Improvements:City Awarded $1m Byrne Grant to Help Community Safety on Broadway

Improvements:City Awarded $1m Byrne Grant to Help Community Safety on Broadway

The City of Chelsea is pleased to announce that it was awarded a $1 million grant from the US Department of Justice to support community safety improvements.

Chelsea’s grant is just one of eight funded projects nationwide made in this fall’s Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program. The grant leverages community, business, non-profit and city investments in support of greater public safety managed collaboratively through the Chelsea Thrives initiative.

Since mid-2014, when Chelsea Thrives was launched, community leaders have met on a regular basis to align resources in support of greater public safety. Led by an Executive Council with regular participation by 20 civic, business, and municipal leaders, Chelsea Thrives seeks to reduce crime by 30 percent over 10 years and to improve our community’s perception of safety. Since the initiative began, 1,500 residents and 70 institutions have participated, drawing from local and regional government and non- profit agencies and our area’s businesses. Key areas of focus are youth safety, coordination of services to prevent trauma and violence, infrastructure improvements in support of safety, and greater community engagement in support of a safe community.

“Unfortunately Chelsea has historically faced persistent crime problems,” reports City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “Chelsea Thrives had just started to focus on safety when I started my position as City Manager. Safety is a critical component of a vibrant community, every bit as important as quality and affordable homes, good jobs, and high performing schools. Chelsea is making progress with steady reductions in crime year over year since 2013. The support of US Department of Justice will bring us one step closer to our goal of a safe and thriving community.”

The grant’s timeline and activities are designed to dovetail with the City’s Downtown Initiative to create a more welcoming downtown experience. The first phase of the Downtown Initiative is now underway. The Re-Imagining Broadway participatory planning started in January 2017 with construction to occur in 2018-2019. Design goals for the city’s downtown infrastructure investments include improvements to pedestrian safety, public transportation hubs, and traffic flow and deterrence of crime and loitering. The resources made available through the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation grant will further leverage the value of this significant infrastructure investment by providing complementary policing, community revitalization, and social service supports.

In the first year of the grant, a criminologist from the University of Massachusetts Lowell will work with CPD and Chelsea Thrives partners to better understand Chelsea’s crime patterns and locations. With that information in hand, the researchers and community partners will identify appropriate community-based interventions to address crime hot-spots. Included in the grant’s planning phase is a review of ideas proposed by the Chelsea Thrives partners in the grant application, including supports for:

  • The Chamber of Commerce to promote the city’s façade improvement loan program plus technical assistance made available to downtown business and property owners to access and utilize the loans;
  • Downtown festivals and community activities based out of Bellingham and Chelsea Squares;
  • A Roca-led youth work crew to assist with the festivals and downtown improvement projects;
  • Downtown area safety walks and beautification activities managed by The Neighborhood Developers; and
  • Emergency assistance funds for use by the Chelsea Hub, managed by The Chelsea Collaborative.

“Receiving the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation grant award is a testament to the hard work of all of the community leaders and institutions that have dedicated time and energy to the collective work of Chelsea Thrives partnership over the last three years,” says Melissa Walsh, who leads Chelsea Thrives as part of her position at The Neighborhood Developers (TND). “This grant award will bring valuable resources to the City and other community partners in order to continue to make progress on addressing the social drivers of crime and making Chelsea a safer place for all.”

The new Department of Justice grant is the second $1 million investment secured on behalf of Chelsea Thrives from the US Department of Justice. The Safe and Secure Grant has just finished its one-year planning phase and will soon begin implementation to build community capacity for youth opportunity and safety. The Safe and Secure grant responds to the high volume of young people who have recently come to Chelsea from Central America who have experienced harrowing and traumatic journeys. Chelsea Public Schools, CPD, MGH Chelsea Health Care Center, The Chelsea Collaborative, The Neighborhood Developers, and Roca are collaborating to deliver trauma informed care, Overcoming Violence training for all 7th graders, trauma training at Lesley University for CPS teachers, case management and social service supports for at-risk youth, and parent leadership training.

The Chelsea Thrives Executive Council includes representatives from many city departments, residents, businesses and non-profits, including the City Manager, CPD’s Community Services Division, Chelsea Public Schools, People’s AME Church, Bunker Hill Community College, Chelsea Chamber, the Chelsea Collaborative, the Community Enhancement Team, East Cambridge Savings Bank, GreenRoots, Metro Credit Union, MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center, Phoenix Charter Academy, Roca, and The Neighborhood Developers. Monthly meetings are open to all who are able to regularly attend. For information on how to join, contact Melissa Walsh at The Neighborhood Developers at MWalsh@tndinc.org.

