At a packed house in the GreenRoots office
Tuesday night, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley said she would use her legislative
power to help improve issues of transportation inequity for her constituents.
The Chelsea Transit Equity Roundtable was one of a series of meetings Pressley is holding throughout the 7th Congressional District to gather input about the issues affecting the region, she said.
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley was on hand at GreenRoots Tuesday night to discuss Transit Equity in Chelsea and throughout the district.
While the evening focused on issues
surrounding public transportation and pedestrian and bicycling access, the
Congresswoman did also touch on her thanks for local support from Chelsea, her
first 100 days in office, and her gratitude for the activism of GreenRoots and
other local organizations.
“I appreciate that when I come to Chelsea,
they always put me to work,” said Pressley. “I think GreenRoots is at the
center of community building. GreenRoots is such an inclusive movement.”
Pressley said the idea behind the equity
roundtables for transportation and other issues is to create an intimate space
to actively listen to residents about their needs and concerns.
“Developing the best and most sustainable
legislative solutions is what we are after,” said Pressley. “Inequities and
disparity did not just happen, they were made by policy, and that’s why the
mitigation has to be through lawmaking.”
Some of the highlights of the roundtable
included discussions of transit challenges for the disabled, for cyclists, and
for young people.
Disability rights activist Colleen Flanagan
pointed out that Boston and the surrounding area have taken steps to make
transportation more accessible to disabled people, but that there is still a
long way to go. She said price increases and attacks on non-emergency medical
transportation are having a negative impact on disabled public transportation
“We need to continue to show that access to
transportation is a civil right,” said Flanagan.
Pressley also talked about the public
transportation issues facing young people, especially low income youth who rely
on MBTA buses and the subway.
One youth leader Pressley spoke with said
she feels like she is punished because she is a low-income person who has no
other options for transportation.
Cycling educator and activist Gamal Smith
made his way to the Chelsea roundtable from Chelsea on two wheels.
“It’s faster and more reliable to be on two
wheels for almost any distance” in the Boston area, Smith said.
But while cycling can be faster than other
modes of transportation, Smith said there are still many challenges for
cyclists, including safety, with a multitude of roads that have no safe
crossings for cyclists or pedestrians.
Smith said the speed of getting around on
two wheels also highlights the at-times substandard service of buses and other
public transportation options. He said his son takes the MBTA bus to school,
and it can wreak havoc on keeping track of schedules.
“I shouldn’t have to wonder if it’s going to
take my kid a half-hour or an hour when he comes home on the bus,” said Smith.
Pressley encouraged anyone who wants to continue
the discussion on transit equity, or equity on other issues, to use the hashtag
#APequityagenda on social media.
Vietnam veterans unveiling the boulder and a plaque during the Vietnam Veterans boulder rededication ceremony. The boulder has been moved from Malone Park to a new location between the Williams House and Vinnie’s Place due to construction on the campus. During the ceremony, Vietnam veteran Larry Clarke salutes as the names of those from Chelsea who died in Vietnam were read aloud.
Allison Mendez, Damaris Martinez, and Gisele Ribas show off their Salvadoran pride during the Kelly School’s annual Multicultural Night on Thursday, March 28. Tables with food and cultural information was available for nations around the world.
Luke Miller, Rose Woodard and Nicole Calderone at Night Shift’s new coffee bar at their brand new Lovejoy Wharf brewery and scratch kitchen in Boston. The popular beer brewer has expanded into the coffee business and will soon begin roasting their coffee beans in Chelsea.
Night Shift Brewery announced this week that it is venturing beyond beer and into the coffee market – and they plan to roast their coffee in Chelsea.
Co-Founder Michael Oxton said the company
will have equipment installed at their Chelsea corporate headquarters to begin
roasting coffee beans for the new operation.
The announcement came on the eve of the
opening of Night Shift’s new Lovejoy Wharf location in Boston, which serves as
the stepping off point for new venture into coffee and coffee roasting.
“We added coffee now and will be roasting
our own beans very soon in Chelsea with our own roasting equipment,” he said.
“We’re trying to get it up and running and we expect that very soon. Right now
we are contract roasting it with a company in Rhode Island, but we’ll be doing
it ourselves very soon.”
Like having a discriminating palate for
beers, Oxton said he and his colleagues at Night Shift also have a taste for
good coffee. They had always wanted to try making their own, and with the new
venture, they thought now would be the time.
He said it’s something they will grow
slowly, introducing it in Boston and seeing how the public perceives it.
