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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Wynn Boston Harbor to be on the Forefront of Energy Efficiency

Wynn Boston Harbor to be on the Forefront of Energy Efficiency

By Seth Daniel

Wynn Boston Harbor is working closely with well-known international companies to implement battery technology into their building, a new technology that will help them store cheaper power purchased during off peak hours, and contribute to an overall energy usage that is but 60 percent of what would be expected for a building of its size.

The new battery technology program complements two co-generation plants, a rainwater irrigation system, a huge solar array and a “very aggressive” LED lighting program.

All of it will combine to make the Wynn Boston Harbor facility one of, if not the, most efficient large building in the region.

“We will be running at 60 percent of what the standard energy usage calculation is for a building like ours,” said Chris Gordon, president of Wynn Design and Development Massachusetts. “The interesting thing is when you look at green buildings…it comes down to less energy usage…These buildings are so well insulated and sealed that you save a lot just on leaks. The window seals are so much better than they were 30 years ago, it’s amazing. You save when you use less. Interestingly enough, years ago people started to build green buildings because it was the right thing to do. Now it’s a good business decision and a good environmental decision.”

Perhaps setting the pace for efficiency is a program that will likely be the first of its kind in the Boston area – an emerging technology using battery storage devices to optimize energy usage.

It’s something Gordon said is very new, but he predicted would likely be in every building, and in several homes, in the near future.

The change, he said, is the new technology being developed around better battery storage. Several companies have pushed the limits on new battery technology for electric cars, solar power and for energy efficiency.

Gordon said they are working with several companies to put an array of batteries on their property, but don’t have a specific company named as of yet.

The idea, he said, would be to install a 90,000 sq. ft. solar installation on the roof of the function hall and entrance, which will generate solar energy to be stored in the batteries.

The bigger savings, however, will be having battery storage available to store power purchased from the grid at off-peak times.

“You don’t want to buy power at peak periods, so if you have storage capacity using batteries, you can buy when prices are low,” said Gordon. “There are times of day and times of the year that are more expensive and they don’t want you to buy then. For example, in the summer with lots of air conditioners running, you don’t want to buy energy on a hot day. It’s more expensive…I don’t know if we’re the first, but we will be one of the first certainly to use this in Greater Boston.”

He said they will employ one person on site to monitor commodities markets to decide which time is best and what time is not best to buy energy. He indicated that all of this is just now available because of the rapid innovations in battery technology, which allows for smaller installations.

“The battery technology in a building like ours is a new concept,” he said. “In the old days, using them for energy efficiency was tough because they were massive. Now they are a lot smaller and you can put them in a building and they don’t take up as much real estate.”

Another major piece of the operation will be two co-generation plants that are being installed in the back of the house.

The units are about 15’ x 10’ and generate electricity that will be used to power the building. Co-generation works on the principal of heating water and creating steam by burning natural gas. Both the steam and hot water are then used to heat the building. However, as they are created, they turn a turbine that creates electricity as a by-product – electricity that can be used immediately in the building or stored in the battery system.

The two co-generation plants will produce 8-10mgW of electricity.

“Co-generation produces hot water, steam and also electricity,” said Gordon. “We’ll produce a lot of electricity with them, but we’ll keep it all on site. That means we’ll produce a lot of our electricity and the solar will be used on site as well…All in all, we believe we’ll be able to run 70 to 80 percent of the building’s functions just off of the power we have inside if we want to or need to.”

He said that if there is a power outage, they believe they will be able to power all critical functions, and still have enough left over to maintain the usual comforts.

“After all the critical functions are accounted for, like the lighting and heat, there will still be a lot more left,” he said. “People will be quite comfortable in an outage. You could pave people there as an emergency shelter really, because we’re well above the flood plain and we will have ample power stored.”

Other efficiency measures include:

  • A 10,000 sq. ft. green roof on top of the second floor of the building.
  • A giant water tank in the parking garage that will harness and store all of the rainwater on the site. That rainwater will then be used in the irrigation system to water all of the extensive plantings inside and outside the building.

