On Wednesday, April 3, the Licensing
Commission approved a four-day license for New Hampshire-based Fiesta Shows to
hold a four-day carnival on the Chelsea Commons this spring.
During the short public hearing to approve
the license, Chelsea Police Captain Keith Houghton said the City’s public
safety agencies have never had an issue with Fiesta Shows. The company also
runs events nearby in Revere and Lynn, among other communities.
At-Large City Councillor Roy Avellaneda said
he’s had experience with Fiesta Shows owner John Flynn in the past, and that
Flynn has always run a tight and secure ship with his shows. In addition,
Avellaneda noted that Fiesta Shows will make a donation to the City’s summer
Licensing Commissioner Roseann Bongiovanni
said she did have some concerns about the carnival operating until 11 p.m.,
especially on Thursday night.
Flynn said while the license has the closing
time at 11 p.m., festivities and rides typically wind down around 10 p.m.,
giving police time to sweep the area by 11 p.m. Music and amplification is
usually shut down at 9 p.m., he added.
•In other business, the Commission denied a
permit that would have allowed for Friday night social events at the Rincon
Hondureno Function Hall at 194 Broadway. Commission members and City officials
expressed concern that the social night would effectively turn the function
hall into a nightclub.
•The Licensing Commission also approved a
liquor license transfer for La Esquina Mariachi Restaurant at 170 Washington
Ave., the former site of the Plaza Mexico restaurant.
The pastor and parishioners from the
neighboring church expressed concerns about the new restaurant, given their
experience in the past.
While the Commission approved the license,
members asked that the owners are mindful of the past history at 170 Washington
“You need to be very conscious of the
environment you are stepping into,” said Licensing Commission Chair Mark Rossi.
“Please don’t disappoint us.”
The Chelsea School Committee announced this
week the Superintendent Search Screening Committee (Screening Committee) has
forwarded the names of three finalists for the Superintendent of Schools
vacancy for consideration.
After the application deadline of March 15,
2019, eighteen applications were forwarded to the Screening Committee and on
March 25, after a thorough review of the written application materials, the
Screening Committee met and engaged in an extended discussion of each
candidate, ultimately reaching consensus to invite seven candidates in for an
interview. All candidates accepted the invitation and were interviewed during
the evenings of April 1, 2 and 3.
The 13 members of the Screening Committee
reached unanimous agreement and forwarded the following three educators for
consideration as the next superintendent of the Chelsea Public Schools (in last
name alphabetical order).
•Almudena (Almi) G. Abeyta
Dr. Almi Abeyta is currently the Assistant
Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for the Somerville
Public Schools. She was a kindergarten teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico for
seven years and was the Principal of the Donald McKay K-8 School in East Boston
for four years prior to assuming a role as the Assistant Academic
Superintendent for Middle and K-8 schools in the Boston Public Schools for two
and a half years. Dr. Abeyta then served as the Deputy Superintendent for
Teaching and Learning in the Santa Fe New Mexico Public Schools for five years
and in July 2017 she began her role as the Assistant Superintendent of Schools
in Somerville. Dr. Abeyta has a Bachelor of Arts, Communication, and Journalism
from the University of New Mexico, two Master’s degrees from the Harvard
Graduate School of Education (HGSE) in School Leadership and Education Policy
and Management, and a Doctor of Education from HGSE in the Urban
•Ligia B. Noriega-Murphy
Ligia Noriega-Murphy is currently the
Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools in the Boston Public Schools. Ms.
Noriega-Murphy was a Spanish teacher for three years at the Donald McKay Middle
School in Boston. She then was a founding faculty member and chair of the world
languages department at the Boston Arts Academy for five years. In 2004 she
became the Headmaster at Excel High School in South Boston and served in in
that role for six years before becoming the Assistant Academic Superintendent
for High Schools. In 2012 she was an Assistant Superintendent on Assignment as
the Headmaster of The English High School in Boston, where she served for five
years. Ms. Noriega-Murphy has a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from UMass
Boston, a Master’s degree in Management from Cambridge College, and a
Certificate of Graduate Study in Education Leadership from UMass Boston.
•Anthony A. Parker
Anthony Parker is currently the Principal at
Weston High School, where he has served in that role for the past thirteen
years. After several years as a journalist, Mr. Parker was a high school
history teacher in the Newton Public Schools for 13 years (at Newton South and
Newton North High Schools). From 2000-2006 he served as a Housemaster at Newton
North High School, prior to his move to Weston. He also has been a
Massachusetts Education Policy Fellow at the Rennie Center for Education
Research and Policy in Boston. Mr. Parker has a Bachelor of Arts in
Sociology-Anthropology from Earlham College, a Master’s degree in Teaching and
Curriculum from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has additional
graduate studies at Boston College.
