A new, revamped effort by the Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) to build a mixed-income development on Central Avenue will likely come with a significant Tax Increment Financing (TIF) request, said City Manager Tom Ambrosino.
The new proposal, which is a second attempt by designated developer Corcoran Jennison, will likely come before the City in February or March. However, this time Ambrosino said it’s probably going to also be accompanied by a request from Corcoran for a TIF agreement.
“It will not be an insignificant amount for a TIF,” said Ambrosino. “From the City’s perspective, we’re motivated by the fact there is no other way to get that development rebuilt. This will give those resident brand new units in a mixed income development. Right now, we’re getting zero tax dollars on it, and we would be getting something from the developer if this is built.”
The development was proposed in 2017, but was beat back when Corcoran requested the City Council allow them to use some non-union labor on the project to make the finances work.
A large group of residents and union workers appeared at the meeting on the night of the vote, and the Council agreed with them, shooting down the request.
Nothing has happened since, but it appears that to make the books balance, Corcoran will be looking to get some property taxes reduced for a period of time.
“The City will be sympathetic,” Ambrosino said. “I want that project to move forward. That’s going to be a huge upgrade for those public housing tenants.”
Historically, the Council has been accommodating for TIF requests, but in recent years many councillors have began to question whether they are really needed any longer. It will likely be a spirited debate once again within the board.
The group is shown on the steps of the Shawmut Street residence.
The Chelsea Collaborative joined with two other human service agencies this month to begin several “actions” to put employers engaging in wage theft on notice that they will not let it go – even if employers manipulate a so-called loophole in the City’s pioneering Wage Theft Ordinance.
On Nov. 30, about 20 activists and one man who said he was owed nearly $3,000 in unpaid wages from a flooring company, marched up Shawmut Street to the home address of the owner – who has registered the construction business from his home.
“This is something we are doing to let employers know we will not stand by and watch the struggle of workers due to non-payment of wages,” said Yessenia Alfaro-Alvarez, of the Collaborative, while standing on the stoop of the purported wage violator. “At this time, we want to send a message and that’s why we’ve come out here. This is one of the parts of the law where we believe there is a loophole. That is with businesses that register from their homes. It’s very hard to track them.”
Jose Becerra was one of three workers owned money from the construction company. In total, all three are suspected to be owned $9,000 from the Chelsea company.
He was there with about 19 other activists who were prepared to deliver a letter directly to the owner of the company. The owner didn’t answer the door, and activists yelled up to he and his wife to no avail.
“Right now, it’s the loophole that is the problem,” said Sylvia Ramirez of the Collaborative. “Businesses don’t register. They are not in compliance, but the City isn’t aware of them. They have to find a way to investigate and cure this condition.”
The action is part of an overall effort to fight for workers rights, which was bolstered this week on Tuesday when the Collaborative launched its new ‘Journaleros’ project at its existing Workers Center. That Center has been around for 15 years, but now graduates from the Center are looking to empower other workers – primarily day laborers on the fringes who frequently have wages stolen.
Those workers are often recognized by the fact that they wait on certain corners in Chelsea, where construction companies will drive by and pick them up to work for the day.
Many of those corners are in the Shawmut Street and Central Avenue areas, while another major place is at the Home Depot in the Parkway Plaza.
“The project consists in organizing workers in the corners,” read a release from the Collaborative. “This project will allow us to educate these workers to prevent wage theft. The workers will acquire the right tools to defend and protect their rights as day labor workers.”
The project kick-off included canvassing many local businesses and also going to the major “corners” where workers are picked up.
As for the loophole, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he isn’t clear about what the City could do. He said the City is only able to penalize someone for wage theft by not giving them a City contract or not giving them a municipally-required license.
He said the only fix would be to deny business certificates to those violating the Wage Ordinance. However, he said what would likely happen is small companies operating out of homes would simply not get a certificate, which is required only every four years.
“I suppose we could add a section that says the City Clerk can’t issue a Business Certificate…if a company has similar wage violations,” he said. “But, honestly, that statute is impossible to enforce, and we generally rely upon the goodwill of folks to come in and register. It is not as though this municipality or any municipality has a way of keeping track of every business operating from a home address.”
He said if there are licenses, such as liquor licenses, issued by the License Commission, they could have a better handle on it, but for private companies not needing such a license, it would be difficult.
“What is likely to happen if we added such a provision to our Wage Theft Ordinance is that someone who couldn’t secure a Business Certificate from the City Clerk because of Wage Violations would simply avoid getting one,” he said.
