Council Approves Transfers for Rainy Day Funds

Council Approves Transfers for Rainy Day Funds

The Chelsea City Council approved a request from City Manager Tom Ambrosino to clean up and make a big-time deposit into the City’s savings accounts.

The Council approved a $15 million transfer into the Stabilization Fund on Monday night, and also approved a $5 million transfer into a new School Stabilization Fund. At the same time, three old savings accounts were closed out with about $300,000 going into the Stabilization Fund.

The requests came at the behest of Councillor Bob Bishop, who made the requests last month and presided over a committee meeting two weeks ago discussing the matters.

Bishop had indicated that he would like the money in the Stabilization Fund because he believes the City needs to save more money in case of a downturn in the economy. On the background, having the money in the Stabilization Fund gives the Council more control over any spending due to the fact that it requires a two-thirds vote of the Council.

Ambrosino said he supported both transfers and believed that the School Fund was a wise idea given that there are several projects coming up on the City’s schools.

All of them, he said, are in the Capital Improvement Plan.

In the same financial vein, the Council approved the final $3 million payment on the Clark Avenue Middle School project. The City has been paying cash wherever it can on the project – which is still under construction until this summer – to save money on interest payments accrued from having to borrow.

Part of the project is also funded by state reimbursements.

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Owners of Forbes Site Likely to Bring New Project This Summer

Owners of Forbes Site Likely to Bring New Project This Summer

The owners of the old Forbes Lithograph campus on Mill Hill will likely propose a new project to the City in the coming months, like this summer, said City Manager Tom Ambrosino.

The Chinese company once proposed a gigantic campus development with skyscrapers, a hotel and more than 1,000 apartment units in a multi-phase development with one small entrance coming in through the neighborhood. It was vociferously opposed by most every resident and elected official in the City.

That was a couple of years ago, and since that time the company has been laying low and preparing to propose something a little more modest.

“My guess is perhaps they’ll be in front of us this summer,” said Ambrosino.

He said the development could likely be by right, meaning there might not be any reviews or public hearings necessary for the project to go forward.

He said the numbers of units would be far smaller than previously proposed and much less dense.

However, parking requirements for the district are two spots per unit, which might be hard for the developer to achieve by right. That would mean a parking variance would be required, triggering reviews and public hearings.

The issue of accessing the site still hasn’t been resolved.

Previously, Ambrosino had made a point of requiring that the company look into providing access via a bridge over the Chelsea Creek to the site from Revere. In the previous proposal, he had said he or the City would not support any proposal that didn’t include that access point.

It is uncertain at this point if that’s still the case with the smaller project that is believed to be coming.

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State of the City:Ambrosino says City Needs to Continue Spending on Residents

State of the City:Ambrosino says City Needs to Continue Spending on Residents

City Manager Tom Ambrosino delivered his State of the City address on Monday night, Feb. 26, prior to the Council meeting, and he implored the Council that the time to fill the storehouses is not now.

Ambrosino once again – as in the previous two State of the Cities – praised the former City governments for putting the City in a firm and solid financial position with a lot of reserves and savings.

However, he said the City just received $34 million in Free Cash from the state, and having that kind of money to save doesn’t sit well with him.

“Now, I give full credit this Council and others that preceded you for that incredible financial stewardship,” he said. “But, having that level reserves has to give us a little pause. There’s always been something just a little unsettling to me about this City having that much money in reserve. Government is not intended to be a profit making enterprise.  Our goal isn’t to make money year after year. As a local government, our goal, our mission is to provide services to our residents. So, it is my strong opinion that with this level of reserves, we have an obligation, a fiduciary duty, to start investing more in our City. And, that will be something you will see from me this year and beyond.”

One of the major examples he quickly turned to was the $11.4 million Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) that he proposed two weeks ago to the Council – a plan that calls for more than $4.5 million in Free Cash to get started. The CIP plan focuses on projects like water and sewer repairs, sidewalks, public parks, street repairs and public building improvements.

Beyond those nuts and bolts spending measures – which Chelsea has neglected for many years – he said he will present plans in the next few months for things like more youth programming, a local workforce training program to prepare for the coming casino jobs, standardized trash barrels to reduce rodents, and a pilot program for Senior Citizen transportation.

