Facing a do-or-die situation for the completion of major off-site roadwork this summer, and a slower-than-expected work schedule on an Eversource project, Encore Boston Harbor and the City of Everett have announced on Tuesday the areas of Beacham, Dexter and Robin Streets will basically be closed off from Aug. 8 through October.
The change will likely have much more dire consequences for Chelsea than for Everett, as the roadway in and out of the New England Produce Center will be shut down for all intents and purposes. Beyond that, cab traffic from the airport will also be diverted away from the normal route through Beacham Street.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they’ll have to take a wait and see approach in the coming weeks to figure out the proper response.
“It’s just hard to say what the impact will be,” he said. “Given the Second Street alternative (for the Produce Center), I’m hoping the impact is not too substantial. But, we will have to wait and see.”
Chief Brian Kyes said the Police Department would employ its message boards around the city to inform people of the sudden change.
Many had hoped that the work could get done side-by-side, and by making the Eversource transmission line project and the Encore traffic project a dual project Ð it could bring down the pain associated with so much construction work in one small location.
However, that ended up not happening, said Everett Planner Jay Monti, who indicated that Eversource moved too slow on their project. That, in turn, has put things in jeopardy for the casino to get its work done before the end of the outdoor construction season Ð which closes in early November when the asphalt plants shut down.
“Due to delays in permitting and obstructions on the road, Eversource has gotten behind schedule to the point it’s going to threaten Encore in getting its [off-site] roadwork done and without that work they can’t open the casino next year. We’re up against a wall and the only way to get it to work is to go 24 hours a day and essentially shut down the roadsÉThings got critical last week and Eversource was just not making progress. Encore came to us and said they can’t wait any longer. They can’t risk not opening up the casino on time because of the Eversource project running behind.”
The shut-down began Aug. 8, and will run for about 10 weeks into October so that Eversource can work around the clock, three shifts, to get their work in the area done and move on to Chelsea and East Boston. Following that, the shutdown will allow Encore to work around the clock to get the work done that has been held up due to Eversource running behind.
Monti said the corridor will be open to pedestrians and bicycles during the 10-week shutdown. To be clear, though, the roads will be open for drivers, but it will be more than difficult to get through at all hours of the day. So, they are suggesting people use other ways to get places like the airport, the Produce Center and other areas. “For all intents and purposes, it’s closed because anyone who goes down there will sit in traffic for three hours,” he said. “We want to send a message to people who use that corridor. If you’re a cabbie going to or coming from the airport, you have to take the Tobin and pay the toll. If you’re a delivery driver for Amazon, we don’t want you in that area because this work needs to get done. If you’re a driver for the Produce Center, we encourage you to take Rt. 16 and Second Street into Chelsea.”
The opening of the fully-completed Clark Avenue Middle School is just about one month away, and work crews are finishing up the final preparations to welcome students into the completed new school project – after more than three years and two phases of construction.
“I think we’re shooting for substantial completion by the middle of August,” said Gerry McCue of the Chelsea Schools. “Teachers go back on Aug. 27 and students come into the new school on Aug. 29. We expect to have the school operational then. There will be punch list items to get to, but nothing major will be left.”
The completion of Phase 2 will mark the end of the $57 million project that started under former City Manager Jay Ash, and was carried out by City Manager Tom Ambrosino and the School Department.
Already, Phase 1 opened in December 2017, and students and teachers have been using half of the school since that time. The former building, the Old Chelsea High, had been completely demolished earlier this year to make way for Phase 2.
Demolition of the other side of the old high school started in March 2015, when the project first got off the ground.
With the addition of the Phase 2 building, the school will be introduced to many of the amenities, including the gym, an auditorium, a small performance stage, the library, technology labs, art rooms, music rooms, an administrative suite and the new front courtyard facing Crescent and Clark Avenues.
“In addition to things like the gym, there will be a smaller performance space and things can be done on that stage and the cafeteria can be used for seating,” he said. “Larger productions can be done in the auditorium. That’s important because the Clark Ave is the feeder program for the Chelsea High Drama Club, so they have an emphasis on music and performing arts at the Clark Avenue.”
