With plans to host four recreational
marijuana shops already at some phase of readiness in Chelsea, the Licensing
Commission is nearing a final vote on regulations for special additional rules
for those establishments.
On March 7, the Commission continued a
public hearing on the regulations, focusing on the topics of application fees,
locations of the pot shops, and security.
Commission Chair Mark Rossi said the
Commission should be ready to take a final vote on the regulations at its meeting
in early April.
The City is limited to four retail marijuana
Those shops will already be vetted heavily
before they reach the Licensing Commission for final approval. Other approvals
include a host agreement in place from the City and approved by the state’s
Cannabis Control Commission, as well as any necessary approvals from the City’s
Zoning and Planning Boards.
Rossi said the Licensing Commission will
grant the retail pot shop licenses in much the same manner as it does for
One of the questions raised by an early
draft of the Licensing Commission regulations was whether the Commission should
limit the shops to one or two per voting district.
The City ordinance already limits the
establishments to three zoning districts — Industrial, Shopping Center, and
Business Highway zones.
By the end of last week’s hearing, there was
general agreement among the commissioners that there would not be a restriction
on how close the pot shops can be to one other.
City Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda
agreed that was the right move on the issue.
“I would oppose any sort of restriction on
the number of feet from one place to another,” he said. “We already have zoning
in place in the city and we don’t need to add another layer to that; we don’t
do it for other businesses.”
The Commission also agreed on a $500
application fee and $5,000 yearly renewal fee for the marijuana businesses.
While there were some questions about the
Commission’s role in looking at security at the establishments, City Solicitor
Cheryl Watson Fisher noted that there are already strong security requirements
from the state, and requirements are also written into the host agreements with
the prospective businesses.
Commissioner Roseann Bongiovanni said she
would still like to look at the host agreements to see how they address
security before taking the final vote next month.
“I don’t think security is going to be an
issue,” said Commissioner James Guido, adding it is more likely traffic that
could cause some issues.
According to the proposed regulation, the
Licensing Commission would not issue a license to anyone who has violated
Licensing Commission rules and regulations in the past five years. All licenses
are subject to zoning approval and state Cannabis Control Commission approval.
hours for retail shops will be limited to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and all signage
will have to be approved by the City, according to Fisher.
Chelsea real estate agent Jeffrey Bowen said
all the hard work by city officials over the past 20 years is paying off.
“Chelsea is booming,” says Bowen. “City
Managers Jay Ash and Tom Ambroino, the city councilors, and the community have
brought it back to where we are now. Chelsea is the No. 1 gateway city in
America with the lowest price-per-foot next to a major metropolitan city
Bowen knows much the city’s resurgence and the booming real estate scene. He is currently marketing his third major project, Parker Place, 12 new luxury condominiums at the corner of Parker Street and Spencer Avenue. The developer for the three projects has been Jason Roback of Roback Real Estate.
“Jason prides himself in bringing value and
quality to the future residents of Chelsea,” credited Bowen.
Bowen and his partner, Sandra Castillo, of
ERA Russell Realty Group, will host an open house each Saturday and Sunday
(12-2 p.m.) at Parker Place, which is already drawing significant interest
among prospective buyers.
Bowen’s previous successes span the city,
notably the Beacon Condominiums (81 Broadway) and the Thomas Martin Lofts (204
Parker Place, located at 87 Parker St, is a
seven-story building featuring 12 units: 11 two-bed, two-bath, one two-bed,
one-bath. Five of the units have garage parking, seven have outdoor spots. Out
of the 11 two-bed, two-bath units, one is an affordable unit for medium-income
residents (price to be determined by the City of Chelsea).
According to Bowen and Castillo, the prices
at Parker Place range from $449,000 to $539,000.
condo has air-conditioning, maple hardwood flooring, custom kitchens, and
stainless-steel appliances,” said Bowen. “This in an elevator building. Four of
the units have roof decks. Eight of the units have balconies.”