“All of these are ideas that cost money to implement, and, if they are approved, they will reduce our reserves,” he said. “But, at the end of the day, we’re not going to be judged by how much money we have in the bank. We are going to be judged by whether we improved the lives of our residents. That is my overriding motivation as City Manager.”

Another piece of investment he noted – and one that Ambrosino will likely focus on more than any previous City Manager – is investing in the School Department.

“We have to avoid the temptation, which often happens in Massachusetts Municipalities, of looking at it as just another department competing for limited resources,” he said. “Instead, we have to consider it as our co-equal partner in making our community better.”

He said he wants to do more to help the students in the school system from the City’s reserves, and he rolled out an idea that would use City funds to pay for Chelsea High students to achieve higher education.

The program, he said, would be a pilot program for any Chelsea High student already enrolled in the dual enrollment program with Bunker Hill Community College. Under the pilot, any student in that program could go on to complete an Associate’s Degree at Bunker Hill after high school at no additional cost. City funds would cover the cost of students to finish that degree they started in high school.

“Again, I don’t look, and we shouldn’t look, at funding for the School Department needs as a burden,” he said. “Instead, it is a pure investment.”

Another area he said he would like to think about spending more reserves is in the possible acquisition of properties in the Broadway business district in order to build mixed-use affordable housing. Such an acquisition was successful at the Salvation Army Store on Broadway last year, and the City hopes to find a developer to complete the job this year.

He said if the City buys property, they can control the affordable component. That, he said, could spur large amounts of affordable housing that will sit aside what is expected to be a lot of private market-rate development on Broadway in the coming years.

“Because we own it, we can dictate the level of affordability in any development,” he said. “Maybe we consider other similar acquisitions, particularly in the Downtown, using either Reserves, as we did in acquiring the Salvation Army site, or through a tool we now have for the first time, Community Preservation Funds. I don’t have anything specific in mind at this time, but if another opportunity presents itself, particularly on Broadway, a further acquisition is something I might advocate to the Council.”

When it comes to development, Ambrosino was upbeat as well, saying there is great interest in the City.

On the Chelsea Creek, he announced that in the next few months, he would announce a significant mixed-use development for the Forbes Plant site. Much of the development, he said, is expected to be as of right and would need no extra relief at the Zoning or Planning Boards.

“Our goal for that project there is to ensure that the public benefits, particularly the public access to the waterfront, are not just significant, which they will need to be, but are also early action items, so that our residents benefit from the very start of the project, not just when the project is completed years from now,” he said.

On the same front, that being the waterfront, Ambrosino said the long-awaited Municipal Harbor Plan effort has finally moved forward. He announced that a contract has been signed with Utile Design of Boston to conduct the plan, and they are waiting for the Notice to Proceed from the state. He expects the first public meeting on that plan to take place in the spring.

With the Silver Line starting full operations on April 21, he said there is and will be great interest for development along that new public transit corridor.

“Developers have already been in to see us for parcels on Cottage Street and Sixth Street, and there will inevitably be more,” he said.

In conclusion, he said that he has enjoyed the “unique cohesiveness” that continues to exist in Chelsea.

“It’s why I love my role here; it’s why I’m optimistic; and, it’s why I can say without reservation that the State of the City in 2018 is very, very solid,” he concluded.

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Significant TIF Likely to Come for Revamped CHA Mixed-Income Development

Significant TIF Likely to Come for Revamped CHA Mixed-Income Development

By Seth Daniel

A new, revamped effort by the Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) to build a mixed-income development on Central Avenue will likely come with a significant Tax Increment Financing (TIF) request, said City Manager Tom Ambrosino.

The new proposal, which is a second attempt by designated developer Corcoran Jennison, will likely come before the City in February or March. However, this time Ambrosino said it’s probably going to also be accompanied by a request from Corcoran for a TIF agreement.

“It will not be an insignificant amount for a TIF,” said Ambrosino. “From the City’s perspective, we’re motivated by the fact there is no other way to get that development rebuilt. This will give those resident brand new units in a mixed income development. Right now, we’re getting zero tax dollars on it, and we would be getting something from the developer if this is built.”

