The Revere Beach Sand Sculpting Festival is one of the greatest events of its kind in the entire world and attracts the very best master sculptors from as far away as Singapore.
More than 300,000 people will travel to Revere Beach this weekend to see these talented artists showcasing their amazing work. If you have been to one of these festivals in the past, you know why so many people make this a “must-attend” on their summer calendars.
If you haven’t experienced the joy of being at this fun and festive event, we encourage you to be at Revere Beach for the festival. We know these immensely gifted sand sculptors would appreciate your support.
The Ameican soccer team had a good run, but ended up coming just short of advancing last week, but it wasn’t for lack of cheering on the part of Chelsea’s Roy and Nicolas Avellaneda.
The two brothers spent two weeks in Fortaleza, Brazil taking in the various World Cup Group Play matches – including games featuring the U.S. and Argentina, where the Avellanedas’ parents are from.
Roy, who is a candidate for state representative this September, took a few weeks off from the campaign to take part in one of his great passions – soccer. Avellaneda and his father, Tito, have been instrumental in founding and continuing the Chelsea Youth Soccer League.
“It was great to get to go to Brazil and see such great games and meet fans from all over the world,” he said. “The Brazilian people were very friendly and adored Americans. If you had an American jersey on, they would come right up to you and want to take a picture with you. However, I got a completely different response when I wore my Argentina shirt, of course. I fully expected that, though. They are arch rivals.”
Avellaneda said he has been to only one other World Cup, but that was only in 1994 when Foxboro hosted World Cup matches during the U.S.’s only hosting bid. However, he and his brother really wanted to take in the full measure of the cup this time.
“We did watch matches in Foxboro in `94, but that really doesn’t fully count,” he said. “My brother and I had been planning this for years and we said if the U.S. and Argentina both qualify, we would go to Brazil. In November, when they both qualified, we decided to make it happen. I was hoping the U.S. could have done better, and really wish they had beaten Portugal. However, they showed the rest of the world what they had and earned a lot of respect from players, coaches and fans from around the world. We’ll see what happens in Russia in four years.”
Avellaneda said he is hoping that the U.S. might be able to nab the host duties for the 2018 World Cup, as there is talk that host Russia might have their host status revoked due to its actions in Ukraine.
He said it is preferable to have such huge events in established countries like the U.S. because infrastructure in places like Brazil is not at the level that it is in countries like the U.S.
“With all due respect to Brazil, there were a lot of issues about them being prepared and having the infrastructure to support a world event,” he said. “It’s not as easy in some of these places in other countries to get around. We have the infrastructure, the roads and hotels, and we have 32 professional football stadium ready right now that could easily host a World Cup match. They only need eight of them. We would be ready very quickly, so I’m crossing my fingers that it may happen.”
They’re all positive individuals with an agenda, but they don’t care too much for agendas.
They like social media, and they enjoy sampling the many restaurants and social gathering spots in the city.
They are Chel-Yea, and they want you.
One of the fastest growing new groups of people who live and work in Chelsea is the five-month old Chel-Yea movement. The group encompasses young and old, residents and people who work in Chelsea, life-longers and newcomers.
Currently, the heaviest debate within the group is whether or not to put an exclamation point on the end of their name, and whether or not there should be a hyphen in the name (the hyphen apparently messes up Twitter, which doesn’t recognize hyphens). Beyond that, the discussion can lead anywhere, and the only mission is to have a social gathering/dinner in Chelsea at least once a month.
“There’s really no set structure to it,” said Matt Frank, who is the City Council president and a member of Chel-Yea. “People can come, they can just show up and create their own conversation. They can socialize or connect on things they want to accomplish. There is no set agenda and people can talk about whatever they want. It really a great way to connect; it’s a Chelsea network.”
Dan Cortez was one of the founders of the group. Cortez, who works for MGH as a community-based substance abuse initiatives manager, said the group was branded inaccurately at first as a young professionals group, but that is not the case.
“I like to say the only requirement for membership is that if you’re more Chel-Yea than Chel-no, then this is probably the place for you,” he said. “It’s not show up with all your problems and complain. We really want to come together and celebrate the community optimistically. Early on it was branded a young professionals group, but it’s not. I’m not a young professional by any means. It’s a group that isn’t a group.”
Added Frank, “As a City Councillor and life-long resident I always tell people what is available in Chelsea. They always say ‘Wow, I didn’t know we had that.’ People like to put things in boxes. You can’t put Chel-Yea in a box. It just won’t fit.”