However, the plans are to eventually
introduce it at the original Everett taproom as well.
starting it off at Lovejoy, but we’ll be looking to add a coffee bar in Everett
too,” he said. “That’s the goal.”
In a move that could dramatically reduce the
commute times for Chelsea 111 bus riders, the City of Boston announced they are
planning on installing a dedicated bus lane on North Washington Street from
Causeway to Haymarket – a key clogging point for riders heading into Haymarket
It would be a move that would accommodate
the 111 bus routes and two Charlestown bus routes, and Boston officials said
the new lane could reduce travel times by as much as 25 percent.
“We are planning on building an exclusive
bus lane on North Washington Street from the intersection at Causeway Street
after the bridge to Haymarket,” said Vineet Gupta, director of planning at the
Boston Transportation Department (BTD). “It would be a dedicated bus lane 24/7
on the inbound side. Right now, we’re working with the MBTA to install that bus
BTD Director Gina Fiandaca said they have
been working closely with Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and the MBTA on the North
Washington Street bus lane, and hope that they can get it done as early in 2019
as possible. She said that stretch of the bus route is often the most
congested, and riders often find themselves waiting longer on the bus for the
last leg than it would take them to walk.
“This inbound bus lane will have the
opportunity to move along at a quicker pace than the rest of the traffic,” she
said. “Another good part of this is in the future when the North Washington
Street Bridge is completed, it will have a bus lane as well. That will provide
a connection with this new lane to have one unbroken exclusive bus lane from
Charlestown when the Bridge is done.”
In order to accomplish the new lane, the
City will have to remove some metered parking spaces and a commercial parking
space, but a large chunk of the stretch is a large bus stop and ‘no parking’
Gupta said they have no clear data yet on
the time it could save commuters going inbound – though they will begin keeping
that data very soon. However, in Roslindale where they installed a bus lane last
year, commutes were shortened by 25 percent. The same data also presented
itself in Everett two years ago when they put a dedicated bus lane on Broadway
The announcement was one of several made by
Boston Mayor Walsh at the Greater Boston Municipal Research Bureau meeting on
The North Washington Street bus lane would be
the first one in effect 24 hours a day in Boston.
Chelsea real estate agent Jeffrey Bowen said
all the hard work by city officials over the past 20 years is paying off.
“Chelsea is booming,” says Bowen. “City
Managers Jay Ash and Tom Ambroino, the city councilors, and the community have
brought it back to where we are now. Chelsea is the No. 1 gateway city in
America with the lowest price-per-foot next to a major metropolitan city
Bowen knows much the city’s resurgence and the booming real estate scene. He is currently marketing his third major project, Parker Place, 12 new luxury condominiums at the corner of Parker Street and Spencer Avenue. The developer for the three projects has been Jason Roback of Roback Real Estate.
“Jason prides himself in bringing value and
quality to the future residents of Chelsea,” credited Bowen.
Bowen and his partner, Sandra Castillo, of
ERA Russell Realty Group, will host an open house each Saturday and Sunday
(12-2 p.m.) at Parker Place, which is already drawing significant interest
among prospective buyers.
Bowen’s previous successes span the city,
notably the Beacon Condominiums (81 Broadway) and the Thomas Martin Lofts (204
Parker Place, located at 87 Parker St, is a
seven-story building featuring 12 units: 11 two-bed, two-bath, one two-bed,
one-bath. Five of the units have garage parking, seven have outdoor spots. Out
of the 11 two-bed, two-bath units, one is an affordable unit for medium-income
residents (price to be determined by the City of Chelsea).
According to Bowen and Castillo, the prices
at Parker Place range from $449,000 to $539,000.
condo has air-conditioning, maple hardwood flooring, custom kitchens, and
stainless-steel appliances,” said Bowen. “This in an elevator building. Four of
the units have roof decks. Eight of the units have balconies.”
Bowen said the area has become one of the
hottest in the greater Boston real estate market.
“You have the DaVinci Lofts (960 Broadway),
the Industrie Lofts (950 Broadway), the Spencer Lofts (60 Dudley St.), the Keen
Lofts (220 Spencer Ave.), and the Thomas Martin Lofts (204 Spencer Ave.),’ said
And the boon is continuing, with the Chelsea
Zoning Board’s approval Tuesday night of the Forbes Development that will
consist of 590 units.
A good time to buy
There is no time like the present to invest
in Chelsea, according to Bowen.
“Condominium prices are 25-50 percent higher
a mile or two away in East Boston and Charlestown,” said Bowen. “Downtown
Boston and the Seaport District (South Boston) is double and triple. Chelsea is
still very affordable. It’s a good time to buy. You get more bang for your
buck. There is room to grow here.”