The Chelsea Fire Department (CFD) has begun collecting new, unwrapped, non-violent toys at our Central Station located at
307 Chestnut St., from now until December 15.
Anyone who would like to drop off a toy may come by the station between the hours of 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Last year the CFD collected three large pickup trucks of toys for the Toys for Tots program. After doing some research, CFD organizers found that there are 750 families and more than 1,300 children in the City of Chelsea who are provided Christmas gifts through the Toys for Tots/Globe Santa program.
Sadly this number has nearly doubled since the first year the CFD started up their drive.
“This program is a great opportunity for all of us to help bring a little happiness into the hearts of so many local families that have so little,” said Phil Rogers.
For those who are needy and looking for donations, time is of the essence as the deadline for requests is Nov. 20.
If an individual family needs toys, they should make contact with their social worker, their Pastor, local city or town hall or The Globe Santa for possible help. The cut-off date for toy requests in 2017 is November 20, Midnight. This is due to the high volume of requests.
Globe Santa- toy request info
contact the Department of Transitional Services at (877) 382-2363.
The Toys for Tots program has been in existence since 1947 when Major Bill Hendricks, USMCR founded Toys for Tots in Los Angeles. Some 5,000 toys were collected during that campaign before Christmas of 1947.
The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, non-violent, unwrapped toys each year and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the Greater Boston community. Toys for Tots also wants to assure the less fortunate families throughout the Greater Boston area of Massachusetts that their children will be taken care of throughout the holiday season. There is no better satisfaction than seeing the smile of a child during the holiday season.
“On behalf of all the children made happy and the members of the Chelsea Fire Department, thank you so very much for all of your help,” said Rogers.
Wynn Boston Harbor is working closely with well-known international companies to implement battery technology into their building, a new technology that will help them store cheaper power purchased during off peak hours, and contribute to an overall energy usage that is but 60 percent of what would be expected for a building of its size.
The new battery technology program complements two co-generation plants, a rainwater irrigation system, a huge solar array and a “very aggressive” LED lighting program.
All of it will combine to make the Wynn Boston Harbor facility one of, if not the, most efficient large building in the region.
“We will be running at 60 percent of what the standard energy usage calculation is for a building like ours,” said Chris Gordon, president of Wynn Design and Development Massachusetts. “The interesting thing is when you look at green buildings…it comes down to less energy usage…These buildings are so well insulated and sealed that you save a lot just on leaks. The window seals are so much better than they were 30 years ago, it’s amazing. You save when you use less. Interestingly enough, years ago people started to build green buildings because it was the right thing to do. Now it’s a good business decision and a good environmental decision.”
Perhaps setting the pace for efficiency is a program that will likely be the first of its kind in the Boston area – an emerging technology using battery storage devices to optimize energy usage.
It’s something Gordon said is very new, but he predicted would likely be in every building, and in several homes, in the near future.
The change, he said, is the new technology being developed around better battery storage. Several companies have pushed the limits on new battery technology for electric cars, solar power and for energy efficiency.
Gordon said they are working with several companies to put an array of batteries on their property, but don’t have a specific company named as of yet.
The idea, he said, would be to install a 90,000 sq. ft. solar installation on the roof of the function hall and entrance, which will generate solar energy to be stored in the batteries.
The bigger savings, however, will be having battery storage available to store power purchased from the grid at off-peak times.
“You don’t want to buy power at peak periods, so if you have storage capacity using batteries, you can buy when prices are low,” said Gordon. “There are times of day and times of the year that are more expensive and they don’t want you to buy then. For example, in the summer with lots of air conditioners running, you don’t want to buy energy on a hot day. It’s more expensive…I don’t know if we’re the first, but we will be one of the first certainly to use this in Greater Boston.”
He said they will employ one person on site to monitor commodities markets to decide which time is best and what time is not best to buy energy. He indicated that all of this is just now available because of the rapid innovations in battery technology, which allows for smaller installations.
“The battery technology in a building like ours is a new concept,” he said. “In the old days, using them for energy efficiency was tough because they were massive. Now they are a lot smaller and you can put them in a building and they don’t take up as much real estate.”
Another major piece of the operation will be two co-generation plants that are being installed in the back of the house.
The units are about 15’ x 10’ and generate electricity that will be used to power the building. Co-generation works on the principal of heating water and creating steam by burning natural gas. Both the steam and hot water are then used to heat the building. However, as they are created, they turn a turbine that creates electricity as a by-product – electricity that can be used immediately in the building or stored in the battery system.
The two co-generation plants will produce 8-10mgW of electricity.
