Lime Bike Rental Program Hopes to Unveil Electric Situation in Chelsea

Lime Bike Rental Program Hopes to Unveil Electric Situation in Chelsea

When the Lime Bike rental program returns to the streets of Chelsea this spring, riders might notice a little extra oomph in their ride.

Chelsea took part in a program with Lime Bike, along with 16 neighboring communities, last year. Council President Damali Vidot said the bike rentals will be up and running again this year.

However, there will be a difference this year, as Lime is unveiling electric-assisted bicycles throughout the region.

Because electric bicycles are currently not allowed in Chelsea, Vidot has introduced an ordinance to the City Council that would allow for the vehicles as long as they do not travel faster than 15 miles per hour.

“Since the late Summer of 2017, the City of Chelsea has been experimenting with dockless bikes, initially as a pilot with the company Ofo and then, last year, as part of a regional Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) contract with Lime Bike,” City Manager Tom Ambrosino stated in a letter to the Council. “Notwithstanding some minor complaints, I believe the experiment has been successful.”

Last year, more than 4,000 people used the dockless bikes in Chelsea, taking almost 20,000 separate trips, according to the city manager.

“The City would like to continue this dockless bike program in 2019,” stated Ambrosino. “However, there has been a change in the marketplace for dockless bikes. All the companies in this arena are moving away from pedal powered bikes to electric assisted bikes, including Lime Bike.”

To continue with the regional effort with Lime and allow the bikes in Chelsea, the City will have to change the current ordinance that prohibits the vehicles.

“Over the past month, we have explored the options of replacing Lime Bike with another company that might offer dockless pedal only bikes, but no operator is interested in the restriction,” Ambrosino said.

While the change in the ordinance would allow for the electric-assisted bicycles, Ambrosino said there are no plans in the works to allow for electric scooters to operate on public streets.

“I am just alerting the Council that the use of such scooters may soon become ubiquitous in surrounding communities,” he stated.

Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda said he’s looking forward to the transportation upgrade.

“I’m looking forward to them,” he said. “I took a practice ride, and it was quite fun.”

•In other transportation-related news, Ambrosino told the City Council it should keep the future appearance of autonomous vehicles in the back of its mind.

“Right now, testing of such vehicles is underway in Boston and other communities,” he said.

As with the electric-assisted bicycles, the Council would have to adjust its ordinances to allow for autonomous, self-driving vehicles. A MassDOT and MAPC agreement could allow for a pilot route for the vehicles in the Industrial District.

“It is likely to be some time before autonomous vehicles actually appear on this pilot route,” Ambrosino said. “Again, such testing cannot occur until the City has given express permission. However, I just wanted to give the Council notice that this transportation innovation is moving forward and may someday make its way to Chelsea.”

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Late Winter Storm

Late Winter Storm

Bob Doherty used his snow blower to clear the sidewalks in front of his Chelsea home on Monday morning. A late winter storm dumped between 10 and 11 inches of snow on Chelsea Sunday night – leaving a winter wonderland for residents to wake up to on Monday.

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Corcoran, Residents Sign Letters of Assurance for Return

Corcoran, Residents Sign  Letters of Assurance for Return

In a move to show that they are committed to keeping residents in their homes, the Corcoran company and Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) have been signing Letters of Assurance with residents to legally ensure they can return to their unit after it is redeveloped into a new mixed-income community.

“We started signing those with residents about two weeks ago,” said CHA Director Al Ewing. “We wanted everyone to see that there is a commitment from us.”

Added Sean McReynolds of Corcoran, “It was important for us the residents see we’re committed to having them return. That is something that is usually done much further down the line. We wanted to do it now anyway so people felt confident that commitment is there.”

Melissa Booth of the Innes Residents Association (IRA) said many residents are relieved by the Letter, and the Association has been passing it around in English and Spanish to get as many residents signed as possible.

“They’re very relieved because the suspicion is the developers would go in and move the families and not let them back in,” she said. “We’ve been working really hard and trying to reassure everyone. No one wants to leave the place that they’ve been living so long.”

The document, signed by all parties, is about three pages long and clearly spells out what the residents will be entitled to when they return.