The school community will have the
opportunity to meet these finalists when they visit Chelsea during the week of
April 29 and to attend the School Committee interviews with the finalists
during the week of May 6. The schedule of these district visits and School
Committee interviews will be communicated when it is finalized.
The Chelsea School Committee said they would
like to especially thank the members of the Screening Committee for their
dedication and commitment to this search process.
The Screening Committee met on five
different evenings to prepare, review,
interview, debate, deliberate and decide on
the finalists presented to the Chelsea School Committee. Each member played a
key role in ensuring that all individual members were listened to and their
perspective considered. Those members were Jeanette Velez, Priti Johari, Monica
Lamboy, Peter Pappavaselio, Margo DiBiasio, Anibal Santiago, Lisa Lineweaver,
Tom Ambrosino, Louise Campanella, Kathryn Anderson, Ilana Ascher, Angelica
Bachour, and Marisol Santiago.
Committee was assisted in this process by search consultants from the Edward J.
Collins, Jr. Center for Public Management at UMass Boston.
The Chelsea City Council and School
Committee held a joint meeting on Tuesday night, April 9, to get a quick step
forward on filling two vacancies on the School Committee.
Members Present included City Councilors Roy
Avellaneda, Damali Vidot, Bob Bishop, Luis Tejada, Enio Lopez, Judith Garcia,
and Yamir Rodriguez.
School Committee members present were Frank
DePatto, Rosemarie Carlisle, Jeannette Velez, Rich Maronski, Lucia Henriquez,
Ana Hernandez, Kelly Garcia, and Yessenia Alfaro.
Due to the recent resignations of School
Committee Chairman Richard Maronski and Vice Chairman Julio Hernandez,
the Chelsea City Council and Chelsea School Committee are
looking to fill their seats.
“This is a job that should be taken
seriously and hopefully we get someone that’s responsible and will show up,”
“It’s unfortunate that we have these two
sudden resignations, but I’m hopeful as it has allowed for significant dialogue
around expectations and the representation our families deserve,” said Council
President Damali Vidot. “I am looking forward to working with the School
Committee to fill the vacancies.”
Any residents of District 3 or District 5
that are interested in serving the remaining unexpired terms through December
2019, are asked to submit their resumes and letters of interest to City Council
and Chelsea School Committee at: LKoco@Chelseama.gov or mail to
City Council at 500 Broadway, Chelsea, MA 02150.
be registered voters in their respective districts and must be able to pass a
CORI. The Chelsea City Council and School Committee will be
accepting resumes until Friday April 26, and will conduct interviews on Monday
April 29. Anyone that lives in either District 3 or District 5 is
encouraged to apply. If you aren’t sure of your district, please
visit HYPERLINK “http://chelseama.gov” t “_blank”
chelseama.gov under the City Clerk’s department for a map or call the City
Clerks office at (617) 466-4050.
The City could soon be running its own Water
and Sewer Department as part of the Department of Public Works.
Currently, Chelsea outsources those water,
sewer, and drainage services to R.H. White Construction Company as part of a
10-year contract set to expire on July 21, 2022.
City Manager Thomas Ambrosino is asking the
City Council to consider an early termination of that contract, allowing the
City to get a jump on establishing its own Water and Sewer Division under the
DPW. While there will be initial start-up costs and ongoing personnel costs,
Ambrosino said Chelsea will ultimately save about $350,000 per year.
Ambrosino is requesting the City pay an
early termination fee for the contract with R.H. White in order to get the City
Water and Sewer division operable by July of 2020.
“The DPW leadership and I recommend that we
meet in subcommittee to go over (an informational spreadsheet) and work plan in
detail,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the City Council. “This will allow the
Council to understand fully why we believe we can perform these services not
only cheaper, but at a higher quality, and with more resources, than we
currently achieve with the RH White annual contract.”
The upfront costs of the water and sewer
transition prior to July of 2020 include the purchase of new vehicles and
equipment and the hiring of seven employees to make sure the department is
prepared to take full control of the water and sewer system on the date.
The total additional Fiscal Year 2020 costs
are just over $1.5 million, according to the City Manager.
