Soon Chelsea – like other cities – can
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he hopes to
proceed with introducing a 311 constituent services reporting platform to the
City in the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1.
Already, Everett, Revere, Boston and others
feature a telephone and online/app 311 system that residents can use to report
anything from a pothole to graffiti to a rabid skunk.
“The goal is to provide better and more
prompt responsiveness to constituent complaints,” read a letter from Ambrosino
to the Council.
Ambrosino said the system he has in mind
would operate with two employees working out of the DPW building. They would
field complaints from 311 by telephone, email, text message and web-based
reporting. They would fall under the supervision of Public Works Commissioner
Once having taken the complaint, the
employees would then assign the complaint to the appropriate department.
That would open up a series of
accountability measures on each complaint, he said.
“These employees will be responsible for
assigning the issue to the appropriate department representative or directly
accessing the relevant information in a City database, tracking progress on the
issue providing information on the resolution of the issue to the individual
who reported it,” he wrote. “We believe this will be a much more effective way
of addressing constituent complaints and hopefully it will be well-received by
Start-up costs would look to be $162,000 for
employees and the computer software. He said there is already $27,000 set aside
for the program, and $50,000 from a state grant received last year. The
remainder of the first-year costs would have to come from a budget request.
“I hope the Council will see the benefits of
this improved constituent services effort and approve the requested FY20
appropriations,” he wrote.
The new system
would replace the old SeeClickFix reporting system, which never worked as
The Chelsea City Council and School
Committee held a joint meeting on Tuesday night, April 9, to get a quick step
forward on filling two vacancies on the School Committee.
Members Present included City Councilors Roy
Avellaneda, Damali Vidot, Bob Bishop, Luis Tejada, Enio Lopez, Judith Garcia,
and Yamir Rodriguez.
School Committee members present were Frank
DePatto, Rosemarie Carlisle, Jeannette Velez, Rich Maronski, Lucia Henriquez,
Ana Hernandez, Kelly Garcia, and Yessenia Alfaro.
Due to the recent resignations of School
Committee Chairman Richard Maronski and Vice Chairman Julio Hernandez,
the Chelsea City Council and Chelsea School Committee are
looking to fill their seats.
“This is a job that should be taken
seriously and hopefully we get someone that’s responsible and will show up,”
“It’s unfortunate that we have these two
sudden resignations, but I’m hopeful as it has allowed for significant dialogue
around expectations and the representation our families deserve,” said Council
President Damali Vidot. “I am looking forward to working with the School
Committee to fill the vacancies.”
Any residents of District 3 or District 5
that are interested in serving the remaining unexpired terms through December
2019, are asked to submit their resumes and letters of interest to City Council
and Chelsea School Committee at: LKoco@Chelseama.gov or mail to
City Council at 500 Broadway, Chelsea, MA 02150.
be registered voters in their respective districts and must be able to pass a
CORI. The Chelsea City Council and School Committee will be
accepting resumes until Friday April 26, and will conduct interviews on Monday
April 29. Anyone that lives in either District 3 or District 5 is
encouraged to apply. If you aren’t sure of your district, please
visit HYPERLINK “http://chelseama.gov” t “_blank”
chelseama.gov under the City Clerk’s department for a map or call the City
Clerks office at (617) 466-4050.
In a sudden move, District 5 School
Committee member Julio Hernandez has resigned – one of the City’s up-and-coming
political figures that many thought had a big future on the Committee.
Hernandez, a Chelsea High graduate, told the
Record this week that it was with a heavy heart that he resigned, and he felt
it was necessary as he had to work more hours and attend college at the same
“When I ran for office, I had more support
from my family,” he said. “As rent started getting higher, I knew that I needed
more income, and while still being in college, I decided to look at other jobs.
“I loved working in the School Committee,
but it also made me angry to see some members not show up to meetings, not ask
questions, and not have thorough discussions regarding our students’
education,” he continued. “Student advocacy has always been my platform, to
serve all students the right way. From starting the policy of an outdoor
graduation, to having the opportunity to work with many teachers who really
care about this community. I now believe School Committee Members should be
appointed, because our student’s education is no joke.”