Bowen said the area has become one of the
hottest in the greater Boston real estate market.
“You have the DaVinci Lofts (960 Broadway),
the Industrie Lofts (950 Broadway), the Spencer Lofts (60 Dudley St.), the Keen
Lofts (220 Spencer Ave.), and the Thomas Martin Lofts (204 Spencer Ave.),’ said
And the boon is continuing, with the Chelsea
Zoning Board’s approval Tuesday night of the Forbes Development that will
consist of 590 units.
A good time to buy
There is no time like the present to invest
in Chelsea, according to Bowen.
“Condominium prices are 25-50 percent higher
a mile or two away in East Boston and Charlestown,” said Bowen. “Downtown
Boston and the Seaport District (South Boston) is double and triple. Chelsea is
still very affordable. It’s a good time to buy. You get more bang for your
buck. There is room to grow here.”
Other advantages for buyers are access to
Route 1, the Silver Line, five bus routes, and a commuter rail. Five new hotels
in Chelsea also underline the fact that the city is flourishing. The new Encore
Casino opens in Everett in June.
Bowen takes personal pride in Chelsea’s
resurgence. A resident of the city, he was featured in a recent segment on
Channel 5’s “Chronicle,” showcasing all the good things that are happening
“Sandra and I are our team and we work well
together helping people find the residence of their dreams,” said Bowen, who
has been No. 1 in the luxury condominium segment of real estate in Chelsea. “I
have a relationship with a lender that has a program with rates as low as 3.69
percent on a 30-year fixed mortgage that also includes $7,000-lender-paid
closing costs (for qualified buyers).”
Said Castillo, “Whenever we go in to a
building, we actually get the highest price for the seller. We also get calls
from previous buyers and we’ve been able to double their investment. Our condos
don’t last very long on the market because they are such a great value and they
have everything people are looking for.”
information about Parker Place Condominums, please email
If one is looking to hit the local bars this
Cinco de Mayo, the options are going to be a little more limited than usual.
At its March 7 meeting, the Licensing
Commission disciplined two local restaurants for a variety of infractions that
will result in them losing their liquor licenses for the Cinco de Mayo weekend
on May 4 and 5. (The restaurant Cinco de Mayo in Chelsea was not disciplined or
called to the Commission).
In addition to losing its liquor license for
that weekend, the Commission voted to roll back Acapulco’s hours of operation
indefinitely, forcing the Fifth Street establishment to close at 11 p.m.
instead of 1 a.m.
The Acapulco punishment stems from an
incident last November when a security worker at the restaurant struck a
customer over the head with a police baton.
The Commission also enforced an hours rollback
from 1 a.m. to 11 p.m. – along with the weekend suspension – for Bar La Cueva
at 802 Broadway. That punishment was enforced for an incident where several
patrons were overserved, as well as for past concerns about noise and unruly
patrons at the bar.
In addition, Commission member James Guido
requested a hearing next month to consider revoking Bar La Cueva’s
The attorney for Acapulco said the issue at
his client’s establishment is systemic of a larger issue in the city, where
security at bars is handled by companies that act almost as paramilitary or law
Several commissioners agreed that there is a
larger issue that needs to be addressed in the city with bar and liquor
establishment security, but noted that Acapulco deserved a more forceful
discipline than simply firing its current security contractor.
“You say security is a problem, but you’ve
had the same company for a decade,” Commissioner Roseann Bongiovanni said.
The issues at Bar La Cueva seemed to extend
beyond the recent incident where two people were overserved, as several
commissioners noted that there have been noise and unruly patron complaints at
the bar for years.
In a letter, one neighbor stated that the
“karaoke singing by drunks is terribly loud and they overserve their patrons.”
John Dodge, the attorney representing the
bar, said for the incident in question, his clients acted responsibly and asked
the patrons who appeared to be intoxicated to leave.
But Bongiovanni noted that the bar has been
a problem in the past, including racking up a 14-day liquor license suspension
about two years ago.
