Kayaks and the Creek: Residents Want More Recreation Opportunities on the Waterfront

Kayaks and the Creek: Residents Want More Recreation Opportunities on the Waterfront

By Seth Daniel

Xavier and Angel Mojica enjoyed their time paddling on the Chelsea Creek on Tuesday, Aug. 8, during an event sponsored by GreenRoots to make a statement about recreational boating on the Creek. Both GreenRoots and City officials see the pier on Marginal Street as a key site to getting people more access to the Creek.

Xavier and Angel Mojica enjoyed their time paddling on the Chelsea Creek on Tuesday, Aug. 8, during an event sponsored by GreenRoots to make a statement about recreational boating on the Creek. Both GreenRoots and City officials see the pier on Marginal Street as a key site to getting people more access to the Creek.

When Sandra Perdomo’s little daughter saw the kayaks floating off the new pier on Marginal Street last Tuesday, Aug. 8, her eyes lit up as big as silver dollars.

She had never been on a kayak, and certainly had never really been anywhere near the Chelsea Creek for recreational events. But at the first-ever GreenRoots Paddle on the Creek event, there was plenty of room for everyone to grab a paddle and boat across the Creek to Eastie or just kick around the pier with a paddle.

“After she went out, my daughter said, ‘Oh mommy, can we do this again and again?’” said Perdomo. “One time wasn’t enough. She wanted to do this every day. For her, it was the first time in a kayak…This was a great opportunity for the community to be able to use the water for fun. For me, I felt it was the best community event in all of Chelsea because we had a good time with family and friends. It’s a fun activity outside and everyone enjoyed themselves.”

The event featured activities and the Chelsea Police Copsicle Truck up on the expansive concrete pier – which is basically brand new and very much underutilized.

Down in the water by the docks, kayaks were lined up and people were excited to get out on the water.

Looking down from the dock, GreenRoots Director Roseann Bongiovanni yelled, “We’re kayaking on the Chelsea Creek. Can you believe it?”

Few could.

But many like Bongiovanni and other City leaders hope that it becomes much more common.

“We’ve had canoeing and kayaking on the Creek before, but it was with the River Revel, which we had with East Boston,” said Bongiovanni. “We’ve never done it on the Chelsea side on the Chelsea Creek. We wanted to give the community and the kids the opportunity to use their waterway. We’ve been putting a lot of attention on that pier area and we have a vision that one day that could become a park. There’s much more to come on that site. It’s a very key site…Getting out there kayaking and canoeing felt very powerful to people. This was something people said you couldn’t do. We did it.”

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said the long-term goal is to have residents using the Creek for recreation despite the limits of it being a commercial and industrial waterway.

Both Ambrosino and Bongiovanni believe it can be a shared space for both commerce and leisure.

“One of our long-term goals here is to try to provide more access to the Creek,” he said. “I hope some day to have a park in that area where things like that can happen. The PORT Park is great but we’re trying to do something more. If we can use the pier there to do something, it would be great. Everything now is privately owned, but that may not always be the case in the future.”

Many of the youth at the event had never been on the Creek, and even more had never been in a kayak. It’s something that many have struggled with for years in Chelsea, whereas many young people live only a stone’s throw from the waterfront, but don’t even know the waterfront exists.

Long time resident Lisa Santagate said the waterfront had been blocked off to residents for more than a generation. She couldn’t recall ever being able to really access the Creek in her lifetime.

“This is not a one off thing,” said Bongiovanni. “It can be difficult to have recreational boating on the Chelsea Creek, but we’re going to have try as much as we can to get people on the Creek regularly so it becomes something that’s normal. We see that  (pier) as a key property that can change the Chelsea Creek in a dynamic way.”

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Collaborative, Residents Are Still Pushing Amendment in Wake of Quebec Train Disaster

Collaborative, Residents Are Still Pushing  Amendment in Wake of Quebec Train Disaster

Organizers pause for a photo prior to delivering more than 1,000 advocacy cards. Those pictured include (left to right) Gail Miller, John Walkey, Anjie Preston, Jovanna Garcia-Soto, Attorney Staci Rubin, and Kim Fultz.

Organizers pause for a photo prior to delivering more than
1,000 advocacy cards. Those pictured include (left to right)
Gail Miller, John Walkey, Anjie Preston, Jovanna Garcia-Soto,
Attorney Staci Rubin, and Kim Fultz.

While pleased with last week’s announcement that Global Petroleum had withdrawn its proposal to bring millions of gallons of Ethanol by train through more than 90 communities across the Commonwealth, local Chelsea Creek activists remain dedicated to seeing through the amendment they have fought for and that would ensure that future projects like Global’s would remain off limits.

“Saturday night’s tragic catastrophe in Lac Mégantic, Quebec provides a horrifying glimpse of what is possible when millions of gallons of highly flammable products are railed through the middle of densely populated areas,” said Roseann Bongiovanni, Associate Director of the Chelsea Collaborative.

The derailment and explosion of several of the train’s 73 tanker cars containing pressurized crude oil destroyed 30 buildings in downtown Lac Mégantic and is being referred to as the worst rail accident in Canada in 50 years.  An exact death toll has yet to be released as bodies of over 40 missing persons have not been found and may have been completely incinerated.

“Can you imagine if the proposed Ethanol cars derailed as they went through Porter Square or through Chelsea neighborhoods?” asked Kim Foltz, Director of Community Building and Environment at NOAH.  “Thanks to Senators Anthony Petruccelli, Sal DiDomenico and Patricia Jehlen there is an amendment in the State budget that would prevent something similar to this happening on the rail lines to the Chelsea Creek oil terminals.”

After more than two years of organizing, members of the Chelsea Creek Action Group on Monday morning delivered more than 1,000 postcards signed by residents in the Metro Boston area to Gov. Deval Patrick urging him to sign the legislation into law to ensure the safety of residents of the Commonwealth from ethanol rail disasters.

Whether or not the new Chapter 91 regulations go into effect is fully up to Gov. Patrick at this point. The amendments are contained within the current Budget Proposal that the governor is deliberating upon. Many insiders believe that he is poised to strike the amendments, but he has given no clear indication.

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Is There an Alternative?

Is There an Alternative?

The meeting by the State Department of Transportation on the ethanol trains coming into our community using the existing commuter rails, certainly was not what the many residents and officials wanted to hear. The state officials basically said that there is very little to be done to stop the project.

We know that we live in an older industrialized city.

We know that there exists contaminated sites in our city.

We know that we have airport noise and pollution.

And we know that we are the main freeway into Boston used by thousands of commuters from the North Shore.

However, the proposed route for the delivery of ethanol should not be something that we should also be asked to bear.

Our elected officials are opposed to the proposed delivery of the ethanol by train.

Residents in the neighboring communities have joined together to also oppose the proposed train delivery.

Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash has asked about the possibility of using ships to transport this highly dangerous cargo by way of the Chelsea Creek.

We concur that there might be another way to transport this cargo into our community.

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