The courtyard will be a very welcome addition to the school and the neighborhood, he said. The space was designed to open up to Crescent and Clark Avenues so that the buildings are pushed back and the space seem more open and inviting. He said the possibilities are endless for the new space.
“We could do outdoor performances or in the summer the City could have a movie night for the neighborhood out there,” he said. “There will be seating and decking in the courtyard. There will also be a school garden there too. There has been a big emphasis on school gardens across the district and the Clark Ave will have one too.”
He said that the top floors are pretty much completed, and many classrooms are set up now. He said the bottom floor is still having work done – as the contractor started from the top and worked down.
As it is, the action is aplenty on the site as the final work is completed.
“There’s just a lot of activity there now and it will be non-stop until the first day of school,” he said.
The Clark Avenue School is expected to have 668 students when it opens in August.
Last week, Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) and his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate passed comprehensive legislation to reduce youth access to tobacco and nicotine products. The bill raises the minimum legal sales age for all tobacco products to age 21 and adds vaping products to the smoke free workplace law.
Also included in the omnibus bill is language from Sen. DiDomenico’s bill to prohibit the sale of tobacco and nicotine delivery products in pharmacies and other health-care institutions. In 2014, CVS Pharmacy announced that it would stop tobacco based sales in their local pharmacies, and at least 160 Massachusetts communities have also banned tobacco sales in their local pharmacies. This legislation would require all other pharmacies to follow suit.
“It’s no secret that tobacco and nicotine use remains one of the leading causes of preventable illness and death across our nation, so it only makes sense that our health care institutions and pharmacies end the practice of carrying these harmful products,” said Senator DiDomenico, Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “I would like to thank Public Health Committee Chairman Jason Lewis for making this a top priority and including this as a key provision of this critical piece of legislation.”
Tobacco use and nicotine addiction remains the leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in Massachusetts, responsible for more than $4 billion in annual health care costs to the Commonwealth. Youth are particularly susceptible to nicotine addiction, with 9 in 10 cigarette smokers begin using before age 18.
While youth smoking has declined considerably in the last two decades, youth use of other addictive tobacco products like e-cigarettes is increasing sharply. While nicotine delivery products like e-cigarettes may sometimes help some nicotine-addicted adults to stop smoking traditional cigarettes, they present a significant new threat to the health and wellbeing of young people who have not previously used tobacco products.
“Raising the legal sales age for tobacco is an incredible public health achievement that will save lives, prevent addiction and ensure a healthier future for generations of Massachusetts youth,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “This legislation protects young adults whose minds and bodies are still developing, and is a proven strategy for nicotine addiction prevention. I am proud that the Senate has voted to approve this bill.”
“Massachusetts has long been a leader in protecting and strengthening public health,” said Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health and the bill’s lead sponsor in the Senate. “This comprehensive legislation will once again put the Commonwealth at the forefront of preventing youth addiction to tobacco and nicotine products, in order to improve health, save lives, and reduce healthcare costs.”
To directly target youth use, this legislation increases the legal sales age for tobacco products from 18 to 21. This is a proven and effective strategy to reduce youth tobacco use because it removes legally purchased tobacco products from high school social networks. The Institute of Medicine projects that increasing the age from 18 to 21 will reduce overall tobacco use in a population by 12% – the equivalent of 150,000 Massachusetts tobacco users.
Youth use of e-cigarettes has also grown alarmingly, becoming a pervasive presence in our high schools. The provisions in this bill build upon the regulations promulgated in 2016 by Attorney General Maura Healey, and ensure that the places that are tobacco free will also be vape free, including schools, restaurants and workplaces.
Other provisions included in the bill include new authority granted to the Department of Public Health to regulate new, emerging tobacco products and language requiring the Center for Health Information and Analysis to study the current tobacco cessation benefits offered by commercial insurers, MassHealth, and the Group Insurance Commission.
