The City’s Chelsea
Prospers initiative has been working behind the scenes for months – often
hinting that something fun is coming – and last week they unveiled the Chelsea
Night Market, the newest, biggest plan yet to enliven the downtown district.
Director Mimi Graney has
been working with Chelsea native Edwardo Chacon, of Jukebox Events, to come up
with a summer gathering in the parking lot behind the Chelsea Walk – a ‘Night
Market’ that would take place five times on Saturdays in the summer.
“This is going to be a
reflection of the City in its first year,” said Graney. “As it grows more
popular, you’re going to see the abutting cities like East Boston, Everett and
Revere coming. We want vendors here to be Chelsea residents. We want artists
and performers to be Chelsea residents. We do want to mix it up too. The Night
Market is for the City of Chelsea and for residents.”
The idea was also
championed during a Chelsea Prospers meeting on Feb. 6 by Edwardo Chacon.
Chacon grew up in Chelsea and graduated from Chelsea High School. After that,
he went to college in Florida and then lived in Los Angeles for many years,
doing corporate marketing events with big budgets.
And every time he
returned to Chelsea, he said he could picture some sort of hip, fun market
taking place in his hometown.
Now, having returned to
Chelsea a year ago, he decided to try to help make it happen.
“I always came back and
felt like something like I was doing elsewhere could really happen in Chelsea,”
he said. “I would look at the city and just feel that Chelsea had the right
atmosphere to do these things too and one year ago I moved back and felt like I
had to try. My goal is to do the same things I was doing elsewhere in Chelsea.
I feel Chelsea is a city that’s perfectly located for this and the people
deserve it. They would love it and be filled with a sense of excitement.”
The layout of the event
would be in the City parking lot behind the Chelsea Walk. There would be a
stage for performances, vendor booths in the middle, places for food and an art
installation in the back end. In the future, next year hopefully, the
initiative hopes of have a beer garden in the back end. However, Graney said
they discovered that the laws against public drinking are too strict and
couldn’t be changed in time to accommodate this year’s market.
Many in the audience,
however, were very excited about the idea of a beer garden and talked for some
time about how to make it happen. However, Graney said it is out for this year,
but she did say the enthusiasm in the room for a beer garden would help for
changing the ordinances so next year one could be put in the mix.
Graney said they hope to
have fire jugglers, creative lighting and artists of all kinds. The
entertainment would vary, with the times for the market being from 7-10 p.m.
The tentative dates are
June 8, July 13, Aug. 10, Sept. 21, and Oct. 5.
The first one on June 8,
Graney said, would have a graduation theme since the next day is graduation.
“It’s going to be a
pre-celebration for the high school senior class,” she said. “We have baby
pictures of all of the kids and an artist is creating a collage . There will be
performers from the class and they are really going to be our ambassadors.”
Vendors would be selling
new and used items, and it would be highly curated and very unique. There would
also be service oriented vendors like henna tattoo and chair massage. The food
would be hot and ready to eat street food using BBQ grills and such instead of
“It would be scaled for an intimate, community oriented atmosphere,” read
The Massachusetts State 9-1-1 Department is
pleased to announce that Text to 911is now available throughout the
Commonwealth. All Massachusetts 9-1-1 call centers now have ability to receive
a text message through their 9-1-1 system. The Baker-Polito Administration has
supported making these system enhancements since 2015.
Text to 9-1-1 allows those in need of
emergency services to use their cellular device to contact 9-1-1 when they are
unable to place a voice call.
“This is a significant improvement to our 9-1-1 system that will save
lives,” said Public Safety and Security Secretary Tom Turco. “By giving
those requiring emergency services this option we are greatly expanding the
ability of first responders to provide critical assistance to those in
To contact emergency services by text message, simply enter 9-1-1 in the “To”
field of your mobile device and then type your message into the message field.
It is the same process that is used for sending a regular text message from
your mobile device. It is important to make every effort to begin the text
message indicating the town you are in and provide the best location
information that you can.
