Roca Draws Praise as National Model at Panel Discussion : CPD Capt. Batchelor Speaks Out on Need Identifying High-Risk…

Community leaders praised Roca as a national model for its positive impact in helping to decrease incidents of urban violence during a panel discussion held June 27 at Northeast Crossing in Boston.

Carl Miranda, director of Roca Boston moderated the discussion that featured panelists, Thomas Abt, author of “Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence – and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets; Ed Dolan, commissioner of Massachusetts Probation Services; Tracy Litthcut, co-director of the Boston Mayor’s Office of Public Safety; and Anthony Braga, director and Distinguished Professor, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University.

Molly Baldwin, CEO of Roca, was in attendance at the panel discussion. It was Baldwin who founded the Chelsea-based agency whose mission has been “to disrupt the cycle of incarceration of poverty by helping young people transform their lives.”

Abt, a senior research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, has some interesting observations in his book, which not only contains a rigorous analysis of urban violence and its consequences, but also a concrete and helpful framework for the moving the needle on violence.

For example, Abt writes that “In Boston, 70 percent of all shootings over a three-year period were concentrated in areas covering approximately five percent of the city. In most cities, four percent of city blocks account for approximately 50 percent of crime.”

Chelsea Police Capt. David Batchelor, whose work with city partners in Chelsea Hub has helped local families facing difficult challenges, thanked the panelists for their research and the information presented at the forum.

“Any information that we can get to make our city safer and helped people is definitely beneficial to us,” said Batchelor.

Batchelor then spoke about identifying at-risk individuals at a younger age.

“It certainly makes sense in identifying individuals that are at high risk and getting those people the services and remove them from that high risk,” said Batchelor. “My only thought is that sometimes we wait too long. I think there are identifying risk factors prior to a person getting involved in a shooting or being a victim – and I think we know that.

“I wish we could start [identifying high-risk situations] a little younger – we’re starting at 17, 18, 19-year-olds into their 20s – I think you can identify those behaviors almost in middle school,” concluded Batchelor. “Sometimes, we’re waiting for something bad to happen, we’re waiting for that person to be a victim or a perpetrator before everything is mobilized and I know it’s a challenge because they’re at a young age, but I think we’re doing a disservice not trying to figure out a way to get that help to them at an earlier age.”

Batchelor said he appreciates conversation about urban violence, “but being a police officer for a long time, but I wonder how things are getting done – how are we going to do this? We have to share information and there are privacy concerns and laws so we’re afraid to talk to each other and we’re all working in our own little worlds. It’s a challenge. Where’s the line where we can share or not? I think we need to be able to figure that out to help our communities and keep people safe and get them on the right track.”

(Information from the press release about the panel discussion was used in the compilation of this story).

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District Councillor Celebrates Installation of Crossing Light

It was a request that didn’t appeared as if it would never see the light of day, but for Councillor Giovanni Recupero, there is now a light at the end of the tunnel – or rather – on the curves of Marginal Street.

Councillor Giovanni Recupero stands in front of the new pedestrian crossing traffic light on Marginal Street this week. The light will help ensure the safe crossing of residents to the PORT Park on what is a very busy truck route.

This week, Recupero said he was glad to finally see the substantial crossing light installed at the PORT Park so residents of his district – including children – can safely cross a dangerous road to get to the new park.

“They said I couldn’t do it; no one said this could be done, but here it is,” he said on Monday. “I found money in an account from Eastern Minerals. I called for that money to be used for this light, and convinced my fellow councillors to vote for it. Everyone told me not to try to do this because it was too expensive. But we did our research and we did it. It’s a great achievement for all of the children of this district. This is a dangerous spot. The park is great, but you couldn’t safely get to the other side of the street.”

Marginal Street is a truck route flanked by some industry and a dense residential neighborhood.

The PORT Park came on the scene about five years ago, and is a beloved asset for the community in the summer months. However, for those in the neighborhood adjacent to it, dodging fast-moving tractor trailers was daunting.

Now, Recupero said thanks to the rest of the Council, and the unbelievable investment in his district by City Manager Tom Ambrosino, the situation is much safer.

