The Forbes Park development proposal, with
more than 500 residential units proposed for the former industrial campus, has
been approved by the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) after four years and two
The final iteration of the project includes
590 units of housing, with 60 percent of those units being condos for sale and
59 units being affordable to a range of incomes. There are also 1.6 parking
spaces per unit, or 963 spaces. The project also boasts a major public access
area to the waterfront of the Chelsea Creek and Mill Creek. The current project
also has a very small amount of retail and office uses, with both totaling
below 20,000 sq. ft.
The project, though still very large, was
scaled back from the developer’s (YIHE Forbes of China) original proposal in
2015. That proposal featured skyscrapers about 21 stories tall and more than
1,000 units of housing accompanied by large office spaces and large hotels. It
was rejected informally and the company eventually withdrew during a ZBA
meeting that went past midnight.
The news of Tuesday’s approval of the new
plan was viewed with mixed results by most, including those who had come to
support the project, including City Manager Tom Ambrosino.
“I’m happy with the project even though it’s
far from perfect,” he said. “Given all the concessions made since they first
showed up here, I think it’s a workable project. There is lots of
homeownership, with 60 percent being condos. This is the largest condo project
in Chelsea for more than a decade if not longer. They also have really exciting
plans for accessing the waterfront along the Chelsea Creek.”
Ambrosino said they also agreed to several
affordable housing concessions. Of the required 59 units of affordable housing,
the mix will include many different income ranges, including 60 percent of the
Area Median Income (AMI), 50 percent of the AMI and 30 percent of the AMI.
“That’s really deeply affordable and it
assures that actual families that live in Chelsea now will be able to afford to
live in the complex. That was very important to the City,” he said.
The developer also agreed to contribute
$300,000 to the four schools at the Mary C. Burke Complex, which is about two
blocks from the Forbes entrance.
That said, not everyone was happy with the
news – and in particular was Councillor Joe Perlatonda, who represents the Mill
Hill and Forbes area. He said the problem with the Forbes project is the same
as it has always been, and that problem is the fact that there is one access
In the first iteration, City officials –
including Ambrosino – had called for a bridge over the Chelsea Creek to Revere
as a second access point to alleviate traffic in the neighborhood. However,
this time around that was not made a requirement, and Perlatonda said he was
not happy there was a concession made on that point.
“It’s a shame that no one has thought about
the concessions of the residents that live in our neighborhood,” he said.
“Right now, with cars parked on both sides of the street that go into the
Forbes site, and what we have to go through every day. Try getting out of your
driveway every day; try driving down the street when you have to dodge cars,
and then add 963 parking spaces which is 1.6 cars per unit. But someone seems
to forget about the cars they will have for each unit like the mother, father
and kids that all have cars, not to mention the visitors or guests that will
come with cars. Has anyone thought where to put the overflow of these cars? Our
streets are already congested, and getting in and out will be so bad. This is
just part of the nightmare.”
GreenRoots Executive Director Roseann
Bongiovanni said they didn’t believe the project was perfect, but felt there
had been reasonable concessions made about their concerns.
“We had a number of concerns relating to the
impacts on the neighborhood, and we feel that we have achieved some reasonable
concessions from the developers,” she said. “The number of affordable units,
deeper levels of affordability and preference for Chelsea residents for those
units – together with the mitigation for the adjacent neighborhood and the
$300,000 for the four schools at the Mary C. Burke Complex are all concessions
that we are proud to have fought hard for…GreenRoots is committed to ongoing
dialogue – and protest if necessary – to ensure the benefits are for everyone
in the community, not just the lucky few who will get to live at Forbes.”
Ambrosino said the site is very large, and
that did allow the developer to be able to build large numbers of units by
right if they chose to do so and could meet the parking requirements. That, he
said, would have cut the City and the neighborhood out of the planning
completely. He felt it wasn’t worth the risk to chance that.
“They could have gone in by right and built
450 units and 900 parking spots and got a building permit without any say from
the City or the neighbors,” he said.
The project has already cleared Major Site
Plan at the Planning Board, but has many hurdles to clear at City Hall in
reviewing plans before they can break ground.
It is believed
that the developer plans to keep three of the smaller buildings on site and
rehabilitate them. The rest of the project will be new construction.
Bobby Goss, Eddie Richard, Richard Bradley
Steve DePaulo, Katrina Hill, Drenda Carroll, Nicole Hancock and the late
Anthony “Chubby” Tiro” are among the best to ever compete in the Chelsea High
Stephanie Simon has joined that illustrious group – and she’s only a junior.
