Employees of Colwen Hotels collaborated this holiday season to work together as teams to give back to the local community through CAPIC, Community Action Programs Inter-City Inc., and the Chelsea/Revere Family Network.
Jeannette Velez of CAPIC addressed the company to explain how they activate support to the Chelsea Revere Family Network, which is a state funded program servicing families with children from the prenatal stage up to eight years old. Jeannette helped Colwen select individual families to surprise and make this holiday season special for their children. Over $5,000 in wrapped gifts and gift cards were assembled on Friday, December 14th at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Boston Logan Airport Chelsea hotel.
Colwen Hotels also operates three other Chelsea based hotels including the Residence Inn Boston Logan Airport Chelsea, TownePlace Suites Boston Logan Airport Chelsea, and the brand new Holiday Inn Boston Logan Airport Chelsea.
“We strongly believe in giving back to the communities where our hotels are located. It is just magical to see everyone in the company come together like this in the pure spirit of giving. We are very proud to support these families through this great organization”, said Julie Scott, President of Colwen Hotels.
Colwen Hotels is a rapidly growing hotel company based in Portsmouth, NH. Colwen’s portfolio boasts over 25 successful hotels in the states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey. With an aggressive pipeline, Colwen strategically develops properties in emerging markets and mixed-use redevelopments. The company is committed to local communities and charities, LEED-certified sustainability, and being a premier employer. Colwen Hotels is known for a signature design that is upscale-stylish and artistically inspired. The award winning company strives to lead the world in frictionless hotel stays. To learn more about Colwen Hotels, visit www.colwenhotels.com.
CAPIC a private, non-profit corporation chartered in 1967 and designated to identify and eradicate the root causes of poverty in Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop. The organization is governed by a twenty one member community-based Board of Directors that represents public, private, and low-income sectors of the communities we serve. In addition, CAPIC provides housing services to the residents of East Boston through our local program and twenty-five other communities regionally, as well as Weatherization services to eighteen local communities. Since its inception, CAPIC has grown to meet the changing needs
of the communities we serve, supporting self-sufficiency efforts of people struggling economically and emotionally. To learn more about CAPIC, visit www.capicinc.org.
Airplanes apparently aren’t in the future for state Housing Secretary Jay Ash.
Ash – the former City Manager of Chelsea – told the Record this week that he has no intention right now of pursuing the soon-to-be open job of director at MassPort.
“Secretary Ash is not focused on anything other than the work of the Baker-Polito Administration right now,” read a statement from his office.
MassPort CEO Tom Glynn announced two weeks ago that he would step down from his position next year after a run of several years at the helm of the airport.
That has brought on much speculation about who the next director would be, and more than a few insiders were pitching Ash’s name around the diamond. Many believe Ash would make a good candidate for MassPort, having served in Chelsea and knowing the surrounding community’s well.
After six years as head of Massport, CEO Thomas Glynn announced last week that he would step down from the post
After six years on the job, Massport CEO Thomas Glynn has resigned and will leave his post in November.
in November, a year earlier than his contract.
Glynn said his last days at Massport will be in November even though his contract will expire in 2019.
“This is a great job, but after six years and at the age of 72, I feel it is a good time to pass the baton to the next leader who will have the chance to lead a great team,” said Glynn.
Glynn took over the reins at Massport in September 2012 and was picked from a field of over 40 candidates. The Board confirmed him unanimously that year, noting his vast senior leadership experience and his commitment to public service.
Leo Robinson, longtime Chelsea city councillor-at-large, thanked Glynn for his work at Massport and his responsiveness to issues raised by the city’s residents.
“Mr. Glynn has had an outstanding tenure at Massport,” said Robinson. “He did some very good things for our city. I feel our relationship with Massport improved during his time as CEO and I hope we continue to have a continuing strong connection with his successor.”
According to state leaders Glynn’s tenure as Executive Director and CEO at Massport will be remembered for the growth of international flights at Logan Airport; revitalization of the Working Port of Boston and Worcester Regional Airport; and the Omni Hotel diversity initiative.
