Chelsea’s Justin Turner is coming off of a league MVP season in Cross Country, and has been racking up wins for indoor track this winter as well. The senior captain said he loves chemistry, but hopes to working in computer programming. Here, he is shown running the two-mile at a meet last Weds., Jan 9, during a meet at Lynn Tech.
When Chelsea High track standout Justin Turner hits the last lap of a two-mile race, it isn’t so much the training or preparation, but the mental toughness to find energy that just isn’t there. He would know.
The senior captain has prevailed in most
every two-mile event already in the indoor track season, and he also made a
huge splash in the Commonwealth Athletic Conference (CAC) as the League MVP in
“I think the finish is more mental, probably
because you know you’re so close to the finish and you want to do anything you
can to get there and also hold off anyone who is exact same thing to try to
catch you…At the beginning, I try to hold off the adrenaline rush for the
start. It’s about getting a good pace and settling in and focusing. On the last
few laps, you pull out everything you have left in order to finish – and that’s
the mental part.”
Turner, 17, attended the Early Learning
Center, the Berkowitz Elementary, the Wright Middle School and Chelsea High. He
said he started being athletic at a young age, playing football and other youth
sports, and becoming the athlete in his family.
He began cross country and track his
freshman year, and has participated continuously all four years. Having been
mentored by star athlete Jose LeClerc, who graduated last year, Turner said he
stepped up to lead the team this year. Though he is a quiet leader, he said
that he believes other team members look up to him.
Turner said he enjoys distance running
because it’s a very controlled sport.
“It’s more about paying attention to what
I’m doing and not getting distracted by what’s around me,” he said.
“You have to motivate yourself and if you
don’t it’s hard to stay focused,” he added.
When it comes to the classroom, Turner has
never had a GPA below 3.5, and he said he enjoys chemistry the most. However,
he hopes to focus his attention on computer programming in the future.
He said his older sister is involved in
that, and he watched her over the summer programming video games, and he felt
that was something he really wanted to do.
He has applied to seven colleges so far, but
said he hopes to be able to go to Suffolk University so he can try to run track
and cross country there as well.
Beyond the classroom and the athletic
fields, one might have seen Turner in the front row of the concert band, where
he plays flute and piccolo.
He said his mom and dad, Russell and Erikka
Turner, have been a support system throughout his track career not only for
himself, but also the whole team.
“My mom and dad and family came to my first
meet and they always come when they can,” he said. “They support me throughout
my years and they support the rest of the team too. They don’t just support me,
but everyone on the team.”
Turner also has three siblings, Jyllian,
Teri and Kyle, and he said he has enjoyed growing up in Chelsea.
“There is a stereotype out there that Chelsea
isn’t the best place, but people in this community fight that stereotype and
they do everything they can to make it the best city it can be,” he said.
Facing many critics from the public that showed up to speak against two-way Broadway, the City Council on Monday decided to defer any vote and, instead, hold a Committee on Conference to review the matter.
In August, the Traffic Commission voted 5-1 to approve the two-way plan, as well as a spate of many other non-controversial changes to Fay Square, Chelsea Square, Bellingham Square and City Hall Avenue.
Council President Damali Vidot called for the committee, and the Council approved the move. She said they had until Oct. 6 to hold the meeting and to have a vote of the full Council. The City Council must approve all actions of the Traffic Commission, but if they do not do so by Oct. 6, the Commission’s approval will become law.
Many on the Council have not made their opinions known yet, but some have, and ultimately the fate of two-way Broadway will fall on the votes of 11 members of the Council.
Council President Vidot has been critical of the idea, and has particularly disagreed with the planning process that has unfolded over the past two years. In the past, she has been against the change.
Councillor Leo Robinson, however, said this week he is in favor of two-way Broadway.
“I’m a two-way Broadway guy,” he said.
Councillor Joe Perlatonda has also spoke in favor of the plan, and said the one-way plan is dangerous because it calls for cars to park outside of the protected bike lane. He said that would leave those exiting their cars in a dangerous position with oncoming traffic and with oncoming bicyclists.
Meanwhile, Councillor Bob Bishop said he doesn’t buy the idea of two-way Broadway. To this point, he said he isn’t convinced it’s a good change.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino and Chief Brian Kyes are some of the biggest advocates, and though they don’t have a vote, they have strongly called for the change for months.
