Licensing Commission Close to Vote on Marijuana Regulations

Licensing Commission Close  to Vote on Marijuana Regulations

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 establishments.

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 liquor licenses.

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.

The operating 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.

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Chelsea’s Real Estate Resurgence Continues Bowen, Castillo Set to Unveil Parker Place Condos

Chelsea’s Real Estate  Resurgence Continues Bowen, Castillo Set to Unveil Parker Place Condos

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 (Boston).”

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 Spencer Ave.)

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.

“Each 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 Bowen.

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 here.

“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.”

(For more information about Parker Place Condominums, please email info@chelsearealestate.com).

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Licensing Commission Disciplines Several Establishments

Licensing Commission Disciplines Several  Establishments

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 entertainment licenses.

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 enforcement agencies.

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 license.”

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Smart Growth Zoning Wins Unanimous Council Approval

Smart Growth Zoning Wins Unanimous Council  Approval

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 table.

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 spring.

Vidot said that parking will be addressed in the TIF.

Corcoran is proposing 226 on-site parking spots, with an option to lease another 50 parking spots nearby.

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Lime Bike Rental Program Hopes to Unveil Electric Situation in Chelsea

Lime Bike Rental Program Hopes to Unveil Electric Situation in Chelsea

When the Lime Bike rental program returns to the streets of Chelsea this spring, riders might notice a little extra oomph in their ride.

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 per hour.

“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 Lime Bike.”

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 said.

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 stated.

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.”

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City Manager Ambrosino Highlights Achievements -Looks to the Future in His State of the City Address to City Council

City Manager Ambrosino Highlights Achievements -Looks to the Future in His State of the City Address to City Council

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 coffers.

“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 well.”

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 City Council.”

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 remains.”

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.”

The City Manager’s State of the City address can be viewed on the Chelsea Community Cable’s YouTube channel here: youtu.be/lRVWajXR44w.

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Chelsea Rehabs Its City Seal

Chelsea Rehabs Its City Seal

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 government.

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.

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Parking Study Comes In at More Than $200,000

Parking Study Comes In at More Than $200,000

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) process.

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 residents.”

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 residents.”

However, he said he doesn’t believe the same to be true for the trash realm.

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Chelsea Stands in Solidarity with East Boston over Proposed Eversource Substation

Chelsea Stands in Solidarity with East Boston over Proposed Eversource Substation

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 profits.”

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 rise.

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 Walkey.

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 Square.

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City Manager Gets New, Five-Year Contract

City Manager Gets New, Five-Year Contract

City Manager Thomas Ambrosino got a new five-year contract and a healthy serving of praise from the City Council Monday night.

The council approved the contract with a 10-0 vote. Councilor-at-Large Roy Avellaneda was not present at Monday night’s meeting.

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 performance.”

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 great respect.

“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 four-year contract.

“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 initiatives.

•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.

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