The light cost just under $1 million in total, and is a full traffic light that can be activated at the push of a button and completely stops vehicles for pedestrians.

The idea was rejected several years ago when first proposed by Recupero because of the price tag. However, he said he investigated some forgotten accounts and found a mitigation account from Eastern Minerals that was to be used for infrastructure in his district.

And bingo – the light shone. “The City spends money on everything and it should spend money on the safety of the children,” he said. “Now the children and their parents don’t have to worry anymore because the light will always be here.”

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A Lot of Noise but Little Action on Planes at Council

A Lot of Noise but Little Action on Planes at Council

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 successful.

“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 fellow councillors.

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 airplanes.

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 Avellaneda.

The Councillor has been pushing for the independent noise study since at least the time the 2017 airport noise study was unveiled.

“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.

•District 1 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.

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Chelsea Viaduct Project to Begin on April 1

Chelsea Viaduct Project to Begin on April 1

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced the Department will be rehabilitating the surface of the Tobin Bridge and complete required maintenance to improve the structure which will require lane closures and result in significant traffic impacts on the Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Curves section of Route 1 beginning April 1.

These impacts will lead to increased travel times on sections of Route 1 northbound and southbound for drivers and MBTA bus customers.

The Department also released details about transit options available to travelers such as free fares in the inbound direction on the SL3 bus line offered at the Chelsea, Bellingham Square, Box District, and Eastern Avenue stops for the duration of construction. The MBTA also announced that they will be running additional MBTA Blue Line trains to additional capacity, and these measures will be funded by MassDOT Highway Division project funds.

Beginning April 1, lane closures on the Tobin Bridge northbound will be put in place, although two of three travel lanes will be open during daytime hours. One of the three travel lanes on the Tobin Bridge northbound will be open during overnight hours.

Beginning by early May, Route 1 travel lanes in the Chelsea Curves area will be reduced so that two of three north and southbound travel lanes will be open in the daytime. One of three north and southbound travel lanes will be open during overnight hours.

“MassDOT is carrying out simultaneous work on this infrastructure which was constructed in the middle of the 20th century and hasn’t been rehabilitated since the 1970s in order to ensure its continued use and reliability and minimize the overall impact on commuters and the local community,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “We thank travelers for their patience as MassDOT begins this necessary project, and we encourage everyone traveling throughout the Route 1 area to make smart commuting decisions such as considering public transit, using the appropriate technology apps to find the best route and time to travel, and building extra time into their commutes to account for potential roadway congestion.”

The MBTA said they will be offering the free fares on the Silver Line and the Commuter Rail during construction.

“During construction, free fares are being offered for Silver Line 3 (SL3) inbound customers at certain station stops and additional Blue Line train capacity is being added. In addition, public transit customers will be able to use a CharlieCard to travel between North Station and Chelsea on the Commuter Rail,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Some MBTA customers on certain bus routes will experience delays, so we urge riders to consider taking advantage of these additional travel options being offered during construction.”

MassDOT’s traffic modeling suggests that on Route 1 northbound, afternoon peak travel times could increase in duration and have significant delays. Vehicle backups are expected to extend onto the I-93 ramps, along the Leverett Connector, and towards Rutherford Avenue. On Route 1 southbound, morning peak travel times could similarly increase in duration with significant delays expected.

MassDOT is carrying out work on the Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Curves section of Route 1 at the same time so that these projects will be completed in 2021. If the projects were done at separate times, drivers would be inconvenienced for additional years. This work will eliminate the need for weight restrictions and postings, and MassDOT will use accelerated construction techniques to shorten the overall construction time.

For more information on traffic conditions travelers are encouraged to:

•Dial 511 before heading out onto the roadways and select a route to hear real-time conditions.

•Visit HYPERLINK “http://www.mass511.com” t “_blank” www.mass511.com, a website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information, access to traffic cameras, and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.

•Follow MassDOT on Twitter @MassDOT to receive regular updates on road and traffic conditions.

•Check parking availability at the T’s 8 largest garages @MBTA_Parking. •Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.