Simon completed her indoor track campaign
with an unprecedented accomplishment: winning the long jump championship in the
Emerging Elite Division at the 2019 New Balance Nationals that was held in New
Simon soared to victory with a career-best
jump of 18 feet, 10.75 inches, remarkably eclipsing her previous best by seven
CHS track coach Cesar Hernandez was not
surprised by Simon’s victory or the dramatic way in which she achieved it.
“Stephanie had jumped 17-9 as her best in
her first three attempts,” said Hernandez. “In the final, she took off to
18-10. I knew she had it in her.”
Hernandez and CHS Director of Athletics
Amanda Alpert watched the drama unfold at the Nationals.
“It was exciting to watch the long jump
competition,” said Hernandez. “It feels good to coach a national champion.”
Alpert, who has won national championships
as a women’s professional football player and coach, said the whole scene at
Nationals was “amazing.”
“To hear and see the number that Stephanie
posted was amazing,” said Alpert. “It was just about her hitting the board
right and she did.”
Alpert said Simon’s competitiveness and work
ethic set the foundation to victory.
“Stephanie is a rarely seen combination of
hard work, dedication and pure talent,” said Alpert. “She has put in so much
time in to making herself better both physically and mentally. Her dedication
to the sport and her craft is amazing, but a lot of that comes from the Chelsea
track coaching staff. They work to instill the importance of hard work and
dedication because that is what is more important and will help you succeed
after high school.”
Alpert expounded on the Chelsea coaches’
contributions to the Stephanie Simon success story.
“We have an incredible coaching staff that
has played a part in the team and Stephanie’s success,” said Alpert. “We are
fortunate to have Cesar Hernandez, who is a Red Devil himself and competed on
the collegiate level as jumper and has helped bring Stephanie to the next level.
“While Mark Martineau and Adam Aronson (both
collegiate-level track athletes) are no longer coaching, Mark laid the mental
frameworks for what it means to be a student athlete, and Adam had taken a lot
of time to teach the athletes how to be lifters and work their way around a
Simon and her teammates will begin their outdoor track schedule in April. There is no doubt that Stephanie Simon is on the radar of college colleges nationwide.
Much of the public discussion over the Smart
Growth overlay district for Central Avenue over the past several months has
focused on the technical aspects of the zoning ordinance.
But Monday night, as the City Council
unanimously approved the Smart Growth zoning – which will pave the way for the
Innes Development project to move closer to becoming a reality – much of the
talk focused on the human and community benefits of that decision.
As the final vote was made official, cheers
and applause were heard from Innes residents, project development team members,
and even City Planning and Development Director John DePriest.
“This will allow for new homes that all the
residents of Chelsea can be proud to call their own,” said Ronnie Slamin, the
project director for Corcoran, the developer behind the Innes Street/ Central
Avenue housing redevelopment plan.
The special zoning designation, allows the
mixed-income project to have its own, special regulations for parking and
density and other requirements. It also unlocks $5 million in state and local
funding for the project.
Corcoran Development will assist in
developing the 330-unit community on the site of the current housing
development. Those units will include the existing 96 public housing units, as
well as 40 workforce housing units. The remaining 194 units will be market
rate, and with the state and federal grants, will subsidize the replacement of
the public housing units.
Overall, the development would have a 41
percent affordable ratio, which is three times as much as what would normally
be required by the City and double the state requirements.
For many of the current Innes residents, and
for members of the Chelsea Housing Authority, it is a major step forward to
replace the current units, which are rundown and decades old.
“It is our dream to live in new apartments
that are safe and decent for our children, elderly, and the disabled,” said
Melissa Booth, co-president of the Innes Residents Association.
The Smart Growth overlay district will cover
the current footprint of the Innes Development, and puts a premium on
affordable housing and access to public transportation.
Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) board member
Bertram Taverna said the Innes redevelopment is the kind of opportunity that
the City has not seen for decades.
“We are talking about an opportunity for
these 96 families, as well as 40 more affordable housing units,” said Taverna.
“Everybody is invested in this project and wholeheartedly all in.”
CHA Executive Director Al Ewing said the
redevelopment will give the city the ability to deliver on its promise of
providing a home where residents can be proud to live and raise their families.
“This is a win for the City of Chelsea,”
said District 8 Councillor Calvin T. Brown. “Folks are going to see that
Chelsea can do this and other cities are going to do this.”
Council President Damali Vidot said it’s
been a long road for the Innes project to move forward. The Council voted down
a project three years ago because prevailing wages for workers wasn’t on the
With prevailing wages now part of the
development proposal, the only major issue that gained any traction over the
past several months was, unsurprisingly, parking.
