of the plan too.

He told City officials that he believes it will make a difference, but it could take time.

The pilot program includes Butt-lers in front of Dr. Dental on Washington Avenue, in front of Bunker Hill Community College, at the Gazebo, in front of City Hall and at the Bellingham Square location.

The goal is to expand the program even further if the program finds enough success.

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Chelsea Couple Devoted to Healing,Bringing Change,With the Arts

By Seth Daniel

Chelsea residents Jay Paris and Anna Myer watch their art come to life in a recent performance of ‘Invisible: Imprints of Racism,’ at Ramsay Park in the South End near the Lenox Housing Development.

Chelsea residents Jay Paris and Anna Myer watch their art come to life in a recent performance of ‘Invisible: Imprints of Racism,’ at Ramsay Park in the South End near the Lenox Housing Development.

When audiences leave the most recent performance by the BeHeard.World dancers, they don’t usually leave with a smile on their faces, but rather, this summer, they typically leave thinking very hard about serious issues involving race.

Anna Myer and Jay Paris, who live in the Spencer Lofts in Chelsea, have been touring all over Boston this summer performing on lighted basketball courts their newest dance and poetry work called, ‘Invisible: Imprints of Racism,’ on basketball courts and next to gritty housing developments.

“It’s a challenging piece because no one wants to address it, it being race,” said Paris this week. “You find people leaving who are ashamed about it and some are angry about it. It comes down to confronting it and getting past the sense of being deprived or the sense of being privileged…As two middle-aged white people, Anna and I didn’t want to put this piece together alone.”

Added Myer, “The company is very mixed and we discussed this within the group for about a year. We all like each other a lot so it makes it a safe environment to talk about race…It’s really come full circle for me with this piece. I have always, always, always been interested in racial issues since I was a kid in Cambridge. It’s really come full circle in the sense that my work in the performing arts and social justice and equity have all come together.”

Paris and Myer moved to Chelsea about one year ago from Cambridge and continued their work in Boston, mostly at the housing developments in Franklin Field (Dorchester) and Lenox (South End). Most recently, last month, they performed the piece on the basketball court at Ramsay Park near the Lenox development, a park long in need of a makeover and, at times, quite dangerous for young people. It’s the kind of place they want to be, though.

“I’ve been working with the North American Family Institute for a number of years and I didn’t want to work with kids already in the court system, but rather to do prevention work with kids by developing programs for them before they get there,” Paris said. “Those programs were primarily in Franklin Field and Lenox. Prior to that, I had a career as a writer and photojournalist in the magazine world. I was always interested in the arts, though, and creating opportunities for kids in the arts. I kept hearing of this woman, Anna Myers, who had a renowned dance company. She had been going to the inner cities and getting rap and hip-hop performers and putting them into her company to perform. We finally met and began collaborating a lot. Then we fell in love and eventually got married.”

Myer has a dance and poetry company that performs the works like ‘Invisible,’ using nine dancers and four poets.

Meanwhile, Paris works another program that brings youth into the program and helps them to discover their voice in the arts. He has been filming that experience and expects to release a documentary on it in January. The film focuses on the first 19 kids that they took into the program and the changes that came about after they were immersed into the arts programming.

“It’s about using the arts to give these kids a voice so they can say what they want to say,” said Myers. “It’s very empowering. In 2014, we had 19 kids participating from the Lenox Housing Development and Jay filmed the whole program. The film is really about what art does for human beings and for kids. It changes them and gives them a voice. Those same kids were interviewed one year later and it’s incredible the changes that happened to them. Their confidence is up, they’re trying new things they wouldn’t have done like debate team. We need arts in the world.”

Myer came to meet Paris through a tragedy in her life that changed her direction totally.

After growing up trained as a ballet dancer and dancing at Boston Ballet and others for a time, she established several smaller and successful companies.

“I started everything over and part of that was choreography and I got into modern dance,” she said. “I had a company for a long time and I began including the inner city artists and dancers in my work. That opened up a whole new way of choreographing and working.”

That, of course, also led her to Paris, and the both of them to Chelsea one year ago this week.

“I feel like there’s great potential for arts here,” said Myers. “I love that it is it’s own city. It’s like stepping back in time and it’s diverse and has its own unique character.