All together, it also equals a tremendous amount of savings for the resort.

“We don’t have the exact figures yet, but we’re using 40 percent less than we should, and so you’re looking a very big number in terms of savings on energy,” he said. “We hope that it not only saves us money, but also that it sets the pace for everyone else.”

Above the Flood Plain

Many might have seen the photos of water rushing into the front doors of the Golden Nugget casino in Mississippi late last week as Hurricane Nate hit the Gulf Coast, but Wynn Boston Harbor officials said they don’t ever expect such a thing to happen at their resort despite being right on the Mystic River.

That’s because early in the process, officials said, they decided to change the design of the building so they would be well-above the 500-year floodplain and the storm surge levels too.

Chris Gordon of Wynn Design and Development Massachusetts said they don’t expect to get that kind of flooding on their waterfront site.

“The flood levels are at nine feet, and even with flood surge added, that’s still just 11 feet,” he said. “The garage entrance is at 13 feet and the entrance to the building is at 24 or 25 feet. In addition, all of the utilities have been moved out of the garage and are on top of the Central Utility Plant. If the garage does flood someday, we just pump it out. The pumps are already there and ready if need be. We don’t ever expect to see the garage flood, but if it does, we just pump out the water. It really does no harm.”

Gordon said it all goes back to a willingness to look at resiliency in the Boston area and go the extra mile instead of fighting it.

“Instead of debating it or trying to discredit it, we said, ‘Let’s just move the building up.’ And that has worked out really well.”

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Three 18th Street Gang Members/Associates Plead Guilty to Gun Trafficking Charges

Three 18th Street Gang Members/Associates Plead Guilty to Gun Trafficking Charges

Thee members/associates of the 18th Street Gang, including one Chelsea man, pleaded guilty last week in federal court in Boston in connection with illegal, street-level gun trafficking.

Oscar Oliva, a/k/a “Droopy, 26, of East Boston; Ralph Bonano, 23, of East Boston; and Dennis Pleites Ramos, 23, of Chelsea, pleaded guilty to engaging in the business of dealing with firearms without a license. Oliva also pleaded guilty to one count of possessing with intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine base and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.  U.S. Senior District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf scheduled sentencing for January 2018.

In 2015 and 2016, a federal investigation identified a network of street gangs, which had created alliances to traffick weapons and drugs throughout Massachusetts and generate violence against rival gang members.  Based on the investigation, 53 defendants were indicted in June 2016 on federal firearm and drug charges, including defendants who are allegedly leaders, members, and associates of the 18th Street Gang, the East Side Money Gang and the Boylston Street Gang.  These gangs operated primarily in the East Boston, Boston, Chelsea, Brockton, Malden, Revere and Everett areas.  During the course of the investigation, over 70 firearms, cocaine, cocaine base (crack), heroin and fentanyl were seized.

Oliva was a leader in the 18th Street gang, a multi-national criminal organization that operates throughout the United States, and was involved in a large conspiracy to deal in firearms in the Greater Boston area.  Oliva was personally involved in at least 12 firearms deals involving at least 13 firearms to a cooperating witness.  In total, the cooperating witness was able to obtain over 30 firearms from the conspiracy during the investigation, including assault rifles, shotguns, and handguns – several of which had obliterated serial numbers.  Bonano and Pleites Ramos were involved with selling handguns in the Greater Boston area.  In addition to the firearms trafficking, Oliva also sold cocaine base (crack cocaine) to a cooperating witness.

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Henry Wilson Announces Candidacy for District 5 Seat on City Council

Henry Wilson Announces Candidacy for District 5 Seat on City Council

Since I announced my candidacy for District 5 City Councillor, I have had the opportunity to speak and meet with many of you about your vision for the district. Each conversation has reminded me once again that our city’s greatest asset is our people.

Whether you live on Beacon, Ash, Cottage, Chester Avenue, or Lynn Streets, we all share a common commitment to doing everything we can to make our community and district stronger.

