Climate Action Business Association Canvassing Chelsea

Climate Action Business Association Canvassing Chelsea

Our Main Streets, mom and pops and storefronts are in many cases the first line of defense and first resource for when a storm hits.

This summer, advocates from the Climate Action Business Association (CABA) are coming to Chelsea to equip small businesses with the tools necessary to be resilient and protected in the face of extreme weather.

The Businesses Acting on Rising Seas (BARS) campaign, is an ongoing project that aims to inform community leaders and small businesses about the urgency of climate change and the need to incorporate climate resilient practices.

The BARS 2016 campaign reached over 500 businesses in Massachusetts, causing the campaign to gain national recognition and our Executive Director Michael Green to receive the White House Champions of Change Award for Climate Equity. This year, we have taken a more tailored approach by creating specific resilience guides for each one of our targeted communities, including city-specific information and resources.

We have worked closely with the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce and the community-based organization, GreenRoots, based in Chelsea to create useful, informative, and low-cost steps that small businesses can take to improve their preparedness in the face of climate change. During the week of July 16, be sure to keep an eye out for CABA as we conduct our outreach campaign among the small business community in Chelsea or contact us before then to schedule an interview with us and become part of the BARS campaign.

If you would like more information, contact Kristin Kelleher at kristin.kelleher@cabaus.org or call (617) 863 7665.

Read More

Oath of Office

Oath of Office

The Honorable Stacey Fortes, Robert A. Brennan, and Paul C. Dawley applaud the Honorable Matthew J. Machera after the Oath Of Office was administered. Machera was sworn in on Weds., June 27, as the new First Justice of the Chelsea District Court. Machera had been the acting First Justice, and it became official on June 27 at a ceremony that packed Courtroom 1 at Chelsea Court.

Read More

Chelsea Store Owner Sentenced for Trafficking Counterfeit Merchandise

Chelsea Store Owner Sentenced for Trafficking Counterfeit Merchandise

A Chelsea man was sentenced last month in federal court in Boston for trafficking counterfeit merchandise at three retail locations in the Boston area.

Arif Ali Shah, 66, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young to 18 months in prison, two years of supervised release, a $5,000 fine, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $145,531. In May 2017, Shah pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods.

From approximately 2005 to February 2015, Shah knowingly sold counterfeit merchandise at three retail stores he owns: Nadia’s in Dorchester; East Boston Wireless in East Boston; and Todo Wireless in Chelsea. Shah sold counterfeit Apple, Samsung, and Speck components at all three retail locations. He also sold a variety of counterfeit apparel and accessories, including Chanel, Michael Kors, Nike, Prada, Timberland, and Uggs. Shah purchased the counterfeit merchandise from foreign and domestic sources and purchased a number of the counterfeit cell phone components from a domestic supplier, Flexqueen, the owner of which was prosecuted in California.

Acting United States Attorney William Weinreb and Matthew Etre, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Harman Burkart of Weinreb’s Cybercrime Unit prosecuted the case.

Read More

MassDOT Highway Administrator Thomas J Tinlin Resigning

MassDOT Highway Administrator Thomas J Tinlin Resigning

 Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack announced today that Highway Administrator Thomas J. Tinlin has decided to resign from MassDOT.

“From grueling snowstorms to toll demolitions, Tom Tinlin was there to see our highway projects through on time and on budget and he always brought his sense of humor and kindness to the job,” said Governor Charlie Baker.  “He worked tirelessly to support the Commonwealth’s commuters to ensure everyone got to their destinations quickly and safely in every corner of the state.  On behalf of the entire Administration, I thank him for his service and wish him the best of luck toward future endeavors.”

Jonathan Gulliver will continue in the role of Acting Highway Administrator through September.  Gulliver was named Acting Administrator in May after it was announced that Mr. Tinlin would take time off to address a medical issue.  Prior to being named Acting Administrator, Gulliver had served as Director of Highway Division District 3.

Tinlin was scheduled to return to his work as Highway Administrator this week after being off the job since May 1. In announcing his resignation today, he said, “I am grateful for the excellent care I received after suffering from a subarachnoid brain aneurysm rupture and would like to publicly thank Dr. Ajith Thomas and all of the doctors and nurses at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for returning me to 100 percent so I can start the next chapter of my life as a healthy husband and father.”

Tinlin added, “While I am excited about what lies ahead, this has been a difficult decision. I have truly loved serving the people of the Commonwealth, and the City of Boston, and have taken pride in my public service roles for decades. And I am grateful for all the mentors I have had along the way.”

