ELC Put on Lockdown Wednesday as Shots Fired Outside

ELC Put on Lockdown Wednesday as Shots Fired Outside

The John Silber Early Learning Center, or Shurtleff School, was put on a heavy lockdown Wednesday afternoon after police responded to shots fired on Congress Avenue.

There were no injuries as a result of the incident.

At 1:30 p.m., the ShotSpotter system triggered at 101 Congress Ave. near the school. Police discovered one man in the area who was hiding shortly after the incident. He was found to have a replica firearm on him and was taken into custody. However, later, witnesses said he had not been the shooter, but rather the intended victim.

Chelsea Police are looking for additional suspects.

Police were stationed at the school during the lockdown, and things were soon restored to normal. School was released by 2:30 p.m.

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Mystic Brewery Named ‘Best of Boston’ Breweries

Mystic Brewery Named ‘Best of Boston’ Breweries

Boston Magazine announced this week that the Mystic Brewery on Williams Street was named the Best of Boston brewery, joining stalwart former winners like Night Shift Brewery and Jack’s Abbey.

The annual Best of Boston edition hit the newsstands last week, and 2018 marks the 45th anniversary of the awards. For the past 12 months, Boston magazine’s team of expert judges ate, drank, and shopped their way across the city, the ‘burbs, the Cape, and the Islands to find the very best the area has to offer.

When it came to the best brewery in the area, the magazine landed in Chelsea.

“We are thrilled and humbled to have scored Best Brewery in Boston Magazine’s annual Best of Boston lineup,” read a statement from Mystic this week. “This puts us in some mighty fine company alongside Night Shift Brewing, Jack’s Abby, and Trillium Brewing Company. To say we’re flattered is an understatement. Thanks to Boston Magazine and you all for this honor.”

Mystic Brewery has been located in Chelsea for nearly 10 years on Williams Street.

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Major Recycler Cheering Plastic Bag Bans, Including Chelsea’s Potential One

Major Recycler Cheering Plastic Bag Bans, Including Chelsea’s Potential One

One of the largest recycling plants in the nation, Casella Waste in Charlestown, is hailing the recent spate of plastic bag bans in the area, including the discussions happening right now in Chelsea about a potential ban.

Casella handles about 200,000 tons of recycling per year and is the number one plant in Greater Boston – and a top five plant in the U.S. They handle all of the recycling for Chelsea, but one thing they hope is that the City might follow Boston in banning plastic bags – known in the industry as Low Density Poly-Ethylene (LDPEs).

“By far, plastic bag getting into the facility are the number one contaminants in single-stream recycling,” said Bob Cappadona of Casella. “By themselves, they are a very recyclable product. However, there just isn’t any market for the product. Second, with everything else, they get caught up in our machinery and cause us a lot of problems. If they come into our facility and get past our pre-sorters, they tend to get wrapped up in our disk screens and they wrap around them and cause stoppages.”

He said when bags get caught up in the disk screen machinery – which separates plastic jugs from paper/fibre products – the only way to remove them is the old fashioned way:  with a razor blade.

“There are so many that get in there that at lunch or at break time we have to keep two or three people there to clean the disk screens of plastic bags,” he said. “Every three or four hours we have to go in and clean it up.”

Cappadona said he doesn’t want to malign plastic bags because they are a good recycled product on their own, if people were to take them back to the grocery store as directed.

However, many people throw them in the recycling, many times because they don’t know. On its face, it looks like something that could be recycled in the traditional curbside barrels. However, it is one plastic item that isn’t accepted, but routinely gets in the stream.

In Chelsea, Russell Disposal picks up all the recycling on the curb, and from there, they take it to Casella on Rutherford Avenue, behind Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown.

Once there, that’s when problems come.

“They are a good recycling product on their own, but when they get here with everything else, they are a contaminant,” he said.

In terms of the ban that will go into effect in Boston, Cappadona said they aren’t really preparing, but they are excited about it. And they hope others might follow suit to make their recycling product purer.

The Chelsea City Council has been exploring the idea of a ban for the last month, with two meetings so far on the issue. While many are calling for a ban to prevent litter and for environmental reasons, businesses in the area are concerned about the increasing cost burden it will put on them to use alternative bags that are more expensive.

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Council Votes to Approve Acquisition of Spencer Triangle

Council Votes to Approve Acquisition of Spencer Triangle

By Seth Daniel

The City Council approved a $90,000 expenditure to buy the triangle piece of land on the Spencer Avenue Extension that has served for parking over the years, but actually was never owned by the City.