“Throughout his tenure leading Massport, Tom Glynn has been a tireless advocate for furthering the Commonwealth’s reputation as an international destination,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Tom’s hard work to expand service at Logan and the Commonwealth’s other transportation hubs has driven economic activity across Massachusetts, and I thank him for his years of dedication and service.”
“Tom Glynn has guided Massport through an historic era of airport expansion, continuing the unfortunate trends of previous Massport CEO’s,” said East Boston organization AirInc. in a statement, the neighborhood’s Massport environmental mitigation watchdog group. “Since 2012, when Mr. Glynn accepted the appointment to lead the Massachusetts Port Authority, airport passenger activity at Boston’s landlocked airport has increased 37 percent according to their own reports. Along with this growth, has come additional beneficial economic activity, which the Port Authority is quick to point out. If Mr. Glynn’s success is to be measured by the growth of airport operations, his tenure at the helm of Boston Logan has been a wild success. However, the expansions Mr. Glynn has set in place are unsustainable. At its current rate of 5 percent annual growth, Logan will surpass 90 million passengers by 2035. Nighttime operations, traffic, and noise will more than double. And emissions will increase by 174 percent.”
AirInc. hopes the next CEO of Massport will make significant adjustments without pushing expansion further.
However, some like Massport Board member and Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack argued that Glynn made relationships building with the Authority’s neighborhood communities a top priority.
“Tom Glynn has done an exceptional job leading Massport, ensuring that Logan Airport is a good neighbor while at the same time growing the number of passengers and domestic and international destinations served,” said Pollack.
Massport’s CFO John Pranckevicius will serve as acting CEO beginning November 17, 2018.
Massport Board member and East Boston resident John Nucci said the Board will begin a search process that may extend beyond Glynn’s departure date.
“Tom’s departure is a major loss for Massport and for the affected communities,” said Nucci. “He knew how to listen to neighbors and put a premium on giving back to those neighborhoods that had to live with Logan’s impacts. As a board, we have a major challenge ahead of us finding someone to fill his shoes. As we search for a successor to Tom, I hope the board will be looking for someone with demonstrated public sector experience. The secret to Tom’s success was his ability to navigate the halls of government with great skill.”
For small business owners looking to make energy-saving improvements to their store or shop, it can sometimes be
Eversource workers helping Chelsea businesses be more energy efficient.
difficult due to the lack of time or available resources. That’s why Eversource recently partnered with the City of Chelsea and its authorized contractor, AECOM, to bring its Main Street program to more than 80 small businesses downtown.
From Washington Avenue to Broadway, a barbershop, bakery, furniture store, and printing shop are just some businesses that will collectively save nearly $150,000 in annual energy costs, thanks to the Main Street program.
B.D.’s Furniture was one business that received new energy-efficient lighting from the Main Street program.
“Customers keep telling me how great the store looks,” said store owner Arthur Tuffaha. “The entire process was easy. I was so impressed with the quality of work that I had my three other stores evaluated for energy efficiency upgrades.”
“Our Main Street program focuses on a specific neighborhood and provides personal attention to the small businesses within that community,” said Eversource Energy Efficiency Spokesman Bill Stack. “Working with a municipal partner, we do everything we can to make sure our customers really understand the energy-saving opportunities available to them. The City of Chelsea was a tremendous partner connecting our small business customers to solutions for savings.”
The Main Street energy efficiency program begins with a no-cost energy assessment conducted by an Eversource-authorized contractor identifying energy-saving opportunities such as new lighting, occupancy sensors, programmable thermostats and more. Some of the improvements, such as installing new energy-efficient light bulbs, occur right on the spot. Larger improvement projects, such as new HVAC or energy-efficient motor controls, are scheduled for direct installation at a future date and may qualify for Mass Save incentives to offset the cost of upgrades.
In addition to helping its retail customers, the program will also contribute to the City’s overall sustainability goals to be a cleaner, greener place. Over the next decade, the collective energy saved from the improvements could power approximately 1,300 homes for a year. The avoided CO-2 emissions are the equivalent of removing nearly 1,200 cars from the road for an entire year.
