The development team of The Neighborhood Developers (TND) and Traggorth Development will appeal last month’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) decision to reject their 42-unit waterfront development on upper Broadway.
TND Director Rafael Mares and David Traggorth, principal of Traggorth, said they believe the project still has great value for Chelsea and for those that are being priced out of the city.
“We were motivated to propose this project because Chelsea residents are being priced out of their own city and there is an overwhelming need for all kinds of affordable housing options,” they wrote in an op-ed to the Record. “We have chosen to appeal the Zoning Board of Appeals decision because we still believe that this site offers a unique opportunity to meet critical community needs.”
Any appeal of a ZBA decision goes to Suffolk Superior Court for a hearing.
The ZBA narrowly defeated the proposal after the company engaged in several community meetings, and even changed the project after neighborhood input – lowering the height on one side and adding some market-rate units.
However, at the ZBA, the call came to reject the plan in favor of home ownership opportunities.
Chief among the opponents was Councillor Roy Avellaneda, who said the city needed people who were buying and intending to stay to preserve the community.
The op-ed said the developers agree with the idea that there needs to be more ownership, but they said they project on Broadway could not work out financially because of environmental costs.
“It is clear from the comments of those who spoke for and against the project that members of our community would like to see more opportunities for residents of Chelsea to own their own homes,” they wrote. “We agree. Opponents of the project argued that rejecting our proposal would encourage the development of homeownership opportunities and discourage more development of apartments for rent. However, the rejection of our proposal will not create any homeownership opportunities, let alone affordable ones. The limitations and costs of complying with Chapter 91 make for-sale condominiums not feasible at this site.”
While they said they want to work with the City to find ways to develop more homeownership opportunities, they also said this project was for the critical affordable housing needs of those being displaced.
This project was designed to serve current Chelsea residents who are clearly in critical need of affordable housing,” the wrote. “It is for this reason that while we work with City officials to envision how more homeownership can be built and advocate for more resources to do so, we will continue to advocate for this project.”
When Ayman Souabny looked around his school and his city, he didn’t see much of anything but concrete.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino, Council President Damali Vidot and Supt. Mary Bourque join Wright Middle students Luis Cruz-Martinez,Ayman Souabny, Sherlyn Melgar and Kevin Mizhquiri in front of the school last Friday, Oct. 19, to celebrate Arbor Day by planting a tree in front of the school. The planting was a request made by the students, fulfilled by local government.
He, and many of his students at the Wright Middle School, wanted to see trees.
And the City heard their call.
On Friday, the Chelsea Tree Board and City officials joined Souabny and several other key students who called for more trees around the Williams School building to plant a ceremonial tree in honor of Arbor Day.
“In Chelsea we need trees,” said Souabny. “Things keep changing in Chelsea and now we have none left. We need oxygen to breath and trees provide oxygen. So, I thought we should tell them to plant trees around our school…I never thought they would bring them, but they did.”
Tree Board member Julie Shannon said it’s a small gesture, but it’s one that – on Arbor Day – the students will be able to remember for a long time.
“Arbor Day is a chance for us as a community to pay special recognition to the importance of trees in our community,” she said. “I wanted to give a special thanks to the students where they are the reason we are celebrating this year’s Arbor Day at the Williams school. These students understand the numerous benefits and positive impact of more trees and took the initiative to speak up asking for more trees around the school. Well, let today be a testament that you’ve been heard and today is because of you. It’s a great lesson that you do have a voice in this community. Whether it’s getting more trees planted or other areas that need attention, speak up, you can make change happen. You should all be proud of yourselves.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said the new trees will be something students can remember for a long time.
“This is a City committed to improving the green canopy in our City,” he said. “For the students, the best thing is these trees will last 50 years or more. When you grow up and are in Chelsea, every time you see these trees, you’ll be able to tell everyone they are there because of your efforts.”
Said Supt. Mary Bourque, “You do have a voice in this community. Whenever you see a place to speak up, you know you will be heard.”
Council President Damali Vidot said many of the comments she gets from students are about the environment.
“The majority of letters I get from young people, probably 95 percent, are about improving the environment,” she said. “I thank you for speaking up and I thank the DPW for listening to our future leaders – these students.”
Principal Michelle Martiniello said she was proud of the students for getting such a thing done.
“A lot of the time we encourage them to get involved in the community, and this time, it showed great benefits,” she said.
Added Assistant Principal Adam Weldai, “It was great for them to hear local government did listen to them and will do things they ask for.”
The golden arches on Revere Beach Parkway are going to shine a little brighter.