“JJC Co. and CHA assure that all Innes residents who are required to move for the redevelopment project will have the right to return to a newly constructed unit in the redeveloped Innes Apartments,” read the letter.

The two exceptions are if a household has been evicted before returning for serious offense, or if they have a large unit and state rules require them to go into a smaller unit than is available.

Also, it spells out that they will have the same units as the market rate residents.

“These newly constructed affordable housing units will be intermixed with market-rate units,” it read. “All units will be interchangeable with the same quality in all apartments including finishes and appliances such as washers and dryers.”

Both said they hope to have everyone signed as soon as possible as an act of good faith to residents and the community.

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Council President Says She Will Bring Back Non-citizen Voting Measure

Council President Says She Will Bring Back Non-citizen Voting Measure

A small order on the Feb. 25 Council agenda likely didn’t attract a lot of attention at the regular meeting, but Council President Damali Vidot said she had hoped it could have sparked a conversation.

That measure, which she introduced, revolved around looking at the possibility of allowing non-citizens that are here legally to vote in municipal elections.

Instead, she said, she was greeted with silence – and a ‘no’ vote.

“We have people invested in our community, who own homes, have kids in the schools and own businesses, but because they are citizens, they can’t vote in our elections,” she said. “Why not have a conversation about allowing them to vote? The fact my colleagues didn’t want to at least have a conversation is a travesty.”

The roll call consisted of a 5-6 defeated vote, with Vidot and Councillors Judith Garcia, Yamir Rodriguez, Enio Lopez and Giovanni Recupero agreeing to begin talking about it.

Those voting against were Councillor Roy Avellaneda, Calvin Brown, Joe Perlatonda, Luis Tejada, Leo Robinson and Bob Bishop.

Vidot said she fully intends to bring the matter back in 90 days.

“I don’t understand why we couldn’t entertain this, to allow people to be part of the civic process,” she said. “At the minimum, I thought we could have a conversation. If I had known there would be this reaction from my colleagues, I would have organized before. I have every intention of bringing it back again in 90 days. We can’t be in the habit of saying ‘no’ without talking about it.”

Other cities in Massachusetts have voted to allow non-citizens to vote, including Cambridge and Brookline. Such a petition by the Council would require a home rule petition by the State Legislature. It would also require legislative action by the State House as well.

The measure in Chelsea would not allow non-citizens to vote in state or federal elections.

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CAPIC’s Fuel Assistance Program Provides a Vital Service to Residents

CAPIC’s Fuel Assistance Program  Provides a Vital Service to Residents

Under the leadership of Executive Director Robert Reppucci, Community Action Programs Inter City (CAPIC) has been a national model in addressing the needs of low-income families in Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop.

CAPIC’s fuel assistance program has been one of its most utilized services, aiding more than 2,700 residents in the three communities.

Since his appointment last July as energy director, Giancarlo DeSario has overseen the program that is in its sixth decade of existence. The recent addition of well-known Chelsea community leader Henry Wilson as an outreach coordinator has also helped expande the program and bring recognition to the valuable services CAPIC provides in many areas.

DeSario explained the process by which residents can apply for fuel assistance.

“If someone finds themselves in need – whether they’re a tenant, homeowner, family or single person – they should call the CAPIC fuel assistance line to set up an appointment,” said DeSario. “We would conduct an interview with the individual and review all their paperwork. We’ll let them know if we need additional information and then we’ll process their application in about 30-45 days.”

Candidates for fuel assistance must meet some income guidelines.

“In order to qualify for fuel assistance, you need to be at 60 per cent of the state median income, which for a single person would be $35,510; for a family of four people, it would be $68,280,” said DeSario.

CAPIC’s program covers heating expenses between the months of November and April.

According to DeSario, the fuel assistance program is funded through federal and state grants. CAPIC is currently waiting for a supplemental budget to be approved by the state.

“What we’re looking for is $30 million extra dollars in funding to help out with this heating season, but we’re looking closer to receiving $11 million,” said DeSario. He indicated that CAPIC has been working with Chelsea’s state legislators to secure additional funding.

