Summer Youth Job Lottery Takes Place at City Hall

City Manager Tom Ambrosino and members of the Chelsea Collaborative held a lottery on April 4 to pick the names of scores of young residents who will secure a summer youth employment job.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino picks names for the summer jobs lottery.

Director Gladys Vega said that while it was a time to celebrate the employment of more than 100 youth in the community, the need was far greater than the jobs.

“This year we received more than 300 applications, with more that came after the deadline,” she said. “Due to our funding, we are able to offer only 150 spots this year. We are excited to pair youth with more than 40 of our longstanding partners, including City of Chelsea, Chelsea Police, Intergenerational Literacy Program, Jordan Boys & Girls Club, North Suffolk Mental Health and others.”

At the lottery, 185 names in several different age groups were selected.

Some were put on a waiting list, and a vast majority of those applying were of a younger age.

Youth that were picked in the lottery are now going through several interviews this week, during School Spring Break. If they successfully pass those interviews, they will meet their employers in June and receive more training.

The Summer Youth Employment Initiative (SYEI) begins on July 1.

Read More

New Broadway Sign and Design Guidelines Head to City Council for Review

New Broadway Sign and Design Guidelines Head to City Council for Review

Dr. Deborah Wayne’s optometry shop has been on Broadway in one way or another since 1936, but in 2019 she’s hoping that new City guidelines and a store improvement program will help her shop – and others around it – catapult into the new century.

“You want to see quality businesses and you want them to look like quality businesses,” she said. “I think it’s a fabulous idea. It’s an old storefront. I have a storefront that doesn’t have any grates. We’ve been operating in one location or another on Broadway since 1936 and we’ve never had a grate. I’d do anything to get the grates off the businesses on Broadway. I think they’re ugly. I’m hoping that these regulations go through so I can take advantage of the program. I don’t want to take action and build something that isn’t in compliance. I’m ready to rip the front off my store. I can’t wait.”

She shares the enthusiasm of most of the business community on Broadway, who wholeheartedly support a set of design guidelines for the corridor, as well as a storefront improvement assistance program.

Downtown Coordinator Mimi Graney has proposed the regulations this spring to the Planning Board, and had a hearing on April 1. They will have a stop at the City Council again with a ruling promised in May.

“The goal is to be attractive and be maintained and lit well,” she said. “It’s also transparency of the windows. We’re telling folks not to have the big frosted glass and we would like the business to take down the big metal grates. In a lot of cases, they aren’t necessary because it can done other ways. We can meet the goal of safety and meet the goal of feeling safe and having an attractive façade.”

One of the problems, she said, is that the regulations for signage and façade improvements are woefully outdated – in some cases not allowing simple things like a blade sign. A blade sign is a suspended sign that faces those walking on the sidewalk. Because of the outdated regulations, she said, many store owners are hesitant to make upgrades that could be a code violation.

“The downtown has always been a bunch of things, but the rules never changed so it means the businesses can’t update or maintain their facades,” she added.

Alberto Calvo of Stop & Compare Supermarket said they improved their façade and sign a few years ago, and it made a huge difference. He’s excited to see that happen throughout the business district.

“We’re absolutely excited to see movement toward the revamping of sign ordinances,” offered Calvo, also executive vice president of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce. “A few years ago, we at Stop & Compare in Chelsea invested significantly to improve our building’s façade and to install updated, modern signage. It has made a marked, positive difference in our foot traffic and sales at that location, and I very much want to see other businesses in the Downtown corridor benefit from these kinds of improvements.”

Chelsea Chamber President Joseph W. Mahoney added, “We do get member businesses, and non-members, too, asking whether there are programs to assist business owners to fund signage and façade improvements. For façades, we know that there is a small program to be made available, but the roll-out of the façade program has been at least a couple of years in the making. Our understanding is that there may also be a cost-sharing program for signage as well. The new signage ordinances still need to be passed by the City Council, so we’ve been telling businesses to sit tight, but be ready. We’ve been saying the same thing to our member and non-member businesses in the signage business. We suggested to Craig Murphy, owner of our member Cambridge Reprographics, start talking to people now.”

“I think businesses are most excited about the potential return of blade signs,” Mahoney elaborated, “those that are perpendicular to the building.” Newburyport’s shopping district is full of those signs.