The development was proposed in 2017, but was beat back when Corcoran requested the City Council allow them to use some non-union labor on the project to make the finances work.

A large group of residents and union workers appeared at the meeting on the night of the vote, and the Council agreed with them, shooting down the request.

Nothing has happened  since, but it appears that to make the books balance, Corcoran will be looking to get some property taxes reduced for a period of time.

“The City will be sympathetic,” Ambrosino said. “I want that project to move forward. That’s going to be a huge upgrade for those public housing tenants.”

Historically, the Council has been accommodating for TIF requests, but in recent years many councillors have began to question whether they are really needed any longer. It will likely be a spirited debate once again within the board.

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A Big Request:City Makes Big Ask of MassDOT for Viaduct Project Mitigation

A Big Request:City Makes Big Ask of MassDOT for Viaduct Project Mitigation

By Seth Daniel

Shown in blue is the aea that will be worked on by MassDOT.

Shown in blue is the aea that will be worked on by MassDOT.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino and the City Council have submitted an eye-opening mitigation package to the MassDOT to accommodate the upcoming Chelsea Viaduct project – a major rehabilitation project of the elevated highway leading to the Tobin/Mystic Bridge.

The project is slated to be advertised in 2018 by the state.

In a letter submitted this month, City Manager Tom Ambrosino asked for a total of $1.724 million from MassDOT for various items to make up for the construction project.

“As you know the Route 1 viaduct basically bisects Chelsea, running directly through its dens, environmental justice neighborhoods,” he wrote. “Because of its overwhelming presence in the City, substantial and lengthy reconstruction of the Route 1 viaduct will undeniably yield negative impacts for the City’s residents, businesses and visitors and severely diminish the City’s quality of life.”

He said the project would have substantial disruption to the daily lives of Chelsea residents, including middle school and high school students who routinely walk in the Viaduct area to get the school.

MassDOT said it is early in the design stage and looks to be at about 25 percent by the end of the year. It is considering the letter, but had no further comment than that.

“MassDOT is currently in the early design stage, and is in the process of engaging the public in order to develop a comprehensive construction staging plan that will accelerate construction and minimize disruption to the City of Chelsea and commuters,” said a spokesman for MassDOT. “Additionally, MassDOT is in the process of evaluating the letter from the City of Chelsea and as always, will consider all suggestions that avoid, minimize or mitigate impacts to local business, members of the community and to ensure reliable travel throughout the viaduct area.”

One of the biggest asks is $500,000 to fund a decorative lighting program under the Viaduct. Ambrosino said the lots beneath the Viaduct have historically been very dimly lit and subject to blight and criminal activity. The City is asking for post construction lighting that includes typical street lighting, and also a significant public art and special design program.

“As a commanding presence, the City envisions a spatial design and public art involving up-lighting that would enliven this corridor and lessen the negative attributes associated with the highway,” he wrote.

A second ask is for funding in the amount of $300,000 to re-design and renovate the football stadium and Carter Park – which are cut in half by the Viaduct.

Other mitigation measures include surveillance for parking lots, parking lot improvements under the Bridge for the City, improvements to the Fourth Street off-ramp, residential enhancements to homes abutting the bridge, additional crossing guards for school children, and a contribution to a bike-pedestrian path on the Tobin/Mystic Bridge.

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The Next Cycle:City Will Allow Ofo Bike Service to Launch Pilot in Chelsea This Week

The Next Cycle:City Will Allow Ofo Bike Service to Launch Pilot in Chelsea This Week

By Seth Daniel

Yellow bikes are preparing to invade the City’s sidewalks and thoroughfares as the increasingly-popular ofo bike sharing service has been approved to launch in Chelsea this week.

“ofo is coming to Chelsea,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “I think they may launch this week.”

ofo is a bike sharing company based in China that has recently launched operations very successfully in Revere – where their trademark yellow bikes have seen wide-spread  usage in the rollout there this month. City Councilor Roy Avellaneda brought ofo to the attention of Ambrosino and, after a meeting, he said the City was willing to allow a 60-day pilot in Chelsea with about 150 bikes stationed in the city.