Tinlin joined MassDOT in January 2014 as its Chief of Operations and Maintenance and in March 2015 was promoted to Highway Administrator.

“Tom has led the Highway Division with integrity and pride and this state’s transportation system is better because of his management,” said Secretary Pollack.  “Tom’s strong work ethic, organizational skills, and collaborative style motivated employees, engaged the public and created partnerships benefitting everyone in the Commonwealth.  Tom never wavered in making decisions in the best interest of public safety and leaves MassDOT with a reputation he is deserving of, as a responsive and dedicated public servant.”

Since Mr. Tinlin joined MassDOT, new initiatives were launched by the Highway Division, including Complete Streets which provides money to communities for street infrastructure work, and the Municipal Small Bridge Program, a several year $50 million program to aid towns and cities in replacing or renovating small municipally-owned bridges.  Under his leadership, in October 2016, the state transitioned from manual to all-electronic toll collections, a project which involved, in part, having specific design, management and road reconstruction plans in 23 work zones from the New York border to Boston. In addition, Mr. Tinlin oversaw the introduction by MassDOT of technology to modernize highway operations and provide new tools to the public to use for travel, including “real-time” travel to destination highway signs and the 511 system. In managing the Highway Division staff of more than 2,500, Mr. Tinlin embraced a multi-modal approach to roadway design and led the implementation of transportation plans for countless planned and unplanned events for the Commonwealth.

Tinlin has spent nearly three decades in public service, working first for the City of Boston in a variety of roles and leaving the Menino Administration as Boston Transportation Commissioner.  Tinlin holds a Master of Public Administration from Suffolk University and is active in many Boston organizations, participating in particular in many non-profit causes, many in the neighborhood of South Boston where he has grown up and raised his family.

Read More

Money is Tight:Fire Department Overtime Budget Likely to Soar Again

By Seth Daniel

The Chelsea Fire Department overtime budget – long a bone of contention with City officials – is likely to soar again this year over budget despite a $1.372 million reimbursement from the state for overtime costs related to the closure of the Washington Avenue Bridge.

Acting on an order from Councillor Leo Robinson, City Manager Tom Ambrosino provided a running count of overtime costs amassed by the Fire Department in a letter last month.

He reported that the Fire Department General Fund Overtime Account will be more than $400,000 in deficit based on current projections for this year’s budget. That deficit comes despite state reimbursements of $1.37 million for a fourth engine pump company at Central Fire Station to accommodate the closing of the Washington Avenue Bridge – a fourth engine that was expected to reduce overtime costs significantly.

The latest overtime deficit news comes one year after the Fire Department ran up a budget deficit of more than $1 million, spending some $1.8 million in overtime costs last year and more than $80,000 in differential pay for rank “step-ups” that occurred because numerous officers were out on long-term injury. The budget last year was set at $800,000.

Fire Department personnel and union officials have long said they use so much overtime because they are understaffed. The staffing of the Department is at around 88 firefighters.

The Chelsea Police overtime budget this year, on the other hand, looks to be on budget.

The overtime budget for the Fire Department this year was at $900,000.

Ambrosino said he looks to rein in the overtime situation at the Fire Department once he chooses his new Fire Chief, expected in the next two months.

“I understand the Fire Department overtime has been running deficits for the past few years, and this year is no exception,” he wrote. “I am hopeful that, working with a permanent chief, which I expect to announce sometime within the next 60 days, we may be able, over the course of the next year or two, to consider some changes to curtail overtime needs. One thing I am considering is the hiring of an additional firefighter or two in order to take some edge off overtime needs. While I have made no final decision in that direction, you may see a personnel increase my proposed…budget.”

Read More

Council Seeks to Reform OT in Fire Dept.

Council Seeks to Reform OT in Fire Dept.

City Councillors may often be at odds on certain issues, but Monday night every councillor was on board with an official call to Acting Fire Chief Robert Houghton to come up with a plan to fix the broken fire overtime budget.

The call came just two weeks after the Council learned in a subcommittee meeting that the Fire Department Overtime budget this year had doubled – meaning that the original budget of $818,000 has increased to $1.635 million.

“We talked at that meeting about why,” said Councillor Dan Cortell. “There were answers given, but we are requesting that the acting chief provide us a proposal to address this in the future and to control the overtime spending.”

Councillor Cliff Cunningham said he would like to see a reform plan that doesn’t include more than 10 percent of the overall budget being spent on overtime.

“I think the overtime situation is outrageous and unsustainable,” he said. “It has been a problem each of the four years I’ve been up here and was an issue before I was here. It is worse than ever this year. This is a problem this year that I do’t think the City Council can ignore anymore…I personally would rather see the city manager and fire department create a budget and adhere to it that is 10 percent of the full total budget as the Matrix Study has suggested.”