“They have been a complete nuisance and
annoyance to the neighborhood; you can roll your eyes all you want, counselor,”
she said to Dodge.
Both the bars got off relatively easy
compared to Fine Mart, a liquor and convenience store at 260 Broadway. The
Commission suspended the store’s liquor license for a total of six weeks for
three offenses, including an incident where an employee struck a woman who was
intoxicated in the store, for selling nips after the enactment of the City’s
nip ban, and for the sale of alcohol to a minor.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino, an ardent
supporter of the City’s ban on 50 ml bottles of alcohol, said there needs to be
consequences for businesses that violate the ordinance.
“The ban has been
important in the city’s efforts to try to make Broadway a more attractive place
to shop and dine,” Ambrosino said. “We’ve spent a lot of money to make it a
better place. Having the nip ban in place is an important part of that. “(Fine
Mart) has a prominent place in the corridor and has to comply with its
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
When the Lime Bike rental program returns to
the streets of Chelsea this spring, riders might notice a little extra oomph in
Chelsea took part in a program with Lime
Bike, along with 16 neighboring communities, last year. Council President
Damali Vidot said the bike rentals will be up and running again this year.
However, there will be a difference this
year, as Lime is unveiling electric-assisted bicycles throughout the region.
Because electric bicycles are currently not
allowed in Chelsea, Vidot has introduced an ordinance to the City Council that
would allow for the vehicles as long as they do not travel faster than 15 miles
“Since the late Summer of 2017, the City of
Chelsea has been experimenting with dockless bikes, initially as a pilot with
the company Ofo and then, last year, as part of a regional Metropolitan Area
Planning Council (MAPC) contract with Lime Bike,” City Manager Tom Ambrosino
stated in a letter to the Council. “Notwithstanding some minor complaints, I
believe the experiment has been successful.”
Last year, more than 4,000 people used the
dockless bikes in Chelsea, taking almost 20,000 separate trips, according to
the city manager.
“The City would like to continue this
dockless bike program in 2019,” stated Ambrosino. “However, there has been a
change in the marketplace for dockless bikes. All the companies in this arena
are moving away from pedal powered bikes to electric assisted bikes, including
To continue with the regional effort with
Lime and allow the bikes in Chelsea, the City will have to change the current
ordinance that prohibits the vehicles.
“Over the past month, we have explored the
options of replacing Lime Bike with another company that might offer dockless
pedal only bikes, but no operator is interested in the restriction,” Ambrosino
While the change in the ordinance would
allow for the electric-assisted bicycles, Ambrosino said there are no plans in
the works to allow for electric scooters to operate on public streets.
“I am just alerting the Council that the use
of such scooters may soon become ubiquitous in surrounding communities,” he
Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda said he’s
looking forward to the transportation upgrade.
“I’m looking forward to them,” he said. “I
took a practice ride, and it was quite fun.”
•In other transportation-related news,
Ambrosino told the City Council it should keep the future appearance of
autonomous vehicles in the back of its mind.
“Right now, testing of such vehicles is
underway in Boston and other communities,” he said.
As with the electric-assisted bicycles, the
Council would have to adjust its ordinances to allow for autonomous,
self-driving vehicles. A MassDOT and MAPC agreement could allow for a pilot
route for the vehicles in the Industrial District.
“It is likely to be some time before
autonomous vehicles actually appear on this pilot route,” Ambrosino said.
“Again, such testing cannot occur until the City has given express permission.
However, I just wanted to give the Council notice that this transportation
innovation is moving forward and may someday make its way to Chelsea.”
Fresh off of a new contract, City Manager
Tom Ambrosino gave an enthusiastic opening to Monday’s Council meeting during
his State of the City Address, where he talked about Chelsea’s accomplishments
in 2018 as well as its goals for 2019.
“I feel confident in saying that the state
of our City of Chelsea is very good indeed,” he started.