“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “I think this concept is in some ways better because there’s no investment. HubWay wanted a major investment from the City for infrastructure and they were still reluctant to come to Chelsea. This business is far superior from that perspective. The only question is are they going to be a nuisance. As long as you they get the right numbers for the usage, I don’t think they’ll be a nuisance.”

He said there is no commitment from the City and the bikes will be removed in December and the City will evaluate the program.

ofo is one of a number of companies, which also includes HubWay that is used exclusively in Boston. However, unlike HubWay, ofo doesn’t use permanent parking stations that take up sidewalk and/or parking spaces. Instead, the bikes have a GPS monitoring system and are parked wherever the user desires. They lock up automatically and are activated using a QR code scanner on a cell phone. They are also a lot cheaper, at $1 per hour.

However, right now, Revere is the only other user in the general area, making it a potential problem to be able to ride across City lines to Everett or East Boston.

Ambrosino said they are leaning towards a regional carrier that will be determined by a Massachusetts Area Planning Council (MAPC) Request for Proposals. He said connectedness is likely very important on this issue.

“I think the goal is to have what the region goes with,” he said. “MAPC will put out an RFP for a regional user. They will select one company so there is interoperability between cities and towns. I think we’ll be wanting to use  the same one in Chelsea. You can’t have one in Boston and one in Revere and one in Chelsea…We’ve told ofo that’s where Chelsea wants to go.”

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Honored:Chelsea Receives RWJF Culture of Health Prize for Efforts to Improve Health and Well-Being

Honored:Chelsea Receives RWJF Culture of Health Prize for Efforts to Improve Health and Well-Being

By Cary Shuman

City Manager Tom Ambrosino with Roseann Bongiovanni, executive director of GreenRoots, and Leslie Aldrich, associate director of MGH Center for Community Health Improvement, at the Chamber of Commerce Government Breakfast, where he announced that Chelsea was a recipient of the RWJF Culture of Health Prize.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino with Roseann Bongiovanni, executive director of GreenRoots, and Leslie Aldrich, associate director of MGH Center for Community Health Improvement, at the Chamber of Commerce Government Breakfast, where he announced that Chelsea was a recipient of the RWJF Culture of Health Prize.

Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino chose the Chamber Government Breakfast Wednesday to make a special announcement that the city has been awarded the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Culture of Health Prize.

The Prize honors communities for their unwavering efforts to ensure all residents have the opportunity to live healthier lives. Chelsea will receive a $25,000 cash prize, join a network of Prize-winning communities, and have their inspiring accomplishments shared throughout the nation.

Ambrosino called to the podium GreenRoots Executive Director Roseann Bongiovanni and MGH Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI) Associate Director Leslie Aldrich for the ceremonial acceptance of the prestigious award. Both women were instrumental in compiling Chelsea’s application to the RWJF.

“I have exciting news to tell you – something very special,” said Ambrosino. “Chelsea, Massachusetts is a winner of the Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Prize for 2017. And that’s worthy of applause.”

Even before Ambrosino completed his declaration, the crowd had responded with hearty applause.

Ambrosino said Chelsea is one of only eight communities nationwide to receive “this prestigious award.”

He called the application process “arduous” and added that it took months and months of work.

“And it couldn’t have been done without the two people here – Roseann Bongionvanni from GreenRoots and Leslie Aldrich from MGH (who oversees the Healthy Chelsea Coalition) They were the co-applicants to the RWJF on behalf of the city of Chelsea. And they worked extremely hard to get this application done. I’m very grateful and I want to thank them.”

Ambrosino said following the submission of the application, the city had to convince the visiting RWJF committee that it was deserving of the national award.

“It was the community that convinced the visiting committee that Chelsea was deserving. It was the incredible collaboration of our non-profits and community-based organization. It was the engagement of our business community led by our Chamber of Commerce and the powerful and emotional stories about what Chelsea meant to our residents.”

Bongiovanni thanked the Foundation for recognizing Chelsea’s efforts to become a healthier community.

“So many residents, city leaders, businesses and community partners have come together to make Chelsea a healthier community in which to live,” said Bongiovanni. “I am so grateful to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for recognizing those efforts with the prestigious Culture of Health Award. It exemplifies a whole community coming together for the betterment of our people, our environment, our future.”

Aldrich praised Chelsea residents for their unity and the city for its strong commitment to being a healthy community.