Tuesday night, the Planning Board approved a special permit allowing for the demolition and rebuild of the McDonald’s at 170 Revere Beach Parkway.
The updated fast food restaurant will be larger than the current building and will feature a double drive-through lane, according to project engineer William Lucas. There will also be fewer parking spots and more green space on the property.
“McDonald’s is going through a nationwide rebranding program at all its restaurants,” said Lucas.
In many locations, that means major renovations. But in Chelsea, Lucas said the demolition and rebuild of the restaurant will help improve accessibility inside and outside the restaurant.
“This will bring the restaurant into compliance and improve operations,” he said. “They are implementing a side-by-side drive-through instead of the single file line.”
The current drive-through lane is parallel to Washington Avenue, while the new window will face Revere Beach Parkway. The size of the building itself is slated to increase from 3,500 to 4,400 square feet, and the number of parking spaces will decrease from 65 to 32.
Planning Board Chairman Tuck Willis asked how long the demolition and rebuild will take once work gets underway.
“Generally, it gets done in less than 60 days,” said Lucas.
Board member Todd Taylor said he did have some concerns about the project if the construction affects Washington Avenue.
“The traffic there is such a bad problem,” said Taylor. “That is the main way out of Prattville, and in the mornings, there is a huge backup and people cannot get out of the neighborhood.”
Other than the McDonald’s vote, it was a fairly low-key evening for the Planning Board, as it approved special permits to convert several single-family homes to multi-family units.
The massive, 630-unit Forbes Street project was continued to the board’s Nov. 27 meeting.
The most excitement during the meeting came during a thunderstorm, when several board members were startled during an especially close and loud boomer.
Nine Chelsea liquor stores have hired an attorney and filed an appeal with the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) regarding last May’s ‘nip’ ban of small alcoholic beverage bottles (100 mL or less), a policy that was renewed at a recent meeting in September.
Attorney Louis Cassis has filed an appeal with the ABCC on behalf of Chelsea Liquors, Inc. (Heller’s); 180 Broadway Liquor Inc. (Chelsea Liquor Mart); Pamukhan Corp. (Bridge Liquors); Canadian Liquors, Inc. (Broadway Variety 2); Finemart, Inc.; KB Corp. (Yogi’s); Nilam, Inc. (Caribbean Liquors); SAR Convenience, Inc. (Shop N Go); and Banwait Liquors, Inc. (One Stop).
The policy was enacted after several hearings last spring aimed at reducing litter and preventing vagrancy in areas around liquor stores. Many in the public and the Commission felt that the small liquor bottles were an enabling factor to the litter and the vagrancy.
Another provision in the policy was they could not sell any alcohol product under $3.
Attorney Cassis said his clients felt the change altered their licenses in a way that made their businesses suffer.
“The Board’s action in prohibiting the sale of containers of spirits of 100mL or less and imposing a voluntary ban on containers priced below $3 is a modification of the liquor license within state law,” read the complaint. “The action of the Board is so modifying the license was unsupported by substantial evidence; arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion…; unsupported by specific findings of fact or by the evidence; based upon error of law; made upon unlawful procedure; violative of its own policies and procedures; and in excess of the statutory authority of the board.”
The attorney said his clients sought a review before the ABCC and would reverse the actions made on his clients.
The ‘nip’ ban was followed up by an effort to also ban small bottles of 250 mL or less, but that effort was tabled in favor of a voluntary ban that is being promoted among the liquor store owners.
The review before the ABCC will likely be a test case for the entire state as many urban municipalities have also sought to ban ‘nip’ bottles from their licensed package stores. Already, Everett has taken a step in that direction as well as other surrounding cities.
The Chelsea Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meeting on Sep.11 saw a focused gathering of concerned Chelsea residents fighting against YIHE Forbes, LLC and their new construction proposal, among other Chelsea zoning appeals.
Hosted at the Senior Center across from City Hall, the proposal attracted a larger audience as the ZBA meeting slowly proceeded from appeal to appeal, but more attendants poured in as Forbes’ lawyer Paul Feldman began speaking.
The planned project would be located across the train tracks opposite of Crescent Avenue on Forbes Street, providing only one entrance and exit and limited space for development.
“A $25 million investment doesn’t work on this size of space,” said Feldman in reference to previous 2015 plans that called for a much larger project with skyscrapers and hundreds of housing units.
