The Planning Board recommended approval to two changes to the City’s zoning ordinances on Tuesday night.
The first change affects the Naval Hospital Residential and Commercial Districts, also known as the Admiral’s Hill area of the city.
In the 1980s, the city slackened many building and zoning regulations for the district in an effort to encourage development, according to Lad Dell, the city’s planning and land use administrator.
“People were able to develop without much regulation at all,” said Dell.
A moratorium on building in the district was recently extended to the end of the year by City Manager Thomas Ambrosino as the City worked on new regulations for the district.
The new ordinance recommended by the Planning Board for approval by the City Council allows for four- to six-unit buildings to be constructed by right, with a special permit required for any construction above six units.
The ordinance brought before the Planning Board allowed for building heights of 2 ½ stories and 35 feet. The board amended the ordinance to allow for a building height of 40 feet.
“I would suggest that we add the half a story and a little height to allow for garages,” said John DePriest, the City’s planning director.
City Councillor Roy Avellaneda said the amendment was in line with Council subcommittee discussions on the ordinance to increase building height to make it easier to build garages.
The residents who spoke during the public hearing on the zoning amendment were supportive.
“It looks like this is an effort to protect the character of the neighborhood and not overload our streets,” said Christine Shields.
The second zoning amendment would allow for residential units on the first floor of buildings in the Retail Business District by special permit, as long as those units are not on Broadway.
Two years ago, a zoning amendment banned residential units on the first floor in the Broadway corridor. If the new amendment is approved by the City Council, residential units will still be banned on the first floor on Broadway itself, but could be allowed under special permit on other streets near Broadway in the zoning district.
In other Planning Board business, the developers of the massive 1 Forbes Street project withdrew their plans for the project.
But rather than a massive blow to development in the City, it was a procedural move that gives developers more time to fully present the project to a full Planning Board, according to Paul Feldman, who is representing the developer for the 630-unit residential and office building project.
“The public hearing on this was opened on Sept. 22, and at that time, there were a couple of vacancies on the board and a member who was not present,” said Feldman. “With a nine member board, to get site approval, we need six votes.”
Feldman said developers are withdrawing the site plan, but immediately refiling it to start the clock over on the hearing process. He said he expects the project to be back before the Planning Board at its Dec. 18 meeting.
“We would like the participation of all nine members, or all that can attend,” said Feldman.
Tuesday night, the board also approved a special permit for a 16-seat Peruvian bistro-type restaurant at the site of a former liquor store on 22 Adams St.
Woodlawn Cemetery has announced it will be holding its 18th annual Christmas Ecumenical Memorial Service in the chapel on Thursday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m.
Francis J. LaRovere, III, esquire president and chief executive officer, in making the announcement said, “This is a difficult season for those who have lost a loved one; we hope that in offering this opportunity to share in this memorial service, the loss will be less painful.” LaRovere continued, “We are gratified with the response we have received form the public regarding this event and are pleased to be able to offer it each year during the holiday season.”
In addition to the service, Woodlawn will again light a memorial Christmas tree while the carolers sing traditional Christmas hymns. Reverend Thomas Coots and Father Vincent Gianni will celebrate the service.
Staring at 6:30 p.m., a seasonal music program will be performed by the Figgy Puddin Holiday Carolers. This acappella quartet of Dickensian carolers will perform traditional Christmas music in beautiful Victorian costumes.
This program is not recommended for children under 12 years old. Following the program, a collation will be held in Patton Memorial Hall. Gates will open at 6 p.m. seating is limited and may not be held for late arrivals, therefore; it is suggested you arrive early. For additional information please contact Paul M. Maniff, director of sales.
Members of Chelsea Uniting Against the War, a group of young women from the Chelsea Collaborative, peace activists from neighboring communities, Rhode Island and Vermont filled a bus from Chelsea City Hall to attend the Women’s March on the Pentagon on October 21. Other Chelsea residents came in large vans or cars.