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Ambrosino said It’s Time To Invest in City Services

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said this week that he believes it’s time for the City to invest in everything from Broadway infrastructure to more firefighters.

Ambrosino said the City has been very conservative in its financial approach over the years, and thus, the finances are in tremendous shape. Now, he said, it might be time to use some money to enhance resident services and beautify the City.

“I agree (that the City has been conservative) and it probably is time that the City start spending on services,” he said. “I think the infrastructure on the Broadway business corridor should be done. I think we could probably spend more in our departments. I’m thinking in particular DPW and the Fire Department. They probably could use a few more individuals.”

In particular, Ambrosino said he has been taken by the potential of City Hall, Bellingham Square and the Broadway business corridor.

He has asked the Planning Department and The Neighborhood Developers to put a fresh set of eyes on the streetscape and on reconfiguring the Square.

“I think Broadway could require some significant investment to improve its aesthetics in the Bellingham Square and Broadway, down the business corridor… I think we need to make it ‘pop’ a little. It has big bones. It has the people and it has the businesses. It has the right mix of residential above the businesses. Again, it has the bones of being something special, but it really needs some attention.”

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Neighborhood Developers, Winner of 2014 ULI Award

Neighborhood Developers, Winner of 2014 ULI Award

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Terwilliger Center for Housing has selected The Neighborhood Developers’ (TND) Box District as a winner of this year’s Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable and Workforce Housing Award.

ULI’s Terwilliger Center celebrates and promotes the exemplary efforts of real estate and public policy leaders from across the country who are working to expand affordable and workforce housing opportunities. The award was delivered in New York at ULI’s national conference.

The Box District includes 248 new mixed-income apartments and condominiums plus a new park that transformed a former blighted industrial site in Chelsea using a mix of new construction, adaptive reuse of old factories and modular building methods. The redevelopment of the Box District, now a smart growth district that will soon be home to a new Silver Line transit stop, is a result of long-term collaboration between The Neighborhood Developers, Mitchell Properties, and the City of Chelsea. The phased development began with The Neighborhood Developer’s purchase of a vacant factory in the district in 2006.

Prior to TND’s investment in creating the new neighborhood, as box and mattress manufacturers shut down or relocated, the industrial area, near the heart of downtown Chelsea, lay dormant. Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash, a native of Chelsea, often recalls how his mother wouldn’t let him play in the area due to safety concerns. Today many children play in the Box District’s new public park.

The project has benefitted from a series of state initiatives designed to spur redevelopment; including most recently the Housing Development Investment Program to spur market rate housing, coupled with a new Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation loan program that encourages Smart Growth and transit-oriented development. Since the opening of the first apartments in 2008, rental apartments and condos have filled up in spite of a stalled housing market, and the first market-rate development, Atlas Lofts, reached full occupancy a year ahead of schedule. After full build out later this year, 51 percent of the new homes will be market rate, at rent levels previously unheard of for this neighborhood.

The ULI is a global nonprofit education and research institute.

TND’s Ann Houston stated, “We’re incredibly humbled to receive this award from the ULI. Each Box District partner brought skills and resources to the project and a shared vision for the area’s revitalization. That vision saw us through a good number of challenges including the 2008 housing downturn. We’ve made huge inroads into improving the safety, mixed-income housing availability, green space, and public amenities to what was once abandoned part of the city. This neighborhood has helped to set a new standard for Chelsea, and we’re proud to lead the charge.”

The Neighborhood Developers received the ULI award just one week after hosting Federal Reserve Chair Yellen at their offices in Chelsea.

Founded in 1979, TND spent the first 25 years developing great, affordable places to live in Chelsea. In 2006, TND expanded its emphasis from solely building affordable homes to building vital neighborhoods, focusing on both the people and the place. Its programs are delivered in Chelsea and Revere.

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Bubble Fun

Bubble Fun

Five-year-old Madison Tame stretched her arms out wide to try and catch as many bubbles as she could during the annual
Bosson Park Block Party last Saturday, July 19. More than 300 people attended the party, sponsored by The Neighborhood
Developers and the Chelsea Police.

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