New Senior Transportation Ready to Serve Senior Center

New Senior Transportation Ready to Serve Senior Center

Celebrating the new service were City Manager Tom Ambrosino, Councillor Roy Avellaneda, John Keegan of Door2Door by SCM, Director Tracy Nowicki and Health Agent Luis Prado.

Getting to the Chelsea Senior Center has never been so easy.

The Senior Center held a grand opening of their new shuttle service on Friday, Jan. 11, to highlight the service that loops around Chelsea and brings seniors to the Riley Way facility.

Tracy Nowicki, director of the Center, said they started the service in November.

“We really hope that people will start using it and that it will really take off,” she said.

The shuttle is operated with Door2Door by SCM, which provides the shuttle and driver.

They make five stops around the city, including:

•Admiral’s Hill

•5 Admiral’s Way

•150 Captain’s Row

•260 Clark Ave.

•14 Bloomingdale St.

•154 Pearl Street.

The service is available five days a week. For more information, call the Senior Center.

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City Manager Working on Local Regulations for AirBNB

City Manager Working on Local Regulations for AirBNB

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said this week he is preparing new City regulations that would govern the short-term rental market (known as AirBNB) in Chelsea.

That comes after Gov. Charlie Baker and the State Legislature worked out a sudden compromise at the end of the year to a bill that had been stalled since the summer. That bill was signed into law and went into effect statewide on Jan. 1. While it governs the practice, it also leaves a lot of room for cities to come up with their own regulations and to tax such entities.

Ambrosino said he hoped to have something to the Council in March.

“I’m working on them now,” he said. “I hope to have a proposal up to the Council with new regulations and requirements about the local options taxes that we want to collect. I’ve been working on some drafts and we’ll circulate those internally. We’ll have a proposal to submit in early March.”

Both houses of the state legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker found a sudden compromise at the end of December in their two-year session to push through the stalled short-term rental bill – which Gov. Baker signed into law on Friday, Dec. 28.

The bill has been a long time in the making and has been shepherded through the legislature for years by State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz of the North End, who was happy to see the compromise reached.

Short-term rentals are not a major issue at the moment in Chelsea, but there are more than a few out there. More are expected due to the proximity of the city to the airport and the Encore Boston Harbor casino.

One of the keys of the state law is that it will be obvious who operates them and where, something that is kind of a mystery now.

The new law requires a statewide registry of operators, something the governor had opposed for some time until late in the year.

It also levies a 5.7 percent state tax on all short-term rental units, and allows cities and towns to levy their own local taxes as well. In Boston, it is proposed to put an additional 6 percent on each short-term rental unit.

The trade-off with the registry for the governor seems to be a provision that allows for anyone renting out a unit for 14 days or less to avoid the taxation portion of the law. It was uncertain, but it initially did appear that those units would have to participate in the statewide registry.

Ambrosino said they would undoubtedly push to go for the maximum 6 percent local option taxes.

“We’ll definitely go for the maximum option,” he said. “We’ll look at the Boston ordinance as a model. It was well-crafted. We’ll make sure rentals are adequately inspected and safety is addressed.”

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What Would Dr. Martin Luther King Think?

What Would Dr. Martin Luther King Think?

When one considers that it has been almost 51 years since Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, it is easy to understand why so many of our fellow Americans today have so little understanding of who he was and what he accomplished.

Every school child for the past generation knows well the story of Martin Luther King. But an elementary school textbook cannot truly convey the extent to which he brought about real change in our country. To anyone under the age of 50, Martin Luther King is just another historical figure. But for those of us who can recall the 1960s, a time when racial segregation prevailed throughout half of our country and overt racism throughout the other half, Martin Luther King stands out as one of the great leaders in American history, a man whose stirring words and perseverance in his cause changed forever the historical trajectory of race relations in America, a subject that some historians refer to as the Original Sin of the American experience.

However, as much as things have changed for the better in the past 50 years in terms of racial equality in our society, it also is clear that we still have a long way to go before can say that all Americans are judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, as Dr. King famously put it in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.

