Forbes Plan Includes Tower:Concerns Over Density Already Voiced

Forbes Plan Includes Tower:Concerns Over Density Already Voiced

The Forbes Lithograph owners have come back to the City with a plan for 700,000 sq. ft. of development and 630 residential units for the 18-plus acre site on Mill Hill – but they still only have one entrance.

The project has yet to be formally filed, but the City has requested that the owners conduct a serious neighborhood information campaign first, which the company has been doing.

The project has been scaled back significantly from its 1.5 million square foot proposal two years ago that included skyscrapers, hotels, restaurants and about 1,000 units of housing.

The current plan would have 630 units, including several units in a 16-story building. The remainder of the units would be in a couple of other smaller buildings. The would be a small amount of commercial space, with retail and office workspace uses.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said it has been scaled back, but the City will not take a stand on it until the company files with the Zoning Board in July.

“It’s significantly less dense than the plan three years ago,” he said. “They can build the units by right as they meeting the density requirement. They will definitely need some zoning relief and the City has encouraged them to together with stakeholders and their parking access plan.”

There is still some question about the access, which comes from one bridge that would be rebuilt. Another access point over the Creek will not be part of the development.

“They explained it was just cost prohibitive with the decrease in units,” he said.

Already GreenRoots has met with them twice and that organization believes that the project is still too much.

“At both meetings, GreenRoots’ staff and members, as well as adjacent residents, voiced concern over the size and density of the project; the impacts on adjacent neighborhoods including on elementary school pedestrians and traffic and public transportation; and how the public access improvements to the Chelsea Creek waterfront would not be welcoming to the community at-large,” said Director Roseann Bongiovanni. “In short, this project must be scaled back significantly. A development in the likeness of Assembly Row cannot be built in a small neighborhood that does not have property access roads into and out of the site.”

Councillor Joe Perlatonda also has numerous concerns about the proposal. He said he has met with the developer, along with Councillor Leo Robinson, recently.

“First of all, there needs to be a two-way access to get in and out of this property which the only way the city would allow this is through a bridge connecting from the site to Rt. 1A, which will cost millions of dollars,” he said. “And what about the cleanup? Do we know if the land is contaminated? Is there a solution for pest control to combat the rodents? How long will this project take?… This will take years to develop even if this gets off the ground.

My fellow councillor and I would like to see a development that would consist of duplexes and single-family homes to keep up with the neighborhood.”

Read More

Former TND Director Ann Houston to Depart, become CEO of Merged Non-Profit

Former TND Director Ann Houston to Depart, become CEO of Merged Non-Profit

The Neighborhood Developers (TND) announced this week in a release ahead of its 40th Anniversary celebration that long-time Executive Director Ann Houston will be departing to become the new CEO of a new, merged community development corporation.

“TND will honor outgoing Executive Director Ann Houston as she takes on the new role of CEO of Opportunity Communities, where she will continue to provide leadership and vision to TND through this exciting new partnership,” read the announcement.

Houston was not immediately available for comment on the move.

TND declined to comment on the matter as well this week.

The announcement indicated Houston would be the new CEO of Opportunity Communities.

That new collaboration is with Roxbury’s Nuestra Communidad Community Development Corporation (CDC), a partnership between that organization and TND that launched in April.

“In April 2018, we launched a company for back office operations known as Opportunity Communities (OppCo) with a sister organization, The Neighbor Developers (TND), based in Chelsea,” read the website for the new partnership. “This is our newest partnership, designed to achieve better results for the Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan neighborhoods we serve. There is no change to Nuestra’s board, staff, leadership, mission, office, programs, projects, agreements, relationships and commitments to neighbors and local stakeholders.

“This new company allows Nuestra and TND to combine our back office operations and staff,” it continued. “By centralizing our accounting, purchasing, data collection, HR, IT and other management functions, Nuestra can most efficiently deliver high-quality, effective services and programs for Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan.”

Houston has been the face of TND since it planted its flag in the Box District many years ago and built out several blocks of what used to be derelict industrial properties. Using a formula of creating civic awareness in a mixed-income development of subsidized and market-rate housing, TND created a successful model in the Box District.

Since that time, they have developed other properties in Chelsea, including the old American Legion Post that houses homeless veterans in supportive housing. They are currently developing the old French Club into affordable housing.

In year’s past, TND moved into Revere to develop affordable and senior housing there. It has just expanded to Everett, where a proposal is on the table for a large senior housing development there on the former site of St. Therese’s Church campus.

