City Council President Leo Robinson and the Chelsea community are fondly remembering retired Chelsea firefighter Darren Moore, who died on Saturday, Nov. 25 at the age of 52.
Many of Darren’s classmates and friends learned of his passing during the Chelsea High School Class of 1982 35th Reunion Saturday night at the Merritt Club. Reunion co-chair Allen Andrade called upon the gathering for a moment of silence in memory of their beloved classmate, teammate and friend.
Robinson remembered his cousin Darren Moore’s exploits while wearing the Chelsea High Red Devil uniform in three varsity sports. A handsome, personable young man with a warm smile, Darren Moore had confidence in his abilities and developed in to a team leader who conducted himself with sportsmanship and grace on the court and on the field.
“Darren played football, basketball, and baseball at Chelsea High when the Red Devils were a hoop powerhouse in the Greater Boston League,” said Robinson. “Darren was also a coach of the Chelsea Pop Warner ‘A’ football team that rallied to defeat the San Francisco Bombers, 18-14, to win the 2001 national championship.”
Robinson said that following Darren’s athletic career, he wanted to help young kids in Chelsea enjoy the benefits that he had gained from playing sports.
“Darren wanted to give back to the city that was so good to him as a kid,” said Robinson. “He really enjoyed his years as a coach and winning the national championship was a thrill for everyone involved in that historic season.”
Robinson recalled that he was a member of the Board of Aldermen when Darren Moore took the oath as Chelsea firefighter.
“Darren’s family and I were so proud to be at City Hall and see him become a Chelsea firefighter,” said Robinson. “He served in the department for 20 years.”
Robinson said that Darren enjoyed accompanying him, his brother, Ron Robinson, and family friend Dale Johnson on camping trips and excursions to Newport, R.I.
“Darren was a just a good, fun-loving to be around,” said Robinson.
Former CHS cheerleader Debbie Cronin, one of Darren’s childhood friends, remembered Darren’s friendly and congenial nature.
“Darren was a lifelong childhood friend and a genuinely good guy,” said Cronin. “His passing is a tough one. Over the last few years, I’d bump in to him at the most random of places and even though it was clear he had health issues, he always had a smile. Darren will be missed by all.”
Robinson said he will ask the City Council to join him in a moment of silence in memory of Darren Moore at their meeting Monday night at City Hall.
A memorial gathering and visitation for Darren Moore will be held on Friday, Dec. 1, from 3 to 7 p.m., at the Frank Welsh and Sons Funeral Home, 718 Broadway, Chelsea. A life tribute and service of remembrance will be held in the funeral home beginning at 7 p.m.
The Chelsea Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved a new apartment building project at 25 Eleanor St. on what is currently an industrial building with parking lot.
The approval came during the Nov. 14 meeting and the project is championed by Eleanor Street Associates LLC – headed up by Michael Massamino.
Currently the building houses 12 offices and two conference rooms and a parking lot. The new project will be a three-story building with 20 units and 28 ground floor parking spaces – 14 of them covered spaces. The building will house 10 units on the second floor and 10 units on the third floor. There will be no open space.
It was approved with standard conditions.
In other matters before the board.
24 Tudor Street: A neighbor spoke in opposition to the conversion into three units. The Board will continue the hearing on December 12.
145 Cottage Street: continued discussion on December 12.
67 Jefferson Ave: Approved.
73 Broadway: The owner wants to keep it two units and maximize the space. A neighbor from 62 Beacon St. spoke in favor of the work as good for the neighborhood.
94 Fourth Street: Patricia Simboli spoke on the project, calling it “highly challenged” because it’s a direct abutter of Dunkin Donuts. She referenced parking issues, and suggested renting spaces elsewhere. It was continued.
In what has been one surprise after another with the Phantom Ventures suit-and-tie strip club proposal, Tuesday night’s events perhaps took the cake – with a new owner of the club now coming into play and the proponents withdrawing their three-year-old proposal at the last minute.
That came, however, after the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) denied the application due to lack of standing.
It was a surprisingly quiet meeting on Tuesday night, despite all the behind the scenes excitement, with representatives of Phantom Ventures failing to make an appearance. The controversial application concerned a Special Permit to establish a nude cabaret and sports bar at 200 Beacham St. – the former site of the King Arthur’s Strip Club.
After addressing the room several times to ask whether a representative of Phantom Ventures was present, Chairman John DePriest announced that the board had received an email earlier in the afternoon requesting withdrawal of the application.
