So much happens within every municipality that needs to be shared: upcoming events, new initiatives, important updates, celebrations of success. And there’s myriad ways in which each department of City Hall interfaces with the public in routine ways, from applications for parking permits to business licenses, to simple correspondence to the uniforms of Department of Public Work employees repairing the streets. Inherent in all of this communication is a message about how the municipality functions. Each represents an opportunity to say something about the City of Chelsea itself.
The new Chelsea City Seal features a more appropriate figure and a consistent design.
To make the most of these
opportunities, the City of Chelsea has just released a Style Guide that details
the specific graphic style for all communications from the ten City Hall
departments and nearly twenty boards and commissions. The goal of the
effort is to establish a consistent brand identity that’s professional, clear,
and attractive. The guide details typography, colors, photography and
formatting that together create a distinctive look for City Hall’s print and
digital materials. For administrative staff at City Hall, a suite of templates
facilitate the quick creation of regularly needed materials within the
established style. The refreshed documents include letterhead and envelopes,
agendas and minutes, business cards and brochures, forms and flyers, reports
and PowerPoint slide decks.
The underlying goal of
the project is that quality, consistent design will demonstrate a unified voice
whenever expressed by an agent of Chelsea’s city offices. Quality design
demonstrates competence and professionalism. Through a clear graphic identity
the public will be able to better recognize services provided by municipal
Over the past eight
months, a team of City Hall staff representing a variety of departments worked
with design consultant, Catherine Headen, to develop the guide. After
reviews, working sessions and a special event with City Hall staff the
completed Guide and templates are formally released this week.
A major aspect of the
work was refining of the City Seal. Over the decades numerous changes had
led to an evolution of the design, drifting the illustration away from the
original as detailed in the banner hanging Chelsea’s City Council
Chambers. When the team began, nearly a dozen different images were in use
as a City Seal across municipal departments. The design details had
changed so significantly that the group was surprised to discover lost elements
prescribed within the City Charter: “The following shall be the device of the
corporate seal of the city: A representation within a circle of a shield
surmounted by a star, the shield bearing upon it the representation of an
American Indian chief and wigwams; at the right of the shield, a sailboat such
as was formerly used for ferriage; at the left of the shield, a view of the
city and a steam ferryboat; under the shield, the word “Winnisimmet;” around
the shield, the words “Chelsea, settled 1624; a Town 1739; a City 1857.”
The unveiling of the new look with take place over time. City staff will
continue to use the print materials already on hand but will use the new
templates for all their future materials. The new style is intended for the
main City Hall departments and doesn’t extend to the City’s Police and Fire
departments or to the schools.
A parking study asked for
by the City Council has had few interested takers, and the only bid on the
study has come in at an exorbitant $210,000.
The Council called for a
parking study to be done for the entire City late last year, and the City began
work on getting a consultant in place through a Request for Proposals (RFP)
However, City Manager Tom
Ambrosino said there was only one bidder, Howard Stein Hudson (HSH), and they
only bid on a portion of the city rather than the entire city.
“HSH believes that a
parking study encompassing the entire City of Chelsea will be too big and
likely too expensive of an undertaking,” wrote Ambrosino. “Instead, HSH is
proposing that, in addition to the downtown, it would identify only a few other
target neighborhoods for study. I don’t know if the Council would be satisfied
with that limitation.”
The other piece of the
puzzle is the cost.
Ambrosino said the cost
of HSH’s limited proposal was $210,780.
“That is much more than
we anticipated, and I don’t know if the Council is prepared to expend that
sum,” he wrote.
Ambrosino called for the
Council to convene subcommittee to talk about next steps. He said they could
accept the expensive proposal from HSH, or they could re-big the project and
hope to get more proposals.
A date is being set for
the committee meeting.
•City Manager Tom
Ambrosino is recommending against taking the trash collection operations
in-house, a proposal floated by the Council last month.
He said the City’s
Department of Public Works had made some initial calculations that showed it
would be about the same costs to bring it in-house as it would be to continue
using its contractor, Russel Disposal.
“The (figures) make clear
that there are no obvious savings by taking the work in-house,” he wrote. “Our
best estimate is that annual costs would probably be somewhat greater than what
we pay to Russell.”
However, many of the
concerns of the Council, including Councilor Enio Lopez, came from the
mish-mash quality of pickup.
Ambrosino said he
understood those concerns, but didn’t believe taking the operations in-house
would improve the mistakes that are made.