“The capital costs are obvious one-time
expenditures,” said Ambrosino. “But the added personnel costs in FY20 are also
one-time expenses. All of these personnel costs will be covered by the $1.784
million saved on the annual RH White contract starting in FY21 when the
contract is terminated.”
Ambrosino recommended that all the one-time
costs be paid for through the retained earnings in the City’s Water and Sewer
Enterprise System, the equivalent of free cash in the general government
•In other business at Monday night’s City
Council meeting, Ambrosino asked the Council to consider a plan for municipal
“Because municipal electric aggregation has
the potential of providing more stable and lower prices and utilizing more
renewable energy sources, over 140 municipalities in Massachusetts have taken
advantage of this program,” Ambrosino said.
•The City Manager also told the council that
the City will seek competitive bids for Chelsea towing work beginning in Fiscal
Year 2020, which begins on July 1.
Although Ambrosino said towing work is
exempt from state bidding laws, the City will seek bids for the work in
response to a recent City Council order by District 6 Councillor Giovanni
“There is some work required to prepare a
(request for proposals) and evaluate responses,” said Ambrosino. “For this
reason, the Purchasing Agent believes he will have a new contract for towing
services in place no later than September 1, 2019.”
Councilor Luis Tejada joined the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund and 50 community college trustees, municipal level officials, and state legislators from throughout the country for the NALEO National Policy Institute on Workforce Development in Los Angeles from March 29-30, 2019.
Councilor Luis Tejada.
The convening provided Luis Tejada and Latino policymakers from across the
nation with the opportunity to deepen their knowledge around current workforce
issues and discuss various approaches to strengthen their jurisdictions’
workforce development. Over two-days,
Luis Tejada addressed ways to strengthen innovative and successful workforce
development policies and best practices that drive economic success in the
labor market for their constituents, communities, and regions.
Tejada, Chelsea District 2 City Councilor,
said, “My need to be here was to learn how we can help ALL of our constituents
have a more fruitful life and provide for our families in spite of the forces,
like technology and other created future challenges, that are threatening to
hold us back.”
During the Institute, Tejada networked with
other Latino leaders, strengthened their governance skills, and exchanged
policies and ideas around effective ways to address pressing workforce
development issues. Topics addressed
during the convening included:
• Preparing Latinos for the Workforce of
Tomorrow: National Workforce Landscape
• The Engine of Change and Economic Growth:
Embracing Transformative Technology;
• Supporting the Current and Future Latino
Workforce: Turning Skills into Careers; and
• Industry Sector
Strategies: Healthcare, Advanced
Manufacturing and Service.
Vietnam veterans unveiling the boulder and a plaque during the Vietnam Veterans boulder rededication ceremony. The boulder has been moved from Malone Park to a new location between the Williams House and Vinnie’s Place due to construction on the campus. During the ceremony, Vietnam veteran Larry Clarke salutes as the names of those from Chelsea who died in Vietnam were read aloud.
Allison Mendez, Damaris Martinez, and Gisele Ribas show off their Salvadoran pride during the Kelly School’s annual Multicultural Night on Thursday, March 28. Tables with food and cultural information was available for nations around the world.
School Committee Chair Rich Maronski
announced on Tuesday that he will be resigning from the Committee as of May 3 –
citing that the frustrations with attendance at the meetings was getting in the
way of his family life.
Maronski has been on the Committee for four
years, and was appointed at the time. He previously served on the City Council,
but said his experience on the School Committee was much more frustrating –
leading him to decide it was time to move on.
“I believe the taxpayers aren’t getting
their money’s worth and the kids are paying the penalty,” he said. “It needs to
change. Our School Committee needs to go back the old way or they need to be
appointed. It’s the only job I know where you don’t have to show up, don’t have
to call in and don’t get fired. I hope our City leaders take a deep look at
this and make some changes.”
Maronski was elected chair this year in his
fourth year, and he was accompanied as vice chair by Julio Hernandez, who also
resigned last week.
While Hernandez cited family and school
complications, he also said he left frustrated by the sparse attendance of some
members of the Committee.
“I loved working in the School Committee,
but it also made me angry to see some members not show up to meetings, not ask
questions, and not have thorough discussions regarding our students’
education,” he said in a statement last week. “…I now believe School Committee Members
should be appointed, because our students’ education is no joke.”
Maronski said things started off bad from
day one, when he showed up to take his appointed seat but not enough School
Committee members showed up to form a quorum and have an official meeting.
“I had to come back another night when there
were enough members there to have a meeting,” he said.