DePriest said the board also received an affidavit from the owner of the property, Demetrios Vardakostas, stating they had been unaware the proposal for the site was submitted. The affidavit clarified that the applicants are no longer tenants of the address at Beacham Street, and that they had been evicted in Chelsea Court last month for non-payment of rent and taxes.
Citing a lack of proper authority to come before the board in the first place, members of the ZBA dismissed the case without further debate from the public.
Another twist in the affair came in that the building was sold late last week, with Everett’s Greg Antonellli now being the new owner.
Antonelli, who owns GTA Landscaping Co., hasn’t revealed what his plans are for the site, but the real estate arm of his business has been buying up a lot of property in the industrial areas of Everett – some of them just on the other side of the Produce Center.
Some in the City said Antonelli may be willing to work with the Phantom proponents to re-apply at his new property, while others said he is considering a different use altogether.
Antonelli said it is too early to discuss any plans for the property, as he has just taken ownership.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he hopes the new owner will consider something different than the nude dancing use.
“I’m pleased that the Zoning Board of Appeals rejected the application,” he said. “Hopefully, the new owner will propose a better use for that site.”
City Councillor Dan Cortell has organized major opposition several times regarding the Phantom application, and he said he was pleasantly surprised by the outcome Tuesday – which was somewhat unexpected.
“A lot of hard work went into this fight that included not just of our City Manager, City Solicitor and staff, Department of Planning and Development and Inspectional Services, but also our volunteer Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Board, Economic Development Board and Licensing Commission as well as the literally hundreds of residents I called upon to support the fight all whom were looking out for the best for the city and its future,” he said. “Some football games end in a spectacular interception or last second score. Others end with a run out the clock ‘kneel down.’ Last night’s ZBA meeting ended with the latter. A win is a win and last night Chelsea put the notorious history that is King Arthur’s behind us. Chelsea is a better and more desirable city for it.”
Member Janice Tatarka said Phantom Ventures could still theoretically re-apply for the permit since the original application never went to a vote.
“They could come back,” said board member Janice Tatarka. “It’s possible.”
What is certain is that the controversial Phantom Ventures application – which resulted in numerous hearing and a Constitutional Court case in federal court – is currently dead. Phantom Ventures had re-submitted their application for Tuesday’s meeting after a Federal Court ruling declared the City’s adult entertainment ordinance unconstitutional earlier this year – a case that resulted from the ZBA denying Phantom’s original application in 2015.
Currently, the ZBA said any nude dancing application had to be fit under the ‘theatre’ use. Phantom Ventures had planned to apply on Tuesday under the ‘Theatre’ use provision – that is until it was learned they had no standing with the owner and the new owner.
Phantom’s ownership, which did not appear before the Board, had no comment on the matter immediately.
Governor’s Councilor Terence Kennedy stopped by the polls to greet those campaigning, including here Candidate Henry Wilson, Councillor Enio Lopez, and Councillor Yamir Rodriguez.
Incumbents prevailed in several contested district Council contests on Tuesday, Nov. 7, while Council President Leo Robinson showed that experience equals strength in topping the at-large ticket with more than 1,000 votes.
Aside from School Committeeman at-Large candidate Frank DePatto, Robinson was the only candidate to top the 1,000 vote plateau.
In the at-large race, Robinson had 1,023 votes, Roy Avellaneda 986 and Damali Vidot 827. None of the three at-large seats were contested, but there was a spirited race to see who would top the ticket – a victory that carries implications for Council President.
“Now it’s time to stay focused and keep moving the City ahead,” Robinson said. “I want to thank the voters and all my supporters for hard work and dedication in making this victory happen.”
Meanwhile, in District 1, an empty seat saw Bob Bishop – the former councillor and city clerk – emerge as the victor over Planning Board member Todd Taylor, 267-213.
Bishop did win the Preliminary Election, but it came in spite of an endorsement of Taylor by outgoing Councillor Paul Murphy and Gov. Charlie Baker.
One contest that was very high-profile was that between Councillor Yamir Rodriguez and challenger Mark Rossi, of the License Commission. The two ran organized campaigns, with Rodriguez winning 129-98.
Another such contest came in District 5, where a rematch between Councillor Judith Garcia and Planning Board member Henry Wilson also showed lots of action.
Garcia won fairly easily in the end, 148-83.
On Admiral’s Hill in District 8, an empty seat saw former Councillor Calvin Brown cruise to victory over Jermaine Williams, 303-79.
