The development team of The Neighborhood Developers (TND) and Traggorth Development will appeal last month’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) decision to reject their 42-unit waterfront development on upper Broadway.
TND Director Rafael Mares and David Traggorth, principal of Traggorth, said they believe the project still has great value for Chelsea and for those that are being priced out of the city.
“We were motivated to propose this project because Chelsea residents are being priced out of their own city and there is an overwhelming need for all kinds of affordable housing options,” they wrote in an op-ed to the Record. “We have chosen to appeal the Zoning Board of Appeals decision because we still believe that this site offers a unique opportunity to meet critical community needs.”
Any appeal of a ZBA decision goes to Suffolk Superior Court for a hearing.
The ZBA narrowly defeated the proposal after the company engaged in several community meetings, and even changed the project after neighborhood input – lowering the height on one side and adding some market-rate units.
However, at the ZBA, the call came to reject the plan in favor of home ownership opportunities.
Chief among the opponents was Councillor Roy Avellaneda, who said the city needed people who were buying and intending to stay to preserve the community.
The op-ed said the developers agree with the idea that there needs to be more ownership, but they said they project on Broadway could not work out financially because of environmental costs.
“It is clear from the comments of those who spoke for and against the project that members of our community would like to see more opportunities for residents of Chelsea to own their own homes,” they wrote. “We agree. Opponents of the project argued that rejecting our proposal would encourage the development of homeownership opportunities and discourage more development of apartments for rent. However, the rejection of our proposal will not create any homeownership opportunities, let alone affordable ones. The limitations and costs of complying with Chapter 91 make for-sale condominiums not feasible at this site.”
While they said they want to work with the City to find ways to develop more homeownership opportunities, they also said this project was for the critical affordable housing needs of those being displaced.
This project was designed to serve current Chelsea residents who are clearly in critical need of affordable housing,” the wrote. “It is for this reason that while we work with City officials to envision how more homeownership can be built and advocate for more resources to do so, we will continue to advocate for this project.”
The Corcoran Development team and the Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) are ready to kick-off discussion on their new plan to re-develop the Innes Housing Development into a 330-unit, mixed-income development in two phases.
The plan has been tried before, but was derailed early on, and now with a new financing plan, and some new additions to the old plan, the team believes they have something that the existing residents and the community will be proud of.
The 96 public housing units will be re-developed with 40 middle-income (80 to 120 percent of the AMI) units and 194 market rate units. The project will go in two phases to reduce relocation of residents – with none believed to have to leave Chelsea or any CHA properties.
There will be 226 parking spaces on site, and the developer has said they are willing to do traffic and parking studies to perhaps help the overall neighborhood with street parking.
“The whole reason we’re here is they need new housing for existing residents, but it’s a great opportunity to also develop market rate units alongside it and take advantage of the Silver Line,” said Ronnie Slamin of Corcoran. “It is privately funded. That helps us speed up the process so we don’t have to go through the process of applying for tax credits…We’re also going to be providing amenities and services to the existing residents to improve their schooling. We want to provide services for them to be able to go from public housing to middle income housing to a market rate unit. That’s the goal. We’re planning services like financial literacy, job training, and local hiring events.”
Resident Jean Fulco said tenants are very excited at Innes.
“There is no place to play for the kids now,” she said. “We need bigger rooms. The rooms are too small and bigger cabinets and everything up to date.”
Added resident Melissa Booth, “It would be great to get new apartments and get a new playground. I have two young children and there isn’t a lot of places for them to play here. It’s cramped at the existing playground. The new plan has a bigger playground and it will be a great place for everyone to come and play. It will become a place that kids want to come back to if they want to stay in the area.”
Each of the units will be identical, she said, and no one unit – whether public housing or market rate – will be different.
“There’s not going to be a rich door and a poor door here,” she said.
CHA Director Al Ewing said the lease will be for 99 years with Corcoran, which is the maximum allowed by law. While other such deals are 15 to 35 years, he said they have chosen to go for the maximum.