It is clear that there is a movement in our country that seeks to take away many of the hard-fought gains of the past 50 years. The shootings and deaths of African-Americans while in police custody that have shocked all of us in the past few years are just the tip of the iceberg. Much more significant have been the judicial decisions that have stripped away key provisions of the voting rights act, the disproportionate treatment and incarceration of minorities for drug-related offenses, and the voter ID laws and gerrymandering in many states that, in the words of a federal court in North Carolina, attain with surgical precision the goal of preventing people of color from being fairly represented in government at all levels. “What would Dr. Martin Luther King do?” we often ask ourselves. We can’t say for sure, but we do know that he that as much as King accomplished in his lifetime, he would be the first to understand that his work for which he gave his life still is far from done — and we can only hope that his spirit and courage can continue to inspire this and future generations to bring about a world in which all persons are treated with dignity and respect.

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Equitable Access:Chelsea School Leaders Demand Educational Equity for All Students at Malden Forum

Equitable Access:Chelsea School Leaders Demand Educational Equity for All Students at Malden Forum

Chelsea School Superintendent
Mary Bourque and Chelsea City Manager Thomas Ambrosino were two panelists
Tuesday night at Malden High School discussing school budget funding.

Chelsea School Superintendent Mary Bourque and Chelsea City Manager Thomas Ambrosino were two panelists Tuesday night at Malden High School during a forum calling on legislators to overhaul the state’s current educational funding model to ensure equity for all students, especially those in low-income areas.

During the state’s last legislative session a bill by State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain) would have recalculated the cost to educate each student in public school districts known as the ‘foundation budget’ and poured millions of dollars into school over the next several years.

However that bill failed and educators like Bourque are calling this mechanism the state uses to provide students with equitable access to educational opportunities ‘obsolete’ and must be revised to meet the expectations of today’s economy.

Because the state has not updated its education funding formula since 1993 to reflect districts’ real health insurance and special education costs, the amount of aid being provided to cover those costs is too small.

To compensate, many districts like Chelsea end up using money that would otherwise have supported core education programs—including Regular Ed. Teachers, Materials & Technology, and Professional Development. This also results in dramatic cuts in other areas of education.

“The time is now because we have no more time left,” said Bourque at Tuesday night’s meeting. “There will be more cuts because we don’t know where the money will come from. We cut all of our after school programs…elementary (afterschool) programs two years ago and middle school after school programs last year. It’s time to make changes to the formula and we need to make the formula work for us. It is time to save the futures of our students and open those doors to the future. We can not afford to have our students go through another year of cuts in their school system.”

The problem for low income school districts like Chelsea is there is a growing equity gap between schools in Chelsea and schools in more affluent areas of the state. When faced with such shortfalls, high-wealth districts can often draw on additional, local revenue. Lower-wealth districts like Chelsea, however, are generally unable to do so and the consequence is that they spend less on resources that are critically important to the quality of education students receive.

“I do think there a lot of school systems in a financial crisis my expectation is that if this is not addressed in this legislative session we are going to have a lot of tough decisions to make like Brockton did where they had to lay off a significant amount of teachers,” said Ambrosino. “We are living in good economic times. State revenues have been running above estimates for quite some time so it’s time for the legislature to use this good fortune and make education a priority once again and invest in education. This is not easy and requires a lot of money so I don’t envy any legislators that have to work on this but budgets are all about priorities. A budget, simply put, is a policy statement on your (the legislation’s) priorities and the legislature once again has to make education a priority. If it doesn’t there will be too many ‘have nots’ in the Commonwealth once again.”

Estimates by lawmakers to fix the budget formula could be as high as $1 billion with Gov. Charlie Baker vowing to put forth his own proposal to fix the broken system after the House and Senate couldn’t agree on a solution last year.

However, Bourque said something has to be done and done soon because Chelsea is running a $7.4 million school budget gap between what the state covers for education and what the Chelsea School District is actually spending to educate students.