Resident Sharleen McLain, however, was one of several residents who said the plan is flawed and has been forced upon the public.
“From the very first it was clear the City Manager and the planners have been pretty bent on getting two-way Broadway,” she said. “They’ve been pretty manipulative in moving forward on this two-way plan. None of these meetings have allowed for meaningful input. It wasn’t until the July Traffic Commission meeting that members of the public were able to speak directly to the plans.”
Said Barbara Richard, “I think two-way Broadway is spot-on dead wrong. Businesses will go under. I also think it hasn’t been a good enough outreach to the community.”
Ambrosino said he is in favor of the two-way plan, but he implored the Council to consider the plan is much more than just the two-way Broadway situation. He said there are many, many more non-controversial changes in the package that people do want universally.
“Much of what is before you is non-controversial,” he said. “Whether it’s Fay Square, Bellingham Square or City Hall Avenue, these provisions have no opposition to the changes.”
The Council will meet next on Monday, Sept. 24, and the Conference Committee will likely take place next week.
Rasi Chau has been a championship coach at various points in his career. He was an assistant coach for the 2005
Super Bowl champion St. Mary’s High School football team, and most recently, for the Women’s Football Alliance national champion Boston Renegades.
Chelsea High School Director of Athletics Amanda Alpert was a player on the Renegades’ professional football team, so she witnessed first hand the highly skilled coaching techniques and winning attitude that Chau brought to the field each day.
Alpert has appointed Chau as the new head football coach at Chelsea High School. He was the defensive coordinator for the Red Devils last year.
Chau succeeds Jack Halas at the helm of the program and joins a group of CHS head coaches that includes such familiar names as Henry McCarthy, Anthony “Chubby” Tiro, Todd Flaherty, Bobby Fee, Anthony Cardarelli, Robert Tiro, Joe Gaff, and many others.
Chau, 37, is a 1999 graduate of Lynn Classical High School where he played football. He went on to play college football at Mount Ida.
He is excited to take over a high school program as its head coach for the first time in his career. He had served one season as a head coach of the Southern New Hampshire Beavers semi-professional team.
“I’m looking forward to the new season,” said Chau, who is also a certified football referee. “I’ve met with the players and they’re doing their summer workouts. We have 32 players in the program right now and hope to have between 35-40 players on the team.”
Chau has selected Joseph Solomon as the team’s offensive coordinator, along with assistant coaches Richard Wilson, David Roque, and Steph Jeffers, who like Alpert, is a women’s professional football player for the Renegades. Mike Lopez has been named as equipment manager.
Chelsea will compete in the Division 8 Commonwealth Athletic Conference Small Division. Non-league opponents are Nashoba Valley, Whittier Tech, Greater Lowell, and Pope John (Thanksgiving game).
“I’m going to try to lead this team to the playoffs, but the first year as a new coach is always challenging because you’re trying to change the culture and make sure the players believe in you,” said Chau. “Right now, I like what I’m seeing with 20-plus kids lifting weights every day and participating in the pre-season conditioning drills.”
With the Chelsea High School football field being rebuilt, the Red Devils will play almost all of their games on the road this season. Chau said he has already introduced himself to the coaches in Chelsea’s two youth football organizations, Chelsea Pop Warner and Chelsea Pride.
The long-discussed wide- ranging opiate treatment bill passed the state legislature late Tuesday night just in the nick of time, after a conference committee on Tuesday agreed to a compromise form of the bill that went through many twists and turns over the past month.
State Rep. Dan Ryan, who is vice chair of the House’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Committee and had a big hand in the bill, said he was happy to see that the body came to agreement and voted unanimously on the final bill only hours after the compromise reached the floor.
He said that many hard issues were discussed – such as providing opiate treatment to inmates, creating Safe Injection Facilities, and looking at involuntary commitments for substance abuse treatment – but none of the sticking points caused the bill to derail in the last hours.
“A unanimous vote on such a major piece of legislation, such as the opioid bill, shows what we are able to do here in the Commonwealth,” he said. “Because we don’t retreat into our partisan safe zones, we are able deliver a bill that will go a long way in curbing this scourge that had affected so many communities… I have to thank Speaker DeLeo for appointing me vice-chair of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Committee. My knowledge of so much of the good work being done by others in Charlestown and Chelsea really helped me to shape discussion. I thank everyone in our communities that are doing recovery work.”
