Supt. Mary Bourque explaining CHS’s five-year vision during a panel discussion and visit from Gov. Charlie Baker and his administration last Weds., Sept. 5. Baker came to CHS to review and hear about Chelsea’s innovative college credit program in association with Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC).
By Seth Daniel
The idea to light up Chelsea City Hall, perhaps using different colored lighting such as is done on the Bunker Hill/Zakim Bridge, is one step closer to a reality.
City Councillor Matt Frank proposed the idea last month in a Council order and City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he is interested in the idea.
“This I may be inclined to support, depending on the cost,” he wrote the Council. “If the cost is not too high, this might be a beautification effort we want to consider in conjunction with upgrades to Bellingham Square/Broadway Corridor area. Part of the rationale for the proposed investment is not just to attract more commerce to the area, but also to enhance the area’s aesthetic appeal. An improved look for the Clock Tower would fit well with this effort.”
Ambrosino said he would supply the Council with prices for the proposed improvement, which he expects to have some time this summer.
Frank said the idea was to enhance City Hall and provide a beacon for those in Chelsea and those driving past Chelsea – as the City Hall clock tower can be seen from numerous vantage points.
“People who know City government know that I always want to see the numbers first,” he said. “This is no different. I don’t envision it costing a fortune and I think it’s a good amenity to have in the City and getting it lit up again and hopefully having all the bells and whistles – such as the colored lighting for different special occasions. Even if it’s just lit up with regular lighting, it would be great for people to see it.”
Frank has suggested that colored lighting such as is installed on the Zakim Bridge could be installed to shine on City Hall. If there were a special occasion, the color could be coordinated with that occasion.
“We’ll see what the cost is; things can change on the dime,” he said.
The Chelsea Housing Authority has put out Requests for Proposals to have a private developer partner with the redevelopment of the Central Ave. and Walnut St. housing complexes.
Both of these projects were built decades ago – Central Ave. in the 1950’s and Walnut St. in the early 1960’s – when the times, and their primary need, were very different.
Today, these housing developments need an upgrade.
The idea of partnering with a private developer has worked well in Columbia Point where more rental units were added, creating a neighborhood of mixed incomes as opposed to being just low-income families. In Charlestown, officials have started the process of a private firm redeveloping the Bunker Hill complex by keeping the 1,100 existing low-income units and adding an additional 1,600 mixed-income units.
The role of government has changed in the last decade. The need for private and public dollars working together has generated a better life for all the residents of our nation.
We are not suggesting that all questions and concerns by residents and city officials should be ignored. The viewpoints of current residents certainly must be considered.
However, we believe that this is an interesting proposal and we agree with Housing Authority Board Chair Tom Standish’s comment, “This is the wave of the future.”
By Seth Daniel
The new Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) has been submitted to the City Council and City Manager Tom Ambrosino said it is a huge uptick in spending – with some $27 million in investments on the City over the next two years.
“It’s time to invest our money,” he said. “The City finances are in good shape with lots of reserves and not a lot of debt. It’s time to transition into a new era in Chelsea where we’re investing in programs and infrastructure to improve the City.”
The previous CIP spent about $9 million over one year.
Ambrosino said he hopes the Council will approve the plan, and that a central highlight is a major investment in the Broadway corridor from City Hall to Chelsea Square.
Ambrosino said he has requested $400,000 in planning money for this coming fiscal year to map out the changes with the community. In the second year of the CIP, he is requesting that $5 million be spent on infrastructure in the Broadway business district.
“The goal would be to plan this over the course of the next year,” he said. “We want to do new streetscapes, ornamental lighting and maybe a facade improvement program.”
Chamber of Commerce President Sergio Jaramillo said his organization is on board with the plan.
“We certainly support any and everything that can improve the look of the Broadway corridor,” he said. “It’s important because that infrastructure and that area is very important. The Chamber is very committed to working with Tom and the City Council on this to make sure it gets carried out.”
Ambrosino said he also wants to explore – at the same time – the idea of moving the bus circulation and the bus stop in front of Bunker Hill Community College.
“That bus stop cuts them off totally from the rest of the Square,” he said. “I want to open up Bunker Hill to the Square and connect them to us.”
He said he pictures buses perhaps stopping in a central area in the Square rather than in several different stops.
“I’d like to do something like that, but I don’t know if I can pull that off,” he said, noting that changes to the T program are very difficult to enact.
After that, he said he has a lot of spending for the neighborhoods, including the district of Councillor Giovanni Recupero, who has often pointed out that many of his streets don’t have lights and some sidewalks have been neglected so long that there appears there was never a sidewalk in place.
“There is a call for a lot of investment in streets, sidewalks and schools,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of investment over the next two years if the Council approves this. It’s an investment of about $27 million and that’s exclusive of the $20 million we’re investing in the new Clark Avenue School.”
One thing that isn’t on that list is the full reconstruction of Broadway from Revere to City Hall – a stretch of road that is in really tough shape and needs work above and below ground.
“We’ll likely push that off to 2021,” he said. “That’s a $10 million plan. We’ll continue to band aid that solution for a bit. That requires major work on the pipes and utilities.”
Huyen Tran of Chelsea, Vanna Nguyen of Dorchester, and Paige White of Lynn joined a group of volunteers last weekend at the East Boston Social Center to paint signs that will inspire participants in the 2014 Walk for Hunger, which will take place in May. Their signs are among 300 hand-painted signs of encouragement that will hang along the 20-mile route.
As students from Bunker Hill Community College’s Shockwaves Club, this group thought sign painting was a fun way to volunteer. More than 40,000 Walkers are expected to step out and raise $3.5 million for hunger relief and prevention at Project Bread’s 46th annual Walk for Hunger on Sunday, May 4. Registration is now open for the Walk for Hunger. For details, go to www.projectbread.org/Walk.