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Chelsea Chamber Joins in Tribute to Joanne Tarason

Chelsea  Chamber Joins in Tribute to  Joanne Tarason

Members of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce joined local residents in paying tribute to well-known local businesswoman and Chamber board member Joanne Tarason at observances this week.

Mrs. Tarason Washington Ave., died unexpectedly on Feb. 19. She was the owner of Coprico Printing, 40 Washington Ave., for many years.

Susan Gallant, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, said the local business organization could always count on Mrs. Tarason to help out at events.

“Whether it was making a donation or helping the Chamber with the great work they do at the printing business, she was always really accommodating and very generous with her support,” said Gallant. “She was a great, hard-working lady. We will all greatly miss her.”

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1005 Broadway Affordable Housing Project Back to ZBA

1005 Broadway Affordable Housing Project Back to ZBA

The Suffolk County Land Court has remanded the controversial Zoning Board affordable housing denial on Broadway back to the Chelsea Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) with a revised plan.

The combination of The Neighborhood Developers (TND) and Traggorth Development went before the ZBA last year with a project slated for 1005 Broadway – a mostly affordable housing development. However, shockingly for many, it was denied in a close vote as community members called for a revised project with more home ownership opportunities.

The developers appealed that denial, and now Land Court has sent a revised plan back to the ZBA for consideration next month.

“The Traggorth Companies and The Neighborhood Developers have settled our appeal of the ZBA’s decision to deny a special permit for our proposed project at 1005 Broadway,” said TND Project Manager Steve Laferriere. “The terms of Settlement revised the initial proposal based on feedback from the ZBA, and allow us to have new public hearings in front of the ZBA and Planning Board. We are excited that the revised project remains a great opportunity to create 38 affordable apartments for Chelsea families and provide publicly accessible open space adjacent to Mill Creek.”

The new proposal has eliminated the commercial component, reduced the height on Broadway from five- to four-stories. The unit count is also down from 42 to 38. This time, all 38 units will be affordable apartments for rent.

City Attorney Cheryl Fisher Watson said the developers and ZBA placed the matter on hold during the appeal.

“It is the Parties hope that a revised petition is considered by the ZBA with a public process,” she said. “The ZBA wants public input as to all decisions if possible.”

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he would be supporting the revised project.

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Better Bussing – MBTA Meets with Chelsea Community to Discuss Proposed Fare Hike, Projects

Better Bussing – MBTA Meets with Chelsea Community to Discuss Proposed Fare Hike, Projects

By Laura Plummer

Chelsea residents and MBTA officials mingled at the Chelsea Senior Center on Tuesday, February 19, where the MBTA sought community feedback on three new system-wide changes on the horizon: a proposed fare hike, a bus system improvement initiative dubbed The Better Bus Project, and an upgraded program for managing ticket purchases called Automated Fare Collection 2.0.

The event was the first meeting in a series that the Transit Authority is hosting in the Greater Boston area throughout February and early March. Other cities and communities on the list include Quincy Center, Woburn, South Boston, Harvard Square, Downtown Boston, Watertown and Worcester.

Chelsea residents perused information from the MBTA on Tuesday
night at the Open House – the first of many in the Greater Boston area dealing with rate increases, the Better Bus Project and the new fare collection system.

Departing from the traditional town hall-style meeting, there was no speaker or agenda. Rather, officials from the MBTA were stationed at a horseshoe of tables featuring large informational posters and fliers in Spanish and English. Residents from the Chelsea community were invited to circulate from station to station in order to learn about the proposed changes, ask questions and provide oral and written feedback.

FARE PROPOSAL

The MBTA is looking to increase fares by an average of 6.3%, which, according to its website, it needs in order to “continue making system investments to improve service.”

The increase, which is aligned with Boston’s inflation rate, also meets the State law allowing the MBTA to raise their rates no more than 7% every two years. The fare hike, which would go into effect in July, would be the first since 2016.

The 6.3% increase would be applied to all fares, including bus and subway, commuter rail, ferry, and The RIDE.