“The Main Street program has really enlivened our downtown area through the lighting upgrades, which I’m sure will help attract more business,” said Chelsea Downtown Coordinator Mimi Graney. “But not only is it good for business, it’s also good for the environment. We’re located right under jets flying out of Logan Airport and face heavy emissions from trucks, so I always look at ways to curb carbon emissions. The best way to do so is to start with our business community. I enjoyed making introductions between the owners and Eversource and being a true ambassador of the program.”
Eversource recently started its preliminary Main Street program outreach in Natick. The company will soon be launching programs in Somerville and Springfield and is actively seeking other Eversource communities to participate.
For more information about Eversource’s energy efficiency programs, rebates and incentives, or to schedule an energy assessment for your business, visit the Save Money & Energy section of Eversource.com or call 1-844-887-1400.
On the heels of record-setting flood events in January and March 2018, the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) announced today that it is updating its core mission and resources to help municipalities manage the extreme weather associated with climate change.
“Slowing down climate change is all about managing energy,” said Patrick Herron, MyRWA’s executive director. “Adapting to climate change is all about managing water—both flooding and drought. Water is something that we have thought about for over four decades.”
The Mystic River watershed spans 21 cities and towns from Woburn through Revere. This spring, MyRWA staff met with nearly fifty state and local stakeholders to best understand how a regional watershed association could help municipalities become more resilient to flooding, drought and heat.
“We heard over and over from cities and towns that they can’t manage flooding from just within their municipal boundaries,” explained Herron. “Stormwater flooding in Medford for example, has its origins in upstream communities. Coastal storms below the Amelia Earhart Dam threaten both New England’s largest produce distribution center and Logan Airport’s jet fuel supply.”
“We’re concerned about the neighborhoods and residents living in the shadows of massive petroleum storage tanks and other industries which are projected to be severely impacted by climate change. When the flood waters and chemicals reach homes, how will our communities be protected?” asked Roseann Bongiovanni, executive director of GreenRoots in Chelsea. “We’ve seen neighborhoods in Louisiana, Puerto Rico and Houston be decimated. Chelsea and East Boston could be next.”
Based on this feedback, MyRWA requested and received a $115,000 grant from the Barr Foundation that will allow the non-profit to work with municipalities, businesses and community organizations on an action-oriented, regional, climate resilience strategy for the Mystic River Watershed. This grant will allow MyRWA to hire Julie Wormser to lead this new program.
“The Barr Foundation’s climate resilience grantmaking has historically focused on Boston. Yet, we know climate change is no respecter of city boundaries. If some act in isolation, neighboring communities could actually become more vulnerable,” said Mary Skelton Roberts, co-director of Barr’s Climate Program. “It is our privilege to support MyRWA’s efforts to advance solutions at a more expansive, watershed scale.”
As executive director of The Boston Harbor Association, Wormser was instrumental in in drawing attention to Boston’s need to prepare for coastal flooding from extreme storms and sea level rise. She coauthored Preparing for the Rising Tide and Designing With Water and co-led the Boston Living with Water international design competition with the City of Boston and Boston Society of Architects. She will join MyRWA as its deputy director beginning July 1st.
“Three of the US cities most engaged in climate preparedness—Boston, Cambridge and Somerville—are located in the Mystic River Watershed,” said Wormser. “This grant will allow us collectively to share information and lessons learned since Superstorm Sandy with lower-resourced municipalities. By working regionally and with the State, we can also create multiple benefit solutions such as riverfront greenways that double as flood protection. It’s very inspiring.”
A long-awaited hotel study commissioned by the City has been completed and indicates that the market in Chelsea could support and ‘upper upscale’ property if one were proposed.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino commissioned the study last year when a hotel was proposed on Second Street, and it wasn’t certain if the market in Chelsea could bear more hotel rooms coming online.
The study was done by the Pinnacle Advisory Group, and they indicated that a seventh hotel property in Chelsea could be successful – perhaps one that is nicer than all of the others.
“Considering the City’s current supply of hotels, we believe a new hotel, the City’s seventh, could be developed as a 125 to 150 room, nationally branded hotel,” read the report. “While we would recommend an upscale or upper upscale hotel product…we believe the ultimate product should be determined by the developer.”