Said Paris, “We love Chelsea and there is so much about it to love. We love the diversity of it. We know it’s challenging sometimes, but we like that. We love the interest in the arts here and the interest in community betterment. Ultimately, we’d like to bring BeHeard here with offices and studio space and keep going.”

The ‘going’ part could very well be sooner than later, as both said they feel the ‘Invisible’ piece could be something that tours the country on basketball courts and fields all over America – taking the temperature of the nation on race.

“We’d love to have an organization that gets people thinking and have a movement where change happens,” said Myer.

Added Paris, “Instead of putting out fires, we’d love to prevent the fires at some point.”

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Ash Back to City Manager? In Cambridge This Time?

By Seth Daniel

Numerous media outlets reported on Wednesday that State Housing Secretary Jay Ash – the former Chelsea City Manager – has made an application to become the next city manager of Cambridge, possibly leaving the cabinet post on Beacon Hill for the confines of Cambridge.

Ash confirmed to the Globe on Wednesday that he has applied and is pursuing the job.

Ash did not return a request for comment from the Record in time for publication.

He was one of the first to join Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration in January 2015 and was credited with luring in and ushering in General Electric to Massachusetts earlier this year. He also concentrated on getting homeless families out of motels an into long-term housing situations – something that he worked on also while in Chelsea.

Ash also told the Globe that his current job requires a lot of travel across the state and prevents him from focusing in on one community. Rather, he said, he is constantly rushing from one place to another listening to the needs of various locales.

His expertise in drilling down on problems, as he did in Chelsea one by one, is not particularly as useful in his current position.

The city manager position in Cambridge would also nearly double his salary, the Globe reported.

Ash’s current salary is approximately $160,000, while the salary for the Cambridge city manager exceeds $300,000.

A decision on the position is expected by the City Council in Cambridge this fall.

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Stricter Lead Testing In School Fountains Detects 17 Problems

By Seth Daniel

The Chelsea Public Schools has conducted a laborious sampling of all the water fountains and faucets used for food preparation in its buildings this summer and found that 17 of 313 fixtures had levels above the limits.

The testing was reported by Supt. Mary Bourque on Wednesday morning and indicated that the schools have tested randomly every year throughout the schools over the last 20 years, but had never tested every fixture and, this year, had to test with newer, stricter standards.. This year, likely in light of the fountain problems discovered in Boston schools this past term, the Chelsea schools decided to conduct thorough tests using the new, stricter lead level standards recently adopted by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

“A total of 313 water samples have been recently tested,” wrote Bourque in a letter to parents that went out Thursday (today) morning. “While we are pleased to report that the Silber Early Learning Center, the Wright Academy, the Browne Middle School and Chelsea High School passed with no samples tested above the lead action level, the sampling did indicate that 17 fountains and sinks had lead levels that exceeded the Massachusetts action level for lead in drinking water.”

The problems were detected mostly at the Burke Complex. Those exceeding levels were at the following schools:

  • One water fountain and one sink at the Clark Avenue Middle School.
  • Two water fountains at the Kelly School.
  • Four water fountains at the Berkowitz School.
  • Four water fountains at the Hooks School.
  • Five water fountains at the Sokolowski School.

The problems at the school buildings, especially the Burke Complex, is a bit confounding due to the fact that it is such a new facility with fully updated plumbing. Bourque said an analysis has indicated that they don’t believe the water source is contaminated nor is the plumbing faulty.

“Because our schools are relatively new, and based on an analysis of our recent test results, we do not believe the internal school plumbing is contributing to lead levels,” she wrote. “We have also confirmed that our water source does not contain lead. The testing is indicating isolated instances of excessive lead levels which are likely caused by the installation of these faucets or water bubblers or the fixtures themselves…We will be replacing the fixtures identified above and retested before they are available for use.”

Bourque said the administration is taking the 17 problem fountains very seriously, and have taken five action steps to prevent the problem by the time school starts later this month.

First, the fixtures have been shut off and enclosed. Second, parents and school staff were notified. Third, the Chelsea School Committee and Board of Health were notified. Fourth, the fixture is evaluated by a licensed plumber to determine the source of the problem and the fixture is remediated or replaced.