Read More

The Estates on Admiral’s Hill to Celebrate Spring with Open House

The Estates on Admiral’s Hill to Celebrate Spring with Open House

The Estates on Admiral’s Hill, part of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare, will hold a Spring Open House for its two assisted living residences in Chelsea on Thursday, April 26 from 2-5 p.m. This event is the perfect opportunity to see what life at an assisted living is all about.

There will be one-on-one consultations with Executive Director Yari Velez and Director of Admissions Kristen Donnelly; they will provide tours as well as answer any questions about senior living.

Located on scenic Admiral’s Hill at 201 Captains Row in Chelsea, The Estates is comprised of a traditional assisted living residence, Cohen Florence Levine Estates, and a specialized and memory care residence, Florence & Chafetz Home for Specialized Care. Amenities include fresh, delicious meals, cozy café with home-made baked goods, hair and nail salon, library, living room, great room for concerts and shows, welcoming dining room with private chef and outdoor courtyard area for seasonal recreational activities.

“We are thrilled to open our doors and invite the public to this special spring time celebration,” states Yari Velez, Executive Director of the Estates. “Our staff and our residents are looking forward to meeting area seniors and their families. Spring is a time of new beginnings and moving to an assisted living can be a wonderful change. You’ll meet new friends, have access to first class amenities and, most importantly, enjoy a worry-free lifestyle.”  Velez added, “Our residents are so important to us – they really are like family.”

Individuals who RSVP to the open house ahead of time will receive a beautiful floral plant. Please call Kristen Donnelly at 617-887-0826 or email kdonnelly@chelseajewish.org to confirm attendance.

Read More

Congratulations, Pope John Hoop Team

Congratulations, Pope John Hoop Team

We join the local sports community and the Catholic Central League in congratulating Pope John XXIII High School of Everett on winning its first basketball state championship in its history.

Coach Leo Boucher and his team that included Chelsea standouts Luis Velasquez and Mehkhi Collins, brought much excitement to their fans this season and many students, alumni, and supporters traveled to Springfield Saturday to watch their Pope John Tigers defeat the defending state champion Maynard High Tigers for the Division 4 title.

It was a great day for the small school who rose up and defeated much larger schools and teams from powerful conferences in the MIAA Tournament. The team’s spectacular guard, Angel Price-Espada, submitted a performance for the ages with 49 points, including 10 three-pointers.

Mr. Boucher, a resident of Charlestown and a former basketball standout himself, previously showed his tremendous coaching skills at the St. Clement School, winning a state title there. When the school closed its doors, Pope John officials made a wise decision to bring him on board as its basketball coach.

It was also inspiring to see school administrators, Head of School Carl DiMaiti, Principal Thomas Mahoney, and Director of Athletics Ryan Murphy being a part of the fan delegation at the game and holding the championship so proudly following the Tigers’ 89-57 victory.

Mr. DiMaiti has presided over athletic successes before as the head of school at St. Mary’s High School in Lynn. A former track coach, Mr. DiMaiti understands the importance of interscholastic sports competition and how it can help build a positive foundation for student-athletes and pave the way to a college education. Mr. DiMaiti’s children, Drew and Carole, were both outstanding high school athletes, with Drew winning an individual state hurdles title before moving on to nearby Tufts University.

Mr. Mahoney is in the Chelsea High School Hall of Fame as the founder and head coach of the CHS soccer program that produced GBL titles and All-Scholastic players when he was leading the program. He is an alumnus of Pope John (and Boston College) as a member of the Everett school’s first graduating class, so this championship is doubly meaningful to him.

Mr. Murphy was an excellent choice to lead the school’s athletic program. He is always accessible to those who call upon him. He has helped student-athletes proceed through the college application process and been an exceptional representative for the school at AD meetings. A school’s athletic success begins at the top, and Mr. Murphy has the entire program heading in the right direction. And now he has a state championship team in his program.

To Coach Leo Boucher, associate head coach Larry Washington, freshman coach Paul Williams, and the Pope John basketball players – thanks for the memories and congratulations on an historic championship season.

We’ll see you all in the Pope John XXIII High School Hall of Fame one day.

Read More

Meridian Bancorp, Inc Announces New Board Appointments

Meridian Bancorp, Inc Announces New Board Appointments

Richard J. Gavegnano, President, CEO and Chairman of Meridian Bancorp, Inc. and East Boston Savings Bank (EBSB) announces the elections of Carl LaGreca to Lead Director and Peter Scolaro to the Board of Directors for both Meridian Bancorp, Inc. and East Boston Savings Bank.

