The Bellingham-Cary House held its annual Holiday Open House on Saturday evening, Dec. 7, with a good turnout of residents coming to celebrate the holidays in the historic home. Pictured here are the Board of Trustees: Jean Chapman, Corresponding Secretary; Faye Dookharan, Treasurer; Matt Frank, and Karen MacInnis, President.
Chelsea resident Fredy Martinez shows off a new-found friend, Cain, a baby squirrel he nursed back to health while walking through Bellingham Square last Friday afternoon. Martinez said the squirrel has become very calm and is in great health after several weeks of touch-and-go.
If Bellingham Square is going to be fully returned to the community, then let that return be led by dominoes.
Roberto ‘Tito’ Rodriguez checks his dominoes during Game Night on Tuesday, July 31, in Bellingham Square. Game Night is slowly gaining popularity, and the City initiative takes place every Tuesday from 6-8 p.m.
It was slow going at first for the introduction of an outdoor Game Night on Bellingham Square – which is sponsored by the City’s Chelsea Prospers initiative. A few would trickle in and out, but the hard-scrabble Square had gained a reputation that many Chelsea residents hadn’t yet forgotten.
But now with about a month under the belt, momentum for the simple fun in the Square has begun to form with about 10 or so regulars – and that momentum has everything to do with something as simple as a domino.
“For me, this is the most popular game in Puerto Rico,” said Roberto ‘Tito’ Rodriguez, who moved to Chelsea from Puerto Rico seven years ago. “It makes me feel great because I feel like I’m right at home in my hometown. I’m meeting people in Chelsea and talking to people I don’t know. It makes me feel welcome.”
As the group enjoys their game, salsa music plays in the background and many observers pass by – seemingly wanting to join in, but not entirely certain why people are playing games in Bellingham Square.
“It’s very comfortable here now and that’s surprising,” said Sheila Rohena. “I grew up here, so begin able to come out of my house and sit here in the Square is great. I used to be scared to come out of my house because of all the things that happen here. Now, I’m sitting here and enjoying myself in the Square. That’s pretty amazing because there was a lot of bad stuff happening here. Did I think this would happen? Not for the life of me.”
But certainly it was, and Rohena and others who participate in Game Night found a peacefulness in the Square on a sunny, warm summer night that hasn’t existed there for a long time.
“I really like that it’s right here in this spot,” said Tina Rivera. “I like it being here at City Hall because it’s had a very bad reputation for so long. There used to be game tables here permanently, but they had to take them down. A lot of people were hesitant to bring them back, but we did it in a very low-cost, low-key way. It’s going well. There are now problems. You see from this that we can have nice things. You have to just trust people sometimes.”
Rodriguez has even brought in some converts like Jen Matheson, who is new to downtown Chelsea and was taught how to play dominoes. Now she’s a regular.
“I live right here and it’s so great to be able to come out here and meet new people,” she said. “They taught me how to play dominoes. I didn’t even know, and now I’m winning a lot of the time.”
Rivera said she has hoped for community building events like a Game Night for a long time because it promotes stability and familiarity. Without that, there is no community, she said, and that makes the people vulnerable.
“If we don’t get back to being a community, it makes it even easier for another community to replace us without us knowing,” she said.
There is no end date in sight for the Game Night, and organizer Mimi Graney said they will likely go until it gets too cold.
For now, the goal is not to get the ‘Chiva’ – which is Spanish for ‘female goat’ and is slang for getting no points in a game of dominoes.
But for the future, the goal is to have several more tables full of people from the community functioning normally and having fun together.
Certainly in Chelsea, if anything, a domino game is good first step.
Roberto ‘Tito’ Rodriguez checks his dominoes during Game Night on Tuesday, July 31, in Bellingham Square. Game Night is slowly gaining popularity, and the City initiative takes place every Tuesday from 6-8 p.m.
William Molino celebrates a win in a game of dominoes during the Chelsea Prospers Game Night on Tuesday. Watching him enviously are Raul Melendez, Alex Garcia and Mike Vega.
Teams of officers saturated the Bellingham Square area Thursday morning, Dec. 7, and arrested several individuals on warrants for illegal distribution of cocaine and heroin as part of an undercover operation targeting street level dealing.