The small piece of land abuts Webster Avenue and is used by residents for parking and also for parents picking up kids from the Burke Elementary Complex. It was formerly owned by the French Club, but was purchased by The Neighborhood Developers (TND) when it began pursuing the affordable housing project on that site.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino requested that the Council purchase the land so that it could be used for parking and open space rather than be used for private purposes.

Councillor Matt Frank said the land has been used publicly, but was never owned by the City. He said it is a critical piece of land for neighbors in the area and for those picking up school children.

“If we don’t own the land, someone else will control the land and we can’t tell a private owner to let people park there,” he said. “Voting for this is getting control of that land. That land was never owned by the City. It will now lawfully be owned by the City and we can do with it what the neighborhood would like.”

The money was appropriated from the Urban Renewal Fund, and was approved 10-0.

When introduced a few weeks ago, some councillors grumbled at the steep price for such a small piece of land. However, those concerns were mitigated by Monday night.

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The Boston Harbor Clean-Up:An Environmental — and Economic — Success Story

The Boston Harbor Clean-Up:An Environmental — and Economic — Success Story

A recent report issued by the public interest group Save the Harbor/Save the Bay informs us that the beaches surrounding the Metropolitan Boston area were open for bathing 96 percent of the time during the summer of 2016 and that, barring unforeseen circumstances, the outlook should be the same for 2017.

This is quite an accomplishment, given that a generation ago, beaches in the Boston area were closed more often than not — and even when open, our beaches were not exactly inviting to swimmers and other recreational users.

We ourselves recall sailing in Boston Harbor in the 1980s and being unable to find a clean place to take a dip off our boat — and that included the outer harbor waters around the Brewster islands. There was no escape from the sliminess (for want of a better word) that essentially made the waters of Boston Harbor nothing more than a giant cesspool.

It certainly is true that the clean-up of Boston Harbor came at great expense to the ratepayers of the MWRA and surrounding sewer districts. Water and sewer rates skyrocketed on an annual basis for the 15 years of the construction phase and immediate aftermath of the construction of the MWRA’s treatment plant on Deer Island.

However, as with everything else in life, you get what you pay — there is no such thing as a free lunch, as the saying goes — so while the sudden shock of rising water & sewer rates caused some degree of hardship for some ratepayers, the bottom line is that all of us in this area had taken for granted the cheap water & sewer rates we had known for our entire lives — as well as where our water came from and where it drained out to — with no concern about the consequences of what we were doing to Boston Harbor, the greatest natural resource in our area, every time we flushed our toilets.

Moreover, as with many things when it comes to government fees and taxes, most ratepayers only looked at one side of the cost equation.  We did not recognize that not only were there economic drawbacks associated with creating a polluted harbor, but that there were huge economic gains to be derived from making an investment in cleaning it up.

The magnificent and clean harbor that we have now, which admittedly was achieved at great expense, has been an economic engine for the entire area, creating jobs and adding immensely to property values not only along the immediate coast, but throughout Greater Boston, that have benefited every ratepayer.

So as we look forward to the coming summer of 2017, we can be grateful that we have a clean Boston Harbor to enjoy with our friends and families. In the 30-plus years since the MWRA has come into existence, the advantages, economic and otherwise, of achieving a sparkling Boston Harbor have extended far beyond merely being able to enjoy a swim on a hot summer’s day (which, in our view, is priceless)

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Traffic Counters Up

Several City video traffic counting machines have been spotted in the area of East Berkeley Street and Harrison Avenue and Washington Street.

The area has been the target of major complaints about traffic from Old Dover Neighborhood Association, and it is also the site for a pilot program to bring in a completely redesigned streetscape that is to be bid out this month by the Boston Transportation Department.

Nevertheless, the counters certainly signal the beginnings of a traffic study for the area, something that’s been requested for a long time.

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Re-Zoning Effort to Begin for Admiral’s Hill as Moratorium Put in Place

By Seth Daniel

Admiral’s Hill has long been a protected area, but when a now-defunct major development was proposed last year for an open area on the Hill, City officials said they quickly realized the Hill’s protections had expired.

In July, at the recommendation of City Manager Tom Ambrosino and the Chelsea Planning Department, the City Council heard a proposal for a two-year moratorium on all development in the Admiral’s Hill area – more officially known as the Chelsea Naval Hospital Overlay District.

The development proposal, which never really hit City Hall or the public airwaves and is no longer being proposed, started the wheels of government working, amidst a lot of neighborhood concern, and in that process it was discovered that an old Admiral’s Hill Land Development Agreement (LDA) had expired.