Many cities and towns have enacted policies to reduce tobacco use and nicotine addiction that go beyond current state and federal laws and regulations, creating a patchwork of different laws across the commonwealth that can confound retailers, distributors, consumers and public health officials. This legislation will provide a uniform statewide set of rules that protect youth and simplify the interaction between our state and local laws.
The bill now returns to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where the bill has formerly been engrossed, for enactment.
Chelsea Record photographer Katy Rogers has won three awards for her photography in the first-ever ‘Welcome to Chelsea’ photo contest, which was announced this week.
Record Photograper Katy Rogers took first in the People of Chelsea category with this photo entitled ‘Maggie and William.’
More than 40 photographs were contributed by amateur and professional photographers in the first “Welcome to Chelsea Photo Contest” over the spring. The contest was presented by Chelsea Prospers, the City of Chelsea’s initiative for vitality in the downtown, and the Facebook group Chelsea MA Photography Club coordinated by photographer and former City Councilor Matt Frank.
The judging panel included Darlene DeVita, an award-winning fine art photographer; Matt Frank, a former City Councilor and photographer who initiated the Chelsea MA Photography Club; State Rep. Roselee Vincent, a champion for the arts and former member of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development; Suzy Chavez, a local painter whose decorative murals and “Welcome to Chelsea” signs can be seen in key locations throughout the city; Marianne Ramos, a self-taught “outsider artist” and longtime Chelsea resident who serves as Program Coordinator for the Chelsea Senior Center; and Alex Train, artist and Assistant Director of the Department of Planning and Development for the City of Chelsea.
The judging panel selected three winning images in four categories along with a Best in Show award. They also nominated images for the public to select a People’s Choice winner. Voting for People’s Choice is now open through July 31 at https://tinyurl.com/ChelseaPeoplesChoice.
Rogers is a photographer who lives in Everett, though her backyard is actually in Chelsea. She attended Monserrat College, and is the founder of Katy Rogers Photography. She works for the Record, and its sister publications in Everett, Charlestown and Revere.
All of the winning images will be reproduced in large print format and will be on public display this fall at Gallery 456, the storefront gallery at 456 Broadway. A community reception will be scheduled in September for the public to meet and celebrate with the photographers. At the conclusion of the exhibit, the winners will take home their high-quality, framed images with the Best in Show and People’s Choice winners receiving additional prizes.
The Chelsea Licensing Commission has put on hold the ban of small liquor bottles (100 ml) after a hearing Tuesday night where numerous package store owners from the City came forward to protest the change.
The hearing came on the heels of the ban of “nip” bottles last month, with Chelsea being the first municipality to ban the sale of the one-shot bottles of liquor. That was to be followed up with the potential ban of small liquor bottles too. However, Chair Mark Rossi said the strong turnout from the liquor licensees in the City caused the Board to pause.
“They told us this would essentially put them out of business,” said Rossi. “The sales of small liquor bottles have been up since the ban on nips and the liquor stores were supplementing the lost income from nips with the 100 ml bottles. The positive on this is there was actually a dialog. This is the first time that has happened. Chelsea is the first municipality that has pub in a ban on nips. Based on that, it showed the community is serious about this issues. All parties considered this a problem.”
He said about half of the 16 package store license holders were at the meeting, which lasted more than two hours.
The result is the ban has been put on hold, but a special meeting has been called for Aug. 28 and a voluntary ban has been called for.
“We are calling a special meeting to address this and pick up where we left off,” Rossi said. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen something like this.”
He said the liquor license holders were asked as a show of good faith to meet with the Police Department and voluntarily ban 100 ml bottles (particularly McCormack’s and Ruble) within 30 days. While the License Commission rarely meets in the summer, Rossi said they would call the special meeting for an update, with the hope being the ban can work informally.
Police Chief Brian Kyes said he is still for the ban, but was encouraged by the willingness of the liquor license holders during the meeting.
“Although the Chelsea Police strongly encourages the commission to proceed with the ban as proposed, I am encouraged that these licensed businesses are engaged in dialogue with the commission, the community and understanding their role in this serious issue,” he said. “Moving forward, we will continue to focus enforcement on any business that violates City licensing rules and state law, especially those that have such an adverse effect on the community.”