“It is my opinion that,
given the nature of the trash business, where litter, rough handling of barrels
and occasional missed deliveries are inevitable no matter who is performing the
work, bringing this work in-house would not demonstrably improve quality, at
least not to the extent where any improvement would be noticeable to our
He said he would not
recommend any change.
However, he did not close
the door on taking other functions in-house.
He said he isn’t opposed
to bringing things like some water and sewer work back in-house.
“I feel strongly that we
should probably take in-house certain water, sewer and drainage work that we
currently outsource,” he said. “But, in the case of that utility work, I can
definitively show that the City will save substantial money doing the work
ourselves, and I do believe the quality will be a noticeable improvement to our
However, he said he doesn’t believe the same to be true for the trash
The Chelsea Cultural Council has announced
the awarding of grants totalling $20,809 to 18 local artists, schools and
The grants were awarded from a pool of funds
distributed to Chelsea by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency
that supports public programs and educational activities in the arts, sciences,
“We are very grateful to Governor Baker and
the Legislature for their continued support of the Massachusetts Cultural
Council and the funding that directly benefits cultural activities here in
Chelsea, said Marlene Jennings Chair. Our city has its own unique identity and
in these sponsored events we get to really experience the spirit of
Awardees for this year are:
•Browne Middle School: Speaker – Lost
Boy of Sudan, $250
•Chelsea Black Community: Black
History Month, $1,800
•Chelsea Community Connections:
Chelsea Fun Bus, $1,000
•Chelsea Public Library: A Universe of
•Veronica Robles: Serenara a Chelsea
by Veronica Robles Female Mariachi, $1,500
•Walnut Street Synagogue: A Photo
Documentary of Chelsea Life in the 1970’s, $1,800
The Chelsea Cultural Council (CCC) has also
set aside an additional $3,121 to complete a public mural project in
collaboration with Chelsea Public School Art Department that began in the fall
of 2018. The CCC is one of 329 local councils that serve every city and town in
the state. The state legislature provides an annual appropriation to the
Massachusetts Cultural Council, which then allocates funds to each local
council. Decisions, about which activities to support, are made at the
community level by the council.
The members of the Chelsea Cultural Council
are: Marlene Jennings, Chair; Dakeya Christmas, Co-Chair; Devra Sari Zabot,
Recorder; Juliana Borgiani, Treasurer; Sharlene McLean, Angelina McCoy, and
Carolina Anzola. The CCC will seek applications again this fall. CCC
Guidelines will be available online as well as the 2020 application beginning
Sept. 1, 2019 at
Chelsea city councillors are looking at ways
in which they can legally find a way to reserve some of the recreation
marijuana licenses for Chelsea residents.
Councillor Roy Avellaneda forwarded an order
recently to reserve at least two of the four recreational licenses for Chelsea
residents, as so many residents have been impacted by the War on Drugs and the
prosecution of marijuana possession crimes.
Avellaneda said his order is to amend the
current retail marijuana ordinance in similar fashion to Somerville and Boston.
At the state level, the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) signaled early on
that it would approve licenses quicker in communities like Chelsea that
historically have been heavily impacted by drug prosecution.
However, Avellaneda and other councillors
said they have only seen well-heeled investors from out of town turning up to
take advantage of that designation in Chelsea.
“The recent rush we have seen by well-funded
and politically connected individuals and groups to apply for the available
licenses puts those living in communities like Chelsea at a serious
disadvantage,” he said. “The goal of the legislation I have introduced is to
provide a two-year window for two of the four licenses just for Chelsea
residents or a business entity comprised of 60 percent Chelsea residents…I
think we would have better host agreements and community benefits
offered by an individual or group based from Chelsea than from someone with no
connections to this city. Should we allow the money made from these lucrative
licenses leave the city? Or should we try to keep that revenue here?”
The Council held a Committee of the Whole
meeting on Monday night, Feb. 4, to discuss the matter and try to find a
Council President Damali Vidot said she and
Avellaneda and the rest of the Council seem to be on the same page with the
idea, but may differ on how to accomplish it.
“My concern at Monday’s meeting and a
couopld of other councillor’s concerns were that we could be interfering with a
business’s right ot commerce,” she said. “If I own an adult-use shop and want
to sell it, I don’t know if we can limit who you sell it to. We don’t want to
cut people off at the knees. That will effect investors because they may not
want to enter into a place where there are so many limits on their
investment…Also, we’re only allowing the rich to get richer. If you live in
Chelsea and have the money to buy one of these, you’re obviously already rich.”