DeSario has made a point during his tenure to “get out in the field” and meet individual clients. He has earned praise for his accessibility.

“I’m always available – I hand out my direct extension to clients all the time,” said DeSario. “I find it’s really important that if you’re going to serve clients correctly, you have to be in touch with them and understand their needs.”

DeSario has local roots

Giancarlo DeSario grew up in Maine, but he has always had local connections. “I’ve been coming to East Boston since I was a child. My mother (Yolanda DeSario) moved here from Italy when she was 10 years old. And my grandmother (Maria Caserta) has been living in East Boston for 50 years.”

DeSario attended high school in Maine and graduated from Roger Williams University where he studied Business and Legal Studies.

He began his career in woodworking and was promoted to the position of project manager, working with clients in Manhattan and Long Island, New York.

From there, DeSario entered the solar industry as a district site surveyor and rose through the company to become operations manager, overseeing several projects throughout the New England region.

DeSario came to CAPIC last July. “I saw a position was open and I applied for it. I was ready to go back to my old job when I got a call from Executive Director Robert Repucci, requesting that I come in for an interview.”

Like the entire staff at CAPIC and residents throughout the area, DeSario has come to appreciate Repucci’s exceptional leadership of the agency. Repucci arrived at CAPIC in 1972 and has been of Chelsea’s most influential and revered leaders.

“Mr. Repucci is an outstanding leader of CAPIC and in the community as a whole,” said DeSario. “He really pushes you to be a better person. He’s inspiring. He wants you to put people ahead of yourself, and you can tell, because he does that. He leads by example and I respect that about him.”

DeSario has also been impressed by the dedicated and knowledgeable staff at CAPIC.

“I was fortunate to come in to an agency where we have some really key players who know the programs in and out,” said DeSario. “The transition in to this industry was tough, because you don’t know it – but I was lucky to have a very good support group here to help out. They really care about the programs succeeding.”

DeSario said he finds his job rewarding and he appreciates the kind words from clients.

“There is nothing better than when we get a letter (of gratitude) or a phone call from a client who had no heat and we were able to restore a heating system that went out overnight, replace a heating system with a new one, or weatherize someone’s home,” said DeSario.

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Chelsea Collaborative Creating Pathways to Rewarding Encore Boston Harbor Careers

Chelsea Collaborative Creating Pathways  to Rewarding Encore Boston Harbor Careers

Chelsea Collaborative staff members are busy helping residents prepare for rewarding career opportunities at Encore Boston Harbor, slated to open in Everett this June. Encore Boston Harbor, the first five-star urban gaming resort in the U.S, plans to hire over 5,000 workers for a range of rewarding hospitality careers. For more information, visit encorebostonjobs.com.

More than 175 career-seekers participated in workshops in recent weeks alone on resume writing and how to create a Skillsmart profile. Skillsmart is a portal that helps match peoples’ interests with positions at Encore Boston Harbor. “We are proud to create pathways to better paying positions, so our residents can achieve better economic mobility, and don’t have to work two jobs just to make ends meet for them and their families,” said Sylvia Ramirez, Workforce Development Manager at Chelsea Collaborative.

Chelsea Collaborative is part of Encore Boston Harbor’s community action network. Encore Boston Harbor is committing $10 million over the next four years to support a wide range of social programs and civic institutions that will help those in need and improve the lives of residents in local communities.

Chelsea Collaborative is leading the Chelsea 500 coalition, which mission is to engage the City, businesses, and local non-profits to create a workforce pipeline so that 500+ residents can gain the skills and support necessary to apply for positions at Encore Boston Harbor. While Chelsea 500 capitalizes on the casino opening, its longer- term ambition is to build local workforce development capacity to improve Chelsea residents’ odds of securing employment in the near term, and to work with industry leaders to help diversify the employment options. Members of the coalition include City of Chelsea, Chelsea Collaborative, TND/Connect, Chelsea Housing Authority, Chelsea Recreation and Cultural Affairs Division, Bunker Hill Community College, Casino Action Network.