But not all was lost in the matter, which is an issue pushed by residents and several city councilors, including Councilor Roy Avellaneda.
Rossi said it was impressed on the liquor license holders that they need to be more connected to the community. He said it was interesting to note that none of them were as involved as they thought they were – particularly in things like the Chamber of Commerce or the local non-profits.
“The idea is we’re not looking to push anyone out of business, but to address a systemic, decades-old problem everyone agrees exists in Chelsea,” he said. “This is a positive step forward to address that issue…It’s important liquor store owners realize they are members of the community and aware of their actions on others. No one wants to go to the hair salon next to a liquor store where they have to step over the urine-soaked body of a perons passed out in the doorway.”
In response to the U.S. border crisis, and the recent ruling by the Supreme Court to uphold the Trump Administration’s travel ban for some Muslim countries, local community leader Veronica Robles has decided to host an uplifting celebration of all cultures that call East Boston and America home.
The Veronica Robles Cultural Center will presents the first annual Uniting Borders Multicultural Festival, a festival for everyone, this Saturday, June 30 from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Suffolk Downs.
“The goal with this festival is to gather as community and highlight local talent and grassroots organizations to celebrate the diverse and rich cultures of our city,” said Robles. “As part of the ceremony we will offer the Ethnic Award to East Boston and Chelsea Police Departments, The Harborkeepers, Chelsea Police Department and the Jossour Moroccan Association of Revere.”
The event will feature 2005 Billboard’s Artist of the Year, Domenic Marte, and the Moroccan band, Stars of Boston, as well as thrity other local performers of music, songs and ethnic dance.
Activities for children will include bouncy houses, arts and crafts, magicians, clowns and more. “And you can’t have a multicultural event without food,” joked Robles. “Food will include tacos, arepas, hotdogs, pizza and food trucks North East of the Border and Perros Paisa, and Los Chamos.”
Robles said the program will kickoff at 12 p.m. with youth talent and dance groups including Yorgelis Williams La Voz Kids, Jossue “El Rancherito de Oro” La Voz Kids, Sebastián Medina, Alexander Taborda, Tomas Mira, the Veronica Robles Cultural Center Dancers and many more.
“Live bands will hit the stage at 1:30 p.m. starting with the pop band Karina Rae pop band, followed by the Moroccan band, Stars of Boston,” said Robles. “They will be followed by Jimador Musical a Mexican Norteño band, Grupo Los Nítidos a Salvadoran Music band, Eduardo Betancourt and Carolina Montes a Venezuelan Ensemble, Con Sabor Colombiano from Colombia, Na Bangela from Brazil and Panadictos, a Spanish rockband.”
Tickets are $20 if purchased online at www.eventbrite.com/e/multicultural-fest-uniting-borders-tickets-46871222087 or $25 at the door. Children under 12 and seniors are free.
The guests at the retirement celebration for popular Chelsea Public Schools official Gerry McCue gave him a
Assistant Supt. of Schools Sarah Kent, Human Resources Director Tina Sullivan, Deputy Supt. of Schools Linda Breau, and Supt. of Schools Dr. Mary Bourque make a special presentation to their retiring colleague, Gerry Mccue
prolonged standing ovation.
“I’m not done yet,” McCue politely told the crowd.
McCue continued his farewell speech, and when the guests knew he was done, they stood up again and showed their gratitude to a man who truly made a positive impact in Chelsea.
McCue, executive director for administration and finance for the Chelsea Public Schools, was honored at a retirement party June 14 at the Winthrop Yacht Club.
At the request of Supt. of Schools, Dr. Mary Bourque, McCue took a seat in a chair at the front of the hall as colleagues and associates took the podium to laud his 26 years of service in the Chelsea School Department.
Kelley and Lindsey McCue, his two daughters, spoke of how “our father has always led by example and he will be a tough act to follow.”
“Our dad has always been a role model, not only for his family, but for also for his extended family. He has a tremendous work ethic, he’s a compassionate leader, and a true advocate for the community he has worked in. Chelsea has been his home away from home for the past 26 years. Thank you for joining us tonight to celebrate Gerry’s next chapter in life which I’m sure will be filled with the same reward and fulfillment he’s had during his career here.”