Rep. Ryan said he thanked Conference Committee Chair Rep. Denise Garlick and Sen. Cynthia Friedman for their quick analysis of a tough issue.
“After months of public testimony, stakeholder meetings and expert analysis they worked through the weekend processing all of that info and hammered out a bill we can all live with and will save lives,” he said. “Our neighborhoods, hospitals, schools and even correctional facilities will be safer places because of this bill.”
One of the sticking points in the bill was Safe Injection Facilities (SIFs), which allow people to use illegal injection drugs in a supervised medical environment. It is illegal in the United States and opposed by the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts. While that measure had supporters in the Senate, it did not get support in the House. The compromise on that created a commission to study the concept with municipal leaders, including Mayor Martin Walsh – who opposes the idea outright.
A second measure allows a pilot program in county jails and state prisons to allow treatment medicines, such as Methadone, to be given to inmates. Currently, those in treatment when they enter jail are cut off from that treatment. The pilot, however, does not operate in Suffolk County. Only two state prisons are included – MCI-Cedar Junction and the Plymouth treatment facility for men.
Finally, Ryan said the House had been very much opposed to the idea of Section 35 involuntary treatment, but Gov. Charlie Baker was very supportive of the idea. The program is running in Boston on a pilot with the West Roxbury District Court, and it allows police and medical professionals to involuntarily hold certain individuals for the sake of treatment without the approval of family – which is usually required.
The matter was adopted for study by a commission.
Other highlights include:
Requires electronic prescribing for all controlled substances, with limited exceptions, effective January 1, 2020.
Expands access to naloxone (Narcan) in the community by (1) establishing a standing order, providing access to naloxone without a prescription, (2) allowing certain Sheriffs to purchase naloxone at a lower cost through the state’s bulk purchasing program, and (3) allowing local governments and agencies to exchange unexpired naloxone.
Establishes a commission to make recommendations on the certification of Recovery Coaches.
Mandates that providers check the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) prior to issuing any prescription for a benzodiazepine.
Establishes a Center for Police Training in Crisis Intervention to support cost-effective, evidence-based mental health and substance use crisis response training programs for law enforcement, providing the tools to respond appropriately to behavioral health crises.
The decision for whether or not to make the Broadway business corridor into a two-way street will come down to a vote of the Traffic Commission on Tuesday, July 24.
Several City officials have already weighed in on the issue, and it could be the most significant change to the surging downtown area in decades.
Two-way Broadway came about during the Re-Imaging Broadway workshops and study that were done all last year. Consultants suggested many options to improve the circulation and vibrancy of Broadway, and one of them was the possibility of making the street two-way instead of one-way.
The biggest backer of the plan is City Manager Tom Ambrosino, who has pledged that, if approved, he would stake his tenure on making the plan work. This week, he said he is still very much in favor of the idea.
“I’m a full supporter of Two-Way Broadway,” he said. “I believe the change will be transformative for the Downtown, both in terms of pedestrian and vehicular safety and in aesthetics. I will be advocating strongly for a favorable vote.”
Meanwhile, Council President Damali Vidot is not feeling the change. She said she appreciates the enthusiasm, but feels it’s a bad idea.
“I think it’s a horrible idea and one we’re not quite ready for,” she said. “Before the City goes changing long-time driving patterns on Broadway, we should deal with our existing parking and traffic issues and how to activate the businesses in that area. I appreciate the ambition and creativity of the pushers of this idea, but there are far bigger things to focus on in this district than changing the flow of traffic. You can put lipstick on a pig, but still Tedeschi and other businesses on Broadway need revival.”
Police Chief Brian Kyes is another long-time supporter of the two-way plan. Kyes sits on the Traffic Commission, and said he will support the plan.
“I concur wholeheartedly with the sentiments of City Manager Ambrosino on this important issue for the reasons that he cited,” said the Chief. “Both he and I have spoken at length on this issue and truly feel that this type of environmental design and resulting traffic configuration will not only enhance public safety, but also will be more aesthetically appealing and inviting to both the residents, visitors and business community.”
The Traffic Commission will take up the matter on Tuesday, July 24, at 6 p.m. in the Planning and Development Conference Room.