Returning with a new plan from a similar proposal in 2015, YIHE presented their renewed project for an estimated 18 acre total reconstruction of Forbes Street in Chelsea to provide 630 residential units across roughly 700,000 sq. ft. with a 3-acre reconstructed public waterfront pathway for public use. There are a planned 80 studios, 330 one-bedroom, and 220 two-bedroom apartments to be available.
Feldman estimated that there would be approximately a $1.7 million tax revenue return for Chelsea.
“There are going to be $3 million in building and department fees estimated,” Feldman added.
Those opposed to the developing project also raised concerned criticism at the lack of transparency with the official costs and how exactly the tax revenue will be invested back into local community needs, with residents pointing out a lack of outreach to local schools.
The new plan cuts the 2015 sizing plan to less than half its original size (approx. 1.5 million sq. ft.). However, Chelsea residents continue to express their discontent with the project.
RoseannBongiovanni quickly fired back after Feldman, chief project engineer Richard Salvo, and traffic engineer Jeffrey Dirk completed their respective informational presentations concerning development.
“I’m offended by so much of what you’ve said here tonight,” Bongiovanni began, adding “I can’t go [to the new development] because I have two children. Because you are not family friendly.”
Bongiovanni is not the only concerned Chelsea resident; Crescent Avenue homeowners are worried about future traffic being even more congested, while others see a combination of other problems unfolding.
Among the major issues that locals raised included: an additional estimated 170 cars added to local transit, insufficient emergency egress, lack of community consulting, transparency of project plans, an 80 percent calculated median average income based cost for the proposed studios and apartments, parking, lack of community investment, a very low-height seawall (11 ft.), and the size of the infrastructure.
“Every time the community has raised a concern, it’s fallen on deaf ears,” Bongiovanni stated.
Many residents said they don’t believe a vast majority of the community could even afford to live in the new development, leading to even less of a desire to accept the proposal.
After more than two hours of presentations with strong appeals from both sides, the meeting concluded.
The project will be revisited and decided upon at the Oct. 9 ZBA meeting.
CLOSET DRAWS CONTROVERSY
In other matters, a total of nine projects were presented, with three approved by the board and five others continued to either the Planning Board meeting on Sep. 25 or the next Zoning Board meeting on Oct. 9.
A noteworthy case was 34 Beacon St. and Carol Brown’s plans to create an extended closet in very limited space between her property and neighboring 32 Beacon St.
Brown appealed that she retained the right to remodel her property and create the extension, while two neighbors retained that due to flooding problems and snow accumulation on the planned closet, it shouldn’t be allowed.
“We have bent over backwards for these neighbors,” stated Brown.
There seemed to be a neighborhood blame game being thrown back and forth between the three homeowners. Despite Brown’s two neighbors declining to going on record, the tension between the three was palpable.
The project was approved with conditions, especially concerning sitting and freezing water on Brown’s property.
TEMPLE ON GARFIELD AVE WITHDRAWS
Of interest, the previous ZBA meeting on Aug.14 had seen TapanChowdhury introduce a project for a Buddhist Temple on 165 Garfield Ave., but the appeal for that project has since been withdrawn.
The remaining appeals that were approved had conditions set upon them, while the remainder of the appeals were moved to subsequent meetings due to needed revisions for the project.
The ZBA will be meeting again on October 9 at 6 p.m. in the Senior Center.
The Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation awarded $2.4 million to Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) to establish the Early College program at BHCC, marking the largest private grant awarded in the College’s history.
The announcement was made in Chelsea Wednesday afternoon at an event celebrating the early college designation to Chelsea High School’s Early College program by the Baker-Polito Administration. Board Members from the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation joined Governor Charlie Baker to see firsthand the impact of Early College. At the event, Governor Baker and the legislators in attendance heard from four Chelsea High School students who shared how their experiences in the program influenced their decision to pursue a college-level program.
Transformation to a Consolidated Early College Model
The funding from the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation allows BHCC to consolidate its Early College efforts into a core model that anticipates growth in scale and performance, as well as distillation and dissemination of its promising practices to the field. The $2.4 million grant covers a three-year project horizon, and will serve more than 500 high school students, coming from a portfolio of partnerships with high school and community-based organizations in Greater Boston.
“We are so thankful to the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation for this extraordinary grant. It allows us to consolidate and scale our early work, to gather data and evidence of success and to make a strong case to the leaders of the Commonwealth that Early College is a viable and scalable solution to talent and economic development,” said BHCC President Pam Eddinger.