By contrast, the Homewood Suites and Residence Inn in Chelsea are considered upscale. The Hilton Boston Logan and Hyatt Boston Harbor – both at the airport – are considered in the upper upscale class.
“I’m not surprised by the findings,” said Ambrosino. “The one thing we wanted to find out is if the city could support another hotel development. The answer is yes, particularly more hotels on the waterfront. That’s something I think we could try to encourage.”
He said he was also encouraged by the suggestion that the market could bear a more luxurious product than the very nice hotels already in Chelsea.
“It’s one notch up from the Homewood Suites, which is a nice hotel, and that’s a move forward for the city,” he said. “Whether we can attract that or not, I don’t know, but that would be our goal – especially something with a nice restaurant included.”
The study also indicates the best areas for another hotel would be on the east side of the Chelsea Creek and at the Mystic Mall.
“We believe the City’s seventh hotel should be developed in conjunction with support amenities in a location proximate to Boston Logan Airport and the new MBTA Silver Line,” read the report.
The study was forwarded to the City Council on Monday for review. No new proposals have been forwarded, thought the Residence Inn on has proposed an expansion at its existing property.
The MBTA is gearing up for the big rollout of its Silver Line SL-3 expansion on Saturday, April 21, as operations on the expansion of the bus rapid transit look to change the landscape, and the commute, of the City.
For the first time ever, “can’t get there from here” territory like South Station will be only 27 minutes from the Mystic Mall on the new SL-3 buses, according to information from the MBTA.
“SL3 will make commuting to the Airport, Seaport, or South Station better for anyone who rides bus routes 111, 112, 114, 116, 117, anyone travelling on the Blue Line, or anyone who is driving,” read information materials from the T. “Right now, your commute might be pretty complicated. If you’re going to the South Station area, you probably start out on a bus, and then make a few transfers to get to the Red Line. If you drive, you deal with a lot of traffic, and pay for tolls, and parking.”
On Wednesday, MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez was out to Chelsea to get a sneak peek of the new service, taking the SL-3 from Airport Station through to the new Chelsea Station. Deputy City Manager Ned Keefe accompanied him, as well as several MBTA officials.
The new SL-3 service will operate in Chelsea between the hours of
5 a.m. (Monday through Friday) to 12:55 a.m. On Saturdays, it opens at 5:30 a.m. and Sundays at 6:30 a.m.
Service will run every 10 minutes at peak periods, which are between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Service runs every 12 to 15 minutes in off-peak and weekend times.
It will operate in Chelsea out of three brand new, heated stations – complete with covered bike racks at each. The stations are:
Chelsea Station – 174 Everett Ave.
Bellingham Station – 225 Arlington St.
Box District Station – 200 Highland St.
Eastern Avenue Station – 40 Eastern Ave.
As part of the project as well, the 111 bus will be enhanced.
It is expected that of the 11,700 riders of the 111 bus, some 2,000 will switch to the SL-3 service, reducing the crowds on the 111 somewhat.
Additionally, the MBTA plans to work with the City of Chelsea to improve the 111 bus with potential dedicated bus lanes and signal optimization.
Six months after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, many areas of the country outside the tourist hot spots are still in crumbling disrepair – some without electricity since the first storm, Hurricane Irma – and residents of the island nation that is closely tied to Chelsea continue to suffer.
Record photographer Keiko Hiromi traveled to Puerto Rico in late March to survey the damage, having followed the story last fall when Chelsea galvanized to provide thousands of pounds and multiple truckloads of donations to help relieve the situation.
Residents of Chelsea are closely tied to Puerto Rico, with thousands here having been born there or having had relatives emigrate here from the island.
Hiromi reported that upon landing at the airport, things looked normal, but upon leaving the population centers, she discovered homes in much the same shape as the day after the devastation.
“When I landed at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport on March 21, everything looked normal as if nothing had ever happened,” she said. “As I spent five days travelling through Puerto Rico, sometimes away from the functioning tourist areas, I witnessed Puerto Rico in recovery. Many raw scars were still unmended: debris on roads, houses without roofs. Yet, at the same time, I encountered the faces of resilient, strong, patient people, compassionate for each other.”