“Being nationally recognized for this work, despite the many challenges this community has faced and that still exist, is a reflection of the community’s resilience and commitment to one another,” said Aldrich. “The friendships and partnerships that have been forged in the effort to make Chelsea a healthier place to live are true and lasting and what makes Chelsea such a unique community.”

Dan Cortez, community engagement specialist for the Chelsea Police Department, Sylvia Ramirez of the Chelsea Collaborative, and Jose Iraheta Zaldana of Neighborhood Developers and Chelsea Thrives, also had key roles in Chelsea’s success and will join the local delegation at the RWJF awards ceremony.

“I think in the past Chelsea has always had issues and challenges and maybe wasn’t coordinated enough to meet those challenges,” said Cortez. “But I think Chelsea in the past four or five years under the previous leadership of Jay Ash and now Tom Ambrosino and Chief Brian Kyes and other people like Capt. Dave Batchelor – we coordinate our efforts, we have a hub mindset where we can collectively approach these challenging issues and report on them – that provides the accountability that has been missing in the past.”

Ambrosino said the city will hold a community gathering to celebrate the award.

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City Manager,Police Take Two-Way Broadway to Business Community

City Manager,Police Take Two-Way Broadway to Business Community

By Seth Daniel

City Manager Tom Ambrosino and consultants for the City took their message of a two-way Broadway in the business district to owners of the businesses on Thursday morning, Aug. 31, with Ambrosino saying he would stake his position on the issue.

Members of City government met with business owner from Broadway and the adjacent downtown streets Thursday morning at the Green Street Apartments community room. Kicking off the morning, Ambrosino expressed his great support for the change.

“It is incumbent on me to try to reduce the level of skepticism and outright opposition to this change,” he said emphatically. “That is what I’ll try to do in the coming months…I am 100 percent confident I can do that by doing two things – telling you about the advantages and listening to you…Whatever you think of two-way Broadway – one-way Broadway, that one-way speedway, cannot continue. It is unsafe. It is confusing to pedestrians and motorists and it is counterproductive to businesses and merchants on the corridor.”

Ambrosino stressed he believes that one change can transform the City’s downtown – particularly in terms of easing traffic patterns, eliminating unsafe double parking situations and making it easier for pedestrians to get to businesses.

Ralph DiNisco of the consulting firm Nelson Nygaard said that two-way Broadway is possible from a traffic management standpoint.

He compared it to other communities like Revere and Somerville where the lanes are just as wide and the traffic volumes are far greater.

Having studied the volumes in Chelsea and other communities, Broadway Chelsea handles only about 6,500 cars per day, where other Broadways along the Route 107 corridor handle double that.

“From a traffic operations perspective, two-way Broadway can work,” he said. “The numbers aren’t so high that it’s impossible. It can easily work with some changes. From a big picture, there’s no fatal flaw…If you look at other places, they have converted to two-way, and they are successful…Broadway now is a speedway. Nobody stops going down Broadway. They go faster than you want a car to go in a very busy downtown business corridor with people walking around.”

Police Chief Brian Kyes also spoke highly of the change, saying it would help dangerous situations for pedestrians and prevent double parking of delivery trucks – which allows criminals to shield themselves from police.

“There are a lot of young mothers pushing a carriage and when they come out with a carriage from behind a truck, it’s a very, very dangerous situation,” he said. “I’ve heard the idea for many, many years and we at the police department think it’s a very good idea.”

But business owners weren’t so convinced.

Some, like Roman Gold of Margolis Pharmacy, felt that it could increase traffic and become a cut-through for people trying to avoid Rt. 1 traffic.

“You could start to see a lot more traffic redirected by things like the Waze app from Route 1 to avoid traffic tie-ups further up the road,”  he said.

Rick Gordon of Allen’s Cut-Rite said one of the biggest problems for merchants would be deliveries. Many merchants, he said, cannot afford to pay to have deliveries outside of busy times, and he said there isn’t adequate space for delivery trucks in the alley.

“Many people would have to pay $100 or $150 fees for scheduling deliveries,” he said. “I can’t really pass that fee on to my customers and it’s an undue burden on the small business. Many of us do UPS and FedEx only, but some get trailer trucks in periodically…What needs to be done is you need to start by re-striping the parking spots and doing the small things.”