Cortez and co-founder Melissa Walsh, of The Neighborhood Developers (TND), began the group some five months ago while sitting at a local coffee shop talking over ideas. A frustration grew out of that conversation that there wasn’t any platform for people to connect to get things done and have fun. Within a few minutes, they saw Fusion Foods owner Melissa Vo, and they continued the conversation.
The next thing they knew, they had a large, but informal, group meeting at Vo’s restaurant.
After that first month’s meeting, they held the next three get-togethers at the Mystic Brewery. This month, on July 17, they’ll have their official (if that word can be used) event at Mi Salvadoran Mexican Restaurant in Chelsea Square – their first fiesta on Broadway.
The group also often tags on to existing community events, encouraging those in the network to attend such events (such as the Apollinaire Theatre) and then participate in the group’s after party – which has settled into a home at Common Cove on Admiral’s Hill.
Each time it grows and each time there are some new faces who are introduced to the “real” Chelsea.
Cortez said, for example, one of the doctors at MGH Chelsea came recently with another doctor.
“He had been working here four years and the extent of his Chelsea experience was Fusion Foods, which is great, but there is also more to see,” he said. “He hadn’t really done anything else before. Now he comes to Chel-Yea every month and to some of our after parties. He brought a colleague that had never really done anything in Chelsea. She was sitting with the group at Mystic and mentioned that this was the kind of thing that made her want to move to Chelsea.”
And therein lies another group of untapped folks that Chel-Yea hopes to bring into the Chelsea fold – the newcomers who live in places like the Parkway Plaza, Spencer Lofts, One Webster or One North. Many times, they still do most of their socializing in Boston, and haven’t yet infiltrated the Chelsea lifestyle.
“You have a lot of folks who are moving into Chelsea and you need something for them to do – a connection point,” said Frank. “We are hoping to be that connecting point for them. We want to point them in the direction of what there is to do in Chelsea. Take Mystic Brewery for example; it’s amazing how many people have discovered Mystic because of Chel-Yea.”
In the end, Cortez and Frank said they want to keep things fun, yet bring people together in a productive way. That simple formula, they said, could strike gold.
“We’ll see what happens with this,” Cortez said. “It’s a fun thing and there’s a lot of positive energy in Chelsea right now. Much of that is because of going to Denver for the All-American City Award – which a lot of us participated in. We’re hoping to take the buzz that’s in the air now and run with it. We believe in Chelsea and we’re trying to find people who feel the same way – and have fun at the same time.”
For more information on Chel-Yea, log on to their Facebook community page.
Members of the informal group Chel-Yea gathering at Mystic Brewery in May. The five-month old loosely configured network is ready to capitalize on the energy in the community and bring together positive people.
A last minute plea to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) by the City late last month fell on deaf ears as the Commission ruled that the Wynn Surrounding Community Agreement (SCA) – though far from what Chelsea had requested – will stand.
While the City inked one of the most lucrative SCA’s in the state with Revere’s Mohegan Sun, it was far from repeating the same result with Everett’s Wynn after a month-long series of state arbitration meetings. Those meetings ended in mid-June, with the MGC’s arbiter siding with Wynn and shorting the City’s requests significantly on transportation, public safety and education. Most notably, the City got absolutely nothing from the Wynn SCA to mitigate schools and social impacts.
“After hearing both parties and considering the evidence, the Arbitrator selects the Best and Final Offer of Wynn,” wrote Arbitrator Stephen Neel in his June 9 decision, which was officially accepted last Thursday.
The late June request for a vote at the MGC meeting was a final effort by the City to strike a better bargain, and now the only recourse if Wynn gets the casino license would be for the City to petition the MGC after the fact.
City Manager Jay Ash was particularly soured on the entire process – both the negotiations with Wynn and the MGC’s arbitration process.
“I remain disappointed with both the results of the arbitration process and the continue position of Wynn Resorts regarding potential impacts to the community from their proposed casino in Everett,” said Ash. “Mohegan Sun has acknowledged those potential impacts and have agreed to work very closely with us to address them upfront. The position we are left in by the Wynn compact and the arbitration process is to petition the MGC after the impacts have occurred, which is absolutely ridiculous. Even if we are successful in petitioning the MGC after the fact, we can never go back and resolve the impacts, which could include crime, addiction and traffic, that would have made our petition successful in the first place. The situation about dealing with regional impacts is just one of many reasons why I believe the Mohegan Sun proposal is far superior to that of Wynn.”