In terms of the most common fares and passes, a local one-way bus ticket would go from $1.70 to $1.80. A one-way subway ticket would go from $2.25 to $2.40. A monthly LinkPass would go from $84.50 to $90.00, and a 7-Day LinkPass would go from $21.25 to $22.50.

Those interested can read more about the proposed fare hike at mbta.com/fare-proposal-2019. Comments can be emailed to fares@mbta.com, or mailed to MBTA, Attn: Fare Proposal, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116. Respondents can also share their opinions via an online survey available at surveymonkey.com/r/6TW8FFQ.

THE BETTER BUS PROJECT

Another project on the table is The Better Bus Project, an expansive initiative looking to overhaul the entire bus service of the MBTA. Its current projected rollout date is 2020.

“Too many of our bus routes still fail to live up to our own standards,” states the MBTA on its web site. “Through the Better Bus Project, we are changing that. Every day we’re finding new ways to improve the experiences of the people who use and ride our buses.”

The Better Bus Project would be comprised of five distinct elements: continuous change, analysis, proposed near-term changes, multi-year investment strategy and the Bus Network Redesign.

Continuous change refers to changes that can be made incrementally over time as the opportunities arise. Analysis includes reports generated from a period of outreach in which the MBTA surveyed riders most affected by gaps in service.

“Riders want more frequent, more reliable service,” said the MBTA. “They want more routes that run more often throughout the day—not just during peak service hours. And we learned […] that there are too many routes, too many complex routes, and too few routes with frequent, all-day service.”

Proposed near-term changes for The Better Bus Project include 47 specific suggestions for the consolidation of duplicate routes, the increase of space at bus stops and the elimination of some obsolete bus routes.

One of the 47 proposed projects is Route 111, which runs from Haymarket through Chelsea to Revere. The MBTA aims to “provide faster and more reliable service to Route 111 by removing service on Park Avenue in Revere, with connection remaining via Route 110,” according to a Better Bus Project flier.

A multi-year investment strategy will kick off a dialog about how to best leverage resources to improve the bus system as a whole, taking into account what riders want and need.

The ambitious Bus Network Redesign would re-envision the current MBTA bus network in the hopes of better serving passengers.

To learn more about The Better Bus Project and share your input, go to mbta.com/projects/better-bus-project.

AUTOMATED FARE COLLECTION 2.0

Citing an outdated system, the MBTA hopes that its new project will make paying for transit easier. With the introduction of AFC 2.0, the MBTA hopes to “improve customer experience, ensure equal access, upgrade outdated hardware and software, improve revenue control, operate buses and trains more efficiently and support future MBTA changes and growth.”

According to the MBTA, passengers will be able to pay their fares faster with improved Charlie Cards, a smartphone app, different payment options and digital fare readers. Under the new system, passengers will be able to conveniently reload their Charlie Cards in a number of venues, from schools and employers, online, over the phone, retailers and an increased number of vending machines.

MBTA employee Anthony Thomas explained that people could still use cash to reload their Charlie Cards at a number of locations throughout the city, but that cash would no longer be an option for paying on buses. The idea is to reduce the long bus queues, resulting in faster routes.

“Our new fare system will get you moving faster,” said the MBTA. “It’ll also get our vehicles moving faster (by up to 10% according to some estimates).”

These changes would not be rolled out all at once, but would overlap with the current technologies available, some of them in place for over a decade. In this way, the MBTA hopes to have a seamless transition to the new system.

For more information about AFC 2.0 and to submit your feedback, visit afc2.mbta.com.

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Fire at Pollo Campero treacherous, but controlled quickly

Fire at Pollo Campero  treacherous, but controlled quickly

A Chelsea firefighter fighting the stunning blaze created by Pollo Campero in Park Square on Sunday
night. The popular restaurant was a total loss, but owners said they intend to re-build.

Heavy smoke poured from the popular Pollo Campero restaurant in Park Square on Sunday night, with firefighters facing treacherous conditions that forced their evacuation numerous times as they tried to put out the stunning fire.

In the end, crews battled and made quick work of it – getting it out within an hour.

Chief Len Albanese said it is still under investigation this week, and that it was a total loss.