“Having the ability to contact a 9-1-1 call
center by text could help those being held against their will or victims of
domestic violence unable to make a voice call,” said Frank Pozniak,
Executive Director of the State 9-1-1 Department. “Text to 9-1-1 also provides
direct access to 9-1-1 emergency services for the deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired,
which is a service that these communities did not have access to until now.”
It is important to note that the 9-1-1 call center may not always have your
exact location when they receive your text. For this reason, when sending a
Text to 9-1-1 it is important to make every effort to begin the text message
indicating the town you are in and provide the best location information that
The State 9-1-1 Department encourages citizens to Text to 9-1-1 only when a
voice call is not possible.
Remember: “Call if you can, text if you can’t.”
Keynote speaker Lucia Robinson-Griggs receives a standing ovation for her speech from the audience, including her parents, Linda Alioto-Robinson and Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson, and City Manager Tom Ambrosino.
The People’s A.M.E. Church, led by the Rev. Dr. Sandra Whitley, and the Chelsea community honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the annual breakfast and awards ceremony Jan. 21 at Chelsea High School.
The Rev. Whitley and the Planning Committee
put together another impressive tribute to the late Dr. King, the civil rights
leader who dedicated his life to promoting unity and delivered one of American
history’s greatest speeches, “I Have A Dream,” on Aug. 28, 1963 in Washington,
City Manager Tom Ambrosino, State Rep. Dan
Ryan, Council President Damali Vidot, Councillors Leo Robinson, Joseph
Perlatonda, and Enio Lopez, School Committee Chair Richard Maronski and member
Yessenia Alfaro, CBC President Joan Cromwell, Latimer Society Co-Director
Ronald Robinson, and Roca Executive Director Molly Baldwin led a slate of
dignitaries in attendance at the tribute that featured, singing, dancing, awards,
and inspirational speeches.
The Chelsea Hub, a network led by the
Chelsea Police Department and comprised of 27 different agencies, received the
prestigious Spirit Award in recognition of its ongoing efforts to help people
facing difficult challenges. Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes, Capt. David
Batchelor, Officer Sammy Mojica, Community Engagement Specialist Dan Cortez,
and Roca Assistant Director Jason Owens were among the award recipients.
The highlight of the program arrived when
Lucia Robinson-Griggs stepped to the podium and delivered the keynote address.
Robinson-Griggs, who holds degrees from
Bentley and Lesley and is a former high school and college scholar-athlete,
rose to the occasion with a heartfelt and eloquent address to the people of
“I’d just like to start by saying thank you
so much for inviting me to be here today to celebrate Chelsea while honoring
the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Robinson-Griggs, adding that
she was honored to be the keynote speaker after receiving the Young Adult
Dreamers and Achievers Award in 2018.
She noted the “I Have A Dream” and “We are
all created equal” theme of the program, stating, ‘it’s incredible how relevant
[Dr. King’s famous speech in 1963] still is here in 2019.”
She encouraged members of the audience to
carry on Dr. King’s legacy “even when it isn’t easy to do so.” She said
everyone should work for a better Chelsea in the years to come.
my words today are going to be a charge for the people in this auditorium to
reach beyond this room and change the perspective,” said Griggs-Robinson.
She singled out the Chelsea High student
choir (who performed at Gov. Baker’s inauguration), the Latimer Society (in
encouraging careers in STEM), and the award recipients, The Chelsea Hub and others,
as being positive influences in the city.
Briggs-Robinson cited her personal
experiences as an associate head coach of the MIT women’s basketball team,
relating how the coaching staff encourages its players to be “a part of the
solution and be a builder, to find the good somewhere and work to help build up
She said that people should be positive in
their actions and in their interactions with others, that even a small act of
kindness or an inspiring phrase or a compliment can have a profound effect on
starting to change another person’s life.
“Kindness catches on,” said Robinson-Briggs.
Strive to be someone’s builder every day. Be their bright spot and give hope
that we can be the generation to make Dr. King’s dream a reality.”