He also said he became severely frustrated
two years ago when the Committee was faced with voting on a $1.1 million grant
that would help save jobs for teachers that had been cut.
The Committee only had to show up in enough
numbers for a formality vote that accepted the grant.
“We didn’t have enough members for a quorum
and we couldn’t vote on a measure that was going to save teacher jobs,” he
said. “There are no phone calls and people just don’t show up…It’s been going
on for years.”
More recently, he said the Committee wasn’t
able to get enough people to vote on the Superintendent’s Job Description, so
the Search Committee had to work for a month with only an unapproved draft
until they could get enough members at a meeting to vote.
“My well-being and my family’s well-being
come first,” he said. “I was taking this home with me. I’m getting married soon
and it wasn’t fair. The reason why I chose to resign is because maybe I could
bring light to our City leaders that this situation has to change…We do have
some very good School Committee members that give their time, but a lot don’t.”
He said the Committee also plays an
important role for supporting the kids in the schools. He said he would love to
see a Committee where members are active and involved, supporting the kids at
reading events, sporting events and concerts.
“We live in a City where there are a lot of
single parent homes and so it’s even more important the School Committee
members show up to these kids’ events to support them,” he added.
Maronski said he had all the respect in the
world for the Central Office, the principals, the teachers and the
He also said Supt. Mary Bourque has done a
great job in a hard job.
“Mary Bourque has
the toughest job in the city,” he said. “We had our differences, but 90 percent
of the time we agreed and only 10 percent we didn’t.”
Dr. Deborah Wayne’s optometry shop has been
on Broadway in one way or another since 1936, but in 2019 she’s hoping that new
City guidelines and a store improvement program will help her shop – and others
around it – catapult into the new century.
“You want to see quality businesses and you
want them to look like quality businesses,” she said. “I think it’s a fabulous
idea. It’s an old storefront. I have a storefront that doesn’t have any grates.
We’ve been operating in one location or another on Broadway since 1936 and
we’ve never had a grate. I’d do anything to get the grates off the businesses
on Broadway. I think they’re ugly. I’m hoping that these regulations go through
so I can take advantage of the program. I don’t want to take action and build
something that isn’t in compliance. I’m ready to rip the front off my store. I
She shares the enthusiasm of most of the
business community on Broadway, who wholeheartedly support a set of design
guidelines for the corridor, as well as a storefront improvement assistance
Downtown Coordinator Mimi Graney has
proposed the regulations this spring to the Planning Board, and had a hearing
on April 1. They will have a stop at the City Council again with a ruling promised
“The goal is to be attractive and be
maintained and lit well,” she said. “It’s also transparency of the windows.
We’re telling folks not to have the big frosted glass and we would like the
business to take down the big metal grates. In a lot of cases, they aren’t
necessary because it can done other ways. We can meet the goal of safety and
meet the goal of feeling safe and having an attractive façade.”
One of the problems, she said, is that the
regulations for signage and façade improvements are woefully outdated – in some
cases not allowing simple things like a blade sign. A blade sign is a suspended
sign that faces those walking on the sidewalk. Because of the outdated
regulations, she said, many store owners are hesitant to make upgrades that
could be a code violation.
“The downtown has always been a bunch of
things, but the rules never changed so it means the businesses can’t update or
maintain their facades,” she added.
Alberto Calvo of Stop & Compare
Supermarket said they improved their façade and sign a few years ago, and it
made a huge difference. He’s excited to see that happen throughout the business
“We’re absolutely excited to see movement
toward the revamping of sign ordinances,” offered Calvo, also executive vice
president of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce.
“A few years ago, we at Stop & Compare in Chelsea invested
significantly to improve our building’s façade and to install updated, modern
signage. It has made a marked, positive
difference in our foot traffic and sales at that location, and I very much want
to see other businesses in the Downtown corridor benefit from these kinds of
Chelsea Chamber President Joseph W. Mahoney
added, “We do get member businesses, and non-members, too, asking whether there
are programs to assist business owners to fund signage and façade
improvements. For façades, we know that
there is a small program to be made available, but the roll-out of the façade
program has been at least a couple of years in the making. Our understanding is
that there may also be a cost-sharing program for signage as well. The new
signage ordinances still need to be passed by the City Council, so we’ve been
telling businesses to sit tight, but be ready. We’ve been saying the same thing
to our member and non-member businesses in the signage business. We suggested to Craig Murphy, owner of our
member Cambridge Reprographics, start talking to people now.”