Hernandez, 20, said college, family and
financial constraints hit all at once this year, and he couldn’t in good
conscience serve on the Committee while not being able to show up.
“I know once I’m done with college, I’ll be
back to serve the community I love and cherish,” he said. “I want to thank all
the people who supported me, and are still supporting me in my time of sorrow.”
At Monday night’s City Council meeting,
Council President Damali Vidot said Hernandez had given notice to the City
Clerk that he would be stepping down as of April.
Because his resignation is more than 180
days from a City Election, Vidot said the City Charter calls for a joint
meeting of the Council and the School Committee within 30 days to appoint a
replacement. That replacement would serve through the city election in
November, when the position will be on the ballot.
“Julio was an incredible leader during his
tenure,” said District 5 City Councillor Judith Garcia. “He did an incredible
job while on the School Committee and was a great representative for District
Garcia encouraged anyone from District 5 who
is interested to apply for the open seat.
However, Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda
said the Council and the School Committee may want to leave the position open
until the municipal election.
“I may have some reservations about filling
the post,” said Avellaneda. “There’s only one more month until (candidates can)
pull papers, and then the election is in November. I feel it may be best to
leave the seat unfilled.”
someone to a short-term on the School Committee would give that person a leg up
on other candidates who run for the seat in the general election, Avellaneda
For as long as jets have rumbled over
Chelsea as they land at and depart from Logan Airport, City officials have
struggled with getting state and federal officials to help mitigate the noise from
that air traffic.
Monday night, District 6 City Councillor
Giovanni Recupero introduced an order asking City Manager Tom Ambrosino to look
at renegotiating a deal with Massport to bring back the window and
soundproofing program to the city.
“People deserve a little more consideration
than they have been given,” said Recupero.
The Councillor said he would like to see
Massport provide soundproof windows for residents suffering excessive noise
from plane traffic, as it has done in the past.
“I’d like to get them back to the table and
figure out a way to help with the problem,” Recupero said.
Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda said he
appreciated Recupero’s efforts to get Massport back to the table to discuss
sound mitigation, but that he didn’t have high hopes that it would be
“Whenever the City Manager has approached
Massport, the answer has been that it is a nonstarter; they have done their
program,” said Avellaneda.
Avellaneda said he has been working with
City Manager Tom Ambrosino to find a company to undertake an independent sound
study of noise from the airport. But, he said it has been very difficult to
find a company qualified to do that study.
If a company is found that can perform an
independent sound study, Avellaneda said he hopes it has the support of his
On the positive side, Avellaneda said he
attended a recent Massport meeting with airport communities in which officials
stated that a new Massport sound study is underway. He said this study will
take into account items that a study released in 2017 did not take into
account, such as the impact of hills on sound and the resonating sound of
The 2017 study was conducted by the Center
for Research on Environmental and Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life
Course (CRESSH), which is a division of the BU School of Public Health.
That report showed that flights over Chelsea
have nearly doubled between 2011 and 2015, and that certain health effects
associated with airplane noise are very high in Chelsea.
But getting Massport to kick in for
additional noise mitigation efforts has been an uphill battle.
“Confronted with the increase in air
traffic, their response has been, ‘But our planes are quieter,’” said
The Councillor has been pushing for the
independent noise study since at least the time the 2017 airport noise study
“We (can) do a real noise study with proper
equipment and prepare to say we have proof that our community is impacted and
possibly prepare to embark on a lawsuit against MassPort and the FAA,” he said
at the time.
•In other business, the Council unanimously
approved sending a home rule petition to the state legislature that will allow
for the construction of the new Innes Housing Development.
•Recupero introduced an order asking the
City Manager look into hiring another animal control officer for the purpose of
issuing fines to people that don’t clean up after their dogs.
•Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson introduced
orders asking the City Manager for updates on the City’s master plan and the
status of the Salvation Army building on Broadway. The Council approved taking
the building by eminent domain in 2017.
Councillor Robert Bishop was absent from Monday night’s meeting, but with good
reason. He was celebrating his 35th anniversary with his wife. Happy
anniversary to the Bishops.