Mr. LaGreca’s succeeds Richard F. Fernandez, who served as Lead Director since 2015 and as a member of the Board since 2007. Mr. LaGreca will continue to serve as a member of Meridian Bancorp’s Audit Committee, a position he has held since 2009. The Lynnfield resident is a Certified Public Accountant at DiCicco, Gulman & Company, LLP of Woburn.  A graduate of Merrimack College, he also received a Master’s Degree in Taxation from Bentley College where he was awarded the Samuel Wolpe Memorial Award given to the outstanding student in the graduate tax program.

“We are excited to benefit from Peter’s thirty-four year affiliation with EBSB and his experience with ABCD preparing budgets and overseeing property and construction management and his many years of service to the East Boston community. His understanding of budgeting, finance and corporate strategy will enhance the board and we greatly look forward to his contributions” said Gavegnano.

Founded in 1848, EBSB is a proven community bank that offers products and services that meet the deposit and financing needs of both consumers and businesses.  And customers can rest easy knowing that their deposits are fully insured by both the FDIC and Depositors Insurance Fund (DIF).  East Boston Savings Bank currently operates 35 full-service branches in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, and offers a variety of deposit and loan products to individuals and businesses located in its primary market, which consists of Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk and Suffolk counties.

Read More

Business and Environment Meet in Plastic Bag Ban Discussions

Business and Environment Meet in Plastic Bag Ban Discussions

By Seth Daniel

City leaders, business owners and members of the community are preparing for what might be the first big debate of the year – whether or not to ban plastic shopping bags in Chelsea.

Already, several municipalities have taken the step to ban the common, thin plastic shopping bag given out at almost every store in the City. Boston banned bags late last year, and their new ordinance will start later this year. In Chelsea, some of the larger supermarkets and businesses are ready to debate with environmental leaders about something that comes down to evaluating the cost vs. benefit.

Council President Damali Vidot and Councillor Enio Lopez have initiated the conversation with a Committee on Conference that will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 23, to have an initial discussion.

“It’s a topic Councillor Lopez and I have been entertaining for a few months,” said Vidot. “Seeing as though we are an Environmental Justice community, I think we should be doing everything in our power to support our environment. We have plastic bags everywhere in the city – on the ground, stuck in trees, flying into our waters, and posing a threat to animals. If we minimized their usage and/or charged per bag, we can hopefully get people to ‘think differently’ about our dependency on plastic.

“However, it isn’t something I want to change overnight,” she continued. “I want residents and business owners to bring their voices to the table and share their concerns and be a part of the conversation so that people aren’t impacted from one day to the other, if it does pass.”

Vidot said she hopes that a side conversation amidst the debate can be how to take more ownership of the City by littering less.

On the business side of things, Al Calvo of Compare Supermarkets said his market uses about 140,000 plastic bags per month, which is about 1.7 million plastic bags per year. They cost about 2 cents each, and his store pays about $34,000 per year for plastic bags.

A paper bag, he said, is about 9 cents per bag – resulting in an increased yearly cost to him of $85,000 for bags. The reusable heavy plastic bags, he said, cost a whopping 15 cents per bag. Many times, he said, customers forget to bring it back for re-use – and often substitute paper bags for the forgotten reusable.

The bottom line is this is an additional cost for the store owner, in addition to taxes, health care costs, minimum wage, and other costs,” he said. “In a very price competitive environment which our company faces, such as competition from that little corner store a mile away called Market Basket, we will either absorb the cost, which impacts profitability or raise prices to absorb the additional cost. Raising prices risks losing customers to Market Basket. Although we have other competitive advantages, price is still paramount in the eyes of the customer. It’s another potential death blow to the small business.”

Calvo said the discussion should focus on the tradeoffs between the environmental benefits and the added costs to business and/or customers.

Sergio Jaramillo, interim president of the Chelsea Chamber, said his personal view is that he supports anything to get rid of the plastic bags that litter the city and dirty up the business districts.

“I have seen the effects of plastic bags floating everywhere, and this is in particularly true in our own neighborhoods, where uniformed individuals leave them on unassigned places,” he said. “I understand that one of the consequences will be a higher cost to the merchant as it needs to provide an alternative to bags and may be passed on to the consumer and reflected in higher merchandise prices. It could be said this is the ‘cost of doing business.’”

Jaramillo said he thinks the solution is more global, with the plastics industry needing to come up with a better alternative.