She said the marijuana licenses mimic the
regulations for liquor stores, and there are no such limits on liquor licenses.
That said, she agreed that Avellaneda has a
good idea that needs to be explored and hopefully implemented in some fashion
to help Chelsea residents – to empower those economically who have been
affected in the past.
Avellaneda said the idea is consistent with
the recent 100 percent residency requirement for all new police and fire hires,
as well as the affordable housing requirement for Chelsea residents.
“It asks that any new jobs created in
Chelsea have a priority for Chelsea residents,” he said. “I doubt Chelsea would
lose any opportunities or see a delay in applications because any outsider
looking to open in Chelsea would look to partner with a Chelsea resident rather
than risk losing a chance at a license by waiting two years.”
Western Front Moving
Quickly on Webster
The Economic Empowerment marijuana proposal
on Webster Avenue is moving quickly through the local process for a marijuana
dispensary at 121 Webster Ave.
Western Front is a minority-owned firm that
received the Economic Empowerment designation from the state last spring, and
had its community meeting shortly after. The firm plans to open a dispensary
and also employ those who have been adversely affected by the War on Drugs –
particularly people from the Chelsea. The ownership of the company comes from
Boston and Cambridge though.
Western Front is scheduled to go before the
Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. It is the first ZBA hearing
in Chelsea for a marijuana proposal.
City Manager Thomas Ambrosino got a new
five-year contract and a healthy serving of praise from the City Council Monday
The council approved the contract with a
10-0 vote. Councilor-at-Large Roy Avellaneda was not present at Monday night’s
Ambrosino gets a three percent raise with
the new deal, from $184,913 annually to $189,945.
Council President Damali Vidot said a
sub-committee made up of Councilors Luis Tejada, Giovanni Recupero and Yamir
Rodriguez had been evaluating Ambrosino for several months, and agreed that he
has done a good job and should be invited back.
“He’s done a great job and he wanted to go
five years instead of four years so he would be closer to retirement age at the
end of this contract,” she said. “I think he deserved it. I felt he earned five
years. He got a really good evaluation and people are very pleased with his
Vidot said the evaluation showed councilors
and the public felt he was a little too hands-off on his management of
departments, and wanted to see him be a little more hands-on with them. For
Vidot, she said one of his strengths has been treating the City Council with
“He has really given the City Council the
respect it deserves,” she said. “I didn’t see that in the previous
administration. Chelsea seems to really be coming together. There seems to be
so much more interest in social and civic issues and more unity overall.”
On Monday night, the praises continued at
the Council meeting before they voted to extend the contract five more years.
“The city manager has done a great job,”
said District 8 Councilor Calvin T. Brown. “He’s committed, a creative thinker,
and a very approachable city manager.”
Several councilors commented on Ambrosino’s
responsiveness to residents’ concerns.
“Whenever I have had a problem in my
district and brought it to his attention, the city manager has been very
responsive,” said District 1 Councilor Robert Bishop.
District 5 Councilor Judith Garcia said
Ambrosino has been an incredible asset and resource for the community.
“He has invested a lot in the community, and
I hear it from my constituents a lot,” said Garcia.
In addition to the three percent pay raise,
Ambrosino will get an additional $500 per year for travel, and the former
Revere mayor’s new contract will be for five years, compared to his current
“I’m very pleased and very grateful to the
city council for giving me a vote of confidence,” Ambrosino said following
Monday night’s meeting. “I will do everything I can to continue to make them
proud of my work.”
Ambrosino has said since last fall he would
like to be asked to return to Chelsea for another contract term. He said he
feels like he has more work to do in the city, particularly with his downtown
•In other Council news:
A resolution passed by the City Council
Monday night recognized February as Black History Month and thanked the Lewis
H. Latimer Society, Bunker Hill Community College, and the Chelsea Black
Community “Remembering Black Migration, WWI, and the Chelsea Fire” for the
contributions to the city.
The Council also recognized Feb. 21 as Dr.
Maya Angelou Day in Chelsea.
•The council requested a meeting with
Emergency Management Director Keith Vetreno to discuss 911 services.
•Councilor-at-Large Leo Robinson requested
that City Manager Tom Ambrosino update the council on all planned development
in the city.
•District 6 Councilor Giovanni Recupero
requested a brighter streetlight on Charles Street, as well as a study for
traffic on the Meridian Street Bridge. The brightness of the new LED
streetlights has been a problem point for several years, as most of them are on
the lowest setting to save money on power. Recupero has routinely asked the
City to increase the brightness on the new LED lights.