At the Chelsea Collaborative, Director Gladys Vega and Program Manager Sylvia Ramirez were not surprised at what Hiromi found. Both said they are worried that too many have forgotten about the disaster despite the fact that little has improved for many there.
“I knew that the island was going to be devastated, and at the same time I am shocked how citizens of the United States are so ignored,” she said. “In the next few months, the hurricane season is going to be starting again, and Puerto Rico is nowhere near able to take their normal storm season. One thing I was extremely sad about is we are not getting any help. The news has forgotten about Puerto Rico and moved on to other things. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico is still in devastation. People are suffering, they have no housing and they’re hungry.”
Ramirez said she feels the same way.
After the devastation, she headed up the Collaborative’s efforts to provide aid to those in Puerto Rico, and also to welcome families coming to Chelsea from the island for refuge.
She said much remains the same there, but that story isn’t getting out.
“I think the lack of coverage in the news doesn’t really portray the reality of what’s happening there,” she said. “People go on with their lives and they focus on their kids, they go to work, Christmas came and went. It’s no longer a priority because it’s not in the news. Our plan here in Chelsea is to do another call for action in June or July to bring attention to the situation. The worry for everyone is that nothing is being done to prepare for this year’s hurricane season.
“People go on with their lives, but there are still parts of the island absolutely devastated and nobody is talking about that,” she continued.
That is exactly what Hiromi reported firsthand.
In Toa Baja, just outside of San Juan Hiromi found Miguel Anjel Mericado at his home. His home still had a collapsed roof that had not been fixed and was open to the elements. Beams rested on the floor and electricity was spotty. He collected items that he could find in order to continue the efforts of fixing the home.
Hiromi also visited Yabucoa, where Maria first made landfall.
In Vega Alta, a rural community in the mountains, she visited a family that had no electricity since Hurricane Irma – the first storm to hit Puerto Rico last year even before Hurricane Maria.
Herberto Rivera, a school bus driver there, had been powering the family home with a generator they purchased months ago. They hoped that power would come back to the community before the next hurricane season.
In Chelsea, Ramirez said they are currently working with 55 families who came to the city after the hurricane for refuge, with 18 of them still in FEMA hotels. Statewide, she said, there are nearly 700 families in hotels who arrived after the storm, and 530 are in FEMA hotel rooms. The dire need is that FEMA will stop paying for those rooms on April 20. Already 123 families have used up the FEMA payments and are being paid for by the Red Cross.
She said they are still collecting furniture for those refugees moving into apartments, and they are still trying to secure more stable living conditions.
At the same time, the identical fight continues on the island of Puerto Rico.
“There are still a lot of people without electricity and with blue tarps on their roofs,” said Ramirez. “That’s the reality.”
New, early morning bus routes on several area MBTA lines began on Sunday, April 1, for a one-year early morning pilot program on the routes.
The pilot will be on the MBTA’s busiest key bus routes serving neighborhoods within the immediate Boston core traveling to downtown Boston, the Seaport, and key stops in between beginning as early as 3:20 a.m. Serving residents who start their work day before many people’s alarms ring, the new routes are part of the MBTA’s continued commitment to expanding offerings for those riders who need them most.
There are nine routes on the pilot, and four of them serve the areas of Everett, Chelsea, Revere, East Boston and downtown Boston. Those routes in this area include:
Route 104 – Lynn Street Revere via Broadway Everett to Sullivan Square.
Route 109 – serving Broadway Everett.
Route 117 – serving Wonderland Revere to East Boston, via Revere, Chelsea and Eastie.
Route 455 – Salem to Wonderland Revere.
“The T’s expansion into early morning bus service will provide an important opportunity for the changing needs of Massachusetts’ workforce,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Throughout this one-year pilot, the MBTA will be able to gather important information about changes in bus ridership and analyze that data to better inform future transportation plans around the Greater Boston area.”