Among the achievements of the past year,
Ambrosino noted that the City ended 2018 with an excess of $28 million in its
“There’s not another city our size in the
entire Commonwealth with that level of reserve,” he said. “That is a testament
to the shrewd financial planning of City Council.”
In 2018, Chelsea was also one of only 35
cities in the country to be awarded a Bloomberg Challenge grant for its vision
to reduce crime with preventative care.
“Because of that award, our model of
predicting harm and then engaging in cross-sector collaboration to address the
harm got national attention,” said Ambrosino. “It’s gaining interest and it has
people seeking to replicate that, not just in Massachusetts, but outside as
Ambrosino cited the City’s increased
development in 2018, such as the construction of two new hotels and the
multi-million dollar expansion of a pharmaceutical company. He also mentioned
the $10 million grant by the state to reconstruct Broadway from City Hall to
the Revere Line, as well as a $3 million federal Economic Development Administration (EDA)
grant to renovate Chelsea’s waterfront, one of the largest grants given by the
EDA to any municipality in the country in 2018, and one of the only grants
issued in Massachusetts.
“We kept our promises to our residents in
2018 by doing good services,” Ambrosino reflected. “I think we can achieve the
same level of success in 2019 if we have the same level of collaboration from
In terms of goals for 2019, Ambrosino
highlighted the effort to renovate the downtown Chelsea area, building on the
foundational work done in 2018.
“We added police, social services, more lighting,
decorative banners, public art,” he said. “We’ve created an atmosphere and
foundation for success, so what we need to do now is finalize the work that
Ambrosino outlined four areas of improvement
for downtown Chelsea: finalizing the design for the infrastructure improvements
for one-way schemes, adopting the necessary zoning permissions to improve the
facade of the corridor, offering a rich array of cultural and artistic
activities, and submitting a request for proposal (RFP) for the redevelopment
of the former Salvation Army site.
The City Manager threw his support behind
the Forbes Proposal, which is up before
the City Board of Appeals next month for the redevelopment of the Chelsea
waterfront, claiming that it will include affordable condominiums for Chelsea
residents looking to become homeowners.
Ambrosino also mentioned the planned
infrastructure and capital improvements for 2019, including work to the Chelsea
Greenway, the Chelsea Garden Cemetery and Veterans’ Field. This would all be in
the context of a master plan, the first of its kind in Chelsea since the 1970s.
The City Manager emphasized the importance
of investing in affordable housing as well as in education, specifically for
grants to allow high-achieving, low-income high school students in Chelsea to
attend Bunker Hill Community College free of charge.
“This idea of public funding for education
beyond just high school is gaining momentum in this nation,” he said. “We can
feel a sense a pride that Chelsea is in the forefront of that movement.”
Manager’s State of the City address can be viewed on the Chelsea Community
Cable’s YouTube channel here: youtu.be/lRVWajXR44w.
So much happens within every municipality that needs to be shared: upcoming events, new initiatives, important updates, celebrations of success. And there’s myriad ways in which each department of City Hall interfaces with the public in routine ways, from applications for parking permits to business licenses, to simple correspondence to the uniforms of Department of Public Work employees repairing the streets. Inherent in all of this communication is a message about how the municipality functions. Each represents an opportunity to say something about the City of Chelsea itself.
The new Chelsea City Seal features a more appropriate figure and a consistent design.
To make the most of these
opportunities, the City of Chelsea has just released a Style Guide that details
the specific graphic style for all communications from the ten City Hall
departments and nearly twenty boards and commissions. The goal of the
effort is to establish a consistent brand identity that’s professional, clear,
and attractive. The guide details typography, colors, photography and
formatting that together create a distinctive look for City Hall’s print and
digital materials. For administrative staff at City Hall, a suite of templates
facilitate the quick creation of regularly needed materials within the
established style. The refreshed documents include letterhead and envelopes,
agendas and minutes, business cards and brochures, forms and flyers, reports
and PowerPoint slide decks.