“The fire is still under investigation; however, I can report at this time that it appears that the fire started in a concealed space within a wall, then traveled to the loft space above the ceiling where the fire was allowed to burn for some time before breaking out and activating the Fire Alarm system,” he said. “This would account for the major fire condition on arrival even though the building had a working fire alarm system. Also, there were no sprinklers within the structure. The fire remains under investigation for a definitive cause that will be reported upon completion.”

There were no civilian injuries, but one firefighter was injured.

On Sunday evening, at 11:40 p.m. Chelsea Fire Alarm received an alarm of fire from Box 1134 for the Pollo Campero restaurant located at 115 Park St. First arriving companies from Chelsea E2 and L1 under the command of Capt. Phil Rogers reported heavy smoke showing on arrival from the rear of the building. C4 Deputy Wayne Ulwick arrived on scene assuming command and immediately ordered the Working Fire. Due to the heavy smoke and reports of heavy fire within the interior of the building, a Second Alarm was requested bringing companies from Revere, Everett, Boston and MassPort to the scene. Crews were ordered out of the building several times due to conditions rapidly deteriorating from heavy fire conditions within the structure forcing firefighters to attack the fire with defensive operations using blitz guns, hand lines and ladder pipes

The fire was brought under control within an hour.

The Boston Sparks Club under the command of President Paul Boudreau responded to the scene supplying Re-Hab and refreshments for the firefighters. Chelsea Police also provided traffic and crowd control during fire. Crews from Medford and Boston provided mutual aid during the fire.

Chief Albanese said it was a defensive fight for firefighters because the structure was too far along to be saved. Nevertheless, owners are determined to rebuild. “It was determined that the fire was well involved within the structure, and crews were ordered out of the building and proceeded with a defensive fire attack,” he said. “Given the time of day, a closed business and no reports of occupants, this was the safest course of action given that very early on it was apparent that this building could not be saved. Members of Fire Prevention are working with the ownership, who reported to us that they intend to rebuild as soon as possible.”

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St Stan’s Church Stands Against Street Change On Chestnut

St Stan’s Church Stands Against Street Change On Chestnut

St. Stanislaus Church has submitted a petition with dozens of signatures requesting that the City not leave the temporary direction change on Chestnut Street intact.

“This change has been detrimental to the day-to-day business operations of the Parish rectory, prohibits our elderly parishioners from entering and exiting their vehicles in a safe manner, prevents the safe loading and unloading of supplies to both the rectory and the church, disrupts the motor vehicle processional for funerals, impedes workers coming make repairs and service calls to the Church and rectory and causes an increase of noise during our solemn services due to the excessive congestion of traffic,” read the letter accompanying the petition, which was presented to the City Council and Traffic Commission.

Chestnut Street has long had an odd configuration at Fourth Street, with no one able to turn in either direction coming off the Mystic/Tobin Bridge exit. Both sides empty onto Fourth Street. However, during construction on the Beacon Street off-ramp, Chestnut was made one way all the way from City Hall to Everett Avenue – one long stretch.

It became popular with many drivers, but especially the Police and Fire Departments. Fire officials said they felt it helped response times from Central Fire in getting to Everett Avenue.

A petition to make the temporary change into a permanent change is now before the Traffic Commission and City Council.

Count St. Stan’s against it.

“It is jeopardizing the existence of our self-supporting Parish, which has been in existence for the past 110 years,” read the letter. “Chestnut Street is a narrow, one lane road, in a heavily populated residential neighborhood. It is unable to maintain the increased flow of traffic caused by vehicles coming from the Fourth Street off-ramp to the Bridge.”

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City Council News

City Council News

Police contracts add $876,000 in salary

increases, residency requirement for new hires

After more than two and a half years of negotiations, the City is on the verge of a new contract with its two police unions that will see pay increases of up to three percent and implement residency requirements for new hires.

Monday night, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino requested the City Council approve the contracts, which are retroactive to Fiscal year 2017. The Council forwarded the request to its subcommittee on conference, and will take up an official vote on the contracts at a future meeting.

The collective bargaining agreements are for the unions which represent police superior officers and patrol officers.