“Morally obligated to meet our students needs and provide for them so they can be successful and have futures,” said Bourque. “Sometimes, as a superintendent, I feel like we’ve been living on a ‘fixed budget’ since 1993 and that fixed income is not working. The result is that we are stretched too thin.”

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CHS Students Perform at Gov Baker’s Inauguration

CHS Students Perform at Gov Baker’s Inauguration

The Chelsea High School choir group, led by Co-Directors Peter Pappavasselio and Cole Lundquist,
is pictured with CHS Principal Lex Mathews and State Rep. Brad Jones before their performance
at the inauguration ceremony for Gov. Charlie Baker.

When Gov. Charlie Baker heard the Chelsea High advanced choir group Cantare perform at the Chelsea Soldiers Home Veterans Day program, he was very impressed.

Soon after Baker’s office contacted Performing Arts Lead teacher and Cantare Co-Director Peter Pappavasselio and invited the group to perform at his inauguration at the State House.

Pappavasselio accepted the invitation and on Jan. 3, 24 CHS students had the high honor of performing at the inauguration.

The students, attired in their black and white formal costume attire, performed the song, “On Winter Mountain,” in front of Gov. Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, and all of the constitutional officers, state senators, state representatives, judges, and other distinguished guests in attendance.

“The song denotes winter imagery, but it ends with this feeling of peace and contentment,” said Pappavasselio, who co-directs the group with Cole Lundquist.

A former outstanding high school and college vocalist with a rich history in music production, Pappavasselio fully understands the personal and historical significance of being able to perform at the gubernatorial inauguration which is a quadrennial happening.

“It’s a once-in-a-career, if you’re lucky, performance,” said Pappavasselio.

The co-director said the group has received several accolades for its superb performance that was captured live by television cameras from the Boston stations.

Supt. of Schools Dr. Mary Bourque and Principal Lex Mathews were able to attend the inauguration and enjoy the students’ performance in person. Both administrators were understandably quite proud of the students.

“A lot of people saw it on television and it’s being shown on YouTube,” said Pappavasselio.

Next up for Cantare is the district concert on March 20 at the Williams School.

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Chelsea Council Gets Back to Business for 2019 Session

Chelsea Council Gets Back to Business for 2019 Session

The City Council got back to business Monday night with a special organizational meeting and then quickly taking care of the new year’s first agenda items.

As expected, the Council approved a second term for Damali Vidot as council president. District 2 Councillor Luis Tejada was voted in as vice president, and Yamir Rodriguez as the Council’s delegate to the School Committee.

“I want to thank all my colleague’s for entrusting me with one more year as president,” said Vidot. She is the first female councillor to serve two back-to-back terms as council president.

Vidot said she is looking forward to a year of unity and respect on the council.

In other business, the Council unanimously approved funding for new contracts for the City’s two police unions.

The contracts include a retroactive salary increase of 2.5 percent for FY17 and 3 percent for FY18 and FY19. There is also a 3 percent increase slated for FY20 and an additional 1 percent increase that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

The contract also implements residency requirements for all new hires for the Police Department.

Later in the meeting, the Council also approved an amended residency ordinance for all police, fire, and civil service employees.

The ordinance requires that all personnel who live in Chelsea at the time of the hire must maintain residency for five years from the date of hire. Personnel who do not live in the city at the time of hire have six months to relocate to Chelsea.

Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson cast the lone vote against the amended ordinance, using the example of a child who might have to look after sick parents as a possible reason an employee may not be able to relocate.

•During the public speaking portion of the meeting, some familiar guests dropped in to say thank you to the Council.

Several members of the Chelsea High senior class thanked the council for its recent vote to fund a turf field cover to the tune of $170,000 for the new high school field.

With the field cover, the senior class and subsequent classes will be able to hold outdoor graduations.

“We’ve put so much hard work into this, and everything that has happened has been amazing,” said Senior Class President Jocelyn Poste.