While the smart growth zoning is one major
step towards getting shovels in the ground for the project, developers will be
back before the Council for approval of a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) tax
break for the project. That is expected to come before the Council later in the
Vidot said that parking will be addressed in
proposing 226 on-site parking spots, with an option to lease another 50 parking
Bob Doherty used his snow blower to clear the sidewalks in front of his Chelsea home on Monday morning. A late winter storm dumped between 10 and 11 inches of snow on Chelsea Sunday night – leaving a winter wonderland for residents to wake up to on Monday.
The Innes Street/Central Avenue housing
redevelopment plan has cleared its latest hurdle with the Planning Board, but
will face a critical vote Monday night at Council on whether or not to allow
them to have a ‘40R’ zoning designation.
The Council will consider the special zoning
designation, which allows the mixed-income project to have its own, special
regulations for parking and density and other requirements. At the same time,
it also unlocks $5 million in state and local funding.
“It’s a critical vote,” said Chelsea Housing
Authority (CHA) Director Al Ewing. “That is a very important ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ If
we don’t get it, this project dies. It is our use it or lose it moment.”
The mixed-income development is in
partnership with Corcoran Development, which will assist in developing the
330-unit community on the site of the current housing development. Those units
will include the existing 96 public housing units, as well as 40 workforce
housing units. The remaining 194 units will be market rate, and with the state
and federal grants, will subsidize the replacement of the public housing units.
Overall, the development would have a 41 percent affordable ratio, which is
three times as much as what would normally be required by the City and double
the state requirements.
It seems like a huge moment for residents
like Jean Fulco, who is part of the Innes Residents Alliance (IRA).
“This will be a much better situation for
the people who are there now,” she said. “The re-development would be so much
better because the apartment conditions now are not very good.”
Resident Melissa Booth, also of the IRA,
said she has a special needs child who cannot walk up the stairs, but they live
on the second floor now.
“I usually have to carry my child up the
stairs because there isn’t an elevator,” she said.
The new development is slated to have an
But one of the strangleholds in this second
go-around of the mixed-income redevelopment – which had to be backed off two
years ago – is parking. There are 226 spaces available on site, and another 50
spaces will be located off-site nearby.
Council President Damali Vidot said she does
support the project, but she also lives in the area and understands that
parking is already a mess. She said they have worked out a potential plan where
the market rate units will not be able to apply for a residential parking
“Everyone says that these people who will
live here will take the Silver Line and not have a car,” she said. “Let’s see
them prove that. I’m ok with giving them the 40R so they can move forward, but
when their Tax Incremental Financing comes up, I will let them know that I will
not support the project unless they will enter into an agreement with the
market rate tenants to not participate in the residential parking program.”
She said the decision is a tough one for the
Council. While many have reservations, they also want to help the public
housing residents improve their lives.
“I’m not in love with the project, but I
know everyone is trying to do their best,” she said. “These 96 families deserve
to live in dignity. I have family that lives there and no one should live in
those conditions…If this is what I have to do to preserve the units for these
96 families, then we don’t have a choice really.”
Over the last several weeks, the IRA and the
CHA and Corcoran have been pounding the pavement. They have had coffee hours,
done personal outreach and have launched a website.
“We are in a competitive process and if this
doesn’t get approved for whatever reason, Chelsea will not realize this
opportunity,” said Sean McReynolds of Corcoran.
In a move to show that they are committed to
keeping residents in their homes, the Corcoran company and Chelsea Housing
Authority (CHA) have been signing Letters of Assurance with residents to
legally ensure they can return to their unit after it is redeveloped into a new
“We started signing those with residents
about two weeks ago,” said CHA Director Al Ewing. “We wanted everyone to see
that there is a commitment from us.”
Added Sean McReynolds of Corcoran, “It was
important for us the residents see we’re committed to having them return. That
is something that is usually done much further down the line. We wanted to do
it now anyway so people felt confident that commitment is there.”
Melissa Booth of the Innes Residents
Association (IRA) said many residents are relieved by the Letter, and the
Association has been passing it around in English and Spanish to get as many
residents signed as possible.
“They’re very relieved because the suspicion
is the developers would go in and move the families and not let them back in,”
she said. “We’ve been working really hard and trying to reassure everyone. No
one wants to leave the place that they’ve been living so long.”
The document, signed by all parties, is
about three pages long and clearly spells out what the residents will be
entitled to when they return.