Councillor Calvin Brown suggested that within the proposal the acting fire chief allow for a quarterly report to the Council on overtime spending.

“I believe the fire department should come back to us quarterly so we can see why this is escalating every year,” he said. “I know we had a tough winter, but if you look beyond those tough days with the snowfall, you see a lot of overtime is used in those times. A quarterly report would give us an opportunity to look at it before it gets as out of whack as it is.”

Councillor Joe Perlatonda said he has fiscal concerns regarding the overtime usage.

“I know we need the fire department to protect us, but the overtime they are using is eating the City’s free cash,” he said. “We can’t keep taking money out of free cash to subsidize the fire department overtime. If they don’t have enough staffing, then maybe we should look at that.”

Council President Leo Robinson said he would like to have the proposal in hand prior to budgetary hearings this spring, perhaps as early as next week.

Read More

LaMattina Takes on Chelsea St Bridge Issues

LaMattina Takes on Chelsea St Bridge Issues

The Chelsea Street Bridge in the 'up' position. Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina recently wrote a letter to MassDOT expressing his concerns that the bridge takes too long to open and close and causes a traffic nightmare on the East Boston and Chelsea sides of the bridge.

The Chelsea Street Bridge in the ‘up’ position. Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina recently
wrote a letter to MassDOT expressing his concerns that the bridge takes too long to open and close and causes a traffic nightmare on the East Boston and Chelsea sides of the bridge.

City Councilor Sal LaMattina is taking on MassDOT after receiving numerous complaints from East Boston residents on the time it takes for the Chelsea Street Bridge to be lowered.

In a letter to Mass DOT Acting Secretary Frank DePaola LaMattina expressed his concerns about significant traffic delays that the residents and business owners of Eastie have been experiencing with the new Chelsea Street Bridge opening cycles which are often inordinately lengthy, causing unacceptable delays.

“When the new bridge was completed recently the community was informed that traffic delays associated with the new structure would not be longer in comparison to those of the old bascule bridge it replaced,” wrote LaMattina. “However that does not seem to be the case from direct observation of the new bridge’s opening cycles due to a number of factors, some of which appear to be maritime related and others the result of MassDOT bridge procedures.

While LaMattina said he understands that the installation of a new, complex structure such as the Chelsea Street bridge requires a suitable break-in period to implement new procedures and equipment he believes that an adequate break-in period has passed for the new bridge and that MassDOT should take whatever steps are necessary to reduce the current unacceptable level of delays from the new Chelsea Street Bridge as soon as feasible.

MassDOT spokesman Michael Michael Verseckes said MassDOT is looking into the matter but said it is believed that with the old bridge, boats may have been able to proceed through the channel before the bridge was fully open, because since it was a drawbridge, vertical clearance was not an issue.

“There are also federal maritime laws that apply here as well that require vessels to adhere to requirements that a bridge be fully open before it can pass under the bridge,” said Verseckes. “Because this new bridge is a vertical-lift span, it is conceivable that a vessel passing through the channel could make contact with the lift portion of the bridge before it was fully opened.”

Verseckes added that maritime law dictates that a bridge must be opened upon request.

“This is the case even in an instance where a vessel may not be in sight of a bridge,” he said. “So it is possible that operators could request a bridge opening earlier than in the past to ensure it is fully open when they reach it to avoid having to stop and wait for it to be completely open. Additionally, the channel is wider and deeper, which can accommodate larger vessels which could be adding to the time needed to pass under the bridge.”

There are also openings that are required as part of routine maintenance, such as greasing the guide cables and “re-indexing” the bridge to ensure it is sitting properly on its bearings when it is in the down position.

“For these, we schedule maintenance openings during off peak hours to avoid inconveniencing neighbors in Chelsea and East Boston, as well as businesses and folks accessing the airport,” he said.

John Lynds can be reached at john@eastietimes.com

Read More

Chelsea Firefighters Battle a 3-Alarm Fire on Crescent Ave.

Chelsea Firefighters Battle a 3-Alarm Fire on Crescent Ave.

The fire in the 300th block of Crescent Avenue last Saturday night caused $400,000 in damages, revealed some challenges on Crescent Avenue and ended up being featured on the national news. A total of 13 residents were displaced.

The fire in the 300th block of Crescent Avenue last Saturday night caused $400,000 in damages,
revealed some challenges on Crescent Avenue and ended up being featured on the national news. A total of 13 residents were displaced.