With the project now gone and the moratorium proposed, the City is looking to institute an interim overlay district that will allow them to thoroughly catalog all of the parcels on the Hill and look to some new zoning suggestions there to replace the expired LDA.

“The proposal is part of the Zoning Amendment package currently before the City Council,” said Ambrosino. “Basically, we will put a freeze on development in this area for a short period, no longer than 24 months, while we get a consultant and figure out a better zoning for the area. In some sense, it was precipitated when we heard about a large project proposed up there. We realized at that time that our zoning in the area was no longer adequate.”

Council President Dan Cortell, who represents the Hill, said he supports the initiative.

“I think it is proper to slow things up while rules are put in place,” he said. “That will allow the City time to work carefully and thoughtfully before they move on.”

The zoning effort will have benchmarks included within it and timelines.

Within six months, the City and its consultant will have to have mapped the existing uses, the ownership, zoning and identify all uses there. Within nine months, the City and the consultant will have established re-zoning land use objectives, desired densities and uses. City hearings for any proposed changes are to be completed by 18 months, and the interim overlay district will dissolve automatically in 24 months.

“The existing underlying Naval Hospital Residential (NHR) zoning was created for the purpose to redevelop a portion of the former naval hospital site for residential purposes,” read the City’s zoning proposal to the Council. “The existing underlying Naval Hospital Commercial (NHC) zoning was created for the purpose to redevelop a portion of the formal naval hospital site for office uses, recreational uses, and related purposes. The NHR and NHC districts have undergone significant large scale development since their inception in an unplanned manner on a significant amount of space in both districts. The purpose of [the interim overlay district] is to develop guidelines that help aide in the siting of future large scale development so as to not encroach on existing development and open space.”

That said, Cortell indicated he wouldn’t be completely surprised if the study yields the conclusion that there isn’t much left to develop on Admiral’s Hill.

“It would not surprise me if we came out of this two years and said there’s little or nothing up here developable – at least on a large scale,” he said. “There might not be any buildable land with 200, 150, 75 or even 30 units in a building. There may be nothing up here. That may be ended with the Jefferson, which was the last major one up here.”

The Council will reconvene in September, and on the top of their to-do list, will be to consider many of the zoning changes submitted in June by Ambrosino – including the Admiral’s Hill re-zoning effort.

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Police Briefs 08-25-2016

ARMED ROBBER ARRESTED VIA VIDEO

On August 19, at approximately 11:30 p.m., Chelsea officers reviewed city camera surveillance video in an attempt to identify the male suspect involved in an Armed Robbery that took place at approximately 10:50 p.m. in the area of Central Avenue. Officers observed a subject that was in the video.

A CPD officer identified the subject.

A short time later the subject was located and placed under arrest and charged with armed robbery.

Elvin Hernandez, 34, of Everett, was charged with armed robbery with a firearm, assault with a dangerous weapon, receiving stolen property under $250 and possession of a Class E drug.

DAY IN THE PARK…

On Friday, Aug. 19, at 1:30 p.m., an officer assigned to Route 12 was flagged down by a male party for a report of an armed robbery. The victim stated the person that robbed him at knife point earlier in the morning on Grove Street was sitting at a park on Bellingham Street.

The reporting party responded to the area and positively identified the person that robbed him. The subject was placed under arrest on scene.

Michael Concepcion, 23, of 75 Franklin Ave., was charged with armed robbery and assault with a dangerous weapon.

DRUG ARREST BY DETECTIVES

On Aug. 16, members of the Chelsea Police Drug Unit were conducting surveillance in the area of Bellingham Square. At approximately 11:30 a.m. they observed a male approach two females on Fourth Street towards Chestnut. One female was known to the officers as a self-admitted drug user. The other female was later identified at the time of arrest.

Detectives followed the three to the area of 192 Chestnut St. Officers at that time witnessed what they believed to be a drug transaction involving the three. At that time the three were placed into custody. Narcotics were seized at the time of arrest.

William King, 37, of Boston, and Valerie Belloise, 31, of Revere, were charged with conspiracy, possession of a Class B drug and trespassing.

Jayme Spinelli, 21, of Everett, was charged with possession of a Class B drug, conspiracy, and two warrants.

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CPD Arrest Seven,Seize 900 Grams of Heroin in Morning Raid

As the result of a several month drug investigation resulting from several sources including concerned Chelsea residents, the Chelsea Police Department (CPD) along with MAGNET (Mutual Aid Gang Narcotic Enforcement Teams) arrested seven individuals and executed two simultaneous search warrants within one city block in the Prattville area resulting in seizure of over 900 grams heroin and multiple grams of Cocaine and or Crack.