In District 6, Councillor Giovanni Recupero prevailed 101-17 over Kristofer Haight, who had withdrawn from the race in September.
Up on the Soldiers’ Home in District 2, Councillor Luis Tejada beat challenger Olivia Walsh 124-94.
Former Councillor Joe Perlatonda will make his way back to the Council after winning an unopposed election for an open seat in Mill Hill (District 3).
Finally, District 4 Councillor Enio Lopez won an unopposed contest with 109 votes.
The results will mean that there will be three new faces on the Council in 2018.
For School Committee, two of the seats (District 4 and 5) had no candidate on the ballot. However, Lucia Henriquez put together a write-in campaign for one of the seats, and is believed to have won there.
Other winners included DePatto (at-Large), District 1 Rosemarie Carlisle, District 2 Jeannette Velez, District 3 Rich Maronski, District 4 no candidate, District 5 no candidate, District 6 Ana Hernandez, District 7 Kelly Garcia, and District 8 Yessenia Alfaro-Alvarez.
The Phantom Ventures strip club has re-applied for permits from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to open their controversial club where the old King Arthur’s Club stood previously.
“Based on a letter from Inspectional Services Director Michael McAteer dated Sept. 13, 2017, it is clear that Phantom Ventures would be operating a nude cabaret/sports bar as a permissible under the August 21, 2017 communication stating that adult entertainment for the purpose of this case is to be classified in the ‘theatres, concert halls, and cinemas’ category,” read the application.
That came after a meeting this year – which followed a Federal Court ruling declaring the City’s adult entertainment ordinance Unconstitutional – where the ZBA said any nude dancing application had to be fit under the theatre use.
So, now Phantom Ventures will be a theatre.
That said, the club also lacks the adequate amount of parking. They need 97 and have 66.
Phantom Ventures said they have a plan to use a lot nearby via a valet service. They will need a parking variance to accompany the Special Permit.
The ZBA will hear the special permit and variance at its Nov. 14 meeting at 6 p.m. in City Hall.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he couldn’t predict the actions of the ZBA, but he expects the board would likely deny the Special Permit. That, also likely, would trigger another appeal by the company.
In the end, the matter will likely land back in Federal Court with the same judge, who will end up making the decision.
Owners of Phantom Ventures have indicated they plan to invest a significant amount of money in the new club, making it a high class venue for sports and nude dancing entertainment.
The new Chelsea Tree Board celebrated Arbor Day last month on Clark Avenue by planting a White Oak in recognition of Member Denise Ortega’s birthday. Chair Julie Shannon said the Tree Board hopes to promote the value of trees in the community and the benefits for health and wellness.
“The presence of trees and green spaces enhances our neighborhood surroundings not only visually with their inviting appeal but they also offer financial benefits as well,” she said. “More tree lined streets increase property values and business sales by proving an esthetically pleasing environment to consistently visit. Trees also reduce costs in heating and cooling by offering protection from harsh weather conditions caused by urban heat islands.”
The Board, along with Assistant Public Works Director Fidel Maltez celebrated the day with a commendation.
A move by Councillors Damali Vidot and Enio Lopez supposedly aimed at diversifying the City’s Boards and Commissions was roundly criticized by several Council members Monday night – with Councillor Roy Avellaneda calling the drafters “cowards.”
Vidot said many on Boards and Commissions – such as the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) – have been in their volunteer seats for many years, and by enacting term limits, perhaps those bodies could become more diverse.
“Some of these boards make decisions we as a City Council have no say on and we have to face the residents,” she said. “We have people serving on some of these boards year after year. I respect the work they do, but the City is changing and maybe we need to think about diversifying these boards.”
That set off Councillor Avellaneda, who called the move “cowardly.” He noted that he had a problem with one Board member, former License Commissioner Ken Umemba, and he used the current process of Council oversight to try to remove him. That, however, he said, requires standing up and facing the dirty looks and the bad feelings.
“If you don’t want people on the Board, stand up and say ‘Thank you for your service, we don’t want you. We want someone else.’ This is cowardly. If you don’t have the guts to tell someone you don’t want them on the board to their face, then don’t do it. Standing up and doing that takes guts. It takes guts to say that to someone’s face.
“This is hypocritical,” he continued. “I can’t believe how hypocritical it is…I will fight against this. I will make a stink about this if I have to.”