“JJC Co. and CHA assure that all Innes
residents who are required to move for the redevelopment project will have the
right to return to a newly constructed unit in the redeveloped Innes
Apartments,” read the letter.
The two exceptions are if a household has
been evicted before returning for serious offense, or if they have a large unit
and state rules require them to go into a smaller unit than is available.
Also, it spells out that they will have the
same units as the market rate residents.
“These newly constructed affordable housing
units will be intermixed with market-rate units,” it read. “All units will be
interchangeable with the same quality in all apartments including finishes and
appliances such as washers and dryers.”
Both said they
hope to have everyone signed as soon as possible as an act of good faith to
residents and the community.
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.
At a certain point, it would be wise to just leave the Chelsea High record books in girls’ track blank until junior Stephanie Simon graduates.
Chelsea High junior Stephanie Simon is putting together another outstanding indoor track season this year, and will head to the National Championship meet in New York this weekend. When she’s not on the track, though, one might find her weaving in and out of the streets on her skateboard.
The champion jumper, runner and hurdler
tends to break most school records, and then break her own records time and
time again. At a certain point, her coaches say, they will probably fill it all
in after she graduates.
Simon, 16, comes from a strong athletic
family – and her sister, Martine – is the only runner to have ever beat her in
a meet. Now, she has focused in on jumping events and has put together a string
of wins during the indoor season this winter.
Recently, she took first place in the
Division 2 state long jump, and took second place in the New England Championship
meet. Earlier this year, at the multi-state Dartmouth Relays, she took first in
the long jump and high jump.
This weekend, she will travel to New York
City for the second year in a row to compete in the National Championship
But back in Chelsea, if you see a young lady
cutting it up on a skateboard, that might be Stephanie Simon.
“When I’m not training or practicing, I like
to ride a penny board,” she said. “I ride it everywhere, even to school. I
think that’s why I can jump. I think that’s something every jumper has to have
to be successful and that is being able to take a risk. You have to be willing
to take a risk to throw yourself in a pit of sand or give it everything you
have to flop up and over the high jump bar. It’s the adrenaline I like.”
Simon was born in Chelsea to Hubert and
Mathilde Simon, who originally came from Haiti. Her older brother, Norbert, was
also a track standout, as was her sister, Martine, who graduated last year. She
said her younger brother, Emanuel, has potential in the 200 sprint.
She attended the Early Learning Center, the
Berkowitz School, the Clark Avenue Middle School and has settled in at Chelsea
High – where she keeps a 3.4 grade point average and is active in academics.
But her cool demeanor likely comes from
having to contain herself on the track. Unlike with the sprints – where she
also has great success within the conference meets – she said she has learned
that a jumper (whether high jump, long jump or triple jump) needs to stay in
“Adrenaline is good for running, but for
jumping you have to kind of put it in a bottle and use it to motivate you and
counter it with technique,” she said. “For jumping and sprints, unlike distance
running, it’s half mental and half physical.”
It will be a very important quality when she
arrives at the New York City Armory this weekend with her coach, Cesar
Hernandez. Last year was her first indoor national meet, and she said it was
“Last year, stepping into that building was
so overwhelming,” she said, noting that there hasn’t been another Chelsea
runner since Bobby Goss decades ago to go to nationals. “Every runner there was
working hard and wanted to win. I didn’t do so well, but it made me even more
determined to do better at the national outdoor meet in North Carolina last
spring and I did.”
When she went to the Dartmouth Relays
earlier this year, she said that same New York feeling came upon her, but she
was able to shake it off, which is something she said she will do when she goes
back to New York this week.
“I told myself it’s the same events and the
same sand,” she said. “I was able to recover and move on.”
Amazingly, Simon was never a runner until
she got to high school, unlike many top runners who have been at it since grade
“My freshman year I didn’t even run that
first season,” she said. “I liked soccer. I was able to make varsity my
freshman year. In the winter, I played basketball. Then I did outdoor track and
I was really good at it. In track, there was so much support and it was like a
big family. My freshman year I was trying to figure everything out. Everyone
kept telling me I had more potential in track. I listened to them and I’m glad
Simon credited Coach Hernandez with helping
her take bigger and bigger steps as a runner and, especially, as a jumper. As a
raw athlete, she had talent, but she said Hernandez helped her to develop
technique and pushed her not to just rely on athleticism.
“If he wasn’t my coach, I would not be doing
what I’m doing,” she said. “He fits the kind of coach I need.”
She also credited her teammates for being a
great support system.
She also credited her family, who she said
has been very proud of her academically and in sports.
“In our family,
everyone has their thing they are best at,” she said. “I guarantee I win at
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.”