The march was organized by Cindy Sheehan whose commitment against war and the military was sparked after the death of her first born son, Casey Austin Sheehan, an Army Specialist, who was killed in combat in Iraq in 2004. In an effort to talk to the President Bush, who refused to meet with her and to express her opposition to war, Cindy Sheehan set up camp outside of Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas in 2005. For three years, tens of thousands of people from the U.S. and internationally came to Camp Casey to show their support .
Cindy Sheehan’s activism has not wavered. She chose Oct. 21, 2018, as the date for women and others to march on the Pentagon to mark the 51st anniversary of the first March on the Pentagon. In 1967 over 50,000 people gathered at the Pentagon to demand and end to the war in Vietnam and to bring the troops home. The demands of this year’s march included the complete end of wars abroad, closure of foreign military bases, slashing of the Pentagon budget and the funding of healthy social programs and education.
Two women from Chelsea Uniting Against the War spoke to the crowd about the grass roots successful anti-military recruitment campaign at Chelsea High School. Every year since 2004 at the beginning of the school year, members of Chelsea Uniting Against the War welcome students and hand out English and Spanish leaflets in English and Spanish to each of the 1200 students to remind them of their right to withhold their contact information from military recruiters. In 2017, 70-percent of the seniors exercised their right to opt-out. Interest was expressed by many people in the audience to adopt Chelsea Uniting Against the War’s approach to educating students in their local high schools.
For some activists, the Women’s March on the Pentagon was their first national protest in the U.S.
As Juitiza Torres, a youth from the Chelsea Collaborative stated, “As a young Latina this march and the people involved encourages me to speak up and talk about what really needs to be talked about.” Dalia Juarez added “It was my first time in D.C. It felt like an amazing experience for me and it felt empowering to be there for something I feel very strongly about. It was an overall great experience to start the (school) year.”
The work of Chelsea Against the War continues with monthly meetings and events. For more information about Chelsea Uniting Against the War, contact us on FaceBook at ChelseaUnitingAgaistthe War (note there is an “n”missing) or firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-884-5132.
For more photos or to learn more about the Women’s March on the Pentagon, go to MarchonPentagon.com.
Encore Boston Harbor is committing $10 million over the next four years to support a wide range of social programs and civic institutions that will help those in need and improve the lives of residents in local communities, the company announced on Tuesday – also known as Giving Tuesday.
To assist in managing funds and identifying the most meaningful philanthropic efforts, the company is partnering with the Connors Family Office, led by Boston civic leader Jack Connors Jr.
“Giving back to the communities where our employees and guests live and work has always been a part of who we are as a company,” said Matt Maddox, CEO of Wynn Resorts. “It’s not in our corporate DNA to just write a check for a donation or buy a table at a charity event. We want to make an impactful difference in the lives of people and effect real and positive changes in our communities. We believe committing $10 million and teaming with the Connors Family Office will go a long way towards realizing our goal.”
Together, the Connors Family Office and Encore Boston Harbor will develop an Advisory Committee to advise on and assist in the disbursement of funds from Encore Boston Harbor. The committee will provide recommendations to Encore Boston Harbor for the distribution of funds, targeting programs that support at-risk-youth education, cultural enrichment and vibrant communities.
“It is impressive to see a new business come into town and make such a concerted effort to positively impact the surrounding community,” said Jack Connors Jr. “Encore Boston Harbor is poised to make a real difference for some very worthy organizations.”
Encore Boston Harbor has been active in local philanthropy prior to Tuesday’s announced commitment of $10 million. Long-standing recipients of Encore’s corporate giving include the Boston Pops, Wang Theater, New England Center for Arts and Technology, Disabled American Veterans, and Latino 30 Under 30, among others. Recently, Encore Boston Harbor donated $100,000 in support of The Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund.
Encore Boston Harbor announced last week that it was the lead sponsor and supporter of a unique partnership between the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Boston Public Library that is bringing a major exhibit by renowned French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec to the MFA.
The $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor resort is scheduled to open in June 2019.
An MS-13 member was sentenced to life in prison for using social media to lure and violently murder two teenage boys – one from Chelsea – in East Boston.
