Chelsea’s Juan Vega has left the Broadway headquarters of Centro Latino for the last time this week, but he’s begun a new commute to the State House at the same time – agreeing this week to join Jay Ash, state secretary for Housing and Economic Development, as a specialist in developing local leadership and community organizations statewide.
Vega will be the assistant secretary for communities and programs, and his first day on the job was yesterday, July 1.
“Last week we talked and he asked me to join his team and I accepted,” said Vega. “I’ll be joining Jay as assistant secretary for communities and programs. He has this grand vision for getting more cities and towns to plan collaboratively on economic development, especially Gateway Cities. I think Jay recognized my experience working here and my coalition and collaborative building here could help to get folks talking to each other statewide. We hope to get people talking more about developing downtowns, infrastructure and even roads.”
Ash said he was glad to have Vega working with him after many years of collaborating with him in Chelsea. He said he hopes to create the same community-based organization structure statewide that was built in Chelsea.
“I am very excited Juan said ‘yes,’” said Ash. “I have known him for many years and greatly admired his work, many times being the beneficiary of his work and many times being the target of his work. He did things thoughtfully and the right way. I’ve tapped Juan for this because I have a great deal of respect for him, both politically and as a community-based organization leader. One thing we’re really focused on here is creating leadership – producing it where it doesn’t exist and enhancing it where it does exist. Juan has been central to that effort in Chelsea. The spirit of leadership we had in Chelsea can be duplicated across the state and Juan was a big part of creating that in Chelsea.”
Ash said the position is a statewide position and will mean that Vega will be traveling the state to create a replica of Chelsea’s success model.
Vega said he has been interested in doing work for the state for some time, and considered joining former Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration a few years ago. However, when Ash was chosen as secretary, Vega said he was keenly interested in joining the team if it worked out.
“I do a ton of state contracts here at Centro Latino,” he said. “It always caught my attention and I needed a break from the non-profit scene after 17 years here and to change up the scenery a bit…It is hard. This organization is 25 years old and I am have been the head of it for 17 years. I”m the fourth executive director. When I got here, I did help build the organization and the brand and helped Centro look beyond Chelsea’s boundaries…I’m confident the organization will be fine without me. There’s a lot of work being done on education and housing. It has been bittersweet. As the final day got closer, it began to get surreal because it’s been so much a part of my life. I am able to walk to the office from my house many times and now I’ll have a regular commute into town.”
Centro Latino has put an inte
Juan Vega, formerly the executive director of Centro Latino, has started a new position as assistant secretary of communities and programs in the state Executive Officer of Housing and Community Development – which is directed by former Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash. Vega led Centro Latino for 17 years until leaving the post on Tuesday, June 30.
rim director in place for the time being.
They’ve also engaged the consultant Third Sector New England to assist the Board of Directors in searching for a permanent director to lead them onward.
Vega, who is also a commissioner at the Chelsea Housing Authority, said he was unsure if he would be able to maintain his seat on that board. He said the question has been posed and he will address that situation when he gets an answer.
After a fast and furious opposition emerged from Mill Hill neighbors to the 60-unit affordable housing apartment building proposed at the French Club over the past month, The Neighborhood Developers said it will take comments to heart, but defended the need for affordable housing in that neighborhood.
“We’ll spend the next month revising our plans and hopefully correct the problem areas and address them and continue our effort to create affordable housing for people who are living her and want to continue living her, and simply continuing Chelsea’s great revival,” said TND Director Ann Houston this week. “Clearly we’re a little surprised at the response because we know how much Chelsea needs affordable housing. We’ve been hearing from so many residents in Chelsea and city officials about the need for housing affordable to Chelsea residents who have been here. There is a growing concern about gentrification.”
She cited that the last affordable housing project they did in Chelsea garnered 1,200 applications – many more than the number of units available.
TND has been active in Chelsea for many years and successfully developed The Box District and other smaller projects in the central part of the city. However, when acquiring the French Club and its parking lot and beginning to develop near a much more traditional residential neighborhood – that being Mill Hill – the affordable housing developers ran into a wall of sudden opposition.