Chelsea and Wynn had been negotiating an SCA for quite some time, but never could get the numbers even close to matching. That led to a state-mandated arbitration process that began in late April and continued with six meetings between the two parties and the arbiter.
On most every point, the arbiter agreed that Chelsea was overstating the impacts of the Wynn casino.
The greatest difference was an up front, one time $1.55 million traffic payment to Chelsea to mitigate five intersections – including Marginal/Pearl, Williams/Broadway, Williams/Spruce, Parkway/Webster, and Parkway/Everett Avenue. Instead of the amount Chelsea had requested, the arbiter agreed with the Wynn proposal of $300,000 for the five intersections – a difference of $1.25 million.
“After reviewing the evidence relating to traffic and transportation impacts…the impact posed by the Wynn casino on traffic at those [five] intersections will, at worst, be limited,” wrote Neel.
Beyond that, Chelsea had requested an annual payment of $250,000 to be used at its discretion for roadway improvements. Wynn had proposed $225,000, which was accepted and not nearly as far off the mark.
As it related to public safety, the arbiter doubted completely that additional crime would spill over to Chelsea as a result of casino in Everett. He indicated that Chelsea already had plenty of police officers (106 right now) and the proposed mitigation payment of $250,000 annually would be more than enough to mitigate any additional crime and add about three new officers.
Chelsea had proposed a $700,000 annual payment for public safety and a $50,000 first responder fee, for a total of $750,000.
“The Arbitrator concludes that the Wynn casino’s security force, working with the Everett Police Department, will adequately manage any crime resulting in the immediate area of Everett from the Wynn casino; that patrons of the Wynn casino will not in any significant numbers travel three-quarters of a mile by foot form the Wynn casino property to Chelsea through an industrial area that separates the two; that some Wynn casino patrons will stay at hotels existing or to be built in Chelsea, and will travel by vehicle to and rom the Wynn casino; that the additional patrons and tourists drawn to Chelsea by the Wynn casino will cause some increase in the volume, but not the rate, of property crimes in Chelsea,” he wrote. “Even though a significant percentage of Chelsea’s residents are undocumented immigrants, the Wynn casino will create a significant number of jobs in Chelsea. As Chelsea’s unemployment decreases, crime will decrease also. The Wynn casino does not pose a significant increase in violent crime in Chelsea.”
It was also noted that the numbers of officers on the Chelsea force is already mitigation enough for any uptick in crime.
“The new hotels in Chelsea provided part of the rationale for the increase in the [Chief's] force,” read the report. “Thus, any increase in tourists staying in Chelsea hotels, drawn by the Wynn casino or otherwise, has already been partially mitigated by the recent addition of officers to the CPD.”
However, the biggest shock of all came in the City’s request for mitigation of the schools and social impacts. The City had requested $850,000 annually to mitigate the schools and for social programs, and the arbitrator gave the City nothing.
The arbiter wrote that problems in the schools are caused by other situations and the proposed casino would not decrease nor increase those problems.
“The arbitrator concludes that the educational and social conditions described by Supt. Mary Bourque, City Manager Jay Ash and others are and will continue to be caused by conditions other than impacts posed by the Wynn casino,” wrote Neel. “The $700,000 school program payment proposed by Chelsea does not fairly and reasonably address the educational impact posed by the Wynn casino, and renders the total educational and social impact payments requested by Chelsea excessive.”
The final SCA between Chelsea and Wynn includes the following:
•$75,000 annual payment to enable Chelsea to develop initiatives to prepare local businesses to take advantage of the opportunities provided by Wynn.
•Wynn will purchase $2.5 million of goods and services annually from vendors with principle places of business in Chelsea.
•Create a Concierge Program that will cross market local businesses in the Wynn property via the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce.
•While there is no specific local hiring target numbers, Chelsea will have secondary preference with other SCA communities. Everett and Malden will have primary hiring designations.
•One time payment of $300,000 for improvement of the five intersections discussed above.
•Annual payment of $225,000 to mitigate traffic and roads.
•$250,000 to mitigate public safety and pedestrian traffic increases, to be used at the sole discretion of the City.