The underlying goal of
the project is that quality, consistent design will demonstrate a unified voice
whenever expressed by an agent of Chelsea’s city offices. Quality design
demonstrates competence and professionalism. Through a clear graphic identity
the public will be able to better recognize services provided by municipal
Over the past eight
months, a team of City Hall staff representing a variety of departments worked
with design consultant, Catherine Headen, to develop the guide. After
reviews, working sessions and a special event with City Hall staff the
completed Guide and templates are formally released this week.
A major aspect of the
work was refining of the City Seal. Over the decades numerous changes had
led to an evolution of the design, drifting the illustration away from the
original as detailed in the banner hanging Chelsea’s City Council
Chambers. When the team began, nearly a dozen different images were in use
as a City Seal across municipal departments. The design details had
changed so significantly that the group was surprised to discover lost elements
prescribed within the City Charter: “The following shall be the device of the
corporate seal of the city: A representation within a circle of a shield
surmounted by a star, the shield bearing upon it the representation of an
American Indian chief and wigwams; at the right of the shield, a sailboat such
as was formerly used for ferriage; at the left of the shield, a view of the
city and a steam ferryboat; under the shield, the word “Winnisimmet;” around
the shield, the words “Chelsea, settled 1624; a Town 1739; a City 1857.”
The unveiling of the new look with take place over time. City staff will
continue to use the print materials already on hand but will use the new
templates for all their future materials. The new style is intended for the
main City Hall departments and doesn’t extend to the City’s Police and Fire
departments or to the schools.
A parking study asked for
by the City Council has had few interested takers, and the only bid on the
study has come in at an exorbitant $210,000.
The Council called for a
parking study to be done for the entire City late last year, and the City began
work on getting a consultant in place through a Request for Proposals (RFP)
However, City Manager Tom
Ambrosino said there was only one bidder, Howard Stein Hudson (HSH), and they
only bid on a portion of the city rather than the entire city.
“HSH believes that a
parking study encompassing the entire City of Chelsea will be too big and
likely too expensive of an undertaking,” wrote Ambrosino. “Instead, HSH is
proposing that, in addition to the downtown, it would identify only a few other
target neighborhoods for study. I don’t know if the Council would be satisfied
with that limitation.”
The other piece of the
puzzle is the cost.
Ambrosino said the cost
of HSH’s limited proposal was $210,780.
“That is much more than
we anticipated, and I don’t know if the Council is prepared to expend that
sum,” he wrote.
Ambrosino called for the
Council to convene subcommittee to talk about next steps. He said they could
accept the expensive proposal from HSH, or they could re-big the project and
hope to get more proposals.
A date is being set for
the committee meeting.
•City Manager Tom
Ambrosino is recommending against taking the trash collection operations
in-house, a proposal floated by the Council last month.
He said the City’s
Department of Public Works had made some initial calculations that showed it
would be about the same costs to bring it in-house as it would be to continue
using its contractor, Russel Disposal.
“The (figures) make clear
that there are no obvious savings by taking the work in-house,” he wrote. “Our
best estimate is that annual costs would probably be somewhat greater than what
we pay to Russell.”
However, many of the
concerns of the Council, including Councilor Enio Lopez, came from the
mish-mash quality of pickup.
Ambrosino said he
understood those concerns, but didn’t believe taking the operations in-house
would improve the mistakes that are made.
“It is my opinion that,
given the nature of the trash business, where litter, rough handling of barrels
and occasional missed deliveries are inevitable no matter who is performing the
work, bringing this work in-house would not demonstrably improve quality, at
least not to the extent where any improvement would be noticeable to our
He said he would not
recommend any change.
However, he did not close
the door on taking other functions in-house.
He said he isn’t opposed
to bringing things like some water and sewer work back in-house.