“It’s important we have this public private partnership so we can have a new development,” he said. “You can’t improve this. You have to replace it. It’s like when you have an old car. At some point, it doesn’t make financial sense to fix it anymore. You have to go and get a new car. That’s where we’re at.”
And Ewing also said there is a sense of urgency, as state monies dedicated to the project could go away soon if there isn’t movement on the project. That is why they’ve scheduled a meeting with the City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at 6 p.m.
“As state financing goes, when you set it aside money they want to see it spent in a timeframe or they will want to re-allocate,” he said. “They want to see this project show some movement forward or they will re-allocate that money.”
Meanwhile, to fix the previous problems, the project will be asking for a 15-year Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) deal that will allow them to pay a percentage of the taxes in three five-year periods.
The first five years, they would pay 20 percent; the second five years they would pay 40 percent; and the final five years they would pay 50 percent. After that, they would pay the full property taxes due.
Joe Corcoran and Ewing stressed that the City would not be losing any money. Right now, as part of a PILOT program, the City would get $51,000 for Innes over the same 15-year period. Meanwhile, with the TIF in place, they said the City would receive $3.4 million in new revenues.
“Even with the TIF in place, you’re still getting $3.4 million in new revenues because the City would only get $51,000 if things stayed as they are,” he said.
The TIF will be the deal-breaker to close the financing gap and allow the project to pay a prevailing wage – which was what derailed the first project attempt.
On the matter of relocation, Ewing and Slamin said they would be building the project in two phases, with the western 48 units coming down first.
Ewing said they have enough space to house residents in Fitzpatrick and Prattville Developments during relocation in the first phase.
“We believe we will be able to house those relocated in other state family developments in Chelsea,” he said.
Slamin said the developer would pay for all moving and relocation costs for residents displaced in the first phase.
A recent Chelsea Community Workshop on the Community Preservation Act (CPA) witnessed a vibrant community come out to speak about future investments they want to see in their respective neighborhoods, and the newly-established Community Preservation Committee (CPC) said they are there to help residents accomplish those goals.
Taking place in the main room of Chelsea’s senior center, residents poured in at on Sept. 27, and listen to local committee members present the growing potential of tax revenues collected as part of the CPA, which was passed in Nov. 2016 by Chelsea voters. To date, there has yet to be any projects designated for development by CPA funds.
Jennifer Goldson, founder and Managing Director for JM Goldson, presented the main purpose of the community workshop. Goldson presented the most viable options to the community and get them the most for their money’s worth, while also collecting their opinions on the matter to engage the community’s wants directly.
“We have to prioritize how we use that money and be smart about it,” Goldson said.
Goldson said an estimated $1.46 million has been collected from taxpayers for the CPA in 2017-18, and is available for future investment possibilities.
The CPA, which was passed with 66.5 percent of the vote, allows Chelsea to have direct control over tax revenue collected through residential and commercial properties at a rate of 1.5 percent, which is also matched by state government assistance. This new tax revenue requires a 10 percent commitment to three categories: historic preservation, community housing, along with open space and outdoor recreation programs.
Totaling 30 percent for these three mandatory categories, the CPC presented varying ideas to the community about how they’d best like to allot the remaining 70 percent.
“As time goes on the priorities of our communities change,” Jose Iraheta, chair of the CPC stated as he greeted the crowd in both English and Spanish, adding “We really need your help to pick between the three brackets.”
Iraheta addressed those in attendance coming in by asking them to tally a total of seven points into the three categories presented for allocating the appropriate tax funds for Chelsea to choose from. Residents walked up to tally their choices with the overwhelming majority of these votes going to community housing funding.
Voting for specific returns in the community proved popular amongst those in attendance, with Goldson conducting a series of small polls to gauge what the public felt was most necessary to invest in from each of the three categories. Additionally, Goldson also asked everyone in attendance to write down their ideas on the paper table covers in order to later collect them and determine which ideas were most eligible.
Presented in a matrix of potential possibilities Goldson displayed a few of the options residents could choose to focus on, including: new housing, home ownership programs, preferences for low-income families, stewardship of historic buildings, creating community gardens or waterfront access, improving existing parks, and preservation of natural resources.