Avellaneda referred to the process of Council oversight in his comments, which includes the Council having to vote for any appointment or re-appointment to all boards and commissions. The Council can vote down an appointment, which would require the city manager to put a new candidate forth.
Councillor Lopez said he was offended by being called cowardly in putting the idea forward. He said it had nothing to do with that.
“I’m not a coward,” he said. “We did this because we want to see change. Maybe it didn’t happen when you wanted it, but now it’s a different year and a different time. We want to see more people volunteer…We want people who want to come. The idea is to have different faces and not just the people who have been there all the time.”
That said, there isn’t exactly a line out the door waiting to serve on Chelsea’s boards and commissions. Many seats go unfilled, and a number of boards have trouble making a quorum in order to be able to have an official meeting – even critical boards like the Planning Board that can hold up development.
Councillor Giovanni Recupero brought that to everyone’s attention.
“If people don’t want to come serve on these boards, nothing will change,” he said. “The City needs to try to recruit people to sit on these boards. If no one wants to do it, then the people there should do it and I thank them for what they do because no one else wants to.”
Councillor Matt Frank had a good point in citing Chelsea’s history of corruption, and how the boards and commissioners purposely spread out power.
“In the past, too much power was centralized in only a few hands,” he said. “Our boards and commissions system de-centralized the power over all these boards and commissions. If you are proposing something, you might need to go to Economic Development, Zoning, Planning, and the License Commission. That’s a lot of people to go before. There was a time in the City when you had to grease one hand and you got things done. We don’t want to see that again.”
The matter was defeated by a vote of 2-8, with only Vidot and Lopez voting for it.
Since I announced my candidacy for District 5 City Councillor, I have had the opportunity to speak and meet with many of you about your vision for the district. Each conversation has reminded me once again that our city’s greatest asset is our people.
Whether you live on Beacon, Ash, Cottage, Chester Avenue, or Lynn Streets, we all share a common commitment to doing everything we can to make our community and district stronger.
For over 20 years, I have lived here in our great city and district as a homeowner, and as a community activist, one that cares deeply in the direction that our city is heading.
As an activist along with other concerned residents, we were able to lower the speed limit in our city to 25 miles per hour. Also we were able to make our streets safer by working with City Hall and others to raise the streets to their highest levels to help combat the safety concerns of our residents. In addition I have been a strong advocate of a healthier and cleaner Chelsea. Having been a member of the Chelsea Enhancement Team, Chelsea Shines, and the Beautification Committee, and a supporter Green Roots, the city is looking much better. The air quality is getting better, and both the homeowners and business owners are maintaining their properties better, all because of the commitment and hard work of concerned residents and myself.
Yes, there is still much more work to be done in our district. Being a current member for eight years on Planning Board, one of several of my concerns is to make sure that our residents are being forced out of their city that they have called home for many years. I also want to make sure that all new developments have fair and adequate affordable housing both at rental price and percentage of housing units.
With the recent Inclusionary Zoning Ordiance of 30, 50, 80, this will will help to insure housing for our residents. Being involved with the Re-Imaging process of the Downtown Business District, we are in desperate need of housing in this area. I will work hard to make sure that our city does not become an unaffordable city for those who choose to live here.
I will continue to make sure that City Hall and all departments are fiscally sound. I am committed to working with all departments, item by item, prior to and during the budget hearings. I will look to see where we able to save our residents money.
I am running because I want to be your voice at City Hall. As a district, we deserve a leader that is ready to work on Day 1. I am a person that is committed to the district and willing and able to vote with the residents that you are to serve.
District 5 deserves a councillor that wants to help lead our city and district. I believe that our city is on the verge of receiving amazing and wonderful opportunities. We as residents have an opportunity to grab this moment and move forward stronger together. This is why as District 5 city councillor, I will be committed to helping to continue rebuilding our city, preparing and giving our youngest residents the tools they need to succeed in their future goals. I will never stop working for you as a resident and as your city councillor.
If you believe in this vision for our city’s future – one of working together, growth, affordable housing, cleaner and safer neighborhoods, and preparing our future leaders – then I hope you will consider becoming part of our campaign.
Please vote for Henry David Wilson on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Community Action Programs Inter-City (CAPIC) Executive Director Robert Repucci and honorees Richelle Cromwell, president of the CAPIC Board of Directors, and Leo Robinson, president of the Chelsea City Council, are pictured at CAPIC’s 50TH Anniversary Celebration Tuesday at the Homewood Suites Hotel.