For over 20 years, I have lived here in our great city and district as a homeowner, and as a community activist, one that cares deeply in the direction that our city is heading.

As an activist along with other concerned residents, we were able to lower the speed limit in our city to 25 miles per hour. Also we were able to make our streets safer by working with City Hall and others to raise the streets to their highest levels to help combat the safety concerns of our residents. In addition I have been a strong advocate of a healthier and cleaner Chelsea. Having been a member of the Chelsea Enhancement Team, Chelsea Shines, and the Beautification Committee, and a supporter Green Roots,  the city is looking much better. The air quality is getting better, and both the homeowners and business owners are maintaining their properties better, all because of the commitment and hard work of concerned residents and myself.

Yes, there is still much more work to be done in our district. Being a current member for eight years on Planning Board, one of several of my concerns is to make sure that our residents are being forced out of their city that they have called home for many years. I also want to make sure that all new developments have fair and adequate affordable housing both at rental price and percentage of housing units.

With the recent Inclusionary Zoning Ordiance of 30, 50, 80, this will will help to insure housing for our residents. Being involved with the Re-Imaging process of the Downtown Business District, we are in desperate need of housing in this area. I will work hard to make sure that our city does not become an unaffordable city for those who choose to live here.

I will continue to make sure that City Hall and all departments are fiscally sound. I am committed to working with all departments, item by item, prior to and during the budget hearings. I will look to see where we able to save our residents money.

I am running because I want to be your voice at City Hall. As a district, we deserve a leader that is ready to work on Day 1. I am a person that is committed to the district and willing and able to vote with the residents that you are to serve.

District 5 deserves a councillor that wants to help lead our city and district. I believe that our city is on the verge of receiving amazing and wonderful opportunities. We as residents have an opportunity to grab this moment and move forward stronger together. This is why as District 5 city councillor, I will be committed to helping to continue rebuilding our city, preparing and giving our youngest residents the tools they need to succeed in their future goals. I will never stop working for you as a resident and as your city councillor.

If you believe in this vision for our city’s future – one of working together, growth, affordable housing, cleaner and safer neighborhoods, and preparing our future leaders – then I hope you will consider becoming part of our campaign.

Please vote for Henry David Wilson on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

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The Protesting Football Players are Not Disrespecting the Military

The Protesting Football Players are Not Disrespecting the Military

The silent protest that was begun last season by former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, in which Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem before football games, exemplifies what freedom of speech and freedom of expression mean in our country.

Kaepernick, and his fellow players who have joined him this year, have been very clear from the outset that their sole motive behind their protest is to express their view that racism is alive and well in America at all levels of our society and that this problem needs to be addressed immediately.

Although no one can doubt the truth of that assertion, we realize there are many who believe that a football game is not the place for political protests and who are upset that the players are kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem.

That’s their opinion and they, like Kapaernick, are entitled to express what they believe.

However, those (such as President Trump) who are attempting to discredit the protesters by asserting that the protesters are disrespecting those who have served in the military are off-base for two reasons.

First and foremost, the protesters never have made any negative statement about anybody in the military or that their protest is aimed at the military. Rather, it is clear that Trump and others are making this claim solely to discredit the protesters as a means of ignoring the serious issue of racism that the protest is all about.

Second however, the playing of the National Anthem before a game never has had anything to do with honoring the military. Rather, the tradition of playing the Anthem prior to the start of  a sporting event has been to show our unity as a nation — every single American — and not limited only to past and present members of the military.

The Anthem before a game makes us realize that although we may be cheering for rival teams on the playing field, at the end of the day, we still are one people, one nation.

Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem — which has resulted in his career being ended (at least for now) — truly was an act of courage and stands as a shining example to all Americans, especially our young people, of their right to protest peacefully in our country.

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Helping Puerto Rico

Helping Puerto Rico

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Carmen Cruz prays for friends and family in Puerto Rico during the vigil and donation drive on Thursday, Sept. 28, to aid in the relief effort for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Chelsea Collaborative and Teamsters Local 25 organized the event, with many community partners. Teamsters Local 25 is donating trucks and drivers to transport the relief items Hurricane Maria has devastated the island, with an overwhelming majority of the 3.4 million residents still without power as of last week, and officials struggling to get food, water, fuel and needed supplies to everyone in need.