Finally, the fixture is retested to determine if lead levels are below the new Massachusetts standards.

The letter describing the problems and the non-problems was sent out to parents and posted on the district’s online networks Thursday (today) morning, Aug. 11.

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Project Approved for Former Centro Latino, Eastern Avenue

By Seth Daniel

The Chelsea Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) met on Tuesday night, Aug. 9, for a full slate of proposals.

First and foremost, Chelsea developers Gerry Sneirson was approved to build a mixed-use project at the old Centro Latino headquarters – a key corner property in the Broadway business district.

The plan calls for one commercial unit in the basement and two on the first floor.

The first floor would also house parking for nine vehicles.

The second and third floors would have eight units each, for a total of 16 units.

The project would include building an addition to the rear of the building over the top of the existing parking lot.

In another matter, Steven McDonough was given a Special Permit to establish a small personal training gym at 311 Eastern Ave. He did not meet requirements for off-street parking.

Other matters reviewed were:

  • 18 Parker St., Elba Rojas was approved for special permit and variances to convert a one family into a two-family home. It did to meeting minimum lot size and didn’t have required parking.
  • 54 Palmer St., Raymond Lewis got a special permit to construct a driveway.
  • 337 Third St., Third Street Realty Corp. was approved for a variance for dividing the lot and establishing two primary uses on a single lot and the company got a special permit for off-street parking requirements.
  • 68 Pearl St., Sotiris Sotiropoulos received a special permit to covert a one family to a two-family.
  • 214 Arlington St., Erik Rueda was given a special permit to change the use of storage space on his second floor to the use of a business office.
  • 178 Chestnut St., Acquisitions Division LLC was continued for a special permit for a parking lot that does not meet minimum requirements.
  • 37-39 Blossom St., Ana Melecio was continued for a special permit for construction of two carports.

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The Olympic Spirit Still Exists

For almost all of us, the Olympics have provided memories that have lasted a lifetime. We can all measure how old we were, or where we were, when we recall Olympic moments both from our youth and through adulthood.

For example, who among us (of a certain age) does not remember, as if it were yesterday (or so it seems), Mike Eruzione’s “shot heard ’round the world” when he scored the game-winning goal that defeated the Russians in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid? Or when Bruce Jenner (now Caitlin Jenner) won the decathlon in the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics? We could go on-and-on ad infinitum describing the scenes from the highlight reel of Olympic moments scrolling through our mind.

During the era of the Cold War, the Olympics served as a proxy for the battle between the United States and the former Soviet Union in what was perceived as the contest between democracy vs. communism, freedom vs. repression. But with the Cold War long over, the political overtones of the Olympics have all but disappeared, which has been a good thing. Although it would be nice to see America’s Justin Gatlin win the gold in the 100 meter dash, sports fans of all nationalities have thrilled to watch Jamaica’s Usain Bolt (the fastest man ever) sprint to victory-after-victory-after-victory in the last two Olympics — and no doubt will be rooting for him and his Jamaican teammates to make it a triple-medal three-peat.

The Olympics have something for everyone, from the youngest to the oldest among us. There are enough sports competitions and more than enough heroes for everyone to have their own favorite athlete to root for. Still for others, the elaborate pageantry of the opening ceremonies put on by the host country constitutes a spectacle that draws in all of us and establishes the magnitude and specialness of the games.

This is not to say that the Olympics are all fun and games. As with any event that draws world-wide attention and that involves billions of dollars, the Olympics have been plagued by controversy of all kinds. From Hitler’s 1936 Olympics that fed into Nazi propaganda, to the judging controversies of the Cold War era, to the tragedy of the terrorist attack in Munich in 1972, to doping scandals, to the the more recent accusations of bribery of Olympic officials by host countries, the Olympics have fallen far short of its own creed:

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”

But despite all of the controversies, the Olympic spirit has survived and the present games in Rio de Janeiro are no exception. We hope all of our readers find the time to enjoy the 2016 games and to do so with their families and friends. Even in this age of on-demand television and live streaming on personal devices, the Olympics are best-enjoyed as a shared experience.

They are only here for two weeks — so make the most of them.