When one drives down its streets, one can see the businesses’ signs before accidentally passing them. Pedestrians also can spot their destination from a half-block away.

•Another piece of the regulations addresses outdoor or sidewalk dining – which was pioneered by the Ciao! Market on Broadway two summers ago. It was a success, by most accounts, and Graney said they would like to encourage others to try it.

First, however, they wanted to put some standards in place.

The regulations would only allow such dining on sidewalks and they would have to be immediately in front of the business. The furniture would have to be matching and of a high quality. There would have to be a safety plan, and businesses would be responsible for the area. No alcohol service would be allowed for the time being.

Seasonal heaters for outdoor dining are also being considered.

“Realistically, there’s not a lot of space,” she said. “Downtown, where this works, it’s two or three tables or six people. It’s similar to what Ciao! Did on their pilot.”

Addressing the proposed sidewalk dining ordinance, Chamber Executive Director Rich Cuthie was slightly more cautious.

“Edson and Marvin from Ciao Pizza definitely have been the market movers on this and need to be applauded,” he said. “They put in the work and time with the City to test it out. But let’s say it’s a nice summer evening and you and I wanted to have a beer and split a plate of nachos al fresco at a local restaurant on Broadway; maybe an after work meeting or just something social. We sit down at the table and chairs on the sidewalk and then are told, ‘No, sorry. No alcohol is allowed outside.’ Like many people, we’re just going to get up, apologize, and either go to the inside of that restaurant, or another restaurant, or worse, decide to move our meeting or dinner to another town.”

Cuthie said there is no compelling argument for a business owner to make the investment in tables, chairs, and staffing while also having to insure against additional outdoor liabilities if the potential revenues to offset those costs are not there.

“No mistake,” Cuthie continued, “we’re happy and appreciative that the City is moving to try to formally create a path to outdoor dining, but without beer, wine, and cocktails—which by the way are a restaurant’s highest margin offerings and offset food costs, we’re missing the mark and I have to reserve judgment on the initiative’s ultimate success. I don’t want Chelsea to always be 10 years behind other communities. We need proper updating now so that people will say, ‘It’s a beautiful evening, let’s have some margaritas and good Latin food in Chelsea tonight. We’ll decide where we want to eat when we get there, because there are so many outdoor dining choices.’”

Read More

Investigators Found a Culture of Secrecy, Failure to Follow Policies for Steve Wynn Complaints

Investigators Found a Culture of Secrecy, Failure to Follow Policies for Steve Wynn Complaints

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) unveiled its long-anticipated investigation of Wynn Resorts and Encore Boston Harbor and reported they found a company culture that did not follow policies when allegations were made against former CEO Steve Wynn, and also used extreme secrecy to hide allegations and settlements involving him in several cases.

That, however, was tempered also by a laundry list of changes that the company has made in the last 14 months, including ousting Steve Wynn and implementing a robust corporate governance structure.

“However,” said Karen Wells, MGC Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) director, “the past cannot be erased by these changes.”

That set the tone for the unveiling of what had been found over the last year by the IEB using thousands of pages of information, conducting hundreds of witness interviews, and traveling to six states to produce the report. That report had been held up with a lawsuit from Steve Wynn last November asserting attorney-client privilege, but that suit was recently settled and that allowed the unveiling to go forward Tuesday morning.

“In evaluating the IEB investigation, it showed a pattern of certain employees, including the Legal Division, disregarding policies when it came to allegations against Mr. Wynn,” she said. “It showed they made great efforts at secrecy so that it made it difficult if not impossible for gaming regulators to uncover these incidents.”

Earlier, she also said, “The investigation actually revealed a culture in the company where employees hesitated to report sexual misconduct allegations against Mr. Wynn. We found the company failed to safeguard the well-being and safety of its employees.”

At the outset of the investigation unveiling, Loretta Lillios, of the IEB, said what happened at the company mattered. She bookended the impending report with the idea that a gaming license is a privilege and not a right – noting that companies have to always keep proper policies and conduct in place or risk losing the license.

It was a warning that all things were on the table, including the loss of Encore’s license.