“This operation is an important piece in our all-encompassing effort in addressing the opiate issue in Chelsea,” said Chief Brian Kyes. “Our officers will continue to prioritize enforcement, community policing and to work with our partners to guide individuals suffering from addiction into treatment.”
The Chelsea Police Department with assistance from the Everett Police Department secured 20 arrest warrants on individuals as part of a three-month undercover operation named “Buy-Bye.” The operation targeted drug dealing in the Bellingham Square area of the city and included a search warrant and arrest in Everett. The Chelsea Police Department Drug Unit obtained warrants from both Chelsea District Court and Suffolk Superior Court based on evidence of hand to hand drug deals made to undercover officers.
Chelsea investigators are confident that all 20 individuals will be placed into custody.
As of Dec. 10, those arrested in Chelsea were:
Julie Maskell, 41, of Revere, on one warrant.
Luis Martinez, 49, of 108 Clark Ave., on one warrant.
Brittany Lopes-Rattigan, 28, of 2 Franklin Ave., on two warrants.
Robert Dellorfano, 37, of 15 Watts St., on one warrant.
Stacy Lightell, 43, of 10 Jones Dr., on one warrant.
Stanley Jeannis, 40, of Woburn, was charged with distribution of a Class B drug, possession to distribute a Class B drug, possession to distribute a Class A drug, drug violation near a school and one warrant.
Jimmall Marshall, 27, of 45 Fourth St., was charged with distribution of a Class B drug (subsequent offense) and one warrant.
Sophia Boniffo brought her furry friend, Gino, to get him updated on all his necessary shots during the HubCats Chelsea second free vaccination clinic on Sunday, Sept. 25, in Bellingham Hill Park. Numerous residents brought their pets out to take advantage of the program.
Francisco Herrera, 39, 22 School St., Revere, was arrested for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
Jose Mancia, 49, 133 Shawmut St., Chelsea, was arrested for shoplifting.
Marco Roman, 20, 31 Crescent Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for unarmed robbery, possessing Class B drug, possessing Class E drug.
Shirma Farmer, 63, 9 Lawrence St., Chelsea, was arrested for destruction of property malicious over $250.
Eric Knight, 56, 474 Revere Beach Blvd., Revere, was arrested on a warrant, drinking/possessing open alcoholic beverage in public.
Rose Sheehy, 34, 828 Salem St., Malden, was arrested on a warrant, drinking/possessing open alcoholic beverage in public.
Joseph Sarro, 53, 179 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea, was arrested for trespassing.
Daniel Humphreys, 36, 855 Broadway, Chelsea, was arrested for drinking/possessing open alcoholic beverage in public.
Matthew Graves, 24, 4 Parkway Ct., Chelsea, was arrested for drinking/possessing open alcoholic beverage in public.
Jose Burgos-Murillo, 59, 14 Bloomingdale St., Chelsea, was arrested for indecent exposure and on a warrant.
Olson Cejour, 25, 227 Chestnut St., Chelsea, was arrested for drug, possessing to distribute Class B, carrying dangerous weapon or knife over 4×1 inches, drug, possessing to distribute Class D.
Paul Thomas, 56, 55 Library St., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.
Cynthia Mackay, 28, 418 Revere Beach Pkwy., Revere, was arrested on a warrant.
Ruth De La Cruz, 32, 22 Watts ST., Chelsea, was arrested on warrants.
Jofafat Nunes, 31, 117 Washington Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for unlicensed operation of motor vehicle, possessing open container of alcohol in motor vehicle.
Santos Vasquez, 30, 873 B roadway, Chelsea, was arrested for unlicensed operation of motor vehicle, operating under the influence of liquor, reckless operation of motor vehicle and on a warrant.
Claudia Mendez, 31, 11 Richardson Rd., Stoneham, was arrested on a warrant.
Marlon Ortiz, 25, 38 Cary Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for trespassing.
POLICE BriefsBy Seth Daniel and Paul Koolloian
COMPLAINT LEADS TO ARREST
One man who was ready to complain to police on another man ended up getting arrested himself when it turned out he was a aggressor, having allegedly stabbed the other man with a broken bottle.