An early adopter of Early College, BHCC currently collaborates with seven high schools and community-based organizations, serving nearly 500 early college students in addition to almost 400 participants in dual enrollment. Increasing demand and initial successes with traditionally underserved students and the potential for greater educational equity and student achievement pressed the College to consolidate the Early College efforts into a core model and make it central to the College’s Mission. The grant supports the Early College effort exactly at this important inflection point and gives the College the financial and structural lift to reach the next level of success.
“The Foundation’s Board of Trustees is pleased to be partnering with one of the Commonwealth’s leading community colleges to bring a transformative model proven in other states to Greater Boston. By bridging high school and college experiences, Early College will help many students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and enjoy the benefits of the Commonwealth’s strong economy,” said Lynne Doblin, Executive Director of The Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation.
Early College: A Cross-Segment Convergence in Education Strategy
This important work signals a convergence of new thinking from education leaders and policymakers around the State.
“An important goal of the Early College program is exposing students to college-level work while they are still in high school so they can envision themselves on a track toward a college degree,” said Governor Baker at Wednesday’s event. “The college-level experience, combined with the credits they earn in the courses, sets many students up for success by the time they arrive on a campus.”
The Secretary of Education, the Board of Higher Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education all support the effort to recognize Early College work by awarding designations to strong partnerships around the Commonwealth, with the promise of sustainable funding in the near future. These designations, of which BHCC is a part, will stimulate experimentation, document effective practice and demonstrate impact.
The standard-setting work of BHCC’s Early College will be a powerful proof point, and the data to be gathered over the next three years will provide strong evidence as to the efficacy of Early College as a way to increase high school graduation and college completion and broaden career exploration.
After six years as head of Massport, CEO Thomas Glynn announced last week that he would step down from the post
After six years on the job, Massport CEO Thomas Glynn has resigned and will leave his post in November.
in November, a year earlier than his contract.
Glynn said his last days at Massport will be in November even though his contract will expire in 2019.
“This is a great job, but after six years and at the age of 72, I feel it is a good time to pass the baton to the next leader who will have the chance to lead a great team,” said Glynn.
Glynn took over the reins at Massport in September 2012 and was picked from a field of over 40 candidates. The Board confirmed him unanimously that year, noting his vast senior leadership experience and his commitment to public service.
Leo Robinson, longtime Chelsea city councillor-at-large, thanked Glynn for his work at Massport and his responsiveness to issues raised by the city’s residents.
“Mr. Glynn has had an outstanding tenure at Massport,” said Robinson. “He did some very good things for our city. I feel our relationship with Massport improved during his time as CEO and I hope we continue to have a continuing strong connection with his successor.”
According to state leaders Glynn’s tenure as Executive Director and CEO at Massport will be remembered for the growth of international flights at Logan Airport; revitalization of the Working Port of Boston and Worcester Regional Airport; and the Omni Hotel diversity initiative.
“Throughout his tenure leading Massport, Tom Glynn has been a tireless advocate for furthering the Commonwealth’s reputation as an international destination,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Tom’s hard work to expand service at Logan and the Commonwealth’s other transportation hubs has driven economic activity across Massachusetts, and I thank him for his years of dedication and service.”
“Tom Glynn has guided Massport through an historic era of airport expansion, continuing the unfortunate trends of previous Massport CEO’s,” said East Boston organization AirInc. in a statement, the neighborhood’s Massport environmental mitigation watchdog group. “Since 2012, when Mr. Glynn accepted the appointment to lead the Massachusetts Port Authority, airport passenger activity at Boston’s landlocked airport has increased 37 percent according to their own reports. Along with this growth, has come additional beneficial economic activity, which the Port Authority is quick to point out. If Mr. Glynn’s success is to be measured by the growth of airport operations, his tenure at the helm of Boston Logan has been a wild success. However, the expansions Mr. Glynn has set in place are unsustainable. At its current rate of 5 percent annual growth, Logan will surpass 90 million passengers by 2035. Nighttime operations, traffic, and noise will more than double. And emissions will increase by 174 percent.”
AirInc. hopes the next CEO of Massport will make significant adjustments without pushing expansion further.
However, some like Massport Board member and Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack argued that Glynn made relationships building with the Authority’s neighborhood communities a top priority.
“Tom Glynn has done an exceptional job leading Massport, ensuring that Logan Airport is a good neighbor while at the same time growing the number of passengers and domestic and international destinations served,” said Pollack.
Massport’s CFO John Pranckevicius will serve as acting CEO beginning November 17, 2018.
Massport Board member and East Boston resident John Nucci said the Board will begin a search process that may extend beyond Glynn’s departure date.