“The IEB’s investigation revealed the company’s adherence to these criteria has been called into question,” she said. “What happened at the company matters. It matters to the women who have been directly affected by the allegations of sexual misconduct. It matters to the workforce and employees here. It matters to the Commission. It matters to the people of Massachusetts… After all the evidence and testimony is presented, you will have ample information to apply the law and make a sound determination.”

Wells detailed for most of her presentation the allegations against Steve Wynn, using a timeline to go through the allegations and the response to them. She started in 2005 with the settlement paid to a manicurist at Wynn Las Vegas who claimed she had been raped by Steve Wynn and was now pregnant as a result of two such encounters. That allegation was detailed in the original Wall Street Journal article in January 2018 that opened the entire sexual misconduct situation.

A main issue, Wells said, was to not decide whether the allegations were true, but whether the company responded correctly and whether it should have divulged information to the MGC in 2013.

“The Commission is not evaluating whether the allegations are true or false, but it is evaluating the company’s response to the allegations,” she said. “A key question for the Commission to consider is whether the company’s failure to divulge derogatory information may have a role in suitability or the suitability of a qualifier…We now know in 2013 at least three Massachusetts qualifiers had knowledge of these allegations. They were Steve Wynn, Elaine Wynn and Kim Sinatra…A key question for the Commission is whether this relevant information should have been divulged on the front end rather than us having to investigate this now.”

The IEB also indicated that they tried to interview Steve Wynn several times, and he declined. However, he did release a statement that was read by Wells to the Commission.

“I had multiple sexual relationships during my tenure at Wynn Resorts and made no attempt to document them,” the statement read. “I do not believe any of the specific details of these relationships are material to the issues I understand are being reviewed by the special committee. I recognize some of the names obtained in the witness questions, but have no memory of ever meeting or having relationships with the women whose names are in your questions. I deny having any relationship that was not consensual. During the time I was employed by Wynn I was aware of a code of conduct and other policies. I was not however familiar with the details of those policies.”

Many of the key questions in the investigation included information garnered during discovery in the case of Elaine Wynn vs. Steve Wynn, as well as in a case known as the Okada case. Much of what was brought out in regard to the allegations and the response to them came from that case.

For Sinatra, who left the company in July 2018 with a multi-million dollar severance package, it became clear she knew of the allegations against Wynn during the 2013 suitability hearings. Yet, she did not divulge them, and the investigation seemed to suggest she wasn’t clear as to what she remembered knowing.

One such exchange involved an e-mail chain where a letter detailing a hostile working environment was described. That letter in that e-mail was up for dispute as to whether Sinatra read it, read all of it, or if she even really knew about it.

Much of her responses, according to the report, were that she didn’t recall a lot of information.

“I don’t recall if I knew in `14,” she had responded when asked if she knew the original 2005 case included a rape allegation of the manicurist.

Also in question was how the company responded after the Wall Street Journal article, including putting out an immediate statement of support letter for Steve Wynn to employees. That statement also included a reference to the article as being the latest strategy in Elaine Wynn’s legal case against the company.

Wells said that was put out before any investigation into the matter and without consideration to employees that may have been affected by Steve Wynn’s alleged behavior.

Wynn Communications Director Michael Weaver said he would not do that again if he were to do it over.

“Mr. Weaver stated to investigators that if he was to do it over again, he would do it differently,” Wells testified.

Maddox also told investigators that he simply believed Steve Wynn.

“As ridiculous as it looks now, we believed it,” Wells summarized. “We believed it. I know it’s tone deaf.”

The letter to employees went out with the input of Steve Wynn and others in the organization, but was under the signature of Wynn Las Vegas President Maurice Wooden – who indicated he was uncomfortable with the letter in his name but felt he had no choice in the matter.

That letter was followed up by what turned out to be an ill-advised Town Hall style employee meeting tour by Steve Wynn and other company officials. It had been reported in media accounts that employees at the Town Halls were asked to raise their hands if Steve Wynn had assaulted or abused them. That had not been confirmed before, but the IEB investigation revealed that Wynn Attorney Stacy Michaels told investigators that she was present and that did happen.

• • • •

The remainder of the first day of hearings focused on the new Board members and the new members of the corporate hierarchy.