Edwin Gonzalez, a/k/a “Sangriento,” 23, a Salvadoran national, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to life in prison. In June 2018, after a multi-week trial, Gonzalez was convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO or racketeering conspiracy. In addition, the jury found that Gonzalez’s racketeering activity on behalf of MS-13 included his participation in the Sept. 7, 2015, murder of a 15-year-old in East Boston and the Jan. 10, 2016, murder of a 16-year-old in East Boston.
MS-13 is organized into smaller groups known as “cliques” that operate throughout the United States. Gonzalez was a member of the Molinos Locos Salvatrucha clique of MS-13.
The investigation revealed that Gonzalez was the driving force behind, and key participant in, two separate murders in Massachusetts.
On Sept. 7, 2015, Gonzalez and three other MS-13 members lured a 15-year-old boy through social media to Constitution Beach in East Boston. Convinced that the victim was a gang rival, Gonzalez and others targeted him by pretending to be a girl on Facebook and lured the victim to the beach for a date. When the victim arrived at Constitution Beach, Gonzalez and three other MS-13 members took turns stabbing the victim repeatedly, leaving him bleeding to death on a public beach. The victim had approximately 33 sharp force injuries and multiple blunt force injuries.
The other three MS-13 members who committed the September 2015 murder with Gonzalez—Carlos Melara, a/k/a “Chuchito,” a/k/a “Criminal,” Henry Parada Martinez, a/k/a “Street Danger,” and Rene Mejia Flores a/k/a “Gasper,”—were also charged in connection with this investigation and pleaded guilty before trial. Melara was sentenced to 36 years in prison, while Parada Martinez and Mejia Flores are awaiting sentencing.
On Dec. 7, 2015, Gonzalez was promoted to “homeboy,” or full-member of the gang, to reward him for the murder he committed on behalf of MS-13. Melara and Mejia Flores were also promoted to “homeboys” for their role in the murder.
On January 10, 2016, Gonzalez and three other MS-13 members lured Christofer Perez de la Cruz, 16, of Chelsea, through social media to Falcon Street in East Boston. Again, convinced that the victim was a gang rival, Gonzalez and others targeted him by pretending to be a girl on Facebook. Gonzalez then went to pick up the victim, pretending to be a relative of the girl that the victim was supposed to meet for a date. When Gonzalez arrived with the victim in East Boston, the MS-13 members attacked the victim. Three of the MS-13 members, including Gonzalez, were armed with large knives and stabbed the victim repeatedly, while the fourth MS-13 member fired multiple gunshots into the victim. Gonzalez and the other MS-13 members then ran away, leaving the teenager bleeding to death on a public street. The victim had approximately 48 sharp force injuries, multiple gunshot wounds, and multiple blunt force injuries.
One of the murderers was captured on tape stating that the “the dude [victim] was left completely destroyed” and “Sangriento [Gonzalez] whacked the guy’s hands with a machete.” The day after the murder, Gonzalez himself was captured on tape admitting to the murder and discussing further violence against potential rivals, stating, “we’re going to leave all of them chopped in pieces.”
The other three MS-13 members who committed the January 2016 murder with Gonzalez—Edwin Diaz, a/k/a “Demente,” Jairo Perez, a/k/a “Seco,” and Rigoberto Mejia, a/k/a “Ninja”—were also charged in connection with this investigation and pleaded guilty before trial. Diaz and Perez were each sentenced to 35 years in prison, while Mejia received 27.5 years in prison.
Gonzalez was one of 49 defendants convicted as part of this investigation. All nine defendants who went to trial were convicted and 40 others pleaded guilty. In all, 16 defendants, including Gonzalez, were found to have committed or knowingly participated in murders.
After meeting at a dance studio party in Allston 11 years ago, Revere resident Chris Farina and Chelsea native Karen Padulsky Poverman have been dance partners at local clubs ever since.
“I was out with my girlfriends and he asked me to dance,” said Poverman, the daughter of Morton and Sandra Padulsky of Chelsea. “It was magic. I felt like the queen of the disco.”
The reason for the instant, dance-floor chemistry?
Farina, 57, has been an award-winning, high-tempo dancer with his own unique style and he was able to bring out the creative energy in Poverman, a former Chelsea High School cheerleader who had previously taken two years of dance lessons.