“I feel strongly that we
should probably take in-house certain water, sewer and drainage work that we
currently outsource,” he said. “But, in the case of that utility work, I can
definitively show that the City will save substantial money doing the work
ourselves, and I do believe the quality will be a noticeable improvement to our
However, he said he doesn’t believe the same to be true for the trash
Environmentalists, activists, residents and
elected officials on both sides of the Chelsea Creek are standing in solidarity
with one another in firm opposition to Eversources plan to place a substation
at the City Yards in East Boston along the Chelsea Creek.
On Tuesday night in Eastie the the state’s
Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) held a public meeting to discuss
Eversource’s Notice of Project Change that moves the proposed substation from
the eastern corner of the City Yards in East Eagle Square to the western
corner. The original location on the eastern portion of the city-owned parcel
was approved by the EFSB last year.
In its Notice of Project Change
Eversource seeks approval to move the
Substation 190 feet to the western side of the City Yards lot. The scope of the
upcoming meeting is limited to Eversource’s
proposed relocation of the substation from its current site on the
eastern side of the city parcel to its new proposed location.
Eversource said the two 115-kV transmission
lines that would connect to the substation would no longer be routed along
Condor and East Eagle Streets if the substation is placed in the western
portion of the parcel.
Local environmentalists from Eastie and
Chelsea have called on the EFSB explore alternatives to placing Eversource’s
proposed substation along the Chelsea Creek.
For two years local environmentalists on the
Eastie and Chelsea sides of the Creek have launched a visual, media and talking
campaign against Eversource’s plans to place the substation at the City Yards
in Eagle Square.
At Tuesday night’s meeting Chelsea City
Council President Damali Vidot attended the meeting and gave testimony in
opposition to the substation.
“I’m here tonight to express my opposition,”
said Vidot. “Although I represent Chelsea, a community of 40,000 low income,
hardworking immigrants and people of color who are always the afterthoughts of
corporate greed and irresponsible planning, I am here today as an ally with my
brothers and sisters of the Eagle Hill East Boston neighborhood whose
demographics are reminiscent of home. Planes, a salt bile, fuel and now a high
voltage electrical substation–I am tired of communities like Chelsea and East
Boston forced to bear the burden of environmental injustice at the hands of
greedy corporations. We are environmental justice communities and the civic
engagement in this neighborhood, or lack thereof, is a blatant disregard and
inconsideration of the densely populated areas of hardworking men and women
forced to bear the environmental ignorance of others for the sake of protecting
Vidot called for an independent study to see
whether or not a substation is even needed in the area and, if so, does it need
to be placed an area susceptible to future climate change issues and sea level
U.S. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who
represents both East Boston and Chelsea, sent a video testimony from her office
in Washington D.C.
“I’m your sister in solidarity,” said
Pressley. “This at its best is boor urban planning and at its worst and
injustice. It is unconscionable that a community already overburdened with
environmental injustices would be put in harm’s way and have those existing
health hazards exacerbated. The community should be a part of planning and I
know when we organize we win and this is a fight like so many others we are
taking on and I stand with you.”
Last year the EFSB ruled in favor of placing
the substation at the City Yards. However, the final ruling came with some
provisos. According to the state board the EFSB vote to approve the substations
and 115 kV underground cables in Eastie, Chelsea and Everett came with some
conditions. The EFSB directed Eversource to enter into discussions with the
City of Boston regarding the possible relocation of the new substation and the
related cable on the Chelsea Creek site.
Local activist John Walkey, who lives in
Eastie and works with Greenroots Chelsea argues that the project represents an
increased risk in both communities already bearing a huge environmental burden
in the region by playing host to Logan International Airport, highways and jet
fuel storage tanks along the Chelsea Creek.
Walkey made a push for the EFSB to see a
more logical place to site the substation.
