Albanese Upset Over Council’s Cut

Albanese Upset Over Council’s Cut

Saying he is disappointed with the Council’s posture toward the Fire Department during last week’s successful $100,000 budget cut to his department, Chief Len Albanese said the Council missed an opportunity to help bring the Department forward.

The Council, particularly Council President Damali Vidot, called for the cut and said the Fire Department overtime budget had requested an increase. She and others felt like that number – which in the past has been described as being abused – should be doing down.

Albanese said it wasn’t fair, and he said he Council hasn’t listened to his calls for an appropriate percentage of funding and more staffing.

“I’m disappointed with the cut that was made and the comments made by Council President Vidot,” he said. “This year we made budget. I told the Council that if they properly funded the Fire Department we would do our best to live within that range, and we delivered. We require no supplemental funding to finish the year.

“I have advocated for more staffing since my first month on the job,” he continued. “We have acquired both the staffing and apparatus to make that happen. Now, we need this additional staffing to translate into more boots on the ground daily. If the recent fire on John Street is not indication enough of that, I’m not sure what is. These major fires in our densely populated neighborhoods are a significant threat to our community. We need as much help as possible in the first 10 minutes of these fires to protect our neighborhoods.”

He said the John Street fire was one where they lucked out because had other calls been going, the staffing might not have been there to respond correctly.

“We are lucky that all of our apparatus was available at the time of that alarm and not tied up on other calls,” he said. “I assure you, the devastation would have been much worse. Twenty homeless could have been 100. We cannot count on luck. We need to be prepared with a reasonable amount of protection based on the threat that we face.”

In 2016, Albanese presented to the Council that the Fire Department budget is around 6.25 percent of the overall budget, and national standard indicate it should be between 6.5-7 percent based on the call volumes.

This year, they would be 6.25 percent and that represents less percentage-wise than in 2016.

“Our overall budget represents only 6.25 percent of the overall City Budget which is actually less percentage wise than we received in 2016,” he said. “Even when you consider that we will eventually take over the new hire salaries in full, we will still be between 6.5 and 6.75 percent of total budget, well within a reasonable and acceptable range.”

For his overtime request, he said he requested a 4 percent increase to the current year’s $1.25 million overtime budget. That, he said, is because salaries increased by 4 percent and so there would be less overtime coverage.

“It’s one thing to hold the line, but to cut our entire request, plus an additional $50,000 that we had this year makes no sense,” he said. “It’s like saying thanks but no thanks.”

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he believes the chief can make things work despite the cut.

“I was opposed to that cut,” he said. “I think the chief can make his overtime and salaries work. He has some open positions. There are three now…Hopefully he’ll make it and if he can’t, I’ll have to come to the council in the spring and ask for more money.”

Albanese said the cut won’t stop them from carrying out their plan, but it does no one any favors.

“The $100,000 cut will not keep us from continuing on our plan to increase daily staffing, but it doesn’t help,” he said. “With the amount of information we have provided the council, I think those members who voted to support this cut missed an opportunity to show their commitment to protecting our neighborhoods. The $100,000 is literally one-half of 1 percent of the City Budget, but it can translate into having an extra firefighter searching for a trapped occupant. To me, that’s money well spent.”

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Gerrish Street Gang Member Sentenced on Racketeering and Drug Trafficking

Gerrish Street Gang Member Sentenced on Racketeering and Drug Trafficking

An East Side Money Gang (ES$G) member was sentenced last week in federal court in Boston on racketeering and drug trafficking charges.

Henry Del Rio, a/k/a “Junior,” a/k/a “JR,” 21, of Chelsea, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to five years in prison and four years of supervised release. In February 2018, Del Rio pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, commonly known as RICO, one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine base, one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin, and one count of possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.

Del Rio is a self-admitted member of the ES$G, a Chelsea-based street gang, which uses violence to further its criminal activities and enforce its internal rules. Specifically, ES$G uses violence to protect its members/associates, target rival gang members/associates and intimidate potential witnesses. The ES$G is also involved in drug trafficking, including cocaine, cocaine base (a/k/a crack) and heroin in Chelsea and surrounding communities.