“Karen was used to the classic 1-2-3-step, 1-2-3 step that is almost rhythmic and doesn’t allow freelancing on the dance floor,” explained Farina, who is originally from East Boston.
Following weekly visits to Vincent’s Night Club in Randolph and twice-a-week dance sessions at Poverman’s dance studio inside her home, the pair began to elicit tremendous praise from other dancers and build up somewhat of a following. Wearing their color-coordinated dance outfits, they stood out on the floor no matter what disco song was playing.
“Chris leads to the music and I follow his leads as well as to the music,” said Poverman, who is married to Steve Poverman. “So it’s never the exact same dance twice. He allows me to express myself to ‘dance within the dance.’’’
They’ve become so confident in their dancing talents, that the duo has decided to launch a new disco dance studio and give dance lessons at Poverman’s home. They have named the business, KC Dance, and have begun accepting students for lessons.
“We feel we’re ready to teach other couples how to disco dance,” said Poverman.
Farina said that their disco dance teaching methods will not be of the John Travolta/ “Saturday Night Fever” variety.
“It will be club classic, disco music,” said Farina. “It’s not wedding songs like Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration” or Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” but rather songs like “Touch and Go,” “Sugar Pie Guy” and “Rough Diamond.”
A dance champion as a teenager
Farina, who is an athletic, 5 feet, 11 inches tall, has won numerous dance contests in his lifetime.
“I’ve been a dancer since I was 14 years old,” said Farina, who was friends with well-known DJs Ron Robin and Vinnie Peruzzi. “Sammy’s Patio, Jimmy Magg’s, Bartolo’s in East Boston, Faces in Cambridge, Boston Boston, Studio Four in Lynn, Chateau de Ville in Saugus – those were some of my early dance places.”
Back then, Farina was such a phenom and considered so technically proficient at disco dancing that he was recruited to be a teacher during his teenage and early adult years.
Finding the perfect
Farina said he was immediately impressed with Poverman’s “natural effervescence and ability to break out of the box away from conventional styles.”
“Karen realizes that there is more of an art to dance than it being structured or engineered,” said Farina. “Karen is more intuitive with me now. That’s a quality you want to enrich. There is an intuitive side of dance as opposed to an analytical, methodical style.”
And now Farina and Poverman hope to introduce other dancers to disco dancing, a phenomenon that was at its height of popularity in the 1970s.
“We love to dance because it gives us freedom of expression,” said Farina. “It’s also great for your physical conditioning. We’re ready and we’re enthusiastic about being able to teach disco dancing to people of any age.”
(To inquire about disco dance lessons at KC Dance, please call Karen Poverman at 978-979-7156 or Chris Farina at 781-853-9223).
CEO of Opportunity Communities Ann Houston (former CEO of TND), Joe Rettman of NEI Interiors Construction, and Rafael Mares, executive director of TND, during the Nov. 13 40th anniversary Raising the Roof fundraiser for TND. The power-packed event took place at the Mystic Brewery in Chelsea and marked the organization’s 40th birthday.
The Chelsea Council voted in the recommended tax rate and a residential exemption of 30 percent on Monday night, sealing the deal for nominal increases to most residential owner-occupants and decreases for condo owner-occupants.
The lone increase that was notable over last year was for three-family homeowners, who will see a 9 percent increase – or $449 over last year’s bills.
Notably, condo owners are the only property owners that will see a decrease in their tax bills. Condo owners’ tax bills will go down 13.3 percent from last year, a different of $279 on the tax bill.
“This (tax rate) will result in a reduction of the average tax bill for owner-occupant condominiums, but an average tax increase of varying amounts to other owner-occupied parcels,” wrote City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “By selecting the 30 percent residential exemption amount, the City Council will have the opportunity to spread the benefit of the 35 percent exemption limit over future fiscal years.”
The new residential tax rate, passed with the annual maximum 175 percent shift to commercial properties, came in at $14.26 per $1,000 of value. The commercial/industrial rate will be $29.15.
The values for industrial properties actually did not increase as greatly as residential values, a trend that has carried on for some time.