TND purchased the former Club for $975,000 in September 2014, and purchased the parking lot next door this past March. An extension of Spencer Avenue running between the Club and the parking lot was discontinued by the City Council in early May – and many neighbors have said they were not apprised of that change.
Hundreds of neighbors have signed petitions against the project, and many believe there is already too much affordable housing in Chelsea. Others have said they would like to see home ownership opportunities at the site.
Councillor Matt Frank, who initially supported the project, said last week that he has withdrawn that support because his constituents are so adamantly opposed to the project and because he doesn’t believe there was enough communication.
TND folks, however, said that the average income in Mill Hill is $57,000 and that’s well-within the limits for affordable housing. They also said that most of the development in that area of the City has been market rate housing, and other such market-rate developments threaten to drive up rents all over Chelsea.
“There has been right around the elementary school a fair amount of housing developed, but not for families or children,” said Houston. “We were and continue to be very excited to develop housing at this site that is really affordable to families in Chelsea and is able to get children right across the street to the Burke elementary complex. We do have to continue to make sure we have housing for people who have been in Chelsea and have been Chelsea residents and who we fear will be pushed out. We see a proposal for a 692-unit apartment complex that’s all market rate on Everett Avenue. That can help drive up rents across the community.”
Aside from that, though, Houston said they have heard Mill Hill loud and clear.
“We have heard concerns neighbors have raised and we’re taking them very, very seriously,” she said. “We wish we would have had the opportunity to talk outside a public meeting. We appreciate that didn’t happen and will find other opportunities to sit down with the neighbors.”
TND’s Emily Loomis said they believe there was good communication on the project, something TND has been criticized about.
She said they knocked on doors, had conversations and answered questions. If no one answered the door, they left fliers with information about the proposal.
Another point of contention has been the discontinued street on Spencer Avenue, which many Mill Hill residents use to get to the City Hall area without having to go all the way down Broadway.
“I’m not sure if people realize there’s still a cut through on Toomey Street,” Houston said. “Taking the street was in line with the other sorts of actions the City has done to help development, particularly private development. I am sure if you’re used to the cut-through, it feels significant, but taking Toomey Street curve will quickly become the normal driving pattern and won’t represent a problem.”
Finally, TND said it didn’t believe there were any conflicts of interest that played a part in the development of the French Club.
Planning Board Chair Tuck Willis is on the Board of Directors for TND and, thus, was listed on the deed for the entity that purchased the French Club. That said, Willis recused himself from the proceedings, and other members of the Planning Board with ties to TND are simply volunteers.
“I think the state Conflict of Interest law is very, very clear and mean to protect against these things,” she said. “I think you saw that when the one member with ties to TND recused himself in a good and forthright manner. One other member of the Planning Board volunteers with TND (Henry Wilson) and was frankly one of our toughest questioners. I noted members nodding in support of neighbors. I am sure when they’re ready to make a decision, they’ll make an unbiased suggestion…We don’t think we have a tight ‘in’ with either of the boards. We think people have been operating in a very forthright manner.”
The matter will be addressed at the Zoning Board of Appeals on July 14, and then again at the Planning Board on July 28.
Juan Vega, the long-time director and face of Centro Latino on Broadway, announced this week that he will be stepping down from his position as of June 30.
“I write to let you know that, after proudly serving in this role for the past 17 years, I am stepping down as president and CEO of Centro Latino effective on June 30,” read a letter sent out to supporters and friends this week. “The time has come for me to pursue other professional opportunities and for Centro to bring in new leadership to facilitate its continued growth and future development. I feel very privileged to have been able to work with a great Board, staff and team and community partners. Together, we have helped to improve the educational and social well-being outcomes for thousands of families. Centro Latino is well positioned to continue meeting the health and education needs of the region’s growing Latino and immigrant populations.”
Vega was not immediately available when contacted by the Record.