•Annual payment of $100,000 in to the Chelsea Community Fund to support cultural events, street fairs, art shows, festivals and other activities.
The agreement would only go into effect if Wynn Resorts prevails in obtaining a casino license, and if the state votes down the gaming repeal question that will be on the November ballot.
Chelsea can only re-open the agreement if impacts appear that are not foreseen in the agreement.
At least two city councillors would like to have more information and a second look at the use of tasers by the Chelsea Police Department – especially following the death of one man two weeks ago who had gotten tased during a violent altercation with police.
The Hawthorne Street death, however, is not currently being blamed on the tasing, but rather the man could have died from a heroin overdose. After being tased and handcuffed and being administered NARCAN (an overdose reversal drug), the man went unconscious.
He died later at the Whidden Hospital.
However, Councillors Giovanni Recupero and Joe Perlatonda – both frequent critics of the local police – said they have heard of other incidents involving tasers and would like to have a public discussion about their use and the training involved.
“People are concered due to the last person over that died after being tased,” said Perlatonda. “I guess last Saturday on the corner of Central and Marginal Street, someone was trying to steal copper or lumber from the new hotel building site. The police arrived on the scene and ended up tasing the guy. Councillor Recupero and I are very concerned.”
Recupero pointed out that most of the tasing events that have happened are in either his district or Perlatonda’s district.
He said he isn’t necessarily against tasers, but would like to have more information about how they’re being used and if the police are monitoring their usage.
Tasers are wildly popular with police officers on the front lines all over the area. In Chelsea, they’ve already been shown to reduce the amounts of assaults on police officers – incidents that often lead to injuries and health problems for officers.
Other neighboring cities, including Revere, are looking to Chelsea’s program to see if such weapons would be a good addition in that city.
As part of standard taser training, any officer who carries a taser must be hit by it first. That is so that they know how it feels and don’t overdo the tasing of suspects.
“It might be worth us getting some more information if these events are going to be happening more often,” said Perlatonda.
King Arthur’s is one of a handful of places that tend to be the butt of jokes regarding Chelsea – jokes that are centered on past embarrassments rather than current conditions.
However, as has been the case with other infamous digs around Chelsea, King Arthur’s strip club is no longer, with the Chelsea License Commission shutting down the joint recently and maybe for good.
License Commission Chair Jim Dwyer told the Record that the Commission revoked all licenses held by King Arthur’s late last month due to police complaints and the failure to pay more than $300,000 in taxes and fines. Beyond that, there was a bit of a technical lapse, apparently, by the ownership of the lounge.
Reports were that they closed up for awhile without notifying the Commission.
Any licensed establishment that suspends business for good or for a short time (not counting vacations) must notify the License Commission.
That, apparently, did not happen when King Arthur’s closed up, and the Commission used it as leverage to revoke the licenses.
Commissioner Roy Avellaneda said getting rid of the strip club is just another example of the positive direction that Chelsea is headed towards – noting also that the infamous Hotel Stanley on Congress Street has also changed ownership and direction.
“Though I was out of town then, I knew what was going on and what was happening and agreed with the decision,” he said. “When we talk about things going on in Chelsea, so much is moving forward. The sale of the Hotel Stanley not long ago and now the closing of King Arthur’s. There are seismic movements happening in Chelsea. Some of the things, like these two things, that people have picked on us for and made jokes about are no long up and running.”
Chelsea only has a few square miles of land to play with, so new flood maps that basically envelope entirely new areas into the federal floor zone – meaning flood insurance would now be required – have become a high stakes threat to the City’s future.
With that in mind, Chelsea has joined forces this week with Boston, Revere and Winthrop to put together a formal appeal of the flood maps – which were drawn by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with Global Warming sea level rise predictions in mind.
The end result of those current maps is that many areas that were nowhere near a flood zone on the old maps are now fully within the zone. Those areas include the Everett Avenue area, the neighboring industrial area and parts of Eastern Avenue/Marginal Street. The end result would mean that commercial and residential property owners who never had to have flood insurance would now have to carry the expensive policies. Other areas where flood insurance is also required would now be in a riskier zone, making current policies go up in cost.
In Revere and Winthrop, some areas of those cities would become so costly that residents would be forced to raise their homes up on stilts or just abandon the coastal areas altogether.
It’s a quiet emergency, but one that is on the highest order all over the coastal areas of the United States.