Other advantages for buyers are access to
Route 1, the Silver Line, five bus routes, and a commuter rail. Five new hotels
in Chelsea also underline the fact that the city is flourishing. The new Encore
Casino opens in Everett in June.
Bowen takes personal pride in Chelsea’s
resurgence. A resident of the city, he was featured in a recent segment on
Channel 5’s “Chronicle,” showcasing all the good things that are happening
“Sandra and I are our team and we work well
together helping people find the residence of their dreams,” said Bowen, who
has been No. 1 in the luxury condominium segment of real estate in Chelsea. “I
have a relationship with a lender that has a program with rates as low as 3.69
percent on a 30-year fixed mortgage that also includes $7,000-lender-paid
closing costs (for qualified buyers).”
Said Castillo, “Whenever we go in to a
building, we actually get the highest price for the seller. We also get calls
from previous buyers and we’ve been able to double their investment. Our condos
don’t last very long on the market because they are such a great value and they
have everything people are looking for.”
information about Parker Place Condominums, please email
Under the leadership of Executive Director
Robert Reppucci, Community Action Programs Inter City (CAPIC) has been a
national model in addressing the needs of low-income families in Chelsea,
Revere, and Winthrop.
CAPIC’s fuel assistance program has been one
of its most utilized services, aiding more than 2,700 residents in the three
Since his appointment last July as energy
director, Giancarlo DeSario has overseen the program that is in its sixth
decade of existence. The recent addition
of well-known Chelsea community leader Henry Wilson as an outreach coordinator
has also helped expande the program and bring recognition to the valuable
services CAPIC provides in many areas.
DeSario explained the process by which
residents can apply for fuel assistance.
“If someone finds themselves in need –
whether they’re a tenant, homeowner, family or single person – they should call
the CAPIC fuel assistance line to set up an appointment,” said DeSario. “We
would conduct an interview with the individual and review all their paperwork.
We’ll let them know if we need additional information and then we’ll process
their application in about 30-45 days.”
Candidates for fuel assistance must meet
some income guidelines.
“In order to qualify for fuel assistance,
you need to be at 60 per cent of the state median income, which for a single
person would be $35,510; for a family of four people, it would be $68,280,”
CAPIC’s program covers heating expenses
between the months of November and April.
According to DeSario, the fuel assistance
program is funded through federal and state grants. CAPIC is currently waiting
for a supplemental budget to be approved by the state.
“What we’re looking for is $30 million extra
dollars in funding to help out with this heating season, but we’re looking
closer to receiving $11 million,” said DeSario. He indicated that CAPIC has
been working with Chelsea’s state legislators to secure additional funding.
DeSario has made a point during his tenure
to “get out in the field” and meet individual clients. He has earned praise for
“I’m always available – I hand out my direct
extension to clients all the time,” said DeSario. “I find it’s really important
that if you’re going to serve clients correctly, you have to be in touch with
them and understand their needs.”
DeSario has local roots
Giancarlo DeSario grew up in Maine, but he
has always had local connections. “I’ve been coming to East Boston since I was
a child. My mother (Yolanda DeSario) moved here from Italy when she was 10
years old. And my grandmother (Maria Caserta) has been living in East Boston for
DeSario attended high school in Maine and
graduated from Roger Williams University where he studied Business and Legal
He began his career in woodworking and was
promoted to the position of project manager, working with clients in Manhattan
and Long Island, New York.
From there, DeSario entered the solar
industry as a district site surveyor and rose through the company to become
operations manager, overseeing several projects
throughout the New England region.
DeSario came to CAPIC last July. “I saw a
position was open and I applied for it. I was ready to go back to my old job
when I got a call from Executive Director Robert Repucci, requesting that I
come in for an interview.”
the entire staff at CAPIC and residents throughout the area, DeSario has come
to appreciate Repucci’s exceptional leadership of the agency. Repucci arrived
at CAPIC in 1972 and has been of Chelsea’s most influential and revered
“Mr. Repucci is an outstanding leader of
CAPIC and in the community as a whole,” said DeSario. “He really pushes you to
be a better person. He’s inspiring. He wants you to put people ahead of
yourself, and you can tell, because he does that. He leads by example and I
respect that about him.”
DeSario has also been impressed by the
dedicated and knowledgeable staff at CAPIC.
“I was fortunate to come in to an agency
where we have some really key players who know the programs in and out,” said
DeSario. “The transition in to this industry was tough, because you don’t know
it – but I was lucky to have a very good support group here to help out. They
really care about the programs succeeding.”