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Many Puerto Ricans in Chelsea Stay Busy to Keep Positive

Many Puerto Ricans in Chelsea Stay Busy to Keep Positive

By Seth Daniel

On Monday morning, Margarita Nievez kept busy folding a sheet and some clothing that was set to be trucked out to New Jersey – and later to Puerto Rico.

The day before, she and her friends helped load rice onto pallets.

Last Thursday evening, they participated in a vigil at City Hall, and then helped collect more food that was loaded onto trucks provided by the Teamsters Local 25. That collection was also being shipped to Puerto Rico.

For Nievez, it’s all about staying busy and keeping her mind off her home island, which has been wiped out by two hurricanes this month, most recently Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20.

“It feels good to help here and not think about it,” said Nievez on Monday while  folding a sheet at the Chelsea Collaborative. “They are suffering down there from not having food and water. They could be dying now.”

She began to tear up, and then went back to her work.

Nievez said she has family in Ponce and Comerio – among other remote places that were hit directly.

“I haven’t heard anything from any of them,” she said. “I don’t know where they are.”

Maria Figueroa has a sister in Mayaguez, and she said it has been encouraging to see the community in Chelsea band together so quickly to help.

Indeed, Chelsea historically has one of the largest Puerto Rican communities in the Northeast per capita, and so such a devastating impact on many in the City.

On Monday, Chelsea Police officers and Public Works crews were stationed in the Collaborative racing against the clock to load everything up before the tractor trailer arrived at 3 p.m.

Thousands of pounds of food waited in a hallway.

“I’ve been here doing something from last week until now,” said Figueroa. “Thank God everyone is helping each other. Different cultures and different races are all coming together.”

As they worked, David Rodas came through the doors to bring a variety of rice bags, water and canned goods.

“I’m not even Puerto Rican,” he said. “I’m from El Salvador, but we’re all humans and I see people in need. This is what you do.”

Collaborative Director Gladys Vega said keeping busy has helped her, and helped many like Nievez and Figueroa.

“It’s a way of them coping with what they see on TV,” she said. “They don’t want to sit around the house and not do anything and not know what’s happening. So, I’ve had a lot of people who have showed up and wanted to help since last week. They fold clothes, organize food, or whatever they can do.”

Cutline –

Margarita Nievez folds a sheet at the Chelsea Collaborative on Monday while Leanna Cruz organizes clothing in the background. Many Chelsea residents who have family in Puerto Rico haven’t heard any news of their whereabouts since the devastating Hurricane Maria struck on Sept. 20. To cope, they keep busy.

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Bishop Tops in District 1, Brown Cruises in District 8

Bishop Tops in District 1, Brown Cruises in District 8

By Seth Daniel

Calvin Brown

Calvin Brown

Tuesday’s Preliminary Election in Districts 1 and 8 featured a severely light turnout, but some excitement politically nonetheless for two seats that will be hotly contested in the Nov. 7 election.

The District 1 Prattville contest featured three very well-known and seasoned candidates, and they duked it out on a day that saw only 10 percent voter turnout.

In the end, former City Clerk Bob Bishop topped the ticket in District 1 with 132 votes (45 percent). Second place went to Planning Board member Todd Taylor with 101 votes (34 percent).

Those two will now move on to the City Election on Nov. 7, and reports from the neighborhood indicate that both have been working hard and hitting the streets for some time.

Look for that to pick up in the next six weeks.

Knocked out of the race, in somewhat of a surprise, was School Committeeman Shawn O’Regan – who gave up his seat to run for Council.

He lost with 60 votes (20 percent).

In District 8, former Councillor at-Large Calvin Brown cruised to a victory over two newcomers to the political scene.

Brown captured 73 percent of the Admirals Hill vote, which was 171 votes.