Fire crews labored for seven hours to squash a three-alarm blaze at two Crescent Avenue homes last Saturday, an effort that was hampered considerably by frozen hydrants and poor water pressure on Crescent Avenue.

Firefighters reported having to improvise considerably to maintain proper water pressure to fight the fire.

On Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, at 8 p.m., the Chelsea Fire Department responded to the report of a building fire at 375 Crescent Ave. Engine 3 and Ladder 2 were first to arrive on scene from the Mill Hill Station. Acting Captain Doherty observed heavy fire on floor 2 of 375 Crescent Ave. and ordered a second alarm assignment.

Deputy Chief Robert Cameron arrived on scene and reported the fire had extended to an additional building at 373 Crescent Ave. and ordered a third alarm assignment.

The fire quickly spread throughout both buildings as the crews from Ladder 2 and Tower 1 attempted to search the interior for occupants. Engine 3 had hooked up to a hydrant on Crescent Avenue, which was frozen and caused a delay in deploying the initial hose line to the interior of 375 Crescent Ave.

Without the protection of a hose line, crews were forced to back out of the building as the heat became intolerable.

Conditions quickly deteriorated, causing Deputy Chief Cameron to order all fire crews out of both buildings. As the crews exited the building at 373 Crescent Ave. the roof collapsed into the second floor.

The fire operation was further complicated when power lines burned away from both buildings and landed on the sidewalk where firefighters were setting up hose lines to attack the fire from the exterior. Crews had to use extreme caution until NStar cut the power about 45 minutes later.

Another problem was the poor water supply on Crescent Avenue.

Engine 1 hooked to the hydrant on Crescent Avenue at Carroll Street, but lost their pressure as other engines hooked into hydrants on the same water main. Engines from Lynn and Winthrop were called to set up a relay pump operation and fed Chelsea Engine 1 from a hydrant on Clinton Street.

Crews worked for seven hours to extinguish the fire.

A total of 13 occupants were displaced and relocated to the Wyndham Hotel by the Red Cross.

No occupants were injured.

Mutual Aid was called in from Everett, Revere, Malden, Winthrop, Somerville, Medford and Lynn to assist Chelsea firefighters control the fire. Boston Engine 5 and Medford Ladder 2 covered Central Station while Melrose Engine 3 covered the Mill Hill Station.

It was determined by the department Fire Investigation Unit that the fire started in a light fixture on the second floor of 375 Crescent Ave.

Both buildings sustained considerable damage with a combined estimated loss at $400,000.

Read More

Quick Thinking Fire Captain Helps Police Nab Dangerous Car Thieves

Quick Thinking Fire Captain Helps Police Nab Dangerous Car Thieves

There’s no work like teamwork and Chelsea Fire gave a head’s up assist to the Chelsea Police last Friday, Jan. 2, in apprehending two alleged car thieves.

The situation began when Acting Fire Capt. Joe Conlon heard over the EMS radio that a Chelsea Police officer had spotted a stolen vehicle in the area of Cary Avenue. The officer reported over the radio that the car was headed towards Broadway, but the officer wasn’t sure whether it had turned north or south on Broadway.

At that same time, Engine 3 was returning to the station for a call and Conlon had opened the overhead door and activated the stop traffic light for the engine to back into the station.

Lo and behold, as he did that, he spotted the car that had been allegedly stolen.

It was stopped at the light and waiting for Engine 3 to finish.

Exercising some quick thinking, Conlon ordered Engine 3 to stay in the middle of the street and block traffic for a while in order to buy some time.

As that happened, Conlon contacted dispatch to notify the police that the vehicle in question was stopped in front of the station and was blocked in by the fire engine.

Police responded immediately and removed and arrested both suspects at gunpoint.

Who says firefighters only put out fires?

Read More

Five-Alarm Fire Tests Might of Chelsea, Surrounding Fire Departments

Five-Alarm Fire Tests Might of Chelsea, Surrounding Fire Departments

Firefighters were still recovering from Sunday’s brutal, 5-Alarm fire on Arlington Street Monday morning when a surprise came knocking.

Often feeling like the forgotten service in Chelsea, firefighters were surprised to find residents from the affected neighborhood bringing home cooked meals and thank-yous to the crews that had worked so hard to prevent a near-disaster in an area that over the last 150 years has known plenty of tragic conflagrations.

One by one, residents filed in to show their appreciation for the incredible effort in the face of towering flames on a brutally hot late summer day. It was a fire that damaged six homes – condemning four of them – and had no severe injuries, but one that could have taken an entire swath of the city had efforts not been so successful.