The people of Chelsea are demanding increased
frequency on the Silver Line, more reliability, and additional bus connections
from the MBTA. Over the next two years there will be three major construction
projects in Chelsea that will adversely impact bus traffic, and City leaders
and residents are concerned that the already poor services will worsen.
“There have been big shifts in population and
ridership, and the bus routes have stayed largely the same,” admitted Steve
Poftak, the newly appointed MBTA General Manager. “The T is playing catch-up.”
On January 24, Poftak sat with locals and
members of the City Council during the first inaugural Chelsea Transportation
Task Force meeting at City Hall. The goal of the committee is to gather once a
month for six months of interactive discussions with the community and Poftak
to develop solutions.
“For a lot of us who live on both of the
hills, buses are the only means of transportation,” commented a Bellingham
Square resident. “Every year or two, they threaten to cut off both of the
hills. That would leave us totally stranded, and I’m not having it.”
Many aren’t content with the massive traffic
that builds with the 20 minute rising and 20 minute lowering of the Chelsea
Street bridge, which slows bus travel. The MBTA noted that active discussions
with the Coast Guard regarding the creation of a period of time during peak
hours of commuting when the bridge does not open have been hindered by the
“We have limited control over the bridge.
Maybe we could have some predictability with windows when we know the bridge
will be active and when we know it won’t,” said Poftak.
The Better Bus Project is investigating the
quality of the current bus network and working on cost-neutral proposals that
will result in more frequent services for customers. Researchers have been
speaking with riders to learn more about where people’s trips begin and end,
the economic demographics of the area, and where jobs are located.
“We are advocating for fair mitigation,” expressed
Council President Damali Vidot. “We’ve needed quality service for years and are
working at a sub-par level. Chelsea was an afterthought in the Better Bus
Project. We want to make sure we’re getting the service we deserve.”
The Better Bus Project has 47 proposals for
changes in the MBTA bus system that will impact 63 out of the 180 routes in 35
of the 50 communities that are served. Proposals include removing bus routes
with low ridership, and re-investing resources elsewhere.
The Transportation Task Force is suggesting
more inspectors, less cancellations, and easier transfers between Chelsea and
Lynn on the Commuter Rail.
“We are re-imagining the infrastructure on
Broadway,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “We will be presenting the City
Council with alternatives that do away with two fast lanes to make travel
safer. One idea is incorporating a dedicated bus lane.”
Gentrification has also forced many Chelsea
residents to relocate to Lynn because of the high cost of rent. One Chelsea
resident, who works in Lynn, voiced that it takes her up to two hours to
commute from Lynn to Chelsea using public transportation. She commented that
the only line that directly connects Chelsea to Everett is the 112 bus, and
many avoid it due to the lifting of the bridge; and recommended that the 426
bus through Lynn could stop in Chelsea, as it already passes over the Tobin
“In the overall bus network redesign, people
on the north side of the city are particularly interested in going to Lynn and
Malden,” Poftak concluded.
Better Bus Project proposals will be available
at www.MBTA.com with maps and data. The MBTA will also be providing riders with
a warm place to view proposals at Haymarket Station, where they see the most response from Chelsea residents.
The City Council got back to business Monday
night with a special organizational meeting and then quickly taking care of the
new year’s first agenda items.
As expected, the Council approved a second
term for Damali Vidot as council president. District 2 Councillor Luis Tejada
was voted in as vice president, and Yamir Rodriguez as the Council’s delegate
to the School Committee.
“I want to thank all my colleague’s for
entrusting me with one more year as president,” said Vidot. She is the first
female councillor to serve two back-to-back terms as council president.
Vidot said she is looking forward to a year
of unity and respect on the council.
In other business, the Council unanimously
approved funding for new contracts for the City’s two police unions.
The contracts include a retroactive salary
increase of 2.5 percent for FY17 and 3 percent for FY18 and FY19. There is also
a 3 percent increase slated for FY20 and an additional 1 percent increase that
goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
The contract also implements residency
requirements for all new hires for the Police Department.
Later in the meeting, the Council also
approved an amended residency ordinance for all police, fire, and civil service
The ordinance requires that all personnel
who live in Chelsea at the time of the hire must maintain residency for five
years from the date of hire. Personnel who do not live in the city at the time
of hire have six months to relocate to Chelsea.
Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson cast the
lone vote against the amended ordinance, using the example of a child who might
have to look after sick parents as a possible reason an employee may not be
able to relocate.