The City Council has asked that City Manager
Tom Ambrosino use the next month to figure out some new parking strategies for
the city instead of spending a hefty sum on a major Parking Study.
Ambrosino said the Council had instructed
him to put out a bid for a parking study late last year, but there was only one
bidder on the project. That bid did not include the whole city and was more
On Monday, the Council held a Committee
meeting to discuss the next steps, steps that don’t include spending such a sum
on a study.
“The Council at the end of the meeting on
Monday wanted to explore the idea of internal remediation before proceeding
with an expensive outside study,” he said.
Ambrosino said he and his administration
will spend the next month “brainstorming” some ideas and recommendations to
help with the parking bottleneck in many areas of the City – including the
Ambrosino said they do see it as a problem
in several aspects of the city.
“There’s no question it’s a problem in the
city,” he said. “There are way too many cars and not enough parking spaces.
There is no simple solution to that problem. Long-time, we do have an agreement
as part of the Tobin Bridge Viaduct project to add 135 spaces only a short walk
from downtown. That might help a little bit, but that’s three years away.”
One solution he will not suggest is to
reduce parking requirements for new development. While many might think that is
counter to solving a parking problem, many planners now believe that one
solution to reducing the numbers of cars is to build developments without
That won’t be a solution he suggests again,
after having had lower parking requirements rejected by the Council only two
“I don’t see the Council reducing parking any
time soon,” he said. “It’s not something I’m going to re-submit.”
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.”
The Innes Street/Central Avenue housing
redevelopment plan has cleared its latest hurdle with the Planning Board, but
will face a critical vote Monday night at Council on whether or not to allow
them to have a ‘40R’ zoning designation.
The Council will consider the special zoning
designation, which allows the mixed-income project to have its own, special
regulations for parking and density and other requirements. At the same time,
it also unlocks $5 million in state and local funding.
“It’s a critical vote,” said Chelsea Housing
Authority (CHA) Director Al Ewing. “That is a very important ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ If
we don’t get it, this project dies. It is our use it or lose it moment.”
The mixed-income development is in
partnership with Corcoran Development, which will assist in developing the
330-unit community on the site of the current housing development. Those units
will include the existing 96 public housing units, as well as 40 workforce
housing units. The remaining 194 units will be market rate, and with the state
and federal grants, will subsidize the replacement of the public housing units.
Overall, the development would have a 41 percent affordable ratio, which is
three times as much as what would normally be required by the City and double
the state requirements.
It seems like a huge moment for residents
like Jean Fulco, who is part of the Innes Residents Alliance (IRA).
“This will be a much better situation for
the people who are there now,” she said. “The re-development would be so much
better because the apartment conditions now are not very good.”
Resident Melissa Booth, also of the IRA,
said she has a special needs child who cannot walk up the stairs, but they live
on the second floor now.
“I usually have to carry my child up the
stairs because there isn’t an elevator,” she said.
The new development is slated to have an
But one of the strangleholds in this second
go-around of the mixed-income redevelopment – which had to be backed off two
years ago – is parking. There are 226 spaces available on site, and another 50
spaces will be located off-site nearby.
Council President Damali Vidot said she does
support the project, but she also lives in the area and understands that
parking is already a mess. She said they have worked out a potential plan where
the market rate units will not be able to apply for a residential parking
“Everyone says that these people who will
live here will take the Silver Line and not have a car,” she said. “Let’s see
them prove that. I’m ok with giving them the 40R so they can move forward, but
when their Tax Incremental Financing comes up, I will let them know that I will
not support the project unless they will enter into an agreement with the
market rate tenants to not participate in the residential parking program.”
She said the decision is a tough one for the
Council. While many have reservations, they also want to help the public
housing residents improve their lives.
“I’m not in love with the project, but I
know everyone is trying to do their best,” she said. “These 96 families deserve
to live in dignity. I have family that lives there and no one should live in
those conditions…If this is what I have to do to preserve the units for these
96 families, then we don’t have a choice really.”