“It’s amazing how people surprise you,” said Deputy Chief John Quatieri, who was the initial commander of the operations at Sunday’s fire. “We had so many people just come in to Central Fire to say thanks. They really showed their appreciation. We even had local restaurants bring food over to the station during the fire to feed the fire crews covering our stations.”

In the aftermath of the charring on Arlington Street, things seemed quite calm this week, perhaps masking the severity of the situation when firefighters arrived at the scene around 2:15 p.m.

Upon arrival, firefighters found 255 Arlington St. completely engulfed in flames and alert neighbors knocking on the doors of surrounding houses to tell residents there was a major fire – something which many of them did not know.

Flames were towering out of the home, and were spreading rapidly – coming out of the windows on all sides within minutes.

Chelsea Police and Firefighters immediately went to work to try to rescue anyone trapped in the blaze, and one child was reportedly still stuck in the 255 Arlington St. home.

A search unit from Chelsea Tower 1 was ordered into the building to find anyone still inside, while Engine 2 ran 4-inch hose lines from a hydrant across the street to protect the rescuers.

“Tower 1’s crew entered the structure under extremely heavy fire conditions in an effort to locate the trapped occupant,” said Quatieri. “Engine 2’s crew was ordered to advance a hose line into 255 Arlington to protect the crew of Tower 1 while they conducted a primary search.”

Saving human lives was of utmost importance as most everyone was known to be home during the long weekend, but at the same time fire was rapidly spreading to surrounding homes and Chelsea fire crews began to see things were teetering on the edge of being out of control.

The home at 255 Arlington St. by that time was fully involved and had spread to 253 Arlington St. – prompting a 3rd Alarm call.

“Fire was quickly spreading in all directions,” noted Quatieri in his report of the fire. “[The buildings at] 30 Heard St. and 28 Heard St. …were starting to ignite from the radiant heat. A 40-foot section of wood stockade fencing ignited…causing the fire to spread to 26 Heard St. and 22 Heard St. A 4th alarm was ordered and an additional Chelsea Deputy Chief was requested to respond to the fire. At this point, conditions were deteriorating rapidly. All Chelsea companies were committed to 255 Arlington St, and containing the spread of fire at 26 Heard St. and 22 Heard St., and were heavily engaged removing occupants.”

At this point, Chelsea fire crews were reportedly taxed to the max and a critical decision had to be made in an instant. People were still in one of the buildings where the fire was spreading to, 22 Heard St., but two more buildings on Heard Street were also quickly burning up, though not occupied.

There were not enough resources to cover all three buildings and mutual aid had not yet arrived.

Chelsea crews decided to run a rescue effort at 22 Heard St. and fight the fire there with the last Chelsea fire company on scene. That meant that the other two burning, but unoccupied, buildings on Heard Street would have to wait for additional units to arrive – a move that had to be made but carried the risk of the fire expanding further.

It was no easy decision.

“No fire companies were available to be assigned to 28 and 30 Heard St., which had ignited due to radiant heat from the original fire building,” read the report. “The potential life safety threat at 22 Heard St, an occupied six-family, was too great so a decision was made…to protect that building until all occupants could be removed.”

Lucky enough, Everett crews arrived on the scene not long after and were able to immediately get to work fighting the spreading fire at 28 and 30 Heard St.

It was not long after that when Acting Fire Chief Robert Houghton called for the 5th alarm to be struck.

As mutual aid companies arrived, they were given assignments on either Heard Street or Arlington Street to build a wall around the blaze and beat it back.

The fight went on for hours, but fortunately by 7 p.m., Acting Chief Houghton was able to give the order that all visible fire had been knocked down and companies should begin looking for hot spots. That effort went on into the night, and a fire detail was hired to guard the buildings and keep watch overnight.

Two firefighters were transported to MGH Boston for smoke inhalation injuries, but are expected to be okay.

One resident of 28 Heard St. was transported to the Whidden Hospital with injuries, but nothing serious.

There were no fatalities, miraculously.

Four homes were deemed structurally unsound after the fire and residents were not allowed to re-occupy those homes. They included 255 Arlington, 253 Arlington, 28 Heard, and 26 Heard.

Water damage was heavy to 30 Heard St. and residents were not immediately able to re-occupy that home.

Residents of 22 Heard St. were cleared to return to their homes.

The commuter rail was shut down during the fire in order to run hoses across the tracks.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but Chelsea Fire at this point believes the blaze to be accidental in nature. Still, they are calling on the public to report any gas smells or suspicious activities prior to the fire to investigators at (617) 466-4625.

One displaced family has set up a fund-raising effort online at www.gofundme.com/dur0zg.

image

Read More