“The final decision on flood maps is high stakes, with the potential of insurance costs skyrocketing for those who are outside of a flood plain now, but who could be placed into a flood plain as a result of the new federal maps,” said City Manager Jay Ash. “We’ve seen how sea level rises and weather pattern changes, all results of global warming, are impacting communities along sea coasts. Chelsea could be impacted, either directly by a weather event or indirectly through insurance cost increases. This is concerning and a reason why we continue to work with others to seek a better understanding of the issues and to determine if an appeal of the maps is warranted.”
City Planner John DePriest – who recently spoke about this very issue with City Councillor Leo Robinson at an MIT symposium – said the new maps also threaten new buildings.
“There is also a potential for an increase in development costs as new buildings will have to conform to flood zone construction standards,” he said. “We are concerned about the potential impact on future development. The new draft floodplain maps, which are based on sea-level rise, show an increase in flooding in parts of the community that do not currently flood, including large parts of our industrial districts. Other, larger cities may have an opportunity to absorb some of the extra flooding due to their geographical size, and direct growth to areas outside the floodplain. Chelsea, which is only two square miles in size, does not have that opportunity.”
Currently, Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop were united by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and encouraged to join Boston’s effort – which is already underway.
MAPC Coordinator Cammy Peterson said she helped the communities catch up to Boston’s effort and to help choose a consultant that could help in analyzing the situation and, if need be, to begin the process of appealing the new flood maps.
In the end, she said, everyone agreed to contract with Woods Hole Group out of Cape Cod.
“One advantage is Wood Hole Group was already working with Boston on the same process and within Suffolk County,” she said. “So now, the same group is working with all four Suffolk County communities and they have all decided appeals would make sense.”
Now that the preliminaries have been decided, Peterson said the next step will be to set up a community officials workshop with FEMA so that a larger discussion and understanding of the maps and their effects can be had.
“Because of the potential impact of the new flood designations, we need to make sure that the methodology used to draw the flood lines is appropriate and accurately identifies potential flood areas,” added DePriest. “We have hired a consultant to work with us to review the new maps and the method in which they were developed, and to help us prepare an appeal if one is warranted.”
Flood insurance and mapping programs began in 1968, and for decades coastal homeowners had subsidized rates from the federal government. The subsidy and rate was based upon maps drawn by order of risk.
However, in 2012, Congress voted to reform the program, which is heavily in debt. The subsidies were stripped and new FEMA maps that incorporated Global Warming models were ordered. Every member of the state’s Congressional Delegation voted for the bill – including Chelsea’s Congressman Michael Capuano.
However, the backlash and unintended consequences from constituents – particularly those in New Orleans – launched a nationwide push back by coastal communities. In Greater Boston, House Speaker Bob DeLeo lobbied heavily in Washington, D.C. to change the 2012 law.
In March, President Barack Obama signed into law a new effort called the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act. While it did restore grandfathering provisions and put limits on rate increases, it continued to authorize the flood mapping effort using sea level rise predictions as a base. That left areas like Chelsea, Revere, Winthrop and Boston still very vulnerable to new flood zones.
Local officials said they expect preliminary reports on the appeal in August.
We remember the great Chelsea Parks director John “Doc” Mahoney and how Chelsea youths will come to our playgrounds on hot summer days and enjoy a full slate of recreational and sports activities.
We recall that Mr. Mahoney’s nephew, Tom Mahoney, also had a role in the parks system beyond his incredible effort of founding the Chelsea High School soccer program and building it into a Greater Boston League powerhouse as its coach.
In those playground days of yore, parks such as Voke, Quigley, Highland, Bosson, Merritt, Polonia fielded basketball and baseball teams that competed in a citywide league.
In the 1980s we remember the fine leadership of Summer Parks Feeding Program Director Arnold Goodman and area supervisor Frank DePatto, who would go on to be appointed director of athletics at Chelsea High, a position he still holds to this day and in which he excels.
Thanks to City Manager Jay Ash, our parks are in great shape and improvements continue to made to these facilities.
The summer parks feeding program is running smoothly and breakfasts and lunches are available at designated sites throughout the city.
We urge our youth to take advantage of the Chelsea parks and get out there and participate in regular sports and physical fitness activities.
Being able to play at the parks outdoors in the fresh air in the summer months is one of the joys of life in the city. Our parks are spacious and welcoming areas for recreation and fun activities.
Let’s enjoy our parks in this great weather that characterizes summer in New England.