Price-Espada scores 49 as the Tigers win the Div. 4 state title
By Cary Shuman
Sparked by a sensational 49-point performance by junior guard Angel Price-Espada, the Pope John XXIII High School basketball team blitzed Maynard, 89-57, to capture the Division 4 state championship Saturday at Springfield College.
The decisive victory marked the Everett school’s first state title in basketball as coach Leo Boucher and his team claimed the crown via a phenomenal 24-1 season.
Price-Espada, the 5-foot-7-inch Catholic Central League MVP and All-Scholastic, had the Pope John fans standing and cheering during one of the greatest individual offensive performances in MIAA state tournament history. He hit six consecutive 3-pointers in the second quarter as part of an extraordinary, long-range shooting showcase that gave the Tigers a 52-31 lead at the half.
Included in the Price-Espada thrill-a-second package was a mid-air, behind-the back pass to senior Michael Thompson who finished the spectacular play with a layup.
“Angel played phenomenal today,” said Boucher. “I haven’t seen a performance as great as that, not as a player in high school, not as a player in college, not as a basketball coach for 27-plus years – the closest thing I ever saw was Dana Barros versus Don Bosco 100 years ago, and I’ll date myself. That was probably the most incredible shooting performance I’ve seen in a long time.”
In addition to Espada, other members of the Pope John cast stepped up in the state final just as they done in postseason victories over Winthrop, Fenway, Austin Prep, and Mashpee.
Marquis Bouyer, senior center, scored 8 of his 17 points in the first quarter, establishing his powerful presence in the paint as Pope John led 18-11 after one period. Bouyer also finished with 11 rebounds.
Michael Thompson, a senior forward, contributed six points, following his clutch, 14-point effort that helped Pope John defeat Mashpee in the state semifinal.
Junior forward Luis Velasquez, one of the most unsung players for the Pope John contingent, scored 10 points, including a pair of baskets amidst the Tigers’ 34-point explosion in the second quarter.
Senior Mehkhi Collins, a late-game hero against Mashpee, juniors Cam Erikson and Conor Kelly, and freshman Jason Ford also contributed well for the Tigers.
Pope John led 5-0 in the opening minutes, thanks to a Price-Espada three-pointer and a Bouyer basket inside the lane. Maynard would close the gap to three, 9-6, but Bouyer’s mini-surge of five points (two off a nifty pass from Collins), and Velasquez’s basket keyed a 7-0 spurt. Price-Espada hit two of three free throws (he was 9-of-11 overall) after he was fouled attempting a three-pointer.
And then it happened. Price-Espada took over the game with a rapid succession of three-pointers, the majority hitting nothing but net. In eight, breathtaking minutes, the dynamic backcourtman scored 23 points, 31 total for the half.
Price-Espada stayed red hot in the third period and at one point, he had 41 points while the entire Maynard team combined also had 41.
Bouyer closed out the Tigers’ memorable day with seven fourth-quarter points. Rashid Griffin had a three-pointer as the Tigers rolled to an impressive 32-point victory over the defending state champions.
Boucher was asked what it was like to be able to deliver to Pope John its first-ever state championship.
“I didn’t deliver anything – the kids behind me delivered,” he responded humbly. “That’s who made the delivery. I put them in the right position for them to make that happen. It’s a real honor to be able to coach a group of kids like that. The kids came to play.”
Bruins face tough, brief road trip
With the excitement of Ryan Donato’s dynamic debut just starting to settle, the Bruins are once again, back on the road again. Their one game homestand following on the heels of a four game road trip (in seven days), shows how messed up the NHL schedule really is. For Boston it means another stretch of four games on the road in seven days. Those games will be played against four teams, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, and the Winnipeg Jets. Each of them is either attempting to gain a playoff spot, or move up in their conference standings, which means tough competition.