Robinson-Briggs received a warm, standing
ovation as she returned to her seat beside her parents, Councillor-at-Large Leo
Robinson and Linda Alioto-Robinson, and City Manager Tom Ambrosino in the front
row of the auditorium.
The Rev. Whitley concluded the impressive
program by having all audience members join hands and sing “We Shall Overcome.”
And in an unsung
but important gift to the community, CCCTV Executive Director Robert Bradley
and Technical Director Ricky Velez videotaped the entire two-hour program and tribute
to Dr. King, including Robinson-Griggs’ remarks, for broadcast on the local
The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA), and their partner GreenRoots successfully made the case in
MyRWA Director Patrick Herron and GreenRoots Director Roseann Bongiovanni celebrating their successful argument in Washington, D.C., to return funds to the area.
front of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Council to give Mystic communities a chance at $1.3 million in restoration funds.
“This is an opportunity to repair part of the Mystic River watershed by directing funds that resulted from the spill back to the area where the spill occurred,” said Patrick Herron, executive director. “We are excited that our Mystic communities have another shot at this funding.”
In January of 2006, approximately 15,200 gallons of petroleum product was spilled into the Lower Mystic River through an ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. terminal located in Everett. Accordingly, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) charged ExxonMobil with violating the Clean Water Act through negligence at the facility. ExxonMobil signed a plea agreement in 2009 that included a fine, the cost of cleanup, and a community service payment (CSP) that ultimately totaled $1 million to the Massachusetts Environmental Trust and $4.6 million to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) fund. This plea agreement states that the funds should be used exclusively for qualified coastal wetland restoration projects in Massachusetts, with preference to projects within the Mystic River Watershed. During plea proceedings, the NAWCA Council and U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff assured the U.S. Attorney’s office and Judge Saris that a process would be put in place to ensure the CSP funds would be awarded in a manner consistent to the intent of the plea agreement.
All funds managed by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) were immediately put to work on stewardship and water quality improvements in the Mystic River Watershed.
In contrast, no NAWCA funds have come to the Mystic River Watershed. To date, $3 million of the ExxonMobil CSP given to NAWCA have been spent on other projects in the Commonwealth. The NAWCA Council was considering spending the remainder of the money ($1.36 million) on yet another project not in the Mystic. This would bring the amount spent on the Mystic to zero.
Herron and Roseann Bongiovanni, executive director of GreenRoots, made the trip to Washington, D.C., on Dec. 12, to argue that money should be given to the Mystic. Prior to the meeting, David Barlow, Gene Benson and friends at GreenRoots and Conservation Law Foundation developed and submitted formal comment letters to the Council that outlined the history of these funds and the context for preference for the Mystic.
“It was our communities and our waterbodies that were impacted by the spill on that cold January morning and now almost 10 years later, our communities are deserving of the penalty dollars to restore our ecological habitat and bring about environmental justice” said Bongiovanni.
Rincons Latinos Restaurant on Washington Avenue has been no stranger to appearing before the Licensing Commission over the past several months.
At the Thursday, Dec. 6 meeting, it was a case of enough was enough for the licensing commissioners, as they voted to suspend the 373 Washington Ave. restaurant’s liquor license for eight days. The suspension, largely leveled for repeated instances of exceeding the posted capacity of the establishment, will be served during four weekends over December and January.
A police inspection in October found 42 people in the restaurant, well above the posted occupancy limit of 17. Police officials also claimed there was missing signage and insufficient lighting in the restaurant.
Attorney John Dodge, representing Orlando Pineda of Rincons Latinos, argued that his client is planning to install a second handicap accessible bathroom in the restaurant. That move would double the occupancy limit of Rincons Latinos from 17 to 34, he said.
“That is the only thing that has been reducing the occupancy level in the restaurant,” said Dodge. “It isn’t a safety concern in regard to (the number of people) in the restaurant.”
“It’s just breaking the law and not following rules,” countered Mark Rossi, the Licensing Commission chairman.
Dodge said Pineda is doing his best to run a business and will spend upwards of $7,500 to install the new bathroom to comply with regulations.