The letter went on to explain that the Board is dedicated and will continue to be a high-quality community service provider.
He indicated that plans have been in the works for the last couple of months to ensure a smooth transition, and that the Board would name an interim management team.
Third Sector New England has been engaged to conduct a search for a new, permanent director of Centro.
“I want to express my sincerest gratitude to the people of Chelsea and communities such as Cambridge, Revere, Somerville and Everett for supporting Centro Latino and being dedicated to helping all families succeed,” he wrote.
Vega is a member of the Chelsea Housing Authority Board of Commissioners and he recently served on the City Manager Search Selection Committee.
Chester . “Chet Zak’ Zaksheski, Chelsea Funeral Director and lifelong resident of the city, passed away Monday morning, June 15 at the Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea after a short period of overwhelming illness. He was 88 years old.
Born and raised in Chelsea, the beloved son of the late Anthony W. and Josephine U. (Trocki) Zaksheski, Chester attended St. Stanislaus Polish Parochial School and went on to attend Chelsea High School graduating with the Class of ‘44.
He enlisted in the US Navy, served during World War II and was honorably discharged in 1946 at the rank of Motor Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class. He returned home to Chelsea and enrolled in Tufts College and later the New England Institute of Anatomy and Science in Boston. He became a licensed Funeral Director in 1949, immediately joining his father operating the Anthony Zaksheski and Son Funeral Service on lower Broadway in Chelsea.
He married his beloved wife Charlotte J. (Romaszko) in 1950 and together they raised their family of one son and four daughters in Chelsea. He was appointed by the City of Chelsea to serve as trustee to the Chelsea Soldiers Burial Lot overseeing the purchase of grave space in Woodlawn Cemetery providing burial space for Chelsea Veterans.
In 1965, six years after the passing of his father, he constructed and opened a new location in Cary Square, Chelsea establishing the Anthony Memorial Funeral Home in honor of his late father. In 1980, Chester was joined by his son, Peter operating the Funeral Home at that Chelsea location.
He was appointed to the Chelsea Board of Health serving as board member and later assuming the role of Chairman for several years. In 1999 the family business merged and acquired the Welsh Funeral Home on Broadway in Chelsea and since that time he has assumed the role of Director Emeritus.
He has been a licensed Funeral Director for 65 years and in his semi-retirement he would often accompany veteran services to the National Cemetery in Bourne. In earlier years, Chester also worked for a Cambridge based livery company providing hearses and assisting fellow Funeral Directors in the course of their business. He was a current member of the PAV Post 13 Chelsea and the Polish Political Club. Chester was a past member of the St. Stanislaus Holy Name Society and one time Choir Member. He held positions as an Assistant Boy Scout Master, past member of the American Legion Post 34, the Chelsea Rotary Club and The 100 Club of Mass. He was a lifelong communicant and parishioner of St. Stanislaus Church in Chelsea and would frequently attend Mass at the Chelsea Soldiers Home, St. Michael the Archangel Chapel.
In addition to his parents, Chester was preceded in death by his daughter, Dianne Marie in 1969, his beloved wife, Charlotte J. in 1995 after 45 years of marriage, and by his grandson, Jonathan last year. He is survived by his devoted son, Peter A. Zaksheski and his wife, Donna M. of Chelsea, three loving daughters; Linda S. Wood and her husband, David of Sierra Vista AZ, Andrea Z. Jackowski of Royersford, PA and Patricia J. O’Donnell and her husband, William of Peabody. He was the dear brother of Helen A. Wilson of Peabody and the late Irene J. Schultz; cherished grandfather of Amanda D. Jackowski, Christopher S. Jackowski and Jonathan’s wife, Elizabeth Jackowski, all of Pennsylvania and the adored great grandfather of Charlotte Jackowski together with Zach, Anna and Tori Fokin.