Compare Supermarket owner Al Calvo said he thinks that the delivery problem – which was a great concern – could be solved.

“We’re emphatic with our vendors that there be no deliveries after noon,” he said. “I think there’s a way for us as business people to set the rules. Sometimes my deliveries show up after 2 p.m. and we don’t accept the load. We do have leverage.”

Some were also worried about whether or not the City could enforce the rules well enough, that there would be enough oversight.

Ambrosino said he guaranteed that, if approved, he would make it work.

“We have enough manpower and enough officers that want to work overtime if that’s what it takes,” he said. “I will put my reputation on the line. The City Council can fire me if it doesn’t work. I think it can be that transformative.”

The change cannot be unilaterally implemented. If it is recommended in the overall Re-Imagining Broadway study, it has to be submitted to the Traffic Commission. If approved there, it must go to the City Council for a final approval. At each step, there is plenty of room for public comment.

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A Legend is Leaving:Gladys Vega to Step Down as Executive Director of the Chelsea Collaborative

A Legend is Leaving:Gladys Vega to Step Down as Executive Director of the Chelsea Collaborative

By Cary Shuman

Gladys Vega, a pilla

Gladys Vega

Gladys Vega

r of the community and executive director of the Chelsea Collaborative since 2006, is stepping down as the leader of the well-known agency whose headquarters are on Broadway.

Vega, who has earned victories for Chelsea residents against injustices and helped improve community-police relations, informed her friends and colleagues in a personal letter this week that she would be stepping down.

“The Collaborative has been my home for 29 years and the time has come for me to move on,” wrote Vega, adding that it has been “a tremendous honor to lead such a skilled and dedicated staff.”

City and state officials reacted with deep emotion that Vega, who has done so much to improve the qualify for life for residents and helped establish the Collaborative as a national model, would be calling it a career in the city.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino praised Vega as a tremendous advocate for residents who worked tirelessly on their behalf in important causes. Ambrosino said that Vega was “a true friend” to the city and a highly respected community organizer statewide.

Sen. Sal DiDomenico said that Gladys Vega “has been an outstanding advocate for the City of Chelsea and a champion for the many new residents from throughout the world who call Chelsea home.

“It has been a pleasure working with her over the years to serve the city and to enhance the social, environmental, and economic health of our community and its residents,” said DiDomenico.

Vega began her association with the Collaborative as a receptionist when executive director Edward Marakowitz headed the organization and it was located at 300 Broadway.

Vega’s passion for her work and the personable and professional manner in which she conducted herself became obvious to her colleagues. A 1985 graduate of Cheslea High School who had come to Chelsea from Puerto Rico when she was nine, Vega understood the challenges facing Latino residents and how to best help them grow and prosper in their new community.

Vega became the office manager and then worked as a tenant organizer. She showed her impeccable community organizing skills right away, fighting for tenants’ rights and gaining an important victory against an absentee landlord. Her organization has stood at the forefront advocating for immigrant families. The Collaborative became the go-to place for Chelsea youths seeking a summer job.

The question being asked by residents in all corners of the city is: Why is Gladys Vega leaving at the height of her power and name recognition and with the unmatched skills to rally people for important causes locally and nationally?

“I always told my family when I turn 50 years old (she celebrated her birthday at a large party in June), that I wanted to do something different because I feel the Collaborative has taken my social life away in a manner that all I do is work and be committed to the organization and the movement,” said Vega, who has two children, Melinda, 28, and Jerry, 21.

She spoke emotionally about the loss of her mother, Juanita Vega, who was a great inspiration in Gladys’s life. “There have been all these things that have happened in my life and I have never slowed down. I want to try a different job and leave myself time to help raise my two grandchildren. I have never been happier to have those two individuals in my life and I want to make sure that I don’t steal time from them like I stole from my two children.”

Vega also talked about health issues that she has had in the past but she happily reports to her many friends and supporters, “This year I’ve been in the best health. It’s been a very good year.”

There have been so many personal accomplishments during her brilliant reign as executive director, it was difficult for Vega to pinpoint one.