Del Rio conspired with other gang members and associates to distribute heroin and other drugs in Chelsea. Additionally, Del Rio sold a confidential informant a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun with an obliterated serial number and a 30-round, high-capacity magazine from Del Rio’s residence on Gerrish Street in Chelsea.   Del Rio is one of 53 defendants indicted in June 2016 on federal firearms and drug charges following an investigation into a network of street gangs that had created alliances to traffic weapons and drugs throughout Massachusetts and to generate violence against rival gang members. According to court documents, the defendants, who are leaders, members, and associates of the 18th Street Gang, East Side Money Gang and the Boylston Street Gang, were responsible for fueling a gun and drug pipeline across a number of cities and towns in eastern Massachusetts.

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Avellaneda, Traffic Commission Move to Protect Silver Line Stations

Avellaneda, Traffic Commission Move to Protect Silver Line Stations

The City has moved to protect the resident parking around the new Silver Line Stations and busy 111 bus stops, anticipating a rush of commuters that will look to capitalize on easy parking in the day and a fast bus into Boston.

The Traffic Commission in late May approved the plan to enforce the existing resident parking program during the day hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Typically, in most parts of Chelsea, the resident parking program is enforced at night from midnight to 5 a.m.

Some exceptions are near the Commuter Rail and near the Chelsea Court.

The City Council approved the plan last week, on June 4.

The idea came from Councilor Roy Avellaneda, who first began talking about it at Council in December.

He said this week that he was glad to see proactive action.

“We don’t want to see commuters coming from Everett, Malden and Revere driving over to Chelsea and parking all day long so they can take the Silver Line into Boston and park for free,” he said. “I’m glad they also decided to take the extra step of protecting the busier 111 bus routes too. This is a win for Chelsea residents.”

After suggested by Avellaneda, Planner Alex Train worked up the proposal and sent it to the Traffic Commission.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they will begin enforcing the ordinance soon after they relay information to residents, as residents will need to have information in the areas affected. Most residents already have resident stickers, but they may need to be aware to get placards for their visitors during the day hours.

That’s a major change from what is currently in effect.

Ambrosino said they plan to have a public meeting on June 21 to explain the program and give out information to those effected. He said he wants to make sure people have a chance to digest the information as there were no public meetings beyond the Traffic Commission.

The meeting will take place at Chelsea City Hall in the City Council Chambers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 21.

The areas effected for the Silver Line include:

  • Gerrish Avenue from Broadway to Highland;
  • Library Street, from Broadway to Highland;
  • Highland Street, from Marlborough to Box District Station;
  • Marlborough Street, from Broadway to Willow.

Those areas affected by the 111 bus stop protections are:

  • Washington Avenue, Bloomingdale to Heard St.;
  • Washington Avenue, Spruce to Jefferson;
  • Franklin Avenue – all;
  • County Road, from Washington to Basset;
  • Forsyth Street, from Washington to Franklin;
  • Gardner Street, from Washington to Parker Street.

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Apollinaire in the Park to Experiment with Salt, Landscape with ‘Midsummer’

Apollinaire in the Park to Experiment with Salt, Landscape with ‘Midsummer’

Known for its comedy, magic, and romance, Midsummer has a disturbing dark side too.

The play kicks off with an engagement forged in war, a father threatening death to his daughter, and an escape into the woods where the environment has been decimated by the force of a fairy feud.

“And thorough this distemperature we see the seasons alter… and the mazed world, By their increase, now knows not which is which.”

In these times of environmental destruction and climate change, it’s striking to see these concerns front and center in Midsummer. Only by setting aside their pride and desire to dominate can the inhabitants of the world of Midsummer (fairies and mortals both) create harmony and rebuild the world they want to live in.

The play begins and ends in the court of Athens, with those scenes staged in the park’s lush green waterfront “amphitheater,” but as the lovers flee the unjust justice of the court, they enter into a world destroyed by wind and flood where only salt remains.

This now barren landscape is being created by artist Marc Poirier as an extension of the massive salt piles looming next to the harbor below the Tobin Bridge. Marc’s company, Longleaf Lumber, has donated large timbers salvaged from the Hingham Naval Shipyard to construct a crib structure reflecting the

marine architecture of Boston Harbor’s piers and bridge abutments, which thanks to Eastern Salt will be filled with road salt to create this haunting world.