“Co-generation produces hot water, steam and also electricity,” said Gordon. “We’ll produce a lot of electricity with them, but we’ll keep it all on site. That means we’ll produce a lot of our electricity and the solar will be used on site as well…All in all, we believe we’ll be able to run 70 to 80 percent of the building’s functions just off of the power we have inside if we want to or need to.”
He said that if there is a power outage, they believe they will be able to power all critical functions, and still have enough left over to maintain the usual comforts.
“After all the critical functions are accounted for, like the lighting and heat, there will still be a lot more left,” he said. “People will be quite comfortable in an outage. You could pave people there as an emergency shelter really, because we’re well above the flood plain and we will have ample power stored.”
Other efficiency measures include:
A 10,000 sq. ft. green roof on top of the second floor of the building.
A giant water tank in the parking garage that will harness and store all of the rainwater on the site. That rainwater will then be used in the irrigation system to water all of the extensive plantings inside and outside the building.
All together, it also equals a tremendous amount of savings for the resort.
“We don’t have the exact figures yet, but we’re using 40 percent less than we should, and so you’re looking a very big number in terms of savings on energy,” he said. “We hope that it not only saves us money, but also that it sets the pace for everyone else.”
Above the Flood Plain
Many might have seen the photos of water rushing into the front doors of the Golden Nugget casino in Mississippi late last week as Hurricane Nate hit the Gulf Coast, but Wynn Boston Harbor officials said they don’t ever expect such a thing to happen at their resort despite being right on the Mystic River.
That’s because early in the process, officials said, they decided to change the design of the building so they would be well-above the 500-year floodplain and the storm surge levels too.
Chris Gordon of Wynn Design and Development Massachusetts said they don’t expect to get that kind of flooding on their waterfront site.
“The flood levels are at nine feet, and even with flood surge added, that’s still just 11 feet,” he said. “The garage entrance is at 13 feet and the entrance to the building is at 24 or 25 feet. In addition, all of the utilities have been moved out of the garage and are on top of the Central Utility Plant. If the garage does flood someday, we just pump it out. The pumps are already there and ready if need be. We don’t ever expect to see the garage flood, but if it does, we just pump out the water. It really does no harm.”
Gordon said it all goes back to a willingness to look at resiliency in the Boston area and go the extra mile instead of fighting it.
“Instead of debating it or trying to discredit it, we said, ‘Let’s just move the building up.’ And that has worked out really well.”
A member of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha clique in Chelsea was sentenced Aug. 2 in federal court in Boston for RICO conspiracy involving the assault of two rival gang members.
Kevin Ayala, a/k/a “Gallito,” 23, a Salvadoran national residing in Chelsea, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor to 42 months in prison and will be subject to deportation after completion of his sentence. In February 2017, Ayala pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as a RICO conspiracy.
Ayala was identified as a member of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha clique operating in Chelsea. Ayala admitted that in April 2014, he engaged in an aggravated assault upon two members of the rival 18th Street gang in Chelsea.
After a three-year, multi-agency investigation, Ayala was one of 61 individuals charged in a superseding indictment targeting the criminal activities of alleged leaders, members, and associates of MS-13 in Massachusetts. In documents previously filed with the Court, MS-13 was identified as a violent transnational criminal organization whose branches or “cliques” operate throughout the United States, including Massachusetts, as well as in Central America. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence to maintain membership and discipline within the group, such as attacking and murdering gang rivals and individuals believed to be cooperating with law enforcement.
On May 8, members of TILL Central Chelsea participated in a community service project planting flowers in Chelsea Square.
Pictured at the award presentation ceremony are (from left): Chinaza Okparaoko, Paula Jean, Stephanie Stevenson, City Manager Tom Ambrosino, Bruce Nicole, and Cordelia M. TILL Central Chelsea is an organization that assists people with disabilities and helps local organizations such as the Salvation Army, St. Rose Church, and My Brother’s Table in Lynn.
For the second time this year, a few angry residents have taken to a City Council meeting to castigate Councillor Luis Tejada for an allegedly offensive posting made on social media.
Chelsea Collaborative Executive Director Gladys Vega and two other Collaborative members, including School Committeewoman Yessenia Alfaro Alvarez, took over the Public Speaking portion of Monday night’s meeting to sharply criticize Tejada for a recent posting on social media regarding immigration – specifically objecting to his use of the term ‘anchor babies’ within the post.