DeSario said he finds his job rewarding and
he appreciates the kind words from clients.
“There is nothing
better than when we get a letter (of gratitude) or a phone call from a client
who had no heat and we were able to restore a heating system that went out
overnight, replace a heating system with a new one, or weatherize someone’s
home,” said DeSario.
Chelsea Collaborative staff members are busy
helping residents prepare for rewarding career opportunities at Encore Boston
Harbor, slated to open in Everett this June. Encore Boston Harbor, the
first five-star urban gaming resort in the U.S, plans to hire over 5,000
workers for a range of rewarding hospitality careers. For more information,
More than 175 career-seekers participated in
workshops in recent weeks alone on resume writing and how to create a
Skillsmart profile. Skillsmart is a portal that helps match peoples’ interests
with positions at Encore Boston Harbor. “We are proud to create pathways
to better paying positions, so our residents can achieve better economic
mobility, and don’t have to work two jobs just to make ends meet for them and
their families,” said Sylvia Ramirez, Workforce Development Manager at Chelsea
Chelsea Collaborative is part of Encore
Boston Harbor’s community action network. Encore Boston Harbor is
committing $10 million over the next four years to support a wide range of
social programs and civic institutions that will help those in need and improve
the lives of residents in local communities.
Collaborative is leading the Chelsea 500 coalition, which mission is to engage
the City, businesses, and local non-profits to create a workforce pipeline so
that 500+ residents can gain the skills and support necessary to apply for
positions at Encore Boston Harbor. While Chelsea 500 capitalizes on the
casino opening, its longer- term ambition is to build local workforce
development capacity to improve Chelsea residents’ odds of securing employment
in the near term, and to work with industry leaders to help diversify the
employment options. Members of the coalition include City of
Chelsea, Chelsea Collaborative, TND/Connect, Chelsea Housing
Authority, Chelsea Recreation and Cultural Affairs Division, Bunker
Hill Community College, Casino Action Network.
A roomful of commuters and elected officials
roundly rejected proposed MBTA fare hikes during a public meeting on Wednesday,
Feb. 27, at the State Transportation Building in Boston.
Steve Poftak, general manager of the MBTA, outlined
the increases, which would go into effect July 1 and raise fares an average of
6.3 percent system-wide.
Under the proposal, the cost of a local bus
Charlie Card would increase to $1.80 from $1.70 while a subway Charlie Card
would rise to $2.40 from the current $2.25. The monthly LinkPass, which
provides unlimited bus and subway travel for one customer, would jump to $90
from $84.50, and a seven-day LinkPass would rise to $22.50 from $21.25.
The proposed fare increase would bring in
$32 million in additional revenue to help recoup losses against the budget
shortfall of $111 million projected for the next fiscal year.
The last hike came in July of 2016, which
raised fares an average of 9.3 percent across the system, but since that time,
the Legislature has passed a law limiting fare hikes to a maximum of 7
percent every two years.
After Poftak’s opening remarks, City
Councilor Michelle Wu presented T officials with a petition she circulated
calling for unlimited year-round passes for seniors and children, as well as a
lower fare for the city’s poorest residents, which had already garnered 2,700
signatures by the time the meeting commenced.
“This moment in history demands aggressive
action against the threats of income inequality and climate change,” Wu said.
“Sustainable, affordable, reliable public transit is fundamental to providing
Boston residents with the greatest access to jobs, schools, and opportunities
beyond their home neighborhoods.”
State Rep. Adrian Madaro, who represents
East Boston, read from a letter on behalf of the Boston Legislative Delegation
urging the MBTA board of directors to hold off on fare hikes at this time.
“Public transportation is a vital resource
for residents of Boston, and especially for low-income individuals, seniors and
students who rely on MBTA service as their primary means of transportation,”
the letter read in part. “We realize fares bring needed revenue to the
operations of our public transportation system, but understanding how higher
fares affect these vulnerable populations is essential to striking the right
balance between funding and public accessibility to transportation services. We
believe that there needs to be a more in-depth discussion with the MBTA about
the background and reasoning for this proposal prior to the imposition of any
James White, chairman of MBTA Accessibility
Advisory Committee for the past 18 years, advised against raising fare until
after planned improvements are made to the Red and Orange lines, including the
replacement of both fleets by 2023.
In response to the MBTA’s own projection
that a fare hike would amount to a 1.3-percent loss in ridership, State Rep.
Andy Vargas, who represents Haverhill, said, “At a time when we have increased
ridership on the T, we should be doing everything we can to encourage that.”