On Monday, Aug. 22, at approximately 1:45 a.m., while patrolling the area of Bellingham Square, a CPD officer was flagged down by a male subject. The subject appeared to be upset and pointed to a few parties walking toward the cab stand telling the officer he had an altercation with them.
The officer, with additional units, approached the parties at the cab stand and observed a male party bleeding from the left bicep area. The officers inquired to what happened and were told the original male who flagged down the officer had stabbed him in the bicep with a broken bottle. It was determined from a witness that the fight was over a female that was in the area.
The subject was placed into custody and victim transported to Whidden Hospital.
Francisco Herrera, 39, of Revere, was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (bottle).
ROBBER ON BIKE ARRESTED
On August 22, at approximately 2:33 p.m., officers responded to a radio transmission in regards to a street robbery that had just occurred near the intersection of Orange Street. A Chelsea detective immediately reviewed city video and observed a male subject who fit the description on a bicycle in the area.
Detectives then responded to the area of the robbery and observed other video sources in the area of the robbery and were able to identify a suspect based on those images. That suspect was later observed wearing the same clothing and on the same bicycle and was placed under arrest.
Marco Roman, 20, of 31 Crescent Ave., was charged with unarmed robbery, possession of a Class B drug and possession of a Class E drug.
EXPOSED HIMSELF TO WOMEN
About 10:56 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 23, Officers assigned to a walking route that goes between Bellingham Square and the Chelsea District Court House observed two females walking on Second Street. The officers took notice of the females’ demeanor, appearing to be very upset as they walked by a male. Officers then noticed the male to be exposing himself while urinating on the street. He was placed under arrest on scene and later determined to have warrants out of Chelsea District Court for Larceny.
Jose Burgos-Murillo, 59, of 14 Bloomingdale St., was charged with indecent exposure and one warrant.
Inventor Mike Roylos attaches one of the Butt-lers to a pole in the Square.
Over the years, there’s been a shortage of just about everything in Bellingham Square, but there has never been a shortage of cigarette butts lining the brick pathways in and around City Hall.
Now, as one of the first orders of business in the re-shaping of the downtown business district, the City, The Neighborhood Developers (TND) and the Community Enhancement Team (CET) have banded together to purchase five Sidewalk Butt-lers to provide a receptacle for used cigarette butts and a way to recycle those butts into something useful.
In a gathering at the tip of the Square on Tuesday morning, the new Butt-lers were installed by their inventor, Mike Roylos, as many members of the various groups looked on.
“This is part of our efforts to improve the Square and Broadway,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “Our efforts involve things we want to do in the long-term and some things we can do right now. This is something we can do immediately. Many people will see this and see we are trying to do something here. We hope the people who frequent this Square will use them. This is step one in a long-term effort to improve the Square.”
As members of the CET like Mike Sandoval clipped around the little Square picking up cigarette butts and depositing them in their new home, TND’s Sharon Fosbury explained that the program will take things a step further by recycling all of the butts and creating no new trash.
“This is an extremely good option because it’s getting the butts off the sidewalk and taking the next step by recycling them,” she said. “It’s one thing to collect butts and throwing them away, but this is generating no new trash. It’s all being recycled.”
The cigarette butts are to be collected by the Department of Public Works and then stored at the City Yard. Once there are enough, the CET volunteers will ship the butts to a company called TerraCycle. The company separates the cigarette butts into several parts. On the whole, a cigarette butt is not recyclable. However, once the filter is removed, it is made out of plastic and can be melted down and recycled. The excess leftover tobacco is used for compost. Any remaining paper is also recycled. Over the long run, any money generated from selling the recycled materials is used for grant opportunities for community organizations around the country.
“It only costs us man hours and we’re volunteers,” said Fosbury.
Roylos invented the Sidewalk Butt-ler when he got tired of seeing and picking up cigarette butts outside his Maine restaurant every day. To solve the problem, he invented the little tubes that are locked at the bottom and instituted the recycling initiative as part of the plan too.
He told City officials that he believes it will make a difference, but it could take time.
The pilot program includes Butt-lers in front of Dr. Dental on Washington Avenue, in front of Bunker Hill Community College, at the Gazebo, in front of City Hall and at the Bellingham Square location.
The goal is to expand the program even further if the program finds enough success.