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Three Chelsea Jewish Residences Awarded CMS Five-Star Rating

Three Chelsea Jewish Residences Awarded CMS Five-Star Rating

For the second consecutive year, three Chelsea Jewish Lifecare (CJL) skilled nursing facilities have received the prestigious Five-Star Quality Rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

This designation reflects the highest number of stars allotted to a skilled nursing facility. Currently, there are a select number of nursing homes that have been awarded this distinction.

“We are pleased that all our skilled nursing residences have once again been recognized as being among the top nursing homes not only in Massachusetts, but throughout the country,” states Chelsea Jewish Lifecare President Adam Berman. “Earning this Five-Star designation is a testament to our skilled and compassionate staff, our strong commitment to excellence and our dedication as an organization to provide the highest caliber of care possible.”

The CJL homes include the Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home in Chelsea; the Jeffrey and Susan Brudnick Center for Living in Peabody; the Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, which is the country’s first urban model Green House skilled nursing facility.

These residences offer both short-term rehabilitation services as well as long-term comprehensive care.

To receive a five-star rating, nursing homes are judged by three components. Health inspections are one means of evaluating a residence. The rating is based upon information from the last three years of onsite inspections, including both standard surveys and complaint surveys. Secondly, a rating is given based upon staffing, which details information about the number of hours of care provided on average to each resident each day by nursing staff and other healthcare providers. The final category involves quality measures, which includes data on how well nursing homes are caring for their residents’ physical and clinical needs.

Today the five-star rating system has become a critical tool for the public to measure the quality and performance of a skilled nursing facility. Nursing homes with five stars are considered well above average quality.

Adds CJL’s Berman, “In reality, we work very hard, day in and day out, to achieve and maintain these five-star ratings. We are so proud of our staff at each of the three residences.”

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Chelsea Chamber Joins in Tribute to Joanne Tarason

Chelsea  Chamber Joins in Tribute to  Joanne Tarason

Members of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce joined local residents in paying tribute to well-known local businesswoman and Chamber board member Joanne Tarason at observances this week.

Mrs. Tarason Washington Ave., died unexpectedly on Feb. 19. She was the owner of Coprico Printing, 40 Washington Ave., for many years.

Susan Gallant, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, said the local business organization could always count on Mrs. Tarason to help out at events.

“Whether it was making a donation or helping the Chamber with the great work they do at the printing business, she was always really accommodating and very generous with her support,” said Gallant. “She was a great, hard-working lady. We will all greatly miss her.”

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Clark Avenue Middle to be Named After Legendary Morrie Siegel

Clark Avenue Middle to be Named After Legendary Morrie Siegel

By Seth Daniel and Laura Plummer

The City Council and the School Committee have voted to name the new Clark Avenue Middle School after long-time School Committeeman and former Williams School Principal Morris ‘Morrie’ Seigel.

At Monday night’s City Council meeting, the matter was brought up for a vote on a request forwarded from the School Committee – who had voted to approve the move.

The late Morrie Seigel pictured here in May 2013 when he served as the Chief Marshal of the Memorial Day Girl Scout Parade. The new Clark Avenue Middle School has been named after him.

The Council voted unanimously on the proposal by City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to dedicate the Clark Avenue Middle School to the late educator and community member. It will now be known as the Morris H. Seigel Clark Avenue Middle School.

City Council members spoke fondly about Seigal.

“Mr. Seigal was not only a wonderful person for the city of Chelsea, he was a great gentleman,” said Councilman Calvin Brown. “When he wasn’t in his professional attire, he had his Chelsea jacket on, his Chelsea hat on, displaying his pride.”

Said Councillor Giovanni Recupero, “There’s only one [way] to describe Mr. Seigal–great person. If anyone deserves this, it’s Mr. Seigal. He was the teacher of my kids for many years. For 40 years, I knew the gentleman and he was a very nice person.”

Seigel was an educator in the City and served as the principal of the Williams School. He was a School Committeeman for 29 years, and a youth leader at the Chelsea YMHA.

In 2013, as a noted veteran, he was the Chief Marshal of the Memorial Day Girl Scout Parade.

He passed away in October 2013.

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