Poste and several other seniors presented the Council with a signed letter in appreciation for their efforts. They also asked the council for their signatures on a proclamation documenting the students’ and the Council’s efforts to work together to make the turf field cover a reality.

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Maronski Elected Chair Of School Committee

Maronski Elected Chair Of School Committee

The School Committee elected Richard Maronski as its new chair during its first meeting of 2019 at City Hall. Maronski, who has been a member of the committee for three-and-half years, succeeds Jeanette Velez, who held the position for the past three years.

“I’m honored to be selected by my colleagues to lead the School Committee in the coming year,” said Maronski. “I want to thank Jeannette for her leadership and the commitment he has shown to the students in Chelsea.”

The son of Ann Maronski and the late Charles Maronski, Richard is well known in the community. He was the Chelsea High star quarterback who led coach Bob Fee’s Red Devils to an amazing come-from-behind 34-26 victory over Everett in the 1980 Thanksgiving game. Maronski threw touchdown passes to Paul Driscoll to spark Chelsea’s rally from a 20-0 deficit. Some fans call it the greatest game in the long history of the Chelsea-Everett series that ended in 1989.

Several members of Richard’s family graduated from Chelsea High School, including several uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, in a time period that ranged from the 1930s to 1990s. His popular sister, Patricia Maronski Yee, was a CHS cheerleader and graduated in 1990. Richard graduated in 1982.

“I’m very proud of my family’s long history of attending Chelsea schools,” said Maronski. ‘Everyone received a good, solid all-around education and each has fond memories of their positive experiences in the Chelsea schools. In particular, my father loved Chelsea. He was there the day we beat Everett on Thanksgiving.”

Maronski also served as president of the Chelsea Youth Basketball League and coached two teams in the league. He was also the CHS freshman boys basketball coach.

A former Chelsea city councillor, Maronski has established his priorities for the new year.

“My first priority is to form a committee of Chelsea residents to help select a new school superintendent (Supt. of Schools Dr. Mary Bourque has announced that she will be retiring from the position),” said Maronski. “We are working with the Collins Center at UMass in the selection process.”

Maronski would also like to address the issue of Chelsea teachers leaving the school system for positions in other school districts.

“We have a high turnover in teachers in the Chelsea schools,” said Maronski. “I’d like to see more stability in our teaching positions.”

Maronski said the School Committee meets the first Thursday (7 p.m.) of every month. He welcomes parents to attend the meetings and speak during the public portion.

The School Committee elected Julio Hernandez as vice chair of the board.

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School Committee Votes to Bring in Collins Center for Super Search

School Committee Votes to Bring in Collins Center for Super Search

The School Committee voted last Thursday at its meeting to employ the Collins Center from the University of Massachusetts-Boston to assist in the search for a new superintendent of schools.

At the same time, the Committee put an aggressive timeline on the search, looking to have a candidate chosen by July 1.

New Committee Chair Rich Maronski said they felt the Collins Center did a good job with the City Manager search a few years ago. He said they plan to have a retreat meeting with the Center this week to understand the search parameters and to get things started.

Supt. Mary Bourque announced in late December that she planned on retiring in one year’s time, putting a date of December 2019 as her final month. She has pledged to stay on to help with the search and to acclimate any new candidate to the job through next fall.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he was sad to see Bourque go, but is encouraged by the Committee’s quick action on the Collins Center.

“Selfishly, I’m sad because Superintendent Bourque has done a tremendous job as leader of the Chelsea School System, and her and I had a very productive partnership,” he said. “However, she is certainly deserving of her well-earned retirement. As for the search, I was pleased to hear that the School Committee has agreed both to hire the UMass Collins Center to help with the search for a successor, and to hire a Superintendent for July 1 so that the person will be able to work together with Mary for the first six months to establish a smooth transition.”

More information on the start of the search and the process is expected by next week, Maronski said.

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Developer Looks to Build 33 Units on 7-11 in Cary Square

Developer Looks to Build 33 Units on 7-11 in Cary Square

A Winchester developer has filed with the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to build a five-story, 33-unit residential apartment building on the site of the closed 7-11 and its parking lot in Cary Square.