His Funeral will be held from the Frank A. Welsh & Sons Funeral Home, 718 Broadway, Chelsea on Saturday June 20 at 9 a.m. followed by a Funeral Mass at St. Stanislaus Church, 163 Chestnut St., Chelsea at 10:30 a.m. Services will conclude with interment at Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett. Relatives and friends are most kindly invited to attend. Visiting hours will be held at the Welsh Funeral Home on Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. A Vigil / Wake service will be held at 7:30 p.m. Funeral Home is fully handicap accessible, ample parking opposite Funeral Home. Should friends desire, donations in his memory may be made to the Chelsea Jewish Foundation, “Leonard Florence Center for Living” 165 Captain’s Row, Chelsea MA 02150. For directions or to send expressions of sympathy, please visit
Stella A. (Busz) Domoretsky, born in Manchester, NH and a Chelsea resident all of her life until moving to Life Care Center of Stoneham over two years ago to receive supportive care, passed away Thursday afternoon, June 11 at the Melrose-Wakefield Hospital shortly after admittance to the emergency room. She was 90 years old.
She was the devoted wife of the late Walter Domoretsky and fiancee of the late Edward Johnson; beloved mother of Donald Domoretsky, Sr. and his wife, Marilyn of Stoneham and Michael Domoretsky, Sr. of Ipswich; sister of the late Jennie Dedeo and her late husband, Joseph; sister-in-law of John and Sophie Kanarkiewicz and the late Vasily and Michael Domoretsky and cherished grandmother of Donald, Jr., Brian, Lisa, Michael Jr., Erica, Ashley and Traeger. She is also lovingly survived by many nieces and nephews.
Funeral arrangements were by the Smith Funeral Home, Chelsea. A Funeral Mass was celebrated in St. Stanislaus Church and interment was at Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett. Expressions of sympathy in Stella’s name may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105. To send a message of condolence to Stella’s family, please visit www.smithfuneralhomes.com
Lifelong Chelsea resident
Mary E. (Allen) Verrengia passed away Monday evening, June 8 in the peaceful surroundings of her home with her caring family at her side. She was 86 years old.
Born and raised in Chelsea, the loving daughter and only child of the late Francis Allen and Gertrude (Fariole) Griffin, Mary attended local schools. and was the beloved wife of the late Anthony Verrengia. She raised two children and worked for a time outside of her home for Technicolor in Boston as a film developer and later as an assembler at Marsons Corp in Chelsea. In her lifetime she much preferred the quite stay at home lifestyle caring for her family and beloved pets. She also enjoyed socializing at her favorite hair and nail salons. She was the devoted mother of Dolores Decareau of Nashua, NH and Richard Verrengia of Chelsea and was the cherished grandmother of Richard Decareau and his wife, Sharyn, also of Chelsea.
Funeral arrangements were by the Frank A. Welsh & Sons Funeral Home, Chelsea. Interment was at Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett. Should friends desire, contributions in her memory may be made to the MSPCA, 350 South Huntington St., Boston, MA 02130. To send expressions of sympathy, please visit
During the official Memorial Day Exercises at City Hall, Bronze Star Recipient and Parade Marshal Stephen Leon salutes in solemn remembrance as the Memorial wreaths are placed on the City’s War Memorials. While guarding a military barracks at night, Leon risked his life to save several hundred sleeping Marines from a terrorist attack in Afghanistan. He is a life-long Chelsea resident and a career military man.
Monday morning on Broadway Chelsea was a long way from April 2, 2011 for veteran Stephen Leon.
While he walked down the main street of his hometown – the grand marshal of the Memorial Day Parade – his thoughts were still keenly aware of that day in Afghanistan when he put his life on the line to protect hundreds of sleeping military men from a surprise terrorist attack on his Camp Phoenix outpost.
For his heroics, he has been awarded the Bronze Star.
As he and other members of the night watch stood guard over the camp, they were suddenly barraged with small arms fire, hand grenades and two suicide bomber insurgents who meant to penetrate the barracks and kill thousands.
“There were 8,700 soldiers behind us and they were all sleeping in the middle of the night, so we figured it was going to be our time to die because we weren’t going to let them get to those 8,700 sleeping soldiers,” Leon said in a Record story published in 2013. “My partner got hit and I said to him, ‘Just keep shooting because if they get by us, it’s all done.’ I got blown up, but we stopped them.”