Neighbors and community organizers confronted the owner of the Methadone clinic on Crescent Avenue Tuesday night in a large meeting on County Road about moving his operation, to which he said they would consider it.
Councillors Luis Tejada, Leo Robinson and Roy Avellaneda sponsored the open mic community meeting on Tuesday night at the First Church on County Road, in what was a meeting aimed at addressing violence and substance abuse. Though many topics were breached, the large crowd on hand was mostly interested in talking about moving the Methadone clinic.
The Methadone Clinic on Crescent Avenue, called Community Substance Abuse Centers, has been in operation since the early 2000s and was only placed in its location after a legal battle in which the City lost. Up until only recently, the clinic has been operating without a lot of public animosity, but seemingly out of the blue many community members began to criticize it at public meetings earlier this summer.
Dr. Steve Kassel, of Everett, spoke to the crowd about the benefits of Methadone and had three staff members on hand to explain how the clinic works.
“Studies showed that Methadone use decreased crime significantly,” he said. “They found that people in treatment at a rate of 93 percent used less illicit substances. Some 7 percent did not decrease their use. That 7 percent continued to use. But having that 7 percent is not a reason not to treat the 93 percent that find it beneficial…By giving them this medication, it’s not one drug for another. It’s taking away the withdrawal symptoms so they can then get to the counseling stage. We give people with alcohol medication…Part of the problem in Chelsea is we need more counseling. We do not cure the disease of addiction, just like we don’t cure diabetes. They do not get high on it and it blocks the high of heroin.”
That information was well received, but many in the audience wanted to ask the company – which often has been anonymous the community until the last year or so – about moving.
Chelsea Collaborative Director Gladys Vega led the charge.
“If there’s a way the Methadone Clinic can be relocated somewhere else, that would be a great relief to the residents of Chelsea,” she said. “We don’t want to be burdened with it anymore. Would you consider moving if we helped you identify a location? Not every city has the same kinds of problems we have to deal with. I’m not challenging the medicine because it’s necessary, but I am challenges the location and how it is so close to an elementary school that houses hundreds of young students. Chelsea has enough problems of its own and shouldn’t have to deal with other people’s problems coming in.”
That was followed by applause from the crowd.
The big news was that Kassel said he would consider a relocation.
“If the community has a viable location that can provide the medical treatment needed, Community Substance Abuse Centers is more than wiling to look at having the clinic relocated to a different site,” he said. “We want to work with the City and are partners with the City. We have a problem in our country with ‘Nimby,’ not in my backyard. No one wants a clinic in their backyard. If no one wants it and it doesn’t go anywhere, what happens to the 93 percent that get successful treatment?…I share your pain. I understand.”
Other parents and grandparents spoke about the huge numbers of people who congregate in Bellingham Square – some of whom go to the clinic and then migrate to the Square to hang out. Many said their children see bad things caused by the clinic in the Square, and also on Crescent Avenue while on their way to school.
“My granddaughter shouldn’t have to see that; it’s not fair,” said one women, in tears. “They are walking around in such bad condition that they have to crawl. I believe in what you’re doing, but not so close to the kids.”
Chief Brian Kyes said the clinic has been a unique situation.
He said they expected a rise in crime when it went in around 2003, but crime did not actually increase in the surrounding areas. He said around 700 people per day seek treatment there, with a vast majority getting their treatment and leaving the city. Around 15 to 20 people, though, head to Bellingham Square to hang out.
“Some got their treatment and then went to Bellingham Square,” he said. “Bellingham Square is a small area. If we have 15 out of 700 coming there, that’s a lot. That’s been a struggle for us.”
Though the meeting was all encompassing, and also addressed many crime issues, the focus seemed to be squarely on the clinic – as it has been now for several weeks.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino has said previously that the clinic was largely unknown to the City, but has recently been participating with the City in various initiatives – including police planning efforts.
Tejada – who was the main host of the meeting – said he was glad to see such an amazing turnout from folks.
“We have a top notch group of people running this City,” he said. “That’ why Chelsea is a place where people want to live now. Not long ago we would have had an event like this and maybe five or 10 people would have showed up. Look at this crowd. It’s amazing. People are working together. That’s why people want to come here now.”