“The industry as a whole needs to retool plastics and come up with cost efficient alternatives, such as fast-biodegradable materials that will minimize the impact on our ecosystem,” he said.

GreenRoots Director Roseann Bongiovanni said she also agrees that the ban is the right way to go.

“We have been talking to the City Council and other leaders in the community about this,” she said. “We really want to see the City go in that direction to ban these bags. We’ve received concerns from people who carry these bags from Market Basket and the supermarkets – especially people who are transit-dependent – but I think those concerns can be overcome.”

Bongiovanni said she is in favor of the thicker reusable bags, and allowing merchants to charge for them. She said a slow rollout would be best if such a ban passes.

“I think it will be like the trans-fat ban,” she said. “There really has to be a time when there is an education piece that starts it out.”

Joe Mahoney, a resident of Admiral’s Hill and member of the Chamber, said he tends to have a ‘green’ opinion and he would support eliminating the bags.

“I see the bags flying around all the time,” he said. “If you can recycle them or get a reusable plastic bag, I think it would be better for the city. When it comes to plastic vs. paper, I have to put myself more on the paper side. Unfortunately, plastic is a lot less expensive though.”

Read More

Standish Reflects on his Tenure at Housing Authority

Standish Reflects on his Tenure at Housing Authority

By Seth Daniel

In 2011, the Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) was in total disarray, and Chelsea resident Tom Standish had a long history of putting things back together.

As the chair of the CHA since 2011, putting things back together is exactly what Standish, the other Board members and the staff at CHA did in the wake of the Michael McLaughlin corruption scandal.

Now, with his work seemingly done and the CHA now a high-performer in the public housing world, Standish has stepped aside from his long-time role as chair of an organization that was quite literally brought back from the grave.

“It was a clear case of corruption and the need to restore normalcy to the government,” said Standish recently from his home on the waterfront, a few weeks after stepping down as chair. “Really, it was transparent that someone was controlling the situation and had everyone in line. There needed to be five people who had the strength of character and expertise to guide the CHA back to normalcy. As it turned out, we guided it to high performance.”

After the McLaughlin scandal, few thought that the CHA would ever be put back given the tangled web of accounting fraud and the money not expended on facilities for so long.

Tenants were angry.

The public was angry.

The federal government was angry.

Those five board members, led by Standish, helped restore the confidence.

Standish said he saw a posting about the City looking for talented people to serve on the new board – as the old board had been removed quickly on suspicion of corruption with McLaughlin. With a deep resume as a regulator in the Connecticut government and in other endeavors, he was chosen right off. At the first meeting, his other four colleagues quickly elected him as the chair when he voiced concern over the minutes from the previous meetings – challenging the Board’s attorney.

From there, the rebuilding took place, including the hiring of current CHA Executive Director Al Ewing – who had served previously in the CHA administration.

“It was our task to establish a route that would bring us to restoration of faith in the performance of the duties,” said Standish. “We went on the war path. We got the support of Al Ewing and he did a fabulous job of brining a fee accountant in and an accountant from outside to do an audit…That gave us a lot of confidence in Al. You can change a lot with a big organization if you can get competent, honest people. For me personally, that was a turning point in the organization.”

Another turning point, he said, was when they were able to get the full services of the Nixon Peabody law firm and Attorney Jeff Sacks to help them guide the case against McLaughlin on behalf of the CHA. That was also assisted by Charlestown attorney Susan Whalen, whom the CHA hired.

Standish said, through a mutual friend, he had heard that Nixon Peabody was looking for a case to work on pro bono that would make a difference. As it happened, that case was the CHA’s.

“They were going to pay for it 100 percent,” he said. “It wasn’t one of those where they said they would help us for 75 cents on the dollar. It was 100 percent…Susan Whalen in conjunction with Nixon Peabody were able to move the case forward and were able to get a decision.”

While the matter of McLaughlin’s $200,000 pension is still outstanding, and the McLaughlin matter still appears as a potential Executive Session item on every CHA meeting agenda – for the most part justice was done.

Standish said he was very relieved on the day McLaughlin was sentenced in Boston Federal Court, knowing that justice had been rendered for the tenants and the taxpayers. However, he said he was conflicted about the time and type of sentence – noting that he is glad he did not have to make a recommendation to the court.

“In the end, McLaughlin said he was just trying to keep up with his neighbors,” he said. “He said they all had nice cars and nice houses and he just wanted to keep up with them. It was a totally different McLaughlin than we had seen up to then.”

Overall, Standish said he would look back at his time on the CHA as something of a gift – a way he could give back, and in turn, be given to.