Bea Cravatta, director of Chelsea’s Recreation and Cultural Affairs division, collected information about the demographics of the meeting through a 10 question poll.
“Great turnout today, a good mix of ages, profound interest, and collaboration has been the most exciting thing for me to see,” Cravatta said.
During the last half hour, residents were allowed to take the microphone to represent each table they were sitting at.
Some residents, like former City Councillor Matthew Frank, raised valid concerns.
“Instead of creating new open space, we need to clean up what we already have,” Frank stated in reference to existing open space problems the City already has on the Harbor Walk and other locations.
The CPC must present any and all ideas before City Council for approval after creating a Community Development Plan. The City Council retains the power to approve, deny or lower the allotted funds for project ideas.
The CPC will convene again in November at a date to be announced, and will present their viable future investment options in December.
Airplanes apparently aren’t in the future for state Housing Secretary Jay Ash.
Ash – the former City Manager of Chelsea – told the Record this week that he has no intention right now of pursuing the soon-to-be open job of director at MassPort.
“Secretary Ash is not focused on anything other than the work of the Baker-Polito Administration right now,” read a statement from his office.
MassPort CEO Tom Glynn announced two weeks ago that he would step down from his position next year after a run of several years at the helm of the airport.
That has brought on much speculation about who the next director would be, and more than a few insiders were pitching Ash’s name around the diamond. Many believe Ash would make a good candidate for MassPort, having served in Chelsea and knowing the surrounding community’s well.
An exhibit of contemporary photographs celebrating life in Chelsea will be on display starting Friday, September 14, at Gallery 456. The opening reception takes place that evening from 6 to 8 p.m. at 456 Broadway, Chelsea.
The featured images are large scale reproductions of the winners of the Welcome to Chelsea Photo Contest. Amateur and professional photographers participated with a dozen winners selected by a formal judging panel. The People’s Choice Award decided through online voting by more than 500 votes by people in the community.
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 Representative Roselee Vincent, a champion for the arts and former member of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development; Sury 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 long-time 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.
All of the winning images, submitted digitally, have been reproduced in high-quality, large format canvas prints. These framed works will remain on display on Broadway until mid to late October. At the conclusion of the exhibit the winners will take home their framed prints.
Gallery 456 is a storefront gallery so it is always open. The entire exhibit can be viewed from the sidewalk.
Chelsea Emergency Management/911 Director Allan I. Alpert was honored at a retirement party at Anthony, Malden. Director Alpert (third from left) is pictured with proud members of his family at the celebration, from left, Allan Dickerman and guest, Laraine Alpert, Lindsay Alpert, grandson Devin Alpert (front), Justin Alpert, Jonathan Alpert, and Robert Alpert.
Our Main Streets, mom and pops and storefronts are in many cases the first line of defense and first resource for when a storm hits.
This summer, advocates from the Climate Action Business Association (CABA) are coming to Chelsea to equip small businesses with the tools necessary to be resilient and protected in the face of extreme weather.
The Businesses Acting on Rising Seas (BARS) campaign, is an ongoing project that aims to inform community leaders and small businesses about the urgency of climate change and the need to incorporate climate resilient practices.
The BARS 2016 campaign reached over 500 businesses in Massachusetts, causing the campaign to gain national recognition and our Executive Director Michael Green to receive the White House Champions of Change Award for Climate Equity. This year, we have taken a more tailored approach by creating specific resilience guides for each one of our targeted communities, including city-specific information and resources.
We have worked closely with the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce and the community-based organization, GreenRoots, based in Chelsea to create useful, informative, and low-cost steps that small businesses can take to improve their preparedness in the face of climate change. During the week of July 16, be sure to keep an eye out for CABA as we conduct our outreach campaign among the small business community in Chelsea or contact us before then to schedule an interview with us and become part of the BARS campaign.
If you would like more information, contact Kristin Kelleher at email@example.com or call (617) 863 7665.
The Healthy Chelsea Coalition has just launched a new website.