Bourque said when she asked colleagues across the school district to describe Gerry McCue in one word, “we got, patient, listener, passionate, caring, dedicated, smart – but universally everyone one said, ‘calm.”
Bourque praised McCue’s wit and humor and his ability to remain calm no matter the chaos.
“Gerry, thank you for taking a risk on Chelsea public schools back in 1992 when the city was in receivership and the schools were not doing well,” said Bourque. “But we are a better school system because you have been here and I am a better superintendent because I have had the honor of working with you as an assistant superintendent, deputy superintendent, and superintendent.”
In a warm and gracious speech, McCue said how much he enjoyed his work in Chelsea and being part of the Chelsea community at-large. He thanked his colleagues and his family for their support during his career and said the city will always have a special place in heart.
The two standing ovations said it all about the high esteem in which Gerry McCue was held and the valuable contribution he made to the Chelsea schools.
As Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson said afterwards, “This was a great tribute, a wonderful celebration for a true professional.”
A senior associate from the Collins Center at UMass Boston has been chosen as the new School Department executive director of Administration and Finance, replacing long-time director Gerry McCue – who will retire this summer after 26 years at the post.
Monica Lamboy, a Charlestown resident, has accepted the position and will start on July 1 in the critical School Department position.
“In these changing times in our City and within our schools, Ms. Lamboy’s extensive background in financial and administrative management, organizational development, strategic and long range planning for both municipalities and for schools makes her uniquely qualified to step into the position of Executive Director of Administration and Finance,” wrote Supt. Mary Bourque.
Lamboy holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Princeton University and a Masters in City and Regional Planning from the University of California. For the last seven years, she has worked as a Senior Associate for the University of Massachusetts, Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management.
The Collins Center was the same organization used to conduct and choose the City Manager in Chelsea a few years ago.
As Senior Associate at the Collins Center, Lamboy has served as team leader working with municipal and school executives, and elected officials across the state on finance-related efforts including financial forecasts, financial policies, and capital improvement plans. Her organizational studies and strategic planning projects include economic development plans and trend reports which analyzed changes in population, business, housing, transportation, and infrastructure. She has led a team for the Brookline public schools that studied the district’s central administration, instructional and educational programs, special education, information technology functions, and salary structures all with recommended changes for efficiency and efficacy.
Prior to her work with the Collins Center she served the City of Somerville, District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.), and the City of Oakland in multiple departments and in various capacities. In the City of Oakland, she served as Special Assistant to the Superintendent for Business Services for the Oakland Unified School District.
While Massachusetts has led the nation with health care reform, residents of the Commonwealth continue to lack basic access to primary and specialty care across the state. Poor patient access to care, an uncontrolled opioid epidemic and rising healthcare costs together present a perfect storm. Many states however, have been proactive about removing practice barriers to increase access to NP driven care.
While other states have taken steps to position the NP workforce to meet rising needs, antiquated and unnecessarily restrictive laws and licensing requirements leave Massachusetts as one of only 13 states in the nation – and the only state in New England – that continues to maintain a such a restrictive nurse practice act. The unintended consequence of health reform is access to healthcare coverage without the same level of access to health care. Without intervention for those patients seeking health care in Massachusetts, it is not likely to improve.
There are 9,500 qualified, educated Nurse Practitioners available to meet the healthcare challenges facing the Commonwealth. NPs are licensed, board certified and have achieved a master’s or doctoral degree. With documented high quality outcomes, they are equipped to fill the gaps, enhance access to care, provide life-saving treatment for opioid use disorder and deliver a much-needed cost savings to the Commonwealth – and to patients. In failing to use NPs to the full extent of their education and training to optimize the state’s healthcare delivery system, Massachusetts is missing an opportunity to best serve patients.