“I was energized by it,” he said. “There are a lot of people who run out and look to be fulfilled in life by making money, but try as they may, nothing is more fulfilling than giving to society…The thing that’s great for me is to see public housing work in Chelsea. I’ve come to realize that high-minded people make this world work. We have been a high-performer every single year since the first one. We worked very hard – many long hours and all uncompensated. It has been invigorating and exciting. I regard it as a gift to have had the opportunity.”

Read More

Chelsea Housing Extends Visitor Time for Hurricane Victims

Chelsea Housing Extends Visitor Time for Hurricane Victims

By Seth Daniel

As Puerto Rican residents continue to trickle into Chelsea following the massive Hurricane Maria devastation, the Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) announced they would extend the time visitors are allowed to stay with residents – and also consider extensions in some cases.

Director Al Ewing said they have been working close with the Chelsea Collaborative, the City of Chelsea and the state to formulate a plan to accommodate family members that need to live with CHA residents. By rule, CHA only allows visitors to stay in a public housing unit for 21 days. After that, penalties begin to accrue for the resident.

That has been a problem statewide as wary Puerto Ricans flock to the area to live with family members while their homes and their island are repaired from the once-in-a-lifetime storm damage. With nowhere else to turn, residents in public housing have opened their homes to family, but in fact trouble looms due to the 21-day rule.

“What we have done is extended the 21-day limit allowed for visitors to 45 days,” he said. “The key is residents need to notify us who is living in the unit. Obviously we want to work with the residents and this was a terrible disaster and a terrible situation…At the end of the 45-day period, if there is a need for an extension while family members look for permanent housing, we will work with them on a case-by-case basis.”

Ewing said they have encountered some folks from Puerto Rico and one woman from Houston – which both suffered severe storm damage – and he said they have lowered the documentation threshold for them. While there aren’t many units available, he said they are taking applications.

“We have reduced the documentation because people are obviously coming here without the ability to have documentation,” he said. “We just don’t have a lot of vacancies in public housing, especially at this time of year. That’s why we wanted to especially relax our regulations for visitor stays so that people can live with family until they can find a permanent situation.”

Read More

The Estates on Admiral’s Hill to Hold Holiday Open House Tuesday, Dec 5 at 201 Captains Row in Chelsea

The Estates on Admiral’s Hill to Hold Holiday Open House Tuesday, Dec 5 at 201 Captains Row in Chelsea

The Estates on Admiral’s Hill (www.admiralshill.org) will hold a holiday open house for its two assisted living residences on Tuesday, December 5 from 3pm to 5pm. Amidst holiday treats, lively piano music and hot chocolate by the fireplace, attendees will meet Executive Director Yari Velez and her talented team. One-on-one discussions and personalized tours will be provided as well as the opportunity to meet the current residents.

Located on Admiral’s Hill at 201 Captains Row in Chelsea, The Estates is comprised of two separate residences: Cohen Florence Levine Estates, a traditional assisted living and Florence & Chafetz Home for Specialized Care, a residence for those in need of additional support services.  Amenities include fresh healthy meals, a 24-hour café with home-made baked goods, hair and nail salon, library, living room, great room for concerts and shows, dining room and outdoor courtyard area for seasonal activities.

“This open house is a chance for area residents to personally meet our amazing staff and residents and find out, first hand, what assisted living is all about,” explains Executive Director Yari Velez.  “In addition to personalized tours, we can answer questions about the affordability of assisted living as well as the tax credit program.” She added, “Finding the right place to live for seniors can be a complicated process; our goal is to make the process as easy as possible.”

The open house will be held from 3pm to 5pm on Tuesday, December 5 at 201 Captains Row in Chelsea. To RSVP to the open house and/or schedule a private tour, please call Terry Halliday at 98-854-1825 or email thalliday@chesleajewish.org. thalliday@chelseajewish.org

Chelsea Jewish Lifecare, a highly respected leader in senior living, employs over 1200 people and provides care to over 800 individuals daily, with campuses in Chelsea and Peabody, MA. Offering a full continuum of services, Chelsea Jewish Lifecare (www.chelseajewish.org) is redefining senior care and re-envisioning what life should be like for those living with disabling conditions. The eldercare community includes a wide array of skilled and short-term rehab residences, ALS and MS specialized care residences, traditional and specialized assisted living options, memory care, independent living, adult day health, geriatric care management, home care, personal care and hospice agencies that deliver customized and compassionate care.

Read More