That, however, could change as industrial/commercial properties in the inner urban communities has become more desirable over the last 18 months. Ambrosino said the property values are from one year behind the market, so there could be some extra relief for residential owners if those industrial property values begin to climb – as some in the industry believe.
“An increase in industrial/commercial property values would be good for residential properties,” he said. “The values now are behind the market, and if values do increase going forward, it would offset some of the tax burden. We’ve made a concerted effort to maintain our industrial areas. We want to keep industrial uses in our industrial areas because there isn’t a lot of space available for these businesses and they are good taxpayers. We don’t want to lose them.”
The average tax bills for this coming year would be:
All are invited to attend the Chelsea Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration on Thursday, Nov. 29, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Chelsea Square.
Presented by the City of Chelsea and the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, the celebration brings two hours of family-friendly activities including music, dance, and crafts to Chelsea Square.
“The Tree Lighting has been a long standing tradition in Chelsea,” said City Manager Thomas Ambrosino. “Last year’s event was a great success and we’re looking forward to bringing the community together again. Positive momentum is building and I’m pleased at this latest opportunity to draw more people to the area to shop, dine and gather with their neighbors.”
This year’s program includes performances by a choir from the Chelsea High School, Off Broadway Dance Studio, and the Back Bay Bell Ringers. Everyone will have a chance to support a good cause with crafts for sale from Empty Bowls. Decorate a gingerbread person to eat right away or bring home. Free refreshments will be provided by Chelsea Chamber of Commerce businesses. Bringing back a tradition of years past, Santa is scheduled to make a dramatic entrance courtesy of the Chelsea Fire Department.
“The Chamber is excited for this time of year,” said Chamber Acting President Joe Mahoney. “In addition to serving our member organizations and supporting the general commerce of Chelsea, we strive to bring positive programming the whole community can enjoy.”
The Tree Lighting Celebration is one of three events kicking off the winter holiday season. Saturday, Nov. 24 is Small Business Saturday presented by the Chamber and Chelsea Prospers, the City of Chelsea’s downtown initiative, a day to celebrate and support small, locally-owned businesses. The following Saturday, Dec. 1, is the Chamber’s annual Breakfast with Santa event at the Williams School.
Members of the Chelsea High School Class of 2019 are a step closer to getting their wish of an outdoor graduation on the new high school field.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino is requesting the City Council approve spending $170,000 from the City’s Stabilization Account to buy a protective mat for the new turf field at the high school.
“This removable, plastic covering will allow for greater use of the field for non-sporting events, including allowing for an outdoor graduation for the Chelsea High School Class of 2019,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the Council.
The city is in the midst of a $3 million-plus upgrade of Veterans Field at Chelsea High School. The first phase of the project, replacement of the artificial turf and the new track, is scheduled for completion this fall, according to Ambrosino. A second phase involving lighting and restrooms will continue in the spring.
The new turf field comes with an eight-year warranty, but that warranty is voided if certain uses occur on the field, including large static crowds, spiked heels, or chairs with four legs. The City Manager said these restrictions would all but eliminate the use of the surface for any non-sporting events.
“One method for eliminating this problem is to purchase a removable, protective surface for the turf, which is how the problem is handled in many large artificial turf stadiums across the country,” Ambrosino stated. “However, we did not budget for such a protective surface in this project.”
At the request of the school, Ambrosino is asking the Council to approve the additional funding through the School Capital Stabilization Account, which Ambrosino said was specifically established for these types of School Department capital expenditures.
At its Monday night meeting, the council voted to take up the issue in its Finance Subcommittee.
The request from the City Manager was good news for Chelsea High Senior Manuel Teshe, who addressed the Council earlier this month about senior class fundraising efforts to secure an outdoor graduation.
“Mr. Tom Ambrosino made me feel like people were listening to us after all the work we did,” said Teshe. “We felt alone, and now we appreciate the chance that the City is even considering it.”
Prior to hearing from Ambrosino, Councillors Ray Avellaneda, Leo Robinson, and Yamir Rodriguez introduced an order asking the City Manager to explore the purchase of an event decking system. After hearing about Ambrosino’s request to use the stabilization funds for the purchase, Avellaneda withdrew the order.