Second place went to Jermaine Williams, who gathered 35 votes (15 percent).

Knocked out was Zaida Ismatul Oliva, who was rumored to have suspended her campaign weeks ago. Nonetheless, she gathered 24 votes.

The two seats opened up with District 1 Councillor Paul Murphy and District 8 Councillor Dan Cortell stepped down from their positions earlier this year.

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‘McKenna Magic’ Will Bring Hope for A Cure at LFCFL Walk Sunday

‘McKenna Magic’ Will Bring Hope for A Cure at LFCFL Walk Sunday

By Seth Daniel

Kathryn McKenna was in the middle of reinventing herself – getting into peak physical condition – when her life took an abrupt turn to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

McKenna, a life-long Salem resident with deep roots in that city, now lives at the Dapper McDonald House in the Leonard Florence Center for Living (LFCFL) on Admirals Hill – and she couldn’t be happier and more hopeful.

On Sunday, she and a huge contingent of family and friends will participate in the ever-popular Walk for Living on the campus of LFCFL and on Admirals Hill. The walk is expected to attract 1,000 or more people raising money to help expand opportunities at the home – which is considered on the forefront of facilities in the world for treating and managing ALS.

“When I envision a Leonard Florence resident with ALS, Kathryn McKenna was the ideal candidate,” said Barry Berman, CEO. “That’s because Kathryn has a zest for life and living at the Leonard Florence allows her to continue living a very active and engaged and dignified life. We all realize that if Kathryn was in a traditional nursing home, she would be leading a much different life. Our staff are experts in understanding the nature of the disease, thus offering our residents the highest quality of life possible.”

McKenna led an active life for certain. The son of a famed basketball coach at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, she was always in top shape and active – known as a chatter box.

She was a flight attendant, was multi-lingual, traveled the world and worked at the Lahey Clinic.

That active lifestyle was cut out from under her starting in 2014 when she noticed changes. She was diagnosed in 2015, but the degenerative disease has not taken completely taken away her active nature – especially since coming to the LFCFL in January.

“It was very hard to leave my apartment in Salem overlooking the Harbor, but I had to do it,” she said. “it was the best decision I ever made. I’m very independent. I was very chatty and that has changed, but I still get my point across…I believe in a cure by 2020.”

Many of the things that McKenna and the other residents at the two ALS homes at the Leonard Florence would not be afforded them at other facilities. Designed by resident Steve Saling, who has ALS, the homes are customized with technology and the staff is trained specially to meet the needs of those with ALS.

That combination, plus a very active and understanding administration, has led to remarkable achievements in quality of life for individuals who were written off in the past.

McKenna, 60, said she had been inspired by a co-worker at Leahy to go back to college and finish her degree in 2013. She decided to major in Sports Science. While working two jobs, exercising with 20 year olds and taking care of her elderly mother – the active woman began to notice some inconsistencies.

“I knew something was wrong in 2014,” she said. “My speech was getting impaired. One day I was working out and my colleague, who was so nice, noticed and said, ‘Kathryn, you don’t have to do anymore.’ I was diagnosed with ALS in 2015, but I still had a semester of school left until graduation. I had promised my dad I would finish, so I went back…It was hard during that semester, but I wanted to persevere.”

And that she did, graduating from Salem State in 2015 with her degree.

Now, with that same die-hard spirit, she keeps focused on eating and attitude.

“The doctor told me when I was early on that appetite and attitude would determine my quality of life,” she said. “I work very hard to keep my appetite up and my attitude positive.”

She and many other residents of LFCFL and the community will bring that same positive, can-do attitude to Admirals Hill on Sunday, where critical fundraising and fun are set to take place.

“The walk certainly helps raise money, but it also gives our residents a sense of well-being when they see how many people that do care about their living situation,” said Berman. “We are now working on opening our third residence, but obviously that will take time with the fundraising.”

The LFCFL Walk for Life will begin registration on Sunday, Oct. 1, at 8 a.m., with the Walk beginning at 10 a.m. A celebration will follow.

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