For patients seeking access to basic healthcare services in Massachusetts, including both primary and specialty care, restricted NP practice contributes to longer wait times. Research supports that for those patients seeking a new family medicine appointment, access delays in the Commonwealth are amongst the worst in the nation. Faced with longer wait times for appointments and contending with significant delays in care, patients may risk adverse health outcomes or rely on more costly care delivery settings, such as emergency rooms, for treatment.
Like the rest of the nation, the Commonwealth is experiencing an escalating number of opioid related deaths. According to the MA Department of Public Health, in 2016 there were 2,155 reported opioid related deaths in Massachusetts. Heartbreaking stories of neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family members dying from overdoses have become too familiar. All available resources must be leveraged to combat this public health crisis, including access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), which has proven to be lifesaving. Nationally, NPs have contributed significantly to treating this disease. However, in Massachusetts, antiquated and unnecessarily restrictive laws and regulations mandating physician supervision for NP prescriptive practice are limiting the ability of NPs to respond to the epidemic. For those patients with opioid use disorder, such delays in receiving care can be life-threatening.
In 2009, a study by the Rand Corporation evaluating access and cost of care estimated Massachusetts could save millions of dollars through increased utilization of NPs. Despite these recommendations, the state has still not acted. Office visits with an NP are 20 – 35 percent lower in cost than physician driven visits, without compromise in quality outcomes. Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers presently reimburse NPs at rates that are 75-85 percent of the physician rate. As Healthcare costs continue to increase, utilization of NPs in care is a viable and responsible way to help bring costs down.
Presently, there is legislation pending on Beacon Hill, which will remove barriers impeding Nurse Practitioners’ ability to practice to the full extent of their training and education. H.2451/S.1257, An Act to Contain Health Care Costs and Improve Access to Value Based Nurse Practitioner Care as Recommended by the IOM and FTC, will modernize Massachusetts licensure laws and grant Full Practice Authority to Nurse Practitioners in Massachusetts, thus removing the requirement for physician oversight for NP prescriptive practice. In doing so, NPs will be better positioned to respond to the evolving care delivery needs of the Commonwealth. Increased access to basic healthcare, specialty services and opioid use disorder treatment all mean significant cost savings for the Commonwealth.
As registered nurses with advanced master’s or doctoral level education and national certification in advanced practice nursing specialties, Nurse Practitioners have the knowledge and experience needed to deliver high-quality, cost-effective healthcare to patients.
Stephanie Ahmed, DNP, FNP-BC
Chair of the Massachusetts Coalition of Nurse Practitioners’ Legislative Committee and Former MCNP President
The newly established Community Preservation Committee will lead Chelsea’s use of funds provided by the Community Preservation Act (CPA).
Chelsea voters approved the adoption of the CPA in November 2016. It will provide hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to be used for the creation and acquisition of affordable housing, historic preservation, open space and recreation.
Nine members appointed to the Community Preservation Committee are: Bea Cravatta, Judith Dyer, Caroline Ellenbird, Jose Iraheta, Michelle Lopez, Yahya Noor, Ron Robinson, Juan Vega, and Tuck Willis. Five members, by statute, represent City boards and commissions. The remaining four members are appointed by the Chelsea City Manager with the following requirements for each of the seats: one seat requires expertise in open spaces, housing and/or historical preservation; one seat requires expertise in development, business, finance, and/or construction; and the two remaining seats will be for individuals with a history of community involvement.
Community Preservation Committee (CPC) members serve a three-year term in a volunteer capacity, and must be residents of Chelsea. The CPC’s primary responsibilities include: approving an administrative budget for the City’s Community Preservation program; developing an annual Community Preservation Plan; reviewing project applications and making recommendations for funding approval. Further, CPC members are required to meet with regularity and engage with community groups throughout the City as needed.
The Committee is organized by John DePriest, AICP, Director, City of Chelsea Department of Planning and Development. An RFP has been prepared to hire a Professional Planning consultant services to develop the Community Preservation Plan. The Community Preservation Committee solicits and reviews proposals for use of the Community Preservation Act funds and makes recommendations on how funds should be used. The funding of any project requires a recommendation from the committee.
For more information go to: https://www.chelseama.gov/community-preservation-committee.