According to his commendation letter from the Army, despite being rocked by multiple explosions, Leon was able to gather himself and deliver lethal shots to the attackers and to the suicide bombers who had not yet detonated their vests.
“While disoriented from a series of explosions, Specialist Leon refused to surrender ground and delivered accurate and lethal fire which prevented insurgents from gaining entry to the base,” read the citation. “His exceptional courage, dedication to duty, care for fellow soldiers and personal sacrifice directly contributed to the successful defense of the main entry control point. His actions saved lives.”
Operating with all humility on Monday morning in front of a hometown crowd, Leon joked about receiving his commendations from General David Petraeus.
“I love being a Chelsea resident because we represent,” he said. “I got all of my commendations from General Petraeus himself. He handed them over to me. When he gave them to me, he asked me what we needed to do to stop the war in Afghanistan. I said to send over more Chelsea residents and we’ll take care of this thing quickly.”
Leon is the brother of Chelsea Police Officer Robert Leon. All three of his brothers have also served in the military, and he said he wanted to have a military career since he was a little boy playing with his GI Joe toys.
As a major announcement comes this week about the full closure of the Washington Avenue Bridge on May 26, the Chelsea Fire Department (CFD) said it was very unhappy with the way planning has gone for the closure – with the public’s safety being potentially compromised, a spokesman said.
Interim City Manager Ned Keefe and City Planner John DePriest said this week that the proposed plan by the state is to close the Washington Avenue Bridge to all traffic on Tuesday, May 26. It would remain closed for 18 months for repairs, though pedestrian walkways would remain.
The news might be frustrating to local drivers – who will no longer be able to access the north side of the city from Bellingham Square via the popular route – but it’s even more frustrating to Fire officials, who said this week that their plan has not been supported and is a threat to public safety.
“Obviously this is very concerning for us because it will directly impact our ability to protect the public and also creates a serious safety issue for our firefighters,” said Deputy John Quatieri. “We are not satisfied with the outstanding issues because not one of them have been addressed. We submitted a Safety Plan in January 2014 and we will not be able to implement that plan. The bottom line here is the City has not supported the Fire Department’s plan at all. The plan was completely funded by MassDOT so there was no cost to the taxpayers at all. We are concerned and the residents should be also.”
The chief source of frustration is the fact that, first, the Department cannot get across to the north side of the City to respond to incidents. To remedy that, the state agreed to pay for a fourth engine company to be located in the Everett Avenue area – a more direct route to that side of the city. However, while it was believed that a temporary station would be funded, that has not come about so far. So, just where the fourth engine company will be housed is a mystery at this point.
The second issue at hand is Ladder 2 – which as of May 20 – had been out of service for 50 days due to mechanical issues. The Department has been asking for many years for the Ladder 2 to be repaired, but to no avail. Only this winter did the money become available from the City Council to make the repair. However, the repair has dragged on and the Ladder will not be back by May 26.
“We were updated last week on the status of Ladder 2, and the vendor is waiting for parts so they expect the repair will take another week or two,” said Quatieri. “We were hoping to get the truck back the last week of May prior to the bridge closing. It may be the second week in June now.”
He said having the bridge completely closed and the Ladder 2 still out of service makes fire coverage very challenging.
The date of the full closing is actually a moving target, and could be moved back, Keefe said. A final plan for the full closure is expected this week.
The Washington Avenue Bridge replacement project is part of the overall Silver Line Extension project going on this summer. The Bridge must be completed within 18 months, but the contractor has lucrative incentives built into the contract based on finishing earlier.
Detours during the closure will be up Broadway and west on Cary Avenue to Cary Square – and vice versa. Traffic on Broadway is expected to be much worse this summer than normal as a result.