“As a city councillor using that term, it was extremely offensive and shame on him,” said Vega. “He should have a public meeting and explain himself…Those who come here, their reality is devastating. They are coming here because they are in desperate situations. Shame on Luis Tejada…Let’s make sure the next election, he doesn’t get back in office.”
Tejada, who was not at the meeting when the objections were made, told the Record he is away on a business conference in New York all week, and he didn’t want to respond to the criticism until he had a chance to view what was said on the recording.
He said the posting was made in response to video that showed former President Bill Clinton making similar statements about immigration in the 1990s as Donald Trump is making now.
A paper copy of the posting handed out by Vega indicated that Tejada was posting on a video that was shared by Planning Board member Todd Taylor regarding comments made about his opinion on immigration in 1995.
The post read in full, “I’m with you Todd Taylor. The fact is that illegal immigration is illegal and just because people choose to use fluff words like undocumented or do things like have anchor babies doesn’t lessen the crime. But we are becoming the anything goes country. Where anything goes and even if it pollutes the culture we must take it, otherwise we are racist bigots, etc. Shame on those who are selling our country out.”
Collaborative member Sylvia Ramirez pointed out that Tejada’s mother was an immigrant from Colombia, though she did not immigrate to the U.S. illegally.
“I am truly, truly ashamed that I need to call him one of our Latino newly elected councillors,” she said. “His mother is an immigrant…It is too bad the words he used to express himself. We need an explanation as a city about what he said.”
Alfaro Alvarez said she came across the border as a teen-ager without documentation, and though she did later legalize her immigration status, she came for the same reasons – to escape violence and fear.
She said Tejada should be careful about using social media.
“Here in Chelsea, the majority of us are from Central America,” she said. “Believe it or not, social media is a powerful took and it can embrace you or destroy you.”
Taylor, who was at the meeting, also addressed the issue during Public Speaking.
“It seems to me that people said he should be ashamed that he is Latino,” said Taylor. “I heard that if you are Latino, you have to believe like all other Latinos. That isn’t free speech. That sounds like bullying. Immigration is complex. It isn’t easy. I urge us to have an open conversation about the issue.”
Tejada found himself in trouble with social media earlier this year when he posted some responses to the new transgender law that was passed, asking what parents are supposed to do when they see a man go into the women’s bathroom with their kids. That triggered an angry letter from one member of the community, and disappointment from a few others, and also a public apology from Tejada.
On August 19, at approximately 11:30 p.m., Chelsea officers reviewed city camera surveillance video in an attempt to identify the male suspect involved in an Armed Robbery that took place at approximately 10:50 p.m. in the area of Central Avenue. Officers observed a subject that was in the video.
A CPD officer identified the subject.
A short time later the subject was located and placed under arrest and charged with armed robbery.
Elvin Hernandez, 34, of Everett, was charged with armed robbery with a firearm, assault with a dangerous weapon, receiving stolen property under $250 and possession of a Class E drug.
DAY IN THE PARK…
On Friday, Aug. 19, at 1:30 p.m., an officer assigned to Route 12 was flagged down by a male party for a report of an armed robbery. The victim stated the person that robbed him at knife point earlier in the morning on Grove Street was sitting at a park on Bellingham Street.
The reporting party responded to the area and positively identified the person that robbed him. The subject was placed under arrest on scene.
Michael Concepcion, 23, of 75 Franklin Ave., was charged with armed robbery and assault with a dangerous weapon.
DRUG ARREST BY DETECTIVES
On Aug. 16, members of the Chelsea Police Drug Unit were conducting surveillance in the area of Bellingham Square. At approximately 11:30 a.m. they observed a male approach two females on Fourth Street towards Chestnut. One female was known to the officers as a self-admitted drug user. The other female was later identified at the time of arrest.
Detectives followed the three to the area of 192 Chestnut St. Officers at that time witnessed what they believed to be a drug transaction involving the three. At that time the three were placed into custody. Narcotics were seized at the time of arrest.
William King, 37, of Boston, and Valerie Belloise, 31, of Revere, were charged with conspiracy, possession of a Class B drug and trespassing.
Jayme Spinelli, 21, of Everett, was charged with possession of a Class B drug, conspiracy, and two warrants.
Dwayne Seldon, 51, 28 Spencer Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for possessing Class B drug, resisting arrest, drinking/possessing open alcoholic beverage in public.
Shirma Farmer, 63, 9 Lawrence St., Chelsea, was arrested for disorderly conduct, drinking/possessing open alcoholic beverage in public.
Sherif Seweilam, 29, 435 Dorset St., South Burlington, VT, was arrested on a warrant.