With the tight races currently changing many team’s positions daily, the Bruins will not have an easy game in the road trip. As the Record went to press last night (Wednesday), the Bs were hosted by St. Louis. The Blues were just three points out of a playoff spot, trailing eighth place Anaheim, with a single game in hand. The Blues have been playing .500 hockey over their last ten games, but are on a two-game win streak. Next stop will have Boston taking facing the Stars (Friday, 8:30pm), as the struggling Stars continue to fall out of a possible playoff spot, riding a two-game losing streak after posting a 2-5-3 record for their last ten contests. Sunday (7:30pm) will have the Bruins playing the Minnesota Wild. The Wild sit in the fifth spot of the Western Conference, rather precariously as the eighth spot is only four points in the rear, as they look over their shoulder, having only put up numbers good enough for a 5-4-1 record for their last ten games. Boston’s final game of their four-game road trip, will be in Winnipeg to match up against the streaking Jets on Tuesday (8:00pm), the Jets are rolling along on a three game win streak, and a hot 7-2-1 stretch for their last ten. The Bruins return to TD Garden ice on Thursday, March 29 (7:00pm) to host Atlantic Division leading Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Bruins’ 99 points at press time had them tied for third most in the league with the Vegas Golden Knights. Which is rather startling when one looks back over the 2017-18 season, and the unbelievable amount of injuries that the Bs have endured to many of their top players. Patrice Bergeron sustained both a lower-body-injury, and is currently out of the lineup with a fractured foot. Recently acquired Rick Nash is out with an upper-body-injury; Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is missing, also with an upper-body-injury; David Backes has missed 21 of the 71 games played thus far this season, due to medical issues that included a bout with diverticulitis and colon surgery, multiple suspensions, and most recently a leg cut that has him presently off the ice. The loss on defense of Charlie McAvoy to an MCL knee sprain had left a void on the local’s blueline, which Boston has somehow been able to manage; dependable Adam McQuaid lost time due to a broken right fibula; also on defense, Kevan Miller suffered an upper-body-injury; Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask missed some action following concussion-related problems; David Krejci missed time with an upper-body injury; defenseman Torey Krug felt the effects of a fractured jaw; Noel Acciari was the beneficiary of a fractured finger; Jake DeBrusk is currently missing action with an upper-body-injury; and rookie Anders Bjork suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
Congratulations to Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna who will be inducted into the Eastern College Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. The ECAC Hall of Fame committee announced the ceremony honoring Bertagna will take place Friday, May 4 at the Crowne Plaza in Danbury, Connecticut. Bertagna began his professional coaching career in 1985 with the Boston Bruins, remaining with the team as their goaltending coach until 1991, and rejoined the team for the 1994-95 season. Bertagna is currently in his 36th year as a college hockey administrator. This season marks his 21st year with Hockey East, after serving in a similar capacity with the ECAC for 15 years. He is the longest serving commissioner in Hockey East history and is currently the longest serving hockey commissioner in the NCAA.
Two weeks after a controversial meeting that was only supposed to be an introduction, members of John Ruiz’s team said they want to be positive and move forward with everyone – despite any conflicts that arose after the meeting on Feb. 6.
“We want to keep it all positive,” said Mark Giblin, Ruiz’s business manager and a partner in the proposed youth center venture at the old CCC. “Negativity can be contagious and so can positivity, so we want to concentrate on the positive now…Where we’re at now is moving forward with the City and waiting for them to put out the RFP. Once that happens, we will pursue it. We already have a letter of intent from the owner, Mr. D’Amico, to operate in the building.”
The Feb. 6 Conference on Committee was called for by Councilor Leo Robinson, and it was meant to be an introduction. However, some in the Ruiz camp were offended by the questions and much of their presentation didn’t get shown due to questions about money.
Giblin said the questioning in what was supposed to be a preliminary introduction disappointed them, but they still want to try to work with everyone.
“We made it really clear what we intended the meeting to be was an introduction,” he said. “We wanted to take off the table talk about finances and costs. We didn’t want to talk about money yet because it’s about the youth and community now. We were a bit put off because a lot of the questions then ended up being about money…We didn’t want that at all because we wanted to talk about the program with Explorers Post 109. They’ve been in the mix the whole time. We spoke with them before the meeting…We had the support of the police chief too, but we didn’t even get to that part in the meeting because it did become somewhat of an attack in a sense…I can’t speak for John, but I’ve been to Chelsea several times in the last year. I’ve begun to have a place for it in my heart. I think now us, the City Manger and the City Council just need to work together to figure this out and push everything else aside.”
The plan for the old CCC Center is to create a youth center there with a boxing club sponsored by former heavyweight Champ John Ruiz (a Chelsea native) as well as other sports and academic programs. The key part of the program is that it is in the downtown area of Chelsea, and that is something the City is very supportive of.