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Police Briefs 08-11-2016

Monday, August 1

Dwayne Seldon, 51, 28 Spencer Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for possessing Class B drug, resisting arrest, drinking/possessing open alcoholic beverage in public.

Shirma Farmer, 63, 9 Lawrence St., Chelsea, was arrested for disorderly conduct, drinking/possessing open alcoholic beverage in public.

Sherif Seweilam, 29, 435 Dorset St., South Burlington, VT, was arrested on a warrant.

Tuesday, August 2

Raul Figueroa, 30, 14 Marie St., Dorchester, was arrested on warrants.

Wednesday, 8/3

Natalie Virella, 36, 317 Broadway, Chelsea, was arrested on warrants.

Thursday, August 4

Faisal Yerow, 20, 180 Central Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for breaking and entering nighttime vehicle/boat for felony (5 counts) receiving stolen property over $250, resisting arrest.

Kenneth Powell, 27k, 67 Savanna Ave., East Boston, was arrested for assault to murder, firearm-armed, destruction of property over $250, malicious, discharging/firing firearm/bb or air gun in city, firearm, discharge within 500 ft. of building, firearm, carrying without license, ammunition without FID card, possess, threat to commit crime, witness intimidation.

Sunday, August 7

Laura Delmedico, 34, 26 Tufts St., Boston, was arrested on a warrant.

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Obituaries 08-11-2016

John Gerace

Devoted husband and father

John J. Gerace of Acton passed away peacefully on Thursday, July 28 at UMass Medical Center surrounded by his loving family after a brief illness. He was 56 years old.

John was born on April 30, 1960 in a military hospital at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina. He attended Chelsea High School and was a delivery truck driver for Office Source in Burlington for 18 years. He loved movies, especially military movies, and was very interested and well read on anything military. In his spare time, John enjoyed fishing and collecting comic books. John was a devoted husband and father and will be greatly missed.

John is survived by his beloved wife of 28 years, Rita M. (McAleavey) Gerace; his daughter, Jillian A. Gerace of Acton; his father, Harry L. Gerace, Sr. of Bedford and his mother, Ruth M. (McCarthy) Gerace of Jacksonville, NC. He is also survived by his siblings: Francis X. Gerace and his wife, Martina of Winchendon, Harry L. Gerace, Jr. and his wife, Mercy of East Boston, Brian K. Gerace and his wife, Donna of Attleboro, Helen A. Gerace of Acton, Joseph A. Gerace and his wife, Ute of Jacksonville, NC, and Marion R. Jones and her husband, Anthony of Wakefield; and his godmother, Jane Benduzek of Weymouth. He is also survived by several aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

Funeral services are private. A celebration of John’s life will be held at a later date. Mercadante Funeral Home & Chapel, 370 Plantation St., Worcester was honored to have assisted the family with arrangements. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to the American Heart Association, 300 5th Avenue, Waltham, MA 01701 (www.heart.org).

Thomas Cromwell

Chef

Thomas R. Cromwell of Virginia Beach, Virginia, formerly of Chelsea, died early on Saturday morning, July 30. He was 58 years old.

Born in Chelsea and a resident here until moving to Virginia in 1992, Thomas worked as a chef in local restaurants including Bennigans and Houlihans.

He was the beloved husband of Maureen K. Lee of Lynn; devoted father of Thomas Richard Henry Cromwell of Lynn and Keturah Joan Jackson of Washington, DC; loving brother of Doreen Hornbeak and her husband, Steven of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Beverly Martin-Ross and her husband, Larry of Chelsea, Charlie Martin of Lynn, Maurice Cromwell of Chelsea, John Cromwell of Hubbardston, Paula Cromwell of Chelsea, John Martin and his wife, Delia of Chelsea, Richelle Cromwell and her husband, Larry of Chelsea, Joan Cromwell and her husband, Kenneth Umemba of Chelsea, Darren Cromwell and his wife, Sue of Lincoln, Gregory Carter of Medford and the late Andrea Martin. He is also lovingly survived by a host of aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

Funeral arrangements were by the Smith Funeral Home, 125 Washington Avenue, Chelsea.

To send a message of condolence to his family, please visit www.smithfuneralhomes.com

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