“I think businesses are most excited about
the potential return of blade signs,” Mahoney elaborated, “those that are
perpendicular to the building.”
Newburyport’s shopping district is full of those signs.
When one drives down its streets, one can
see the businesses’ signs before accidentally passing them. Pedestrians also
can spot their destination from a half-block away.
•Another piece of the regulations addresses
outdoor or sidewalk dining – which was pioneered by the Ciao! Market on
Broadway two summers ago. It was a success, by most accounts, and Graney said
they would like to encourage others to try it.
First, however, they wanted to put some
standards in place.
The regulations would only allow such dining
on sidewalks and they would have to be immediately in front of the business.
The furniture would have to be matching and of a high quality. There would have
to be a safety plan, and businesses would be responsible for the area. No
alcohol service would be allowed for the time being.
Seasonal heaters for outdoor dining are also
“Realistically, there’s not a lot of space,”
she said. “Downtown, where this works, it’s two or three tables or six people.
It’s similar to what Ciao! Did on their pilot.”
Addressing the proposed sidewalk dining
ordinance, Chamber Executive Director Rich Cuthie was slightly more
“Edson and Marvin from Ciao Pizza definitely
have been the market movers on this and need to be applauded,” he said. “They
put in the work and time with the City to test it out. But let’s say it’s a nice summer evening and
you and I wanted to have a beer and split a plate of nachos al fresco at a
local restaurant on Broadway; maybe an
after work meeting or just something social. We sit down at the table and
chairs on the sidewalk and then are told, ‘No, sorry. No alcohol is allowed
outside.’ Like many people, we’re just
going to get up, apologize, and either go to the inside of that restaurant, or
another restaurant, or worse, decide to move our meeting or dinner to another
Cuthie said there is no compelling argument
for a business owner to make the investment in tables, chairs, and staffing
while also having to insure against additional outdoor liabilities if the
potential revenues to offset those costs are not there.
“No mistake,” Cuthie continued, “we’re happy
and appreciative that the City is moving to try to formally create a path to
outdoor dining, but without beer, wine, and cocktails—which by the way are a
restaurant’s highest margin offerings and offset food costs, we’re missing the
mark and I have to reserve judgment on the initiative’s ultimate success. I don’t want Chelsea to always be 10 years
behind other communities. We need proper updating now so that people will say,
‘It’s a beautiful evening, let’s have some margaritas and good Latin food in
Chelsea tonight. We’ll decide where we
want to eat when we get there, because there are so many outdoor dining
Several local restaurants and the City’s Chelsea
Prospers program is stepping up to celebrate all things about the pupusa this
Sunday, April 7, at Emiliana Fiesta as part of the first annual Pupusa Fiesta.
As a precursor to the coming Night Market
events, and a nod to the City’s Latino and Central American heritage, the City
and local business owners have combined efforts to put on a free festival to
highlight the stuffed corn tortilla delicacy – as well as all the trimmings
that go with it.
Downtown Coordinator Mimi Graney said that
five businesses have signed up to participate in the free event, where they
will have pupusa samples, forchata drinks, pupusa-making demos, curtido and
“It’s kind of flexing our muscles to see how
well we get people together and I also wanted to have a celebration of a
particular food that we have in Chelsea,” said Graney.
Julio Flores of El Santaneco Restaurant said
they are very excited to participate and feel it is very important that a dish
like the pupusa is being highlighted.
“We’re very excited because we opened the
restaurant in 2000, and since then we’ve participated in different events like
Taste of Chelsea and others,” he said. “However, this is the first time it’s
going to be just about the Latino cuisine – particularly the pupusa. That’s a very
A pupusa is a thick corn tortilla stuffed
with cheese and beans – sometimes meats as well. Curtido is a common side dish
with the pupusa and it is a vinegar-based slaw made of cabbage and carrots –
and a touch of spiciness.
“I think the city manager and Mimi and
Chelsea Prospers are doing a great job because I’m not 100 percent sure, but I
think it’s the first time there is an event just about Latino food. It also
opens up the opportunity for this to happen again. I would love to see this as
an opportunity to start a tradition and that it won’t be a one-time event.”
He also said it gives homage to the culture
in Chelsea, but a culture that is changing.
“The City is changing,” he said. “The Latino
community has been in Chelsea many years.”
The Pupusa Fiesta
will take place on Sunday, April 7, from 2-5 p.m. at Emiliana Fiesta, 35 Fourth
St. It is a free event.