Margaret “Sissy” (Cole) Burley of Chelsea passed away in the comforting presence of her devoted family and loved ones on Friday, April 17 at the Eastpointe Nursing Care Center in Chelsea after a short illness. She was 76 years old.
Born and raised in Chelsea, she was the beloved daughter of the late Nathaniel and Margaret (Snow) Cole. “Sissy” attended local schools and worked as a certified nurse’s assistant at the former Pleasant View Nursing Home in Somerville and was medically retired in 1988. A lifelong resident of Chelsea, Sissy had been residing and receiving supportive care at Eastpointe for the past 15 months.
In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by three of her own children. She was the beloved mother of Lorraine Valencia and her husband, Patrick of Epsom, NH, Charlene DarcAngelo and her husband, John of Salisbury, Margaret McClellan of Concord, NH, Michael McClellan of Seabrook, NH, and the late Nathaniel McClellan, Doreen Kenney and Carol Ali. She was the dear sister of Dottie Hoyt-Aloisi of Virginia and the late Barbara Penney, Frank, William and Robert Cole. She is also survived by 12 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and her dear friend Thelma “Louise” DiChiara of Chelsea.
Relatives and friends are most kindly invited to attend a Memorial Gathering at the Frank A. Welsh & Sons Funeral Home, 718 Broadway, Chelsea on Monday, April 27 from 9 to 10 a.m. immediately followed by a Funeral Service in the Funeral Home at 10 a.m. with the Rev. Richard T. Loring officiating. Services will conclude with inurnment at Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett. Should friends desire, contributions in her memory may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Pl., Memphis, TN www.StJude.org . For directions or to send expressions of sympathy, please visit:
There was never a time when one could not laugh with him, nor a moment that passed when he was short of the perfect word to describe any situation.
That’s how friends, family and co-workers most remember Colm Bohill, 69, a long-time partner at the Independent News Group who passed away at Whidden Hospital in Everett Monday night, April 13, after a brief illness.
Bohill joined the Independent News Group at its formation in 1999. He was primarily in the Marketing Department, but wore many hats. He often was the first person to greet those coming through the door at the company’s Revere headquarters. However, internally, he was known as a dogged copy editor, who questioned just the right things, knew how to read between the lines, and was the last line of defense against errors and typos before papers went to press and hit the streets.
Bohill was born in Waterford, Ireland and spent most of his formative years in Europe before coming to Boston. He brought with him his love of soccer – especially the English Premier League – and of other sports such as the unique Irish game of hurling. He watched both religiously, but he also loved all the American sports, too.
Upon arriving in Boston in the 1970s, Bohill worked in the food and beverage industry. Among the places he worked were legendary establishments such as the former Rusty Scupper in Faneuil Hall.
After his career in food and beverage service, he came to work in the newspaper industry. He was a quick study and came to love all aspects of the local media publishing world. He was a voracious reader of all things, including the newspapers he helped publish.
Because of his Irish roots, he was able to turn on his brogue to delight co-workers, children and friends. He also was very proud of his native country’s athletes, governmental programs and history. Around St. Patrick’s Day, he was liable to tell a fantastic tale of the Old Sod – as he affectionately called it.
He travelled back to Ireland at least once a year to see family.
He was known to have a good wit, a talent for writing poetry in the Irish tradition and a wealth of wisdom acquired from a lifetime of diverse and challenging experiences. Mixed in with that wit and wisdom was a streak of feistiness, often tinged with a slice of biting humor.
On Broadway Revere, and at one time in Central Square of East Boston, he was well known by shopkeepers and area residents in those two places. He made friends quickly and was very personable to those he met in Revere and Eastie, where he manned offices for the newspapers. He had a practical knowledge of how life worked on the streets, but also an intellect that helped him know and love the enlightened ideas of noteworthy philosophers and writers.
In his later years, he was smitten by his two young grandchildren, Clyde and Ellis, who were a constant source of pride and happiness. He loved when they visited and cherished pictures he would get over e-mail.
He lived on Park Avenue in Revere for many years prior to his passing.