He said that Ruiz and the team did apologize to Post 109 for not giving them the plan beforehand on paper, but they had been talking about it before the meeting verbally. He said there was never any intention to do anything to displace the historic club.
“The Post has been in this plan the whole time,” he said. “They’ve always been in the proposal and always fit in the proposal. It’s part of the program. We don’t’ want to change anything that’s already there and working.”
In the end, Giblin said he hopes that Council President Damali Vidot will be able to work with them, and be able to help Ruiz give back to the community he loves. He said they are ready to move in a positive direction.
“A Chelsea united is much more effective than a Chelsea divided,” he said. “That’s where we’re at now.”
By most accounts, the order put in by Councillor Giovanni Recupero on Monday night to effectively put term limits on members of appointed boards and commissions in the city would have been voted down in year’s past.
But the new Council has a new outlook, and the order was approved and pushed to a Committee on Conference by a vote of 7-4 on Monday night.
The measure calls for the Council to adopt a policy that would require the Council not to be able to re-appoint any member of a Board or Commission if they have served two consecutive terms already. The provision would only take effect if someone else in Chelsea is willing to serve on the Board. If no one else is interested, then the re-appointment could go through.
“I’m not for anyone serving over and over and over,” said Recupero. “They need fresh ideas. Some of these people on the boards have been there 20 years. Nothing changes with that. It’s all just the status quo. I’m even for term limits on the Council. I don’t think anyone should serve more than 10 years. It should be 10 years and then you’re out. Same for the Boards and Commissions.”
Recupero’s order did get some pushback, with opposing votes from Councillors Roy Avellaneda, Leo Robinson, Yamir Rodriguez and Calvin Brown.
However, seven other councillors were behind Recupero’s idea.
It continued a hot debate that began last year when Councillor Roy Avellaneda attempted to not re-appoint License Commission member Ken Umemba. That political skirmish led to Councillors Vidot and Enio Lopez presenting an order last fall that called for an effort to have more diversity on the City’s boards.
That was followed up by Vidot unearthing in the Charter that the City had not been advertising the open positions in the paper due to an oversight. That has now begun on a quarterly basis.
Vidot said the matter is now moved to a Committee on Conference.
A major first jab at banning plastic shopping bags took place at City Hall on Tuesday night, Jan. 23, and many believe that momentum is gathering for the ban.
Council President Damali Vidot and Councillor Enio Lopez are leading the initiative, along with environmental organizations like GreenRoots. The turnout for the Tuesday meeting was very large, and Vidot said she got the sense that public opinion is on the side of a ban.
She said, however, nothing has been decided, but that only they would take the discussion to the next step.
“We will continue the conference to a later date and propose a rough draft of an ordinance to get the ball rolling,” she said.
Councillor Luis Tejada said he also got the sense that the City is moving in the direction of a ban – which Boston has already passed last year, with implementation coming this year.
“At the moment it appears as though we are moving in the direction of banning the plastic bags, but of course there is still a lot of work to be done,” he said.
Tejada said trying to figure out which types of plastic bags to keep and get rid of will be a key part of the conversation that is often overlooked. He said he would really like to understand the impact on businesses.
Already, in a story in last week’s Record, Compare Supermarket owner Al Calvo said he felt it was just another tax on small business – noting it will cost him tens of thousands more to invest in the thicker bags.
Tejada said he wants to hear from more businesses before he makes a decision.
It is important to know what is the impact on our local small businesses that literally have thousands of bags with their logo on them,” he said. “This would impact them significantly if the measure was approved and enacted too swiftly. What I would like to do is put the small and large businesses on notice that it looks as though the city is moving towards a more environmentally conscious lifestyle, and they should begin to look at and enact whatever measure they are considering when this goes into effect. If they do it sooner rather than later, it can minimize any potential burden and or loss when the measure does take effect.”
Councillor Joe Perlatonda said he is very interested in eliminating litter, and plastic bags are just one piece of a bigger problem in Chelsea. He said he doesn’t feel like they should come down hard on plastic bags, while leaving out other litter items like lottery tickets and dog poop.
He also said some residents have told him they don’t like the idea.
“I had one resident tell me this is just another tax being imposed on residents of Chelsea, which many of us can’t afford,” he said. “With everything going on, I’m concerned that the top priority is plastic bags. It was a great turnout, but I wish more people would turn out for other issues. There are other issues that need to be addressed that should take precedent over a plastic bag ban.”