Marc Poirier began his career as a painter, and received his MFA in painting and sculpture from Columbia University School of the Arts.  He went on to found Longleaf Lumber, a Cambridge based reclaimed and antique lumber mill, and has recently merged his passions to create large scale site specific sculpture.  Most recently at Apollinaire he created the multi-level maze set for the production of Everyman, and the centerpiece bar in the new Black Box theater.  At over 5’ tall and 60’ across, with Midsummer he is taking his work to a much grander scale.

Sound Designer/Composer David Reiffel will be creating the sonic world with a full size upright piano mounted on the salt.  This is David’s 18th show with Apollinaire. His work has also been heard coast to coast from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to Boston’s SpeakEasy Stage. He recently won the Norton award for Outstanding Musical Direction. Lighting Designer Christopher Bocchiaro will be lighting the two worlds of the play and designer Susan Paino is creating the costumes.

One of Boston’s great comedic actors will take on one of dramatic literature’s great comedic roles.

Actor Brooks Reeves, who was widely recognized for his portrayal of Kulygin in this season’s Three Sisters (receiving both Norton and Irne nominations), stars in the role of Bottom. Brooks’s most recent Boston appearance was in dual roles in Love, Valor, Compassion, which DigBoston’s Christopher Ehlers recognized as “one of the best performances of the year.”

Audience members are encouraged to bring blankets and beach chairs, a picnic to enjoy along with the harbor views, and walking shoes for the 2 moves during the performance.

Performances are July 11-29, 2018 • Wed.-Sun. • 7:30 • Free!

PORT Park, 99 Marginal Street, on the Chelsea Waterfront.

Free parking is available on site.

Information/Directions:  www.apollinairetheatre.com or (617) 887-2336.

In case of rain, call (617) 887-2336 to check status.

Running Time apx. 1 hour 30 minutes, plus 2 short intermissions to change location.

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Temple Emmanuel, a Renaissance in Chelsea

Temple Emmanuel, a Renaissance in Chelsea

Chelsea was a thriving center of Jewish life during the last century.  Located just four miles northeast of downtown Boston, Chelsea had the densest concentration of Jews outside of New York City.  The Jewish immigrants to Chelsea established about two dozen orthodox synagogues and one conservative temple.  Temple Emmanuel was formed in the 1930s and continues with a dedicated congregation from the local area and across the US.

As a commitment to Temple Emmanuel and Chelsea, the members raised almost $100,000 and just completed an extensive renovation.  The sanctuary was built in the 1840s as a Methodist-Episcopal church with high ceilings and excellent sight lines to the ark.  In the 1950s the sanctuary, which seated almost 500, was often full for the high holidays.  We still attract crowds to our major functions.  A few years ago we mounted a Jews of Chelsea Exhibition that attracted more than 500 visitors.

The re-invigoration of Temple Emmanuel reflects a loyal membership and a dynamic tireless president, Sara Lee Saievetz Callahan.  Sara Lee learned effective leadership from her mother and grandmother, who were very active in the community including the Chelsea Soldiers Home and the Assumption Church.  Rabbi Oksana Chapman has been very creative in preserving some religious aspects of conservative traditions while adapting to embrace a diverse community.  For example, services now include a chorus and musicians; interfaith and same-sex weddings and congregants are celebrated.  The temple renovations include a large social hall and an updated kitchen, which can accommodate up to 135 for both religious and secular functions.

Chelsea is in the midst of a renaissance and is growing with the construction of government, commercial, and residential buildings plus a new transportation hub.  Temple Emmanuel welcomes new residents, those with roots in Chelsea, and anyone seeking a welcoming and warm environment (haimish in Yiddish).  We invite visitors and prospective members at any service or function.

Temple Emmanuel is throwing a party and invites you to celebrate our recent renovations and continued commitment to the renaissance of Chelsea.

Saturday evening

June 16, 2018

7-11 PM

Temple Emanuel

60 Tudor Street in Chelsea

Enjoy our food stations!

Dance and enjoy our entertainment!

View our exhibit: a century of Chelsea cultural life!

Just $100 per person, which includes two tickets for beer and wine. Call 617-889-1736 for more information.

Come see the preservation of Chelsea history.  The Temple Emmanuel building dates from the 1840s as a Methodist-Episcopal church with high ceilings, excellent sight lines, and solid elegant woodwork.