He was the son of the late Christie and Mary Bridget Bohill of Waterford. He was the brother of Theckla Ryan, Bernie Rupp, John Bohill and Mamie Lawlor.
He was the father of Daniella (Bohill) Gulizia of Colorado and David Bohill.
He was the beloved grandfather of Clyde and Ellis Gulizia of Colorado. He was the cherished friend of the DiGregorio Family of Revere.
He also leaves many cherished nieces and nephews.
Visiting hours will be at Buonfiglio’s Home for Funerals in Revere on Sunday from 4-6 p.m. A Funeral Mass will be said at St. Mary’s Church in Revere Monday at 10 a.m.
A worker walks the rail bed near Cottage Street this week, a rail bed that is now being transformed into an extension of the bus rapid transit Silver Line. The long-awaited project began construction last week.
As the warmer weather sets upon the City, the construction season in Chelsea has a full slate before it and, like never before, the projects set to begin will change the city in ways that will stretch long into the future.
None of those projects will impact the city more than the Silver Line Gateway extension project, which started work last week near the MassPort garage and on an old railroad right-of-way in the eastern part of the city.
Soon, it will extend to its most visible – and potentially frustrating – portion in the 18-month closure of the Washington Avenue Bridge.
“It’s going to be a summer of serious construction in the City and all of it will be trying to rehabilitate the infrastructure and also to provide recreational and transportation amenities,” said John DePriest, Chelsea City Planner. “There’s going to definitely be some serious construction going on with the Silver Line, and that started last week, but when it’s done we’ll have a greenway, an on-street greenway, a new transit line and a new Washington Avenue Bridge. It will be a major improvement.”
The Silver Line project has been long proposed, but was finally given the go-ahead a few years ago by the former administration. It included a bus rapid transit system running from South Station, through the South Boston Innovation District, to the airport and then across to Chelsea – finishing up at the Market Basket. It includes several new stations and a new commuter rail station, as well as a recreational greenway project. The project was continued in the new administration and big ideas on paper are now starting to be carried out by workers on the ground. Right now, only preliminary work on the roadbed is going on, but DePriest said there will be much more to come.
“The Silver Line part will get done first, and then the Greenway portion,” said DePriest. “It will all have to be done by December 2016, and the contractor has major financial incentives to finish quickly and on time or ahead of time.”
The actual Silver Line will cross over to Chelsea from Eastie on the Chelsea Street Bridge. It’s first station will be at the MassPort garage on Eastern Avenue. After that, there will be three more stations, including Box District, Downtown Chelsea (Chestnut Street) and Mystic Mall. At the Mystic Mall Station, there would also be a new Commuter Rail Station built to handle both modes of transportation.
The eastern leg of the Greenway will be a dedicated path for walking and biking and passive recreation. It will run right beside the Silver Line from Eastern Avenue to Chestnut Street with entry/exit points at each of the stations. That part of the project will be completed with the Silver Line project – likely after the busway is completed.
However, a second portion of the greenway, DePriest said, runs on the streets of Chelsea from Chestnut Street to the Mystic Mall. That western leg will include better signage, better sidewalks, bicycle lanes, street striping and other amenities – including a new configuration for Fay Square by the Central Fire Station.
DePriest said there just wasn’t enough room for a continued path on the busway after Chestnut Street.
“There will be a nice connection with the rest of the Greenway at Chestnut with a nice place to sit,” he said. “We chose Chestnut for a couple of reasons. One, because of the lack of space on the right-of-way, we could not go any further with the dedicated walkway. We could have come off at Broadway, but Chestnut brings you right to downtown and that brings economic development and business to the downtown area. We would hope that people would use the businesses and services because of that.”
The trail westbound includes Chestnut to 5th, 5th to Walnut, Walnut to 4th and up to Everett Avenue. Coming back, the path would follow 4th to Arlington, Arlington to 6th, and back to Chestnut.
DePriest said a bid for that work would would go out in late May or June, and work would proceed there some time this summer. There will be minimal disruptions, he said, with only street closings at various times for street striping work.