In the Tuesday morning raids, Police also seized $10,000 cash during the execution of the search warrants at 46 Hancock St. and 55 Union St. in Chelsea.

Drug Control Officers developed information that those arrested had been operating in the area conducting drug sales from the two locations and also used the addresses as bases of operations to travel to neighboring jurisdictions selling narcotics. Those arrested are believed to be Dominican Republic Nationals. Some of those arrested provided the police with false identification and their identities were only confirmed after computer fingerprint analysis.

This case is ongoing and additional charges may be forthcoming.

The seven arrested face a multitude of charges including Trafficking over 200 grams of Heroin, Trafficking over 36 Grams Cocaine, Distribution of Heroin and Cocaine, Distribution within a Park Zone, Conspiracy to Violate Drug Laws

The following were placed into custody and will face arraignment in Chelsea District Court on Wednesday morning.

•Rafael Pinero Gonzalez, 35, of Chelsea

•Walter Robles, 36, of Lynn

•Felix Monclava, 34, of Chelsea

•Leonardo Zapata – aka Israel Santiago, 38, of Chelsea

•Evangele Ramirez, 27, of Chelsea

•Robert Betances, 35, of Chelsea

•Aracelis Calderon, 37, of Chelsea

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Ambrosino Proposes Ambitious Initiative,Parking Changes for Downtown Corridor

By Seth Daniel

City Manager Tom Ambrosino is putting his money where his mouth has been in talking up his hopes for the downtown Broadway area – requesting the Council approve nearly $300,000 from Free Cash to dive into a major organizational and marketing effort for the area.

That request followed a call for major money to be delivered in the City Budget this spring, money the Council did approve within its Capital Improvement plan.

For the Downtown Urban Initiative, first, he is calling for the creation of a downtown coordinator job position to be funded, a position that would coordinate all of the construction projects, infrastructure upgrades and business opportunities in the district. The position would be similar to what Boston calls a Main Streets director, he said.

“The position is critical to the program,” he said. “This new municipal employee would be responsible for coordination of all the City’s downtown efforts. The coordinator will be expected to organize all programming for the area, oversee all municipal services in the area and work with the property and business owners to implement efforts to enhance and enliven the streetscape.”

A second part of the proposed program is a $100,000 plan to institute a one-year storefront improvement program for the corridor, which stretches from City Hall to Williams Street.

“Maybe we can do three or four storefronts to get a start this year,” he said. “We would do it as a matching grant program where we would pay half the cost and the owner would pay the other half. We would probably only require that if you participate in the program, we would ask businesses to take down the grates and have some faith that we can effectively police the downtown area.”

He said the initiative also calls for a little bit of “seed money” for festivals and events to be held on the corridor, possibly closing down the street.

To begin things, he has asked that the Council do a marketing study of the district for around $80,000.

Already, a consultant paid for within the recently passed City Budget, Nygaart, is preparing to start studying the corridor on July 1 for infrastructure improvements and traffic calming measures. That consultant was part of a budget allocation for the downtown within the Capital Improvements plan that asked for several million dollars to fund downtown infrastructure improvements only. The first part of that plan is the contracting of Nygaart. They will study potential improvements to the “bones” of the district for one year, with implementation of their suggestions and the public’s input next fiscal year.

The $300,000 Downtown Urban Initiative request is seemingly separate, but related to the overall effort – with it mostly focusing on marketing studies and storefront programs. In essence, it would be the creation of what in Boston is called a Main Streets District.

On top of all of those changes for the downtown district, Ambrosino has submitted a zoning change package scheduled for a public hearing on Monday, June 27, at Council that – among many, many things – asks for a relaxing of the parking requirements in the downtown area.

Ambrosino said the current parking requirements basically make the downtown buildings unreachable for residential developers as they were mostly built before cars appeared on the streets.

He said he firmly believes that the final piece of the overall puzzle is getting residents living in quality units above the businesses.

“My opinion is very straightforward that if we want this vibrant downtown, we have to build good residential units above the storefronts,” he said. “There’s no parking there and so you have to relax the parking requirements. If you want to improve the downtown, you have to substantially relax the parking requirements for residences above storefronts. If you don’t want to improve the downtown and leave it the way it is, then don’t relax the parking requirements and nothing will be developed because the parking requirements cannot be met.”

He also said the time is now to develop the downtown for residences and businesses – just as 10 years ago the time was perfect for Everett Avenue.

“I think it’s an interesting corridor that’s very close to downtown Boston,” he said. “People are being priced out of East Boston and this is the time to really build this downtown.”

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