“Tom’s departure is a major loss for Massport and for the affected communities,” said Nucci. “He knew how to listen to neighbors and put a premium on giving back to those neighborhoods that had to live with Logan’s impacts. As a board, we have a major challenge ahead of us finding someone to fill his shoes. As we search for a successor to Tom, I hope the board will be looking for someone with demonstrated public sector experience. The secret to Tom’s success was his ability to navigate the halls of government with great skill.”
Chelsea Jewish Lifecare (CJL), a highly respected leader in senior living with campuses in Chelsea and Peabody, and JGS Lifecare (JGS) a leading health care system serving seniors and their families in western Massachusetts,
(L-R) Susan Goldsmith, chair of the board JGS Lifecare, Adam Berman, president CJL, and Barry Berman, CEO of CJL.
announced their intention to affiliate.
“Affiliating our two organizations makes a great deal of sense at this time,” said Adam Berman, president of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare. “CJL and JGS share the same mission, philosophy, values and goals. We both strive to provide the highest possible quality of care. For us, this common synergy is the key to a long and successful relationship.”
“Our organizations are similar and like-minded in many regards,” said Susan Goldsmith, chair of the board for JGS Lifecare. “Both are centenarian organizations that have been serving seniors for over 100 years. We are both non-profit, faith-based and founded on Jewish principles while serving people of all faiths. We offer the same spectrum of services, including skilled nursing, long-term care, short-term rehabilitation, home health and hospice, assisted living, independent living, and adult day health care. Above all, our commitment to providing the best possible care for our elderly community is the driving force behind both institutions and all we do.”
The relationship between CJL and JGS has developed over recent years. After Chelsea Jewish opened the award-winning Leonard Florence Center for Living in 2010, the country’s first urban model Green House skilled nursing facility, JGS consulted with CJL in preparation for the construction of its own Green House model. The highly acclaimed Sosin Center for Rehabilitation opened in 2016 on the Longmeadow campus. This affiliation is therefore a natural progression of the developing relationship between the two organizations. Once consummated, CJL will manage the daily affairs of JGS in accordance with the direction set by the JGS Board of Directors.
“This affiliation is beneficial to both institutions and will ensure our stability and future growth for generations to come,” continued Goldsmith. “It’s no secret that across the health care continuum, it’s become increasingly important for organizations to come together for long-term viability, to learn best practices from each other and to better serve the greater good.”
“We believe this is a terrific opportunity for us to combine our expertise to better serve the growing senior population across the state of Massachusetts,” said Barry Berman, CEO of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare. “Our combined resources and economies of scale will ensure the future growth and enhancement of all of our services.”
The Residence Inn by Marriott on Maple Street has petitioned the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to expand their 128-room hotel by another 68 rooms.
The expansion would take place in the existing surface lot to the north of the hotel. The idea would be to create a 200-room dual branded hotel, which is a current direction in the lodging industry.
The expansion would add 28,234 sq. ft. to the existing structure. The majority of the hotel is extended stay rooms now, but there would be 12 non-extended stay rooms created during the expansion, if approved.
A special permit is required for parking because 118 spaces are required, and only 86 are provided. A Site Plan Review process is also required.
The matter has been in front of the ZBA already for a preliminary hearing, and a vote on the the project is expected at this month’s meeting.
Sen. Sal DiDomenico recently joined with Reps. Daniel Ryan and RoseLee Vincent to congratulate Roseann Bongiovanni on being recognized as an Unsung Heroine by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women (MCSW).
Each year the MCSW recognizes women across the Commonwealth who make outstanding, yet perhaps unnoted, contributions to their communities.
Sen. DiDomenico and Representative Ryan nominated Bongiovanni, the executive director of the Chelsea-based environmental justice organization GreenRoots, for her efforts over the past 21 years to improve environmental conditions and quality of life in Chelsea.
On June 20 Bongiovanni was honored at the MCSW’s Unsung Heroines Celebration at the State House.
“I was happy to join Rep. Ryan and present Roseann with our citations.” said Senator DiDomenico. “This is a well-deserved honor for Roseann, who has made it her life’s work to assist individuals and families that need our help the most, and for her tireless efforts on environmental justice issues in our community.”
The Board, staff and members of GreenRoots were happy to hear the leader of their organization was getting credit for her years of work.
“On behalf of the Board, staff and members of GreenRoots, we would like to recognize Rosie for being recognized by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women as an Unsung Heroine of 2018,” read a statement from the organization. “Rosie was chosen as the Unsung Heroine for our District. We are lucky to have her as a model of leadership and unwavering commitment to our community.”