As a commitment to Temple Emmanuel and Chelsea, we raised almost $100,000 and are completing an extensive renovation.  We continue as enthusiastic supporters of our community by investing in the renewal of Chelsea.  Come see our progress and celebrate with us!

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Clark Ave’s Siriani Named Rotary Teacher of the Year

Clark Ave’s Siriani Named Rotary Teacher of the Year

It came as quite a surprise, but was much deserved, as Supt. Mary Bourque and Clark Avenue Middle School Principal Michael Talbot informed Clark Ave teacher Sally Siriani on May 31 that she was the Chelsea Rotary

Supt. Mary Bourque, Teacher of the Year Sally Siriani, and Clark Ave Principal Michael Talbot.

Teacher of the Year.

Siriani has spent 20 years in the district, all at the Clark Avenue Middle teaching math and science in grades 5 and 6.

“I love the kids,” she said. “I as born to do this. I put magnets on the refrigerator when I was little and pretended to grade homework papers. I played school all day. My friend Holly Correia, who now teaches in Revere, would always play school. We would take stuffed animals and put them in seats and play school all day long. I’m flattered and honored and shocked. It’s great to be recognized.”

Siriani grew up in Winthrop and attended Catholic Schools there, graduating from Winthrop High School in 1990. She attended Fitchburg State and then worked at the now-closed Assumption School in Chelsea. When it closed down, she was hired to be one of the first teachers in 1998 to come into the new Clark Avenue Middle School.

Previously, the building was used as Chelsea High School.

Current Supt. Mary Bourque was the assistant principal at the time and said that Siriani was the backbone of the school.

“Personally, I know Ms. Siriani from our early days at the Clark Avenue School and her deep devotion to providing the highest quality education for all students,” said Bourque. “I also remember the days when a new school was but a conversation for us all. Ms. Siriani has lived through another Clark Avenue Middle School milestone – construction – and is now teaching  a new generation of students in the new building that we used to only dream about in 1998.”

Principal Talbot said her strength is building relationships with her students.

“She collaborates with the other Math teacher at her grade level in order to best meet the needs of all of her students,” he said. “She regularly uses pre-assessments to see where the gaps are and flexibly groups her students in differentiated activities in order to help them with the mastery of the skills that are required. She also asks students to self-assess themselves, set realistic and challenging goals, and then plans thoughtful learning activities for all of her students.  She works incredibly hard on behalf of her students and she is able to build strong relationships with her students, as evidenced by so many coming back to see her each year.”

Siriani was to be honored at the Rotary Lunch on Tuesday, June 5.

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Chelsea High Class of 2018 will Graduate this Sunday

Chelsea High Class of 2018 will Graduate this Sunday

The Chelsea High School Class of 2018 will hold its Commencement Ceremonies Sunday at 1 p.m. at the high school.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Bourque will address the large gathering and offer her official congratulations to the graduates.

City Manager Thomas Ambrosino and School Committee Chairperson Jeanette Velez will also be part of the ceremony.

Former CHS director of athletics Frank DePatto said he is looking forward to attending the ceremony for the first time in his capacity as a member of the School Committee.

“I know this class very well and they are an accomplished group academically and athletically,” said DePatto. “I look forward to being present as our graduates attain this important milestone in their lives. Graduation represents the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another. I wish the graduates continued success as they move on to college, the military, and the work force.”

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City Expected to Begin Design on Beacham Street in July

City Expected to Begin Design on Beacham Street in July

The City will begin design of a major rehabilitation of Beacham Street in the New England Produce Center area from Spruce Street to the Everett line, said City Planner Alex Train.

That comes due to the fact that the City was just recently awarded an unexpected $3 million grant for the project from the federal Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

Train said the City has proposed a $5 million capital investment in the project for the Fiscal Year 2020 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), giving them $8 million total to complete the project.

He said they will begin as soon as they can.

“We are excited to get this started,” said Train. “We are scheduled to start design and engineering on July 1. We will hopefully break ground on construction July 1, 2019. I expect there would be a three-year construction timeline. During that time and before, we will be coordinating with abutters, residents and businesses.”