Vidot said the next meeting has not been set, but should be on the docket soon.
City leaders, business owners and members of the community are preparing for what might be the first big debate of the year – whether or not to ban plastic shopping bags in Chelsea.
Already, several municipalities have taken the step to ban the common, thin plastic shopping bag given out at almost every store in the City. Boston banned bags late last year, and their new ordinance will start later this year. In Chelsea, some of the larger supermarkets and businesses are ready to debate with environmental leaders about something that comes down to evaluating the cost vs. benefit.
Council President Damali Vidot and Councillor Enio Lopez have initiated the conversation with a Committee on Conference that will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 23, to have an initial discussion.
“It’s a topic Councillor Lopez and I have been entertaining for a few months,” said Vidot. “Seeing as though we are an Environmental Justice community, I think we should be doing everything in our power to support our environment. We have plastic bags everywhere in the city – on the ground, stuck in trees, flying into our waters, and posing a threat to animals. If we minimized their usage and/or charged per bag, we can hopefully get people to ‘think differently’ about our dependency on plastic.
“However, it isn’t something I want to change overnight,” she continued. “I want residents and business owners to bring their voices to the table and share their concerns and be a part of the conversation so that people aren’t impacted from one day to the other, if it does pass.”
Vidot said she hopes that a side conversation amidst the debate can be how to take more ownership of the City by littering less.
On the business side of things, Al Calvo of Compare Supermarkets said his market uses about 140,000 plastic bags per month, which is about 1.7 million plastic bags per year. They cost about 2 cents each, and his store pays about $34,000 per year for plastic bags.
A paper bag, he said, is about 9 cents per bag – resulting in an increased yearly cost to him of $85,000 for bags. The reusable heavy plastic bags, he said, cost a whopping 15 cents per bag. Many times, he said, customers forget to bring it back for re-use – and often substitute paper bags for the forgotten reusable.
The bottom line is this is an additional cost for the store owner, in addition to taxes, health care costs, minimum wage, and other costs,” he said. “In a very price competitive environment which our company faces, such as competition from that little corner store a mile away called Market Basket, we will either absorb the cost, which impacts profitability or raise prices to absorb the additional cost. Raising prices risks losing customers to Market Basket. Although we have other competitive advantages, price is still paramount in the eyes of the customer. It’s another potential death blow to the small business.”
Calvo said the discussion should focus on the tradeoffs between the environmental benefits and the added costs to business and/or customers.
Sergio Jaramillo, interim president of the Chelsea Chamber, said his personal view is that he supports anything to get rid of the plastic bags that litter the city and dirty up the business districts.
“I have seen the effects of plastic bags floating everywhere, and this is in particularly true in our own neighborhoods, where uniformed individuals leave them on unassigned places,” he said. “I understand that one of the consequences will be a higher cost to the merchant as it needs to provide an alternative to bags and may be passed on to the consumer and reflected in higher merchandise prices. It could be said this is the ‘cost of doing business.’”
Jaramillo said he thinks the solution is more global, with the plastics industry needing to come up with a better alternative.
“The industry as a whole needs to retool plastics and come up with cost efficient alternatives, such as fast-biodegradable materials that will minimize the impact on our ecosystem,” he said.
GreenRoots Director Roseann Bongiovanni said she also agrees that the ban is the right way to go.
“We have been talking to the City Council and other leaders in the community about this,” she said. “We really want to see the City go in that direction to ban these bags. We’ve received concerns from people who carry these bags from Market Basket and the supermarkets – especially people who are transit-dependent – but I think those concerns can be overcome.”
Bongiovanni said she is in favor of the thicker reusable bags, and allowing merchants to charge for them. She said a slow rollout would be best if such a ban passes.
“I think it will be like the trans-fat ban,” she said. “There really has to be a time when there is an education piece that starts it out.”
Joe Mahoney, a resident of Admiral’s Hill and member of the Chamber, said he tends to have a ‘green’ opinion and he would support eliminating the bags.
“I see the bags flying around all the time,” he said. “If you can recycle them or get a reusable plastic bag, I think it would be better for the city. When it comes to plastic vs. paper, I have to put myself more on the paper side. Unfortunately, plastic is a lot less expensive though.”