Heathy Chelsea was founded in 2010 when obesity was identified as the city’s top health concern through a community health needs assessment (CHNA) conducted by Mass General’s Center for Community Health Improvement.
Two years later, the coalition voted to expand its focus as residents and community partners identified substance use and its effects, including violence and public safety, as the city’s top health concern. From its inception, Healthy Chelsea has enjoyed substantial support from City leadership including the City Manager, Director of Health and Human Services, the School Department, Chelsea Police Dept. and others.
Through the new website, Jennifer Kelly, Director of Healthy Chelsea, is “excited to showcase all the great work that we are doing with our community partners. We also hope to educate residents about our programs and to encourage their participation in these important efforts.”
Coalition priorities featured on the site center around healthy eating and living strategies in both the schools and larger community; the Youth Food Movement (YFM) internship program, which allows high school and middle school students to advocate for higher-quality food in their school; promoting a trauma sensitive city; increasing community connection; and, a relatively new initiative focused on early childhood development.
Kelly is especially happy to talk about the recently funded youth substance use prevention work. Through a federal Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant and state Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative (SAPC) initiative, the coalition has hired two new staff members who are engaging youth and parents while also working with various community partners to implement proven strategies to reduce substance use disorders.
Healthy Chelsea is supported by the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI).
Mass General’s Vice President of Community Health, Joan Quinlan, said, “We are so proud of the work that Healthy Chelsea is doing and of our strong partnership with the Chelsea community. Now, with the launch of their new website, everyone can learn more about their programs and the significant impact they are making.”
Kelly added, “It’s wonderful to be able to promote what can happen when residents and community partners come together for the health and well-being of their community.”
Visit http://www.healthychelsea.org to learn more about their focus areas and programs; staff profiles; community partners; news and upcoming events; and, much more.
The historic rotunda skylight above the circulation desk at the Chelsea Public Library has served for decades as a nice ceiling, but few knew that the elegant egg-shaped ceiling was designed to provide beautiful natural lighting to the striking entrance of the historic library.
Now everyone knows.
The rotunda above the foyer of the library was completed last Friday, June 15, and made a bright showing for patrons when the library opened on a sunny Monday.
Library Director Sarah Jackson said the rotunda is one part of several small, but effective, renovations that have occurred in the last three years at the library – which had been showing its age severely when she took over three years ago.
“The rotunda is original to the 1910 building, so that means it was 108 years old,” she said. “It certainly got its use, but it was time to replace it. The skylight is new and they re-built the entire structure off-site and moved it back on. It was one of the most extensive renovations that company has done. It was structurally deficient and leaked badly. There has been a tarp over it since I’ve been here. It lasted over 100 years and we decided to make it as historically accurate as possible, but with a modern look.
“It is beautiful and they did a beautiful job,” she continued. “It’s nice to have it open with so much natural light coming in, and we might even be able to see the stars in the winter.”
The rotunda was part of a five-year strategic plan for the building that Jackson wrote with her staff and the Library Trustees three years ago.
Two years ago they began putting new carpeting in the areas most heavily traveled.
Last year, they added more carpet and painted the reference and reading rooms, as well as putting in new lighting there.
“It’s really looking like a brand new building at this point, but with the beautiful details and woodwork still included and not touched,” she said. “It was very dim in the reading rooms, but now that’s changed too.”
Additionally, by getting rid of some of the obsolete books, mostly in the reference section, they were able to create new space at the front of the library to make a Teen Section. There, they have included games, magazines and an area with new furniture for teens to hang out and read.
Jackson said it all came together with very little money and was a way to make the old library new again.
“Every time someone walks in the door, there’s something new that we’ve done that they see,” she said. “I don’t like hearing people come in and say it looks exactly like it did when they were a kid. We’ve tried to change that and the skylight is the bright spot certainly. It didn’t take a lot of money, but really the will and desire to get it done.”
In addition to the great renovations, the library announced that it will be extending its hours to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays through the summer. Previously, they were only open late on Tuesdays.
“We re-arranged the schedule and made it work,” said Jackson. “We were pretty packed on Tuesday nights, so this opens up another evening for programming in the summer.”
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.”