Anthony Quiles has filed the project with the City and had an initial hearing on Tuesday night, Jan. 8, with the ZBA, and will proceed to the Planning Board for a meeting later this month.

The project will be sited at 176-178 Washington Ave. and will contain 44 parking spaces (50 are required) for the 33 units. There will be a roof deck and other amenities. The project includes no open space and requires seven pieces of relief, including height variances and parking permits.

The unit breakdown would be nine studios, 15 one-bedrooms, and six two-bedrooms.

The Chelsea Fire Department has already voiced its concerns with the project as they do not believe they can access the building due to the size of the building on the lot.

“I am not in favor of a development of this size…which encompasses the entire lot with no setbacks on both sides and the rear,” wrote Deputy Richard Perisie. “The Fire Department should have access to at least one side for apparatus placement.”

Councillor Leo Robinson said he has called for the development to go down to at least 25 units and to add a retail venture on the first floor, preferably a grocery store/convenience store.

He said he was very disturbed that the purchase and sales agreement by 7-11 with Quiles details that no such retail operations can go there. He said he wants to see about changing that.

“My concern and what bothers me is that 7-11 put in the agreement not to allow a grocery store to go there,” he said. “That is detrimental to that part of the city. It is heavily used by the elderly at 14 Bloomingdale and the people from the neighborhood too. The fact of the matter is I’ve talked with the City Solicitor and the City Manager and I think there is a tool in our tool bag we need to use. I don’t think 7-11 should punish us for their failure not to run a good business. There has always been a grocery store there since I can remember.”

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Police Briefs 01-10-2019

Police Briefs 01-10-2019

STOLEN CAR

On Dec. 11 at 6 p.m., a CPD Detective observed a blue Subaru Impreza make an unsafe lane change coming from Broadway onto City Hall Avenue. The vehicle was a reported stolen motor vehicle out of Revere. The detective continued to follow the car down Chestnut Street. With the assistance from other marked CPD units a car stop was initiated and the operator placed under arrest for being in possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

Katherine Guzman, 36, of 18 Watts St., was charged with being in possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

PULLED KNIFE ON HOTEL EMPLOYEES

On Dec. 21, at 7:11 a.m., units were dispatched to the Hilton Homeward Suites for an individual threatening the employees with a knife.

A description was given out of the suspect as being a short male wearing a black jacket and a scally cap. Officers knew about a previous issue from the day before at the hotel with the same described male. The officers observed the suspect walking on Everett Avenue and placed him under arrest for two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.

Alberto Garcia, 51, of 303 Carter St., was charged with two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon.

CROSSWALK VIOLATION, KNIVES

On Dec. 19, at 6:23 p.m., officers observed a motor vehicle that failed to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk in front of 589 Broadway.

The car was then pulled over.

It was determined that the operator of the vehicle was not legally able to operate the car and he was placed under arrest. A search of the person and vehicle also recovered knives.

Manuel Alvarez Mejia, 29, of 759 Broadway, was charged with crosswalk violation, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, and two counts of carrying a dangerous weapon.

ALMOST HIT A CRUISER, FLED

On Dec. 23, at 7:25 p.m., a CPD officer stated his cruiser was almost hit by a black motor vehicle in Fay Square. He reported the vehicle fled onto Heard Street when the officer activated his blue lights. Other Chelsea Units were able to stop the car. The driver had no license to operate a motor vehicle and was placed under arrest.

Mark Cassidy, 28, of Quincy, was charged with marked lanes violation, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, failing to stop for police, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, stop sign violation, red light violation and speeding.

PoliceLog

Friday, 12/28

Charles Chafin, 55, 32 Tudor St., Chelsea, was arrested for shoplifting.

Saturday, 12/29

Edward DeSantis, 53, 12 Bates St., Revere, was arrested on warrants and operating motor vehicle with suspended license.

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