That, unfortunately, cannot be said for the Washington Avenue Bridge project.
That’s the doozy within the project that will be absolutely necessary, absolutely inconvenient and absolutely starting in a few months. That project will mean shutting down to all traffic one of the major arteries in the city for 12 to 18 months while the bridge is rebuilt.
“The Silver Line could not proceed if the bridge was not reconstructed,” he said. “They’ll be going down to one lane soon, and in about two months, it’s going to go down to no lanes. It will close completely for 12 to 18 months, but they’ll maintain pedestrian access on the side. All traffic will be detoured down Broadway to Cary Avenue. They’re keeping us well informed on that closure and how it will happen.”
The work will only take place during normal construction hours, though some weekend work could take place on occasion.
“There is work they have to do where they’ll have to shut down the commuter rail and that will have to happen on the weekends,” DePriest said. “That will likely happen for the first time in May.”
Some of the work might also continue through next winter.
“They’ll certainly work as late as they can into the winter,” he said. “There might even be components that could go on through the winter.”
To minimize impacts within all aspects of the project, contractors have agreed to not park in residential neighborhoods, to only park machinery on the right-of-way and not to stage any equipment in the neighborhoods. There will also be funding to keep a fourth fire engine on the western side of the city.
All in all, the project has the opportunity to link residents to important areas of Boston – including the Seaport Innovation District and the Red Line South Station terminal.
“That connection is to jobs and jobs for our residents potentially,” he said.
Marc Mazonson is serving as the chairman for the Chelsea High School Class of 1965 Fiftieth Reunion to be held at the Kowloon on June 7.
Marc Mazonson said that in the early 1960s students for the most part attended Shurtleff, Williams, or Carter schools through the ninth grade before moving on to Chelsea High School for their sophomore year.
Mazonson is hoping to be in the company of as many of his former high school classmates as possible when the CHS Class of 1965 gathers for its fiftieth reunion on June 7 at Kowloon in Saugus. Mazonson is the chairman of the event, assisted by Larry Sneirson, who is known by his stage name, Larry Lee Lewis, a professional standup comedian. Inez Pragg Cole is also serving on the reunion committee. The president of the class was Steven Padulsky.
“We’re calling the reunion, ‘The Real Deal,’’’ said Mazonson. “This is our fiftieth reunion for the Class of 1965 only. We expect a large crowd. Right now we have about 150 people who have indicated they’ll be there.”
The reunion committee has invited Chelsea City Clerk Deborah Clayman to be an honored guest at the reunion. Clayman is the wife of the late attorney, Richard I. Clayman, who was a member of the Class of 1965.
“Everybody loved Richie Clayman,” said Mazonson. “Richie was friendly, down-to-earth, so generous to people, and a great attorney. We’re so pleased that Deborah will be there for the beautiful tribute we have planned for Richie and our other deceased classmates.”
Mazonson said the CHS principal in 1965 was James Cotter. The faculty included teachers Gilbert Cherry, Paul Eckman, George Barooshian, Max Leader, James Welch, Sheldon Greenglass, Dr. Max Ross, and Rebecca Mack.
“I grew up Chester Avenue,” said Mazonson. “I went to Shurtleff from grades one through nine and then I went on to the high school. Chelsea was a great place to grow up as a kid. You walked the streets day or night and it was safe. Mothers would take their kids down Broadway on Saturdays for sidewalk sales in the stores.”
He said people would often congregate in Broadway restaurants such as The Bel Del, Murray and Eddy’s, Wing’s, and Tony’s Spa.
The reunion will feature a Chinese buffet dinner, music, and dancing. Mazonson will deliver the welcoming remarks while Sneirson will lead a brief speaking program.
“We’re looking for a marvelous night of fun and reminiscing about the good, old days,” said Mazonson. “We want people to see their friends and have a great time.”
Tickets to the Class of 1965 Reunion are $35 per person. Classmates should contact Marc Mazonson at 617-889-2004 or email@example.com for information about the reunion.