“Both deals encompass four years, made up of two separate contracts: a one year deal for FY17; and a subsequent three year deal for FY 19-FY20,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the City Council.

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.

All told, the retroactive salary increases total about $876,000.

“I strongly recommend that the City Council support these agreements, which have been the subject of lengthy negotiations spanning more than two and a half years,” Ambrosino stated. “We set aside in Salary Reserve for the resolution of these two agreements a total of $700,000. Accordingly, we will need an additional appropriation from Stabilization of $176,000 to satisfy these contractual commitments.”

The salary hikes are the only cost item in the new contracts, according to the City Manager. Other items in the contracts related to longevity, detail pay, sick leave incentive, and clothing allowance are limited to clarifications or minor changes and do not add any additional costs to the City, he added.

The percentage increases for salary are slightly more than those other City Hall unions have received, Ambrosino said.

“However, in return, the City did secure new language on residency upon which the City Council insisted,” he stated. “As of January 1, 2019, all new police hires must live in the City of Chelsea for five years, consistent with the Ordinance approved by the City Council earlier this year.”

While there was no debate over the union contracts themselves at Monday’s Council meeting, District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop did raise concerns about the City’s use of its stabilization, or “rainy day” funds.

Bishop noted that Ambrosino was requesting the use of stabilization funds for improvements to Eden Park and for a protective cover for the new high school turf field as well as for the contract salary costs.

Those stabilization funds should be used for emergency situations, Bishop said.

“I don’t think any of these requests rise to the level of an emergency to use the rainy day fund,” he said.

While Bishop said he supported the requests being made, he wanted assurances that any money taken out of the City’s stabilization funds be replaced by free cash as soon as those funds are certified by the state.

Outside graduation coming closer to a

resolution, decided Dec. 17

The Chelsea High School Class of 2019’s quest to graduate outside at the high school could come to a conclusion at the City Council’s next meeting on Monday, Dec. 17.

That’s when the Council is expected to vote on a $170,000 appropriation from the school stabilization account to pay for a  protective mat for the new turf field at the high school.

City Manager Thomas Ambrosino made the request for the funds for the protective mat, which he said will allow for the use of the turf field for non-sporting events. The turf field comes with an eight-year warranty, but that warranty is voided if there are certain non-sporting uses on the field.

The possible purchase is good news for members of the high school’s senior class, who have been working with school and city officials, as well as fundraising, in an effort to have their graduation moved to the high school field.

Senior Manuel Teshe said the turf field cover will benefit the whole city, as well as students and their families attending the graduation.

“This investment is going to last for years,” he said. “If this is done, it is done for the city, and the future of the city is the students at Chelsea High School right now.”

Senior Class President Jocelyn Poste was one of a number of CHS students wearing “Dream Big” shirts who addressed the Council on Monday night.

“We are close to achieving our dream of graduating outside on our own field,” said Poste. “With the help of the City Council, this can be a possibility.”

School Supt. Mary Bourque also lent the students some support before the Council.

“This is a wise investment for our future and will have a positive impact on every generation here,” Bourque said.

District 5 Councillor Judith Garcia urged all the students present on Monday night to return with their friends on Dec. 17.

“I’m so incredibly proud of everything that was said tonight,” she said.

  • In other business, the Council approved a change in the zoning ordinance requiring tighter building controls in the Admiral’s Hill neighborhood.
  • Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda introduced an order requesting that the License Commission hold two recreational marijuana licenses for applicants that have a majority ownership consisting of Chelsea residents.
  • Ambrosino asked the Council to approve funding for renovations to Eden Park.

The majority of the renovations will be reimbursed through a state grant, the city manager stated.

“The proposed renovations of Eden Park include replacement of the playground’s rubber surfacing, introduction of new playground equipment, installation of a new water feature and splash pad, installation of new site furniture and lighting, and reconstruction of all site utilities,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the Council.

The total cost of the renovations is about $750,000, according to Ambrosino. The City Council appropriated $250,000 through the Fiscal Year 2019 Capital Improvement Program. Of the remaining $500,000, the City Manager said $400,000 should be reimbursed by the state.

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