•During the public speaking portion of the
meeting, some familiar guests dropped in to say thank you to the Council.
Several members of the Chelsea High senior
class thanked the council for its recent vote to fund a turf field cover to the
tune of $170,000 for the new high school field.
With the field cover, the senior class and
subsequent classes will be able to hold outdoor graduations.
“We’ve put so much hard work into this, and
everything that has happened has been amazing,” said Senior Class President
Poste and several
other seniors presented the Council with a signed letter in appreciation for
their efforts. They also asked the council for their signatures on a
proclamation documenting the students’ and the Council’s efforts to work
together to make the turf field cover a reality.
The year 2018 saw many
changes in Chelsea as the city tried to balance prosperity with priorities all
year long. While new investment poured in, residents struggled to stay in the
city and schools grappled with budget cuts. Meanwhile, public transit increased
substantially in a positive direction with the introduction of the new Silver
• Flooding becomes a
major issue after a Jan. 4 blizzard and a March 2 storm, both of which occur
during substantial high tides. The Jan. 4 blizzard caused a huge storm surge
that flooded many parts of the city and even shut down operations at the
Chelsea Street Bridge.
• The New England Flower
Exchange celebrates its first Valentine’s Day holiday at its new location on
Second Street after being in Boston’s South End for the past 50 years. The new
facility has been brought online seamlessly.
• Wynn CEO Steve Wynn
seemed to be in control of his company and the project in Everett until late
January, when he was accused of sexual misconduct in a Wall Street Journal
report. The allegations quickly gathered steam, and by February Wynn had
resigned from the company and the license for the Everett casino was in
jeopardy and the project to be moving forward “at risk.” The new CEO became
Matt Maddox and the company saw huge amounts of turnover throughout the year.
By the end of 2018, the license for the Everett site was still in limbo and an
investigation into the matter still had yet to be revealed – having been
delayed for months.
• City Manager Tom
Ambrosino says in his State of the City on Feb. 26 that now is not the time to
save up money, but rather the time to continue investing in the City and its
residents. He announces several key programs for the upcoming year.
• Sen. Sal DiDomenico is
involved in a heated and intense bid for the office of Senate President over
several months, but in the summer comes up just short in getting the votes
necessary to prevail. Sen. President Karen Spilka gets the nod instead, but
DiDomenico remains the assistant majority leader and ends up coming out of the
battle in a very good position of leadership.
• Students at Chelsea
High stage a walk-out in regard to school safety and school shootings on March
15. Despite lots of snow, thousands of students take to the Stadium for the
•YIHE company returns to
the City with a new plan for the old Forbes site in the Mill Hill neighborhood.
They start the process in April with a scaled down version of their previous
plan, but reviews of the project continue throughout the year and into 2019.
• The new Silver Line
SL-3 service debuts on Saturday, April 21, in Chelsea. The service starts out a
little slow, but by December the MBTA reports that ridership has exceeded its
• The Chelsea Soldiers’
Home secured a $70 million budget item from the federal government in April
that allowed the replacement of the Quigley Hospital to move forward. The
Community Living Center has a groundbreaking in the fall and construction is
ongoing in the new year.
• The Chelsea Walk is
transformed throughout the spring, summer and fall in a unique placemaking
partnership between the City and GreenRoots. At the end, there is a new mural
on the Walk and more activity. New things are also planned for the Walk in
• A $3.1 million School
Budget gap hits the School Department hard, with numerous cuts reported to key
school services. Th School Department, City and state grapple with the issue
all summer long, but no resolution to the issue emerges at the end of the
legislative session. The school funding fix is still outstanding, and no fix
has yet been passed to help districts like Chelsea, who have been penalized
mistakenly by a new formula.
• Chelsea High sophomore
track star Stephanie Simon caps off a stellar year by heading to the National
Track Meet in North Carolina over the summer. She placed 15th in the high jump
and 27th in the triple jump out of a field of athletes from around the nation.
• Students at the Clark
Avenue Middle School are ecstatic to return to school on Aug. 29, and that’s
because they were able to enter their brand new building for the first time.
The Clark Avenue premiered to excited parents and students for the new school
term after many years of construction.
• The Sept. 4 Primary
Election features many surprises, but the biggest headline of the night,
however, was when Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley upset sitting
Congressman Michael Capuano decidedly. Capuano had campaigned hugely in
Chelsea, and won here with 54 percent of the vote. However, a strong Boston
turnout propelled Pressley to an big win. Pressley also had notable support in
Chelsea from Council President Damali Vidot and School Committeeman Julio Hernandez.