Tuesday, August 2
Raul Figueroa, 30, 14 Marie St., Dorchester, was arrested on warrants.
Natalie Virella, 36, 317 Broadway, Chelsea, was arrested on warrants.
Thursday, August 4
Faisal Yerow, 20, 180 Central Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for breaking and entering nighttime vehicle/boat for felony (5 counts) receiving stolen property over $250, resisting arrest.
Kenneth Powell, 27k, 67 Savanna Ave., East Boston, was arrested for assault to murder, firearm-armed, destruction of property over $250, malicious, discharging/firing firearm/bb or air gun in city, firearm, discharge within 500 ft. of building, firearm, carrying without license, ammunition without FID card, possess, threat to commit crime, witness intimidation.
Sunday, August 7
Laura Delmedico, 34, 26 Tufts St., Boston, was arrested on a warrant.
Mimi Rancatore, a co-owner of the world-renowned Toscanini’s in Cambridge, has created a working life around ice cream since coming to Boston in the 1970s. Since 2001, she has called Chelsea home and said she loves working in Cambridge and coming home to Beacon Street.
Chelsea’s Mimi Rancatore has constructed a life around an ice cream cone, and to date, it’s been topped with sprinkles.
Rancatore has lived in Chelsea since 2001, but during working hours she spends her days in Cambridge at the world-renowned Toscanini’s Ice Cream and Coffee in Central Square – a business she has co-owned with her brother for more than a decade.
Toscanini’s has been around since 1982, when Rancatore’s brother, Gus, started the business after training in ice cream making at Steve’s Ice Cream in Davis Square. Rancatore, who also worked at Steve’s and learned a lot about ice cream, worked in fine dining at many notable restaurants until joining her brother a little over 10 years ago.
“I love my job and I love Chelsea,” said Rancatore this week at her shop in Central Square. “I love wearing multiple hats in business and I love being in charge. Both Gus and I worked at the old Steve’s Ice Cream in Davis Square in 1975 and 1976. Steve started the parlor ice cream. He invented the mix-ins. We worked there and then we went our separate ways. Gus is the ice cream maker, which he is excellent at, and I do the business end. Don’t get me wrong, I can make ice cream and I can cook, but Gus is really good at it. I was into fine dining for a long time, but got sick of the hours and joined Gus as a co-owner about 11 years ago. The best way to describe Toscanini’s is it’s an adult ice cream store. We have a lot of flavors for children too, but we have some complex ones as well. I love working in an ice cream store because it’s happy food. Everyone is happy here.”
Rancatore was born in the New York City/New Jersey area, but she and her five siblings spent their high school years in St. Louis. Her brother Gus had already left St. Louis and settled in Boston when Rancatore graduated high school. She said she couldn’t bear to go to college and knew the academic world wasn’t for her. Gus said he could get her a job at Steve’s Ice Cream, so at the age of 19, Rancatore left St. Louis for an ice cream job, and she continues that tradition to this day – though she and her brother have pretty much climbed to the top of the East Coast Ice Cream world.
Toscanini’s has a truly incredible following, with several Best of Boston awards and numerous Top 10 lists – with the New York Times once calling it the best ice cream on the planet.
The most popular flavor in the store is the B3, a concoction of brown sugar, brownies, browned butter and burnt caramel.
“The most popular flavor is B3 and has been for awhile,” she said. “Right now, our chocolate is outselling vanilla. It didn’t used to be that way, but now the two have reversed in popularity. My personal favorite is malted vanilla, but we are doing some very exciting things with our new soft serve offerings, including a twist of chocolate rum banana with malted vanilla.”
Rancatore lives on Beacon Street in Chelsea and has been around long enough to see her condo go from very desirable to very undesirable and the, back to desirable. She serves on the Chelsea Cultural Council and is a big supporter of the Apollinaire Theatre and the Chelsea Girl Scouts.
She said she often thinks about the future of Broadway Chelsea and compares it to the successful climb of Central Square lately. One thing she said is there needs to be more restaurants, simple restaurants, on the stretch.
“There needs to be a go-to restaurant, something like Newbridge in Prattville,” she said. “When I imagine Broadway, that’s what I think.”
Rancatore said business is good and she relishes being able to spend her days in Cambridge and her private time in Chelsea.
“We’ve been very lucky and we’re doing very well with the business,” she said. “I love being able to work in Cambridge and go home to where I live in Chelsea. I really appreciate Chelsea and how in Chelsea the city councillors will go to all the events. You don’t get that in Cambridge so much. I think that’s great. There is a real community feel to the city.”