“Mr. Pineda has put his life and soul into the place, and he lives right upstairs,” Dodge said.
Dodge also noted that the police withdrew a previous charge against the restaurant from the fall that people were illegally bringing cases of beer into and out of the restaurant.
“Mr. Pineda and his brother Ricardo are trying to do the right thing,” Dodge said. “They are doing their best to increase the occupancy. I question the fundamental fairness (of the charges).”
Commission member James Guido took exception to Dodge’s accusation of unfairness.
“They have had plenty of chances,” he said. “The biggest complaint now is the occupancy and we are going to try to deal with that.”
Commission member and Inspectional Services Director Mike McAteer said he has been dealing with the occupancy issue and plans for an additional bathroom since July with no movement on the issue from the Pinedas.
Rossi said Dodge was basically taking a “no harm, no foul” approach to the occupancy violations and that the Pinedas have not made enough effort to address them over the past six months.
“The explanation has been, ehhhhh, it’s a big enough place and nobody got hurt,” Rossi said. “They have not taken the proper steps to alleviate the matter. Now, you are saying give me more time so I can try to make this right.”
The commission members batted around several possible punishments, from a 30-day license suspension to outright revocation, before deciding on the eight-day suspension meted out over four weekends.
Rossi said if the establishment violates the 17-person occupancy limit before approval for expanding to 34 people, it will be subject to license revocation proceedings.
In other business, the commission took its annual vote to allow extended New Year’s Eve hours to 2 a.m.
The commission also approved giving a six-month extension to Samir, Inc. to find a new location to use a wine and malt beverage license.
Lead pipes are often a hidden danger under the streets and sidewalks for a lot of families in Chelsea, but if the City
State Rep. Dan Ryan praised the program and congratulated Chelsea in being proactive to replace lead service lines.
can help it, that danger will be removed one pipe at a time.
On Monday, the MWRA and the Clean Water Action Group awarded the City of Chelsea and GreenRoots for their early adoption of a program that removes, at no cost to the homeowner, lead water service lines while in the process of other infrastructure projects.
Part of that award included a $100,000 grant to help continue the program and remove more lead water lines as the City encounters them during paving or sidewalk repair programs.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said it is a common sense operation, but one that goes the extra step in replacing the line for free – as it usually is the responsibility of the homeowner to pay for the replacement.
“For the last year or more, as we’ve undertaken other construction projects on the streets, when we encounter a lead service line on the street, we are replacing it at no cost to the homeowner,” he said. “The MWRA grant helps ensure we will be able to continue to do that. We all want safe and clean drinking water and having clean water is elemental.”
Over time, lead can leach into drinking water, and studies have shown that lead is a neurotoxin and can affect cognitive abilities with repeated exposure. This is particularly dangerous for children and pregnant women.
“Chelsea is so proactive in doing this,” said MWRA Director Fred Laskey. “They are going through the inventory and going house to house and street to street to get rid of this problem. This is something that should serve as a model in how to prevent the scourge of lead in water. No other community has forged into this.”
Fidel Maltez of the Chelsea DPW said that more than 50 lines have been replaced so far under the program. Some of those were last year and came when they were working on street repairs, including to Shurtleff, Maverick, Clark, Crescent, Lawrence, Tudor and Webster Streets. This year, they will take on Essex Street and will be looking for lead water lines there too.
“Every project moving forward is going to identify and remove these lines with zero cost to the homeowner,” he said.
He said that any homeowner that thinks they might have a lead service line should contact the DPW at (617) 466-4200. They will send out a technician to verify if it is a lead pipe, and if it is, they will put it on a list for completion.
Chelsea 9-1-1 Dispatchers were treated to a full course homemade Thanksgiving Dinner with all the fixings compliments of Emergency Management Director Keith Vetreno and his wife Tina during their Thanksgiving shift. Their act of kindness was greatly appreciated by all. Pictured above are 911 Dispatchers Richard Smith, Paul Koolloian, Emergency Management Director Keith Vetreno and Dispatcher Edward Collina.
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.