• The Two-Way Broadway
proposal gathers steam, but fizzles out as residents and elected officials
protest the change vehemently. That came after a late-August approval of the
plan by the Traffic Commission. However, in September, it fails to get past the
City Council. Broadway will remain a one-way street.
• Supt. Mary Bourque surprises most in late December when she announces
she will retire at the end of 2019, pledging to help the School Committee with
a new superintendent search throughout the year.
Council President Damali Vidot has lined up the votes to be chosen as the Council President for a second year in a row, a rare move on a Council where most only serve for one year and pass it on.
“I’m excited to serve again and thank my colleagues for their confidence,” she said this week. “From what I’m hearing, it’s the first time a woman has served for two consecutive terms as Council President. I don’t have it all figured out, but I believe my colleagues trust my leadership and know I’m trying to do the right thing.”
Aside from Vidot, the vice president will be Luis Tejada and the School Committee liaison will be Yamir Rodriguez.
The Council in Chelsea doesn’t vote on its leadership positions until its first meeting in January. However, the Council does line up its votes and preferences in December. Rarely, if ever, does the vote change between December and January.
Vidot said one of her goals is to begin looking at the boards and commissions within the City, such as the License Board and Zoning Board.
“One of my goals is to better monitor these boards in the city, like the Traffic Commission and the ZBA,” she said. “I feel like at different levels these boards exist and that no one is in control. I’ve seen residents come up 100 percent against a project, and it goes through anyway. These are things we really need to look at to make sure we’re all on the same page. It feels like we’re all running in different directions now.”
Additionally, Vidot said she hoped to foster a good working relationship between councillors in the coming year.
“I take a lot of pride in being able to work with all the different councillors,” she said. “I want to make sure we’re all working together and doing the best we can…There are so many different needs. You take a councillor like Bob Bishop from Prattville and a Councillor like Enio Lopez from District 4 and their needs in those districts are so different, but I look forward to being able to work together to address each of them equally.”
The Council has yet to set a date for its first meeting and its organizational meeting for election of officers, but it is expected to be on Jan. 7.
The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA), and their partner GreenRoots successfully made the case in
MyRWA Director Patrick Herron and GreenRoots Director Roseann Bongiovanni celebrating their successful argument in Washington, D.C., to return funds to the area.
front of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Council to give Mystic communities a chance at $1.3 million in restoration funds.
“This is an opportunity to repair part of the Mystic River watershed by directing funds that resulted from the spill back to the area where the spill occurred,” said Patrick Herron, executive director. “We are excited that our Mystic communities have another shot at this funding.”
In January of 2006, approximately 15,200 gallons of petroleum product was spilled into the Lower Mystic River through an ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. terminal located in Everett. Accordingly, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) charged ExxonMobil with violating the Clean Water Act through negligence at the facility. ExxonMobil signed a plea agreement in 2009 that included a fine, the cost of cleanup, and a community service payment (CSP) that ultimately totaled $1 million to the Massachusetts Environmental Trust and $4.6 million to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) fund. This plea agreement states that the funds should be used exclusively for qualified coastal wetland restoration projects in Massachusetts, with preference to projects within the Mystic River Watershed. During plea proceedings, the NAWCA Council and U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff assured the U.S. Attorney’s office and Judge Saris that a process would be put in place to ensure the CSP funds would be awarded in a manner consistent to the intent of the plea agreement.
All funds managed by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) were immediately put to work on stewardship and water quality improvements in the Mystic River Watershed.
In contrast, no NAWCA funds have come to the Mystic River Watershed. To date, $3 million of the ExxonMobil CSP given to NAWCA have been spent on other projects in the Commonwealth. The NAWCA Council was considering spending the remainder of the money ($1.36 million) on yet another project not in the Mystic. This would bring the amount spent on the Mystic to zero.
Herron and Roseann Bongiovanni, executive director of GreenRoots, made the trip to Washington, D.C., on Dec. 12, to argue that money should be given to the Mystic. Prior to the meeting, David Barlow, Gene Benson and friends at GreenRoots and Conservation Law Foundation developed and submitted formal comment letters to the Council that outlined the history of these funds and the context for preference for the Mystic.
“It was our communities and our waterbodies that were impacted by the spill on that cold January morning and now almost 10 years later, our communities are deserving of the penalty dollars to restore our ecological habitat and bring about environmental justice” said Bongiovanni.