The plan includes completely repurposing the roadway from a predominantly industrial truck route to a major automobile/pedestrian/cyclist east-west corridor throughway.

That will mean it will get a new surface, a new roadway, a new sidewalk on one side, a shared-use path on the southerly side with a buffered bike/pedestrian path, stormwater/drainage improvements, new lighting, new street trees, new signals at the intersection of Spruce and Williams Streets.

In addition, Train said they are working with the City of Everett to coordinate the design so that the Everett project matches the Chelsea project.

“They will be mimicking our design so there will be a contiguous and similar cyclable and walkable roadway from Chelsea to Everett,” he said.

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Residency Ordinance for Police, Fire Hires Holds Firm at Council

Residency Ordinance for Police, Fire Hires Holds Firm at Council

A last ditch effort by Councillor Roy Avellaneda to reverse the new police and fire residency ordinance successfully passed by Councillor Giovanni Recupero failed on Monday night, June 4, in a close vote.

It represented seven years of twists and turns for Recupero’s number one issue and one that has been before the Council in several forms about a dozen times.

On Monday, the victory came in a narrow defeat of Avellaneda’s proposal, 5-6, which allowed the proposal to become the new law.

Those voting to keep the residency ordinance were Councillors Damali Vidot, Enio Lopez, Bob Bishop, Luis Tejada, Joe Perlatonda and Recupero – a one vote margin of victory.

Those voting to reconsider and repeal the ordinance were Councillors Yamir Rodriguez, Calvin Brown, Avellaneda, Leo Robinson and Judith Garcia.

“This is a good thing,” said Recupero. “It’s something the citizens of Chelsea wanted and I’ve fought for it for seven years solid. Now the councillors wanted it too. I think it’s good for the City and for the people. The police and fire can live in the neighborhood and understand the people and the people can understand them and respect them. The young men and women of the city will relate to them because they live in the same community.”

The matter will apply to anyone hired in the Police or Fire Department after July 31, 2018. It will require them to live in Chelsea for five years after starting on the job. After five years, they can move out of the city if they choose.

The negative came in that to get the measure, it had to become a collective bargaining issue. That meant that the entire Police and Fire Departments would get a raise in order to include the new condition in their contracts. Even those for whom the measure doesn’t apply will get additional pay to accept the new condition.

“Hey, it’s good for those on the department too,” said Recupero. “They’re all going to get a raise, but we’re going to get new officers that want to live in Chelsea.”

Councillor Leo Robinson said he was against the measure because of the cost. He said he was once in favor of residency, but that changed when he learned about the collective bargaining costs.

“The bottom line is you have 40 police living in the city and 26 firefighters right now,” he said. “ When we have to go and negotiate with the union that means 110 police and 96 firefighters get raises. That’s $200,000 we’ll have to give them. I think it’s foolish to do. They think it’s a great thing. You have Bob Bishop voting against the budget because he says it out of control and then he votes for this without knowing what it costs.”

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New and Improved Chelsea Art Walk Ready to Premiere This Weekend

New and Improved Chelsea Art Walk Ready to Premiere This Weekend

The Chelsea Art Walk has re-booted and will host multiple events this summer under the Art Walk banner instead of having one big day, said coordinator Joe Greene.

The first event this year will take place this Saturday and Sunday, June 9 and 10, from noon-6 p.m.

The first event will be titled ‘Playing in the Garden’ and will be focused at the Chelsea Community Garden, 130 Ellsworth St., and will also feature a Pop Up Art Show at the Pearl Street Gallery, 100 Pearl St. – which is only a few blocks from the Garden. (open between 2-6 p.m.)

“Instead of having everything on one weekend, we have decided to spread it out,” Greene said. “A lot of our members work the event. So, the 20 or 30 working the garden wouldn’t get to see the play and the people at the music show can’t go to the gallery. It also takes the pressure off having to get everything done at once.”

Greene said they have a manager who has been hired to coordinate the re-booted event, Angelina McCoy and two new folks at the Garden helping too – the Gaspar family.

Meanwhile, Dan Cortez will be coordinating the music and theatrical event, which will be titled Fiesta Verano and will take place later, on June 23.

“We did things all at once for eight or nine years and it worked great, but it was really difficult,” Greene said. “If someone worked at the event, they missed all of it. So, we have repositioned it.”

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