“The launch of early morning service demonstrates that the MBTA is acting on its top priority to put the needs of its customers first,” said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack. “This new transit option will serve workers who must start their day earlier than most. Other commuters and city residents depend upon these essential workers and the MBTA’s ability to get them to their work places safely and on time.”
The changes also include additional service on existing routes during pre-dawn hours. Some routes will extend beyond their normal end points during the early morning to provide direct service to downtown Boston and Logan Airport, allowing customers to reach those destinations even before trains start running. Early morning service is already a part of the MBTA’s bus service on several routes, but these added services represent earlier and/or extended routes on several bus lines. This expansion is the result of a year-long ridership study and planning initiative at the T, which resulted in the identification of key routes where early morning demand is heaviest.
The new Chelsea Station behind the Market Basket on Everett Avenue is nearly completed now, with a goal of opening up service at the four new stations on the new SL3 line in April.
A projected 19 minute ride with no transfers from downtown Chelsea to the Seaport in Boston is but months away as the MBTA puts the finishing touches on four stations and the dedicated busway in Chelsea’s new Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line – which will be known as SL3.
Already, a great amount of excitement has built throughout the community as the stations begin to look like finished products and the lettering denoting ‘Eastern Avenue’ and ‘Chelsea’ have been affixed to those stations. A spokesman for the MBTA said the T is excited to start service in April.
“The MBTA and MassDOT are very excited to be just months away from introducing Bur Rapid Transit service for customers traveling to and from Chelsea,” said Joe Pesaturo, for the MBTA. “The MBTA anticipates beginning Silver Line Gateway service in the early spring of next year. The existing Silver Line in Boston has been very popular since its launch because of the frequent levels of service and increased capacity. MBTA General Manager Luis Ramirez is looking forward to a celebration in the spring in Chelsea to mark the start of service.”
The completion of the four new BRT stations and the dedicated busway will conclude Phase 1 of the Silver Line Gateway expansion project – which has essentially brought the Silver Line from Logan Airport over to Chelsea. The new Chelsea service, however, will not go to the airport and the SL3 line will bypass the airport with a stop at the Blue Line Train Station where airport shuttles can be taken to terminals.
In documents presented to the MBTA Board last summer, the new service expects to have a total daily ridership of 8,730 people, with new transit trips being 2,500 (meaning people that will use the service who now do not use the MBTA).
At peak, it is estimated there will be 22 BRT buses on all three Silver Line routes, and that the SL3 Chelsea wait times will be around 10-12 minutes at peak times and 12-15 minutes at off-peak times.
MBTA estimates show that currently to get to the World Trade Center stop in the Seaport from downtown Chelsea takes 37 minutes and requires two transfers. That would be paired down to 19 minutes and no transfers on the new SL3 line.
To go from the airport to the World Trade Center station now takes 20 minutes with one transfer. The SL3 line would take seven minutes and no transfers.
The entire first phase of the Silver Line Gateway project cost $46.5 million and included rebuilding the Washington Avenue bridge, constructing a 1.1 mile dedicated busway, a half-mile shared-use path and the four new stations.
A second phase has been fully funded at about $29 million and includes building the Chelsea Intermodal Center, which includes a new Commuter Rail Station and a new railroad signaling system to improve traffic flow in Chelsea. The new station, unlike the existing station, will be fully accessible. The MBTA expects to solicit construction bids for Phase 2 this winter, with work beginning next summer.
One of the key initiatives for MBTA General Manager Ramirez, he said, is to get a comprehensive strategy for marketing a promoting the new service well in advance of the launch. Many of the new service options introduced by the MBTA in recent years suffer from low ridership due in many cases to people having little information about the new service.
The MBTA right now is working to select a qualified firm to handle the jobs of:
•Advertise the new service to existing and prospective customers.
•Highlight the benefits of Silver Line Gateway service relative to existing bus services in the area, including dedicated lanes and limited stops.
•Promote the ongoing work the MBTA is doing to improve its transportation offerings.
“The firm will work with the MBTA to develop well-rounded marketing and communications strategies that achieve the goals, including but not limited to market research, specifying target audiences, generating message concepts, proposing an effective mix of media, and partnering with local community organizations as part of the public outreach strategy,” said Pesaturo.