Over the last several weeks, the IRA and the
CHA and Corcoran have been pounding the pavement. They have had coffee hours,
done personal outreach and have launched a website.
“We are in a competitive process and if this
doesn’t get approved for whatever reason, Chelsea will not realize this
opportunity,” said Sean McReynolds of Corcoran.
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.
Around 20 members of the local community
gathered at City Hall on Monday, Feb. 25, for the meeting of the Chelsea City
On the agenda for Monday night’s meeting was
a ceremony to honor individuals in the Chelsea who have made a difference to
The first to be recognized Dr. Alfred
Donatelli, the chair of the Chemical Engineering Department at UMass/Lowell.
The City Council chose to honor Dr. Donatelli for “his many contributions in
the world of Science and Engineering.”
Dr. Donatelli is a proponent of STEM education,
which focuses on educating students in science, technology, engineering and
mathematics. He was featured in the
Record earlier in the week for a STEM education demonstration he gave at the
Chelsea Public Library.
A group of six individuals were also given
the Chelsea Trailblazer 2019 Award: Bruce Mauch, Grace Muwina, Saritin Rizzuto,
Lisa Santagate, Record Editor Cary Shuman and Leroy Tyler. In celebration of
Black History Month, the annual Chelsea Trailblazer award is bestowed on
individuals who have made positive contributions to their local community
through demonstrated commitment and service. Shuman was out of town, but the
remaining five recipients received awards from City Council and also posed for
photos with family and City Council members.
City Council Clerk Paul Casino called award
recipients “a beacon of light for all those who want to follow in their
When the floor was opened to members of the
public to speak, Joan Cromwell, the President of Chelsea Black Community (CBC),
shared her thoughts about Black History Month.
“Black History is not only for Blacks. It’s
American history and it’s a part of our history right here in the city,” said
Cromwell. “We’re all dealing with the same issues every day, so it’s a shared
month that we should all be celebrating together as a community.”
Longtime Chelsea resident Beverly Martin
Ross spoke next, adding, “We really appreciate our City Manager as well as our
newly appointed [Representative] Ayanna Pressley, who came out to serve the homeless
in honor of Black History Month.”
“I just want to give all the praise to the
Chelsea Black Community for the work they put in every year creating events all
month long,” said City Council President Damali. “There’s a lot of history here
in the community that’s rich and I appreciate all the work that goes into
keeping the black history alive here in the community. You guys are the real
A final Black History Month event was hosted
on Thursday, February 28, at the Williams Middle School, where keynote speaker
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins honored the Chelsea Trailblazers.
The next City
Council meetings will be held at Chelsea City Hall on March 11 and March 25 at
The City Council and the School Committee
have voted to name the new Clark Avenue Middle School after long-time School
Committeeman and former Williams School Principal Morris ‘Morrie’ Seigel.
At Monday night’s City Council meeting, the matter was brought up for a vote on a request forwarded from the School Committee – who had voted to approve the move.
The late Morrie Seigel pictured here in May 2013 when he served as the Chief Marshal of the Memorial Day Girl Scout Parade. The new Clark Avenue Middle School has been named after him.
The Council voted unanimously on the
proposal by City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to dedicate the Clark Avenue Middle
School to the late educator and community member. It will now be known as the
Morris H. Seigel Clark Avenue Middle School.
City Council members spoke fondly about
“Mr. Seigal was not only a wonderful person
for the city of Chelsea, he was a great gentleman,” said Councilman Calvin
Brown. “When he wasn’t in his professional attire, he had his Chelsea jacket
on, his Chelsea hat on, displaying his pride.”
Said Councillor Giovanni Recupero, “There’s
only one [way] to describe Mr. Seigal–great person. If anyone deserves this,
it’s Mr. Seigal. He was the teacher of my kids for many years. For 40 years, I
knew the gentleman and he was a very nice person.”
Seigel was an educator in the City and
served as the principal of the Williams School. He was a School Committeeman
for 29 years, and a youth leader at the Chelsea YMHA.
In 2013, as a noted veteran, he was the
Chief Marshal of the Memorial Day Girl Scout Parade.