Methadone Clinic owner Dr. Steve Kassel took many questions from the audience on Tuesday night, including whether or not he would consider moving his clinic to a new location. He said if there were a better location the community identified, he would do so.
Over the last few years, the Chelsea Shines event on Earth Day has brought out hundreds of people to help spruce up the City at the start of spring, but participants in the effort, such as Sharon Fosbury and Mike Sandoval, said there had been a growing sense of dissatisfaction with even
Members of the Community Enhancement Team (CET), and offshoot of Chelsea Shines, have decided to volunteer their time year round to make a lasting and consistent difference in targeted areas of the City. Here, they are seen focusing on the Willows on Marlborough Street – an overlook with a guardrail that has for decades been littered with trash and illegal dumping. Members pictured here include Councilor Enio Lopez, Sharon Fosbury, Mike Sandoval, Ellen Godfrey and others.
While surveys did show it helped build morale and positive views of the neighborhoods, all the work was often for not in just a few hours.
“We did surveys and found that after people participated in Chelsea Shines, they did feel like they had more power to make a difference in their community and they were more receptive to recommending their neighborhood as a place for people to move to,” said Fosbury. “However, another thing we started to notice is that after a week, and sometimes even within the same day, it didn’t seem like we’d even been there to clean. The place had been trashed again and looked the same as when we started. We changed the perceptions, yes, but not the behaviors. We want to do this kind of effort and do it in a way where the work will be sustained all year.”
Sandoval, who works for the City but is volunteering his time to the new effort as a resident, combined efforts with Fosbury – who works for The Neighborhood Developers and is a resident of Chelsea – to create the new Community Enhancement Team (CET). It acts like a division of the Chelsea Shines program, but stays in overdrive long after the annual, larger Earth Day efforts.
Sadoval said it’s something that has been about residents organizing themselves, wanting nothing but the City’s blessing to make things better.
“This is not just about saying things; it’s about being a doer,” he said, sweat coming from his brow as he dumped donated coffee grounds onto newly-planted sunflowers last week. “It’s about getting something done that lasts. We don’t want the DPW to do the clean up. We want to engage in it by ourselves. It’s our community and we want to make it better ourselves. We just need the help and support of the City in small ways.”
The CET has focused on shortening the effort and bringing the community into the fold in that smaller patch of Earth.
First, they have concentrated on the Willows – a guardrail area on Marlborough Street that overlooks the Chelsea Creek and has been known as a dumping ground for decades. Beginning on April 16, they reported to the short stretch and began to do things little by little.
On that first day, curious neighbors in the area who have kept their properties immaculate despite the filth on the streets outside their fences. Families like the England family and others in the area slowly began wondering what they could do to help.
“On the first day we went there, it was just filthy,” said Fosbury. “We found seat cushions, used hypodermic needles, asphalt chunks, cell phones and we even had to call the police because we found a machete that looked pretty serious,” she said.
The group came back on Earth Day, April 23, and neighbors started joining the effort.
They’ve had cleaning sessions, weeding sessions and recently they started planting sunflowers along the ugly chain link fence that breaks up a remarkable northward view. They have also fortified the soil continuously using spent coffee ground donated by Common Ground coffee shop on the Everett Parkway.
“We’re just an informal group that wants to make the City look better,” said Fosbury. “On April 16th, this was a complete dumping ground. Now, it’s sunflowers. One day cleanups are only so successful. But when you go back and back and back, it’s sustainable. Maybe not this year, but maybe next year we might have that entire fence covered with sunflowers. Then we’ve changed the way the place looks.”
Added Sandoval, “And we don’t do it with an effort of hundreds of people. It’s been a few people here and there helping out consistently. People are coming out one day to spread coffee grounds, and then other people will come out another time to do weeding. The reward we get is simply making the community we live in look better. We get to see these flowers instead of trash. Next year we’re going to have sunflowers and lilies coming up. We know it’s our community and we want the rest of the community to buy into it and we can do it ourselves.”
In between work at the Willows, the CET has also spent time doing routine clean ups in Bellingham Square, Broadway and Kayem Park – a much larger effort that they said they will continue also with regularity.
In addition to the smaller, consistent effort by the CET, City Manager Tom Ambrosino has planted the seed for a Chelsea Beautification Committee – a similar group to what he and the community in Revere formed back in 2001 when he first became mayor of that City.