“If only there was a place in East Boston
with restricted access that would a more appropriate location. Maybe a place
that already had millions of dollars invested in raising the ground level so it
is more flood resilient. Maybe a place that already much more secure with state
police oversight and very limited access. Maybe a place that takes up over a
third of the land mass in East Boston. And just maybe a place that is going to
be a consumer of over half the electricity that goes through the substation
anyway. Obviously the (Logan) Airport is a far more logical place,” said
As part of its decision the EFSB directed
Eversource to provide an update to the board on the status of discussions
between the community and city before construction on the substation commences.
This has given additional time for Eversource, the City of Boston, and
residents to iron out the alternative locations for the substation.
The substation was initially slated to be built
on an Eversource-owned parcel on Bremen Street. However, under the former late
Mayor Thomas Menino Boston executed a land swap with Eversource. Eversource
have the City of Boston the Bremen Street parcel so the city could build the
new East Boston Branch Library in return for a city-owned parcel in East Eagle
City Manager Thomas Ambrosino got a new
five-year contract and a healthy serving of praise from the City Council Monday
The council approved the contract with a
10-0 vote. Councilor-at-Large Roy Avellaneda was not present at Monday night’s
Ambrosino gets a three percent raise with
the new deal, from $184,913 annually to $189,945.
Council President Damali Vidot said a
sub-committee made up of Councilors Luis Tejada, Giovanni Recupero and Yamir
Rodriguez had been evaluating Ambrosino for several months, and agreed that he
has done a good job and should be invited back.
“He’s done a great job and he wanted to go
five years instead of four years so he would be closer to retirement age at the
end of this contract,” she said. “I think he deserved it. I felt he earned five
years. He got a really good evaluation and people are very pleased with his
Vidot said the evaluation showed councilors
and the public felt he was a little too hands-off on his management of
departments, and wanted to see him be a little more hands-on with them. For
Vidot, she said one of his strengths has been treating the City Council with
“He has really given the City Council the
respect it deserves,” she said. “I didn’t see that in the previous
administration. Chelsea seems to really be coming together. There seems to be
so much more interest in social and civic issues and more unity overall.”
On Monday night, the praises continued at
the Council meeting before they voted to extend the contract five more years.
“The city manager has done a great job,”
said District 8 Councilor Calvin T. Brown. “He’s committed, a creative thinker,
and a very approachable city manager.”
Several councilors commented on Ambrosino’s
responsiveness to residents’ concerns.
“Whenever I have had a problem in my
district and brought it to his attention, the city manager has been very
responsive,” said District 1 Councilor Robert Bishop.
District 5 Councilor Judith Garcia said
Ambrosino has been an incredible asset and resource for the community.
“He has invested a lot in the community, and
I hear it from my constituents a lot,” said Garcia.
In addition to the three percent pay raise,
Ambrosino will get an additional $500 per year for travel, and the former
Revere mayor’s new contract will be for five years, compared to his current
“I’m very pleased and very grateful to the
city council for giving me a vote of confidence,” Ambrosino said following
Monday night’s meeting. “I will do everything I can to continue to make them
proud of my work.”
Ambrosino has said since last fall he would
like to be asked to return to Chelsea for another contract term. He said he
feels like he has more work to do in the city, particularly with his downtown
•In other Council news:
A resolution passed by the City Council
Monday night recognized February as Black History Month and thanked the Lewis
H. Latimer Society, Bunker Hill Community College, and the Chelsea Black
Community “Remembering Black Migration, WWI, and the Chelsea Fire” for the
contributions to the city.
The Council also recognized Feb. 21 as Dr.
Maya Angelou Day in Chelsea.
•The council requested a meeting with
Emergency Management Director Keith Vetreno to discuss 911 services.
•Councilor-at-Large Leo Robinson requested
that City Manager Tom Ambrosino update the council on all planned development
in the city.
•District 6 Councilor Giovanni Recupero
requested a brighter streetlight on Charles Street, as well as a study for
traffic on the Meridian Street Bridge. The brightness of the new LED
streetlights has been a problem point for several years, as most of them are on
the lowest setting to save money on power. Recupero has routinely asked the
City to increase the brightness on the new LED lights.