“But I’d say my biggest accomplishment was putting Latinos on the map and building a bridge between communities regardless where people come from and regardless of documentation,” said Vega. “To be able to put a passion in people that Chelsea is a great community to live in – we are a group of people that have worked very hard to build up Chelsea. Our movement has made history because our goals have always been to focus on the growth and betterment of Chelsea as a community.”

Vega lauded the many Chelsea administrators and community leaders that have helped the Collaborative succeed on its journey. She singled out the leadership of former city manager Jay Ash. Vega was front and center involving Latinos in city government when Ash ably piloted the total resurgence of Chelsea. She traveled with many others to Denver when Chelsea received the coveted All-America City Award from the National Civic League.

Many say that honor was Jay Ash’s finest hour as city manager and Gladys Vega was a valuable member of the team – its preeminent community organizer – that helped bring the city national recognition.

“We, those of us who care deeply about the community, worked with Jay Ash to help turn the city around,” said Vega.

She also spoke reverentially about the positive impact that Police Chief Brian Kyes has had in helping immigrants feel safe in the city.

“I love the fact that Chief Kyes gets the concept of diversity. I’ve worked very close with him and I know that people trust him and trust his leadership. I’m very proud to say that I was a part of the selection committee for chief and Chief Kyes has not let me down. I have been very impressed with his work and the police officers’ work in our community.”

Former Collaborative assistant executive director Roseann Bongiovanni and Colloborative President Rosalba Medina, a Chelsea Police detective, also drew plaudits from Vega.

“Roseann started at the Collaborative at the age of 19 – she was like my sister in the movement,” said Vega. “Little by little we kept working together until we built this environmental justice movement. Both of us learned together and worked very hard to build an environmental justice model that is the envy of other cities. We had more victories than we had losses.”

“It’s been an honor to work with Rosie Medina,” said Vega. “She has been a great liaison and partner in the Chelsea criminal justice system. Her leadership of our board has been outstanding.”

Vega said she worked closely with her cousin, Juan Vega, and community activist Tito Meza to help increase the number of Latino police officers in the department.

Vega regrets that she will not be continuing her work with current city manager Tom Ambrosino at the helm of Chelsea city government.

“As I think about moving on, I would have loved to have worked closer with him – my time with him has been brief, but it has been an amazing partnership. I think Tom, having been elected mayor of Revere, has a great sense of community organization and a sense of helping his constituents and listening to the people with a great level of professionalism. He treats everyone equally. I love what he has done as our city manager and I’m a huge fan of Tom Ambrosino – who has stated that there is no room for hate or injustice in the city.”

Vega will stay on board at the Collaborative until a successor is named. There will be a farewell celebration in December at the Homewood Suites Hotel in Chelsea.

City Council President Leo Robinson congratulated Vega on her successful tenure at the Collaborative, understanding that she has been one of the city’s most visible and most admired community leaders for three decades.

 “Gladys Vega did a very good job for Chelsea residents and I wish her good health and good luck in all her future endeavors.”

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City Takes Two-Way Broadway Idea to Businesses Today, Aug 31

City Takes Two-Way Broadway Idea to Businesses Today, Aug 31

By Seth Daniel

City officials and consultants for the Re-Imagining Broadway effort will take one of their most controversial suggestions to the business community on Broadway today, Aug. 31, prompting a discussion about making Broadway a two-way street.

The six-month planning effort has come up with numerous suggestions about how to improve the corridor, but at the top of those suggestions is the idea about taking Broadway from a one-way to a two-way.

The street has been in its current configuration for more than a generation, and few remember the last time it was moving differently.

However, count City Manager Tom Ambrosino as a convert to the idea.

“I think it will be transformative and make a large difference for the downtown’s flavor,” he said. “I think we can do it. Put me down as a huge proponent. It could dramatically improve the safety of the corridor by slowing down traffic considerably. I think it would look a lot prettier. The drawings have a very interesting iteration of a two-way Broadway.”

Ambrosino said this month that after the meeting with the downtown stakeholders, including the businesses, they would come up with a decision on the matter.

All downtown business owners and employees are invited to attend the meeting, which takes place at 9 a.m. at the Greenhouse Apartments Community Room, 154 Pearl St.

A Spanish language interpreter will be available.

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