The Committee is comprised at the moment by CET, TND, Chelsea Greenspace, the ECO Youth Team, and other interested parties.
Each month they meet with Ambrosino to go over issues like problem properties, potholes, unsightly City properties, areas to enhance and new initiatives they want to start. At the same time, they keep a list of issues that have been discussed and not resolved. By maintaining that list and providing updates on the status of each item at the meetings, there has evolved an accountability for getting the big and small things done.
At the moment, the Beautification Committee has decided to focus on the initiatives of eliminating cigarette butts from Bellingham Square and dog waste from the entire City.
“One small thing is the cigarette butts, which don’t compost and aren’t biodegradable,” said Fosbury. “We want to keep them off the streets, but at the same time there are cigarette receptacles in Bellingham Square for people to put the butts into. We certainly don’t want them in the trash because they could cause a fire. That’s the kinds of small changes that could lead to a bigger change in the way things look.”
The biggest thing is that the community has brought about the efforts, both Sandoval and Fosbury said.
“This is the community speaking and it’s not coming from the top down,” said Sandoval. “When we had members of the community working to clean up the Willows, and then we got the Mass DOT (Department of Transportation) to pitch in and clean up the other side of the fence, it was just an incredible feeling of community and working together to do something that will last.”
Added Fosbury, “It’s not 100 people, but rather 10 or 12 people making a big difference. By making these consistent efforts, we believe people will see this isn’t a dumping ground and someone is caring for these places. We are setting a model and being consistent with it. That’s how you change behaviors and changing behaviors is the hardest thing to do.”
Firefighters from all over the area joined Chelsea Fire on Monday afternoon in fighting a stubborn and dangerous four-alarm fire at 57 Bellingham St.
Three Revere firefighters were hurt, one seriously, and five Chelsea firefighters were treated for minor injuries and released.
No one in the home was injured, but nine adults and three children were displaced. The fire started around 3:47 p.m. and progressed quickly to a four alarm fire by 5:10 p.m. Heavy black smoke poured over City Hall and the quick burning fire – located in the back of the house on the porches pushed smoke throughout the City all the way to Cary Square and beyond.
On arrival, heavy fire was on all three floors in the rear of a three-story wood frame 6-family dwelling. The fire spread quickly to the loft area. Firefighters made an aggressive interior attack under extremely adverse condition. Firefighters were ordered out of the building due to collapse hazards on the third floor.
At one point, a “May Day” was called for a collapse of a structural component which injured three firefighters from Revere in the rear of the building. The May Day was cleared and those members were transported to MGH. A May Day call is the most serious call to be made in firefighting.
Interim Revere Fire Chief Chris Bright reported that Lt. Bob DeMauro, leader of the Ladder 2 Revere crew, was the most seriously injured of the three injured firefighters.
“Bob is going to be out of commission for months and not weeks,” said Bright. “Thankfully they didn’t get killed. Bob was in acute care and Mass General and he is now in a room. He’ll probably have to go to a rehab facility.”
DeMauro suffered a head injury, a concussion, a broken left hand, three chipped vertebrae, and compressed vertebrae in his lower back.
Revere Firefighter Charlie Fusco was also admitted to the MGH with shoulder injuries and bruising.
Revere Firefighter Paul Calsimitto was transported to the Whidden Hospital after taking a blow to the head and was released Monday night.
“What happened was they were operating in the rear of the house down in the backyard,” said Bright. “They pulled everyone out of the house to fight the fire from the outside because there was too much smoke…At some point a transom on top of the roof collapsed and fell on them as they were in the rear yard. There was so much smoke they never saw it coming.”
The fire was knocked down and damage was kept to the structure of origin.
The four-alarm fire raged through 57 Bellingham St.
“This was a very difficult and fast moving fire, where members of Chelsea Fire and our mutual aid worked tirelessly and aggressively to bring under control,” said Chelsea Chief Leonard Albanese. “Chelsea Fire thanks Revere, Everett, Boston, Medford, Saugus, Somerville, Winthrop, Malden, Lynn, Melrose and Cambridge who assisted us through the MetroFire mutual aid system.”
The fire cause was determined to be accidental originating from an electrical issue on the rear porch, first floor.