State Rep. Tommy Vitolo, who represents
Brookline, took to the podium with a can of Arizona Iced Tea in hand.
costs 99 cents, says it right on the can,” he said. “It has cost 99
cents for 18 years. What the good people of Arizona Iced Tea figured out is if
you don’t improve the quality of the tea, you don’t raise the prices,”
Vitolo said before drinking from the can as the audience applauded him.
The fare increase would put an even bigger
burden on commuters living outside the city as illustrated by statements from
Egan Millard, a 27-year-old Weymouth resident who works in Cambridge and
currently pays $217.75 for his monthly commuter rail and subway pass.
“I, and I’m sure
most T riders, already feel we’re paying too much for such abysmal service,”
Millard said “Commuter rail service is so infrequent I have to plan my entire
day and sometimes week around it. I have lost, at this point, days of my life
on the T that I can’t get back.”
Supt. Mary Bourque said that for the first
time in decades, more students are leaving the Chelsea Public Schools (CPS)
than are coming in – an exodus of students that seems to be heading mostly to
“We’ve always had more students coming in
from certain communities than students leaving Chelsea for those communities,”
said Bourque this week. “Since July, we’re seeing the inverse. We have more
going out to the four communities of Lynn, Revere, Everett and Boston…A few
years ago, we were seeing an influx of students from outside of the country.
We’re seeing the reverse. We’re not seeing that influx from out of the country,
and we’re actually seeing the exodus of our families more to the North Shore
communities. The movement is more to the North Shore. I think it’s linked to
housing and affordability.”
According to CPS data, from July 1, 2019
through February 14 – 257 Chelsea students left for other communities in
Massachusetts. Of the 257, the largest pattern saw 29 going to Boston; 35 going
to Everett; 44 going to Lynn; and 34 going to Revere. Those are places that,
historically, Bourque said usually leak more students to Chelsea than Chelsea loses
to them. That trend has changed now.
The root cause could come for multiple
reasons, but Bourque said she firmly believes it all comes down to the drastic
rise in rents and housing costs in Chelsea.
“I do believe it’s the rising rental
properties around the community,” she said. “Right now, Chelsea is experiencing
it just like, if not more so, than other communities. We’re losing many, many
families. I’m seeing documents of many, many families going to Lynn in
particular. Lynn seems to be the most popular destination for families being
able to find rental properties. Secondarily, they are going to Revere, Everett
Bourque, who has studied student mobility in
depth during her career, said many studies have indicated over the years that
student population is a bellwether for the changes that are coming to a
In Chelsea, she said she believes this
latest trend in student population could be sounding an alarm for the community
to try to take action.
“This is definitely something we have to pay
attention to,” she said. “The demographics in our schools are telling of what
is coming to the community at-large. We’re the canary in the coal mine for
community shift. I see it as a positive though because we can look at it and
get out in front so we can be prepared to meet the needs of that shift.
A consequence of that loss is that the CPS
budget is likely going to shrink due to the smaller enrollments.
“We already have an issue with the
Foundation Budget at the state level being broken, and it still needs to be
fixed,” she said. “We still need to advocate for that. At the same time, we
have a confounding situation where we’re losing student enrollment that results
in a natural decrease in staffing and resources due to that lower student
enrollment. The challenge will be keeping those two budgetary issues separate
and not allowing them to blend together. They are two different issues.”
Bourque said the situation reminds her of
what Somerville Public Schools went through some years ago as it gentrified on
the back of Cambridge’s successes. At one point, she said she recalled they had
somewhere around 6,000 students enrolled in the public schools, but as that
City changed, the numbers dwindled down to around 4,000. She said Chelsea
should fight to keep that from happening here.
Looking for a wave from
Chelsea has always had a reputation and a
practice of having open arms to refugees and new immigrant populations.
Now, as new immigrant families seem to be
migrating a bit towards the North Shore, Supt. Mary Bourque said they are
keeping an eye on Brazil and Venezuela as potential sources of incoming
Bourque said immigrant groups from crisis
areas of the world typically begin showing up in Chelsea schools about 10 to 15
months after the crisis in their countries.
With the recent political upheaval in
Venezuela with its leadership, she said the federal government is considering
giving Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Venezuelans. That, she said, could
result in more students arriving from that country soon.
“It will be interesting to wait and see if
we get an influx from Venezuela,” she said. “It usually happens 15 to 18 months
after a crisis. We’ll watch to see if this summer enrollments begin to come in
from that country.”
In Brazil, she said a down economy has
already brought a trickling of new Brazilian students to the district.