The MGC listened to detailed presentations about each new Board member and each new employee. Each told the story of how they had been recruited – some by Matt Maddox – to serve on the Board in the aftermath of the crisis at the company.

All of them were being reviewed by the MGC for suitability, and if they were qualified to serve on the Board or work in their positions.

The testimony by Wynn attorneys was to begin on Wednesday, where they would present their case and ask questions regarding the IEB report.

• • • •

The MGC did remind everyone that there would be no vote at the end of the proceedings, nor would there be any sort of discussion of the report or testimony.

Instead, when all of the information had been gathered, the MGC would deliberate in private – with the option of asking for more or additional information.

At some point in the near future, they would issue their findings and their remedies – including the possibility of stripping the license – in a written report.

Read More

Encore Boston Harbor to Open Upscale Steakhouse, Featuring World’s Most Exclusive

Encore Boston Harbor to Open Upscale Steakhouse, Featuring World’s Most Exclusive

Encore Boston Harbor has announced it will open an upscale steakhouse within its $2.6 billion resort, featuring waterfront views and the most unique steak program in New England.

‘Rare Steakhouse’ will also highlight exquisite and hard-to-find bourbon and scotch selections, as well as a thoughtful offering of local distilled spirits and craft beers. Encore Boston Harbor’s Wine Director Miklos Katona has expertly curated a wine list featuring vintages from world-renowned producers.

Under the careful supervision of Executive Chef Taylor Kearney, Rare Steakhouse will allow guests to experience authentic Japanese Wagyu, including Kobe from the Hyogo Prefecture, cut from 100 percent Tajima Cattle; Ideue from the Kagoshima Prefecture; and the uniquely distinctive Sanuki Olive Beef from the Seto Inland Sea. American Wagyu will be sourced from Snake River Farms in Idaho and several other cuts provided through an exclusive partnership with Pat LaFreida Meat Purveyors in New Jersey.

Rare Steakhouse will leverage a state-of-the-art, dry-aging process on-site.

“For more than 10 years, we have worked closely with international and domestic partners to develop the steak programs at our resorts in Las Vegas and Macau,” said Warren Richards, Executive Director of Food and Beverage. “These efforts today will result in the most unique steak program in New England. Rare Steakhouse will be the only certified end-user of authentic Kobe beef in New England. We are thrilled to provide guests with this exclusive dining experience at Encore Boston Harbor.”

The menu will also comprise market-driven ingredients, including locally farmed produce, dairy and day-boat caught seafood. Rare Steakhouse’s beverage program will feature sought-after varietals and vintages from around the world, complementing all selections.

Vicente Wolf, who led the initial iteration of SW Steakhouse in Wynn Las Vegas, designed Rare Steakhouse. Entering the restaurant, guests can expect a comfortable, well-lit bar and dining space, with indoor and outdoor patio seating, and intimate private dining options. Views of the Mystic River and Harborwalk span its perimeter.

Rare Steakhouse will be open seven days a week for dinner. It is one of 15 dining and lounge venues at Encore Boston Harbor, ranging from fine dining to casual fare. Previously announced restaurants include:

•Sinatra, the Forbes Travel Guide Award-winning Italian restaurant that is located in Encore at Wynn Las Vegas.

•Fratelli, a casual Italian restaurant created by North End entrepreneurs Frank DePasquale and Nick Varano.

•Mystique, an Asian-fusion restaurant and lounge with views of the Mystic River, developed by Big Night Entertainment Group. •Memoire, a glamorous nightclub overlooking the casino floor, also developed by Big Night Entertainment Group.

Read More

CHS Junior Wins National Title

CHS Junior Wins National Title

Bobby Goss, Eddie Richard, Richard Bradley Steve DePaulo, Katrina Hill, Drenda Carroll, Nicole Hancock and the late Anthony “Chubby” Tiro” are among the best to ever compete in the Chelsea High track programs.

Stephanie Simon has joined that illustrious group – and she’s only a junior.

Simon completed her indoor track campaign with an unprecedented accomplishment: winning the long jump championship in the Emerging Elite Division at the 2019 New Balance Nationals that was held in New York City.

Simon soared to victory with a career-best jump of 18 feet, 10.75 inches, remarkably eclipsing her previous best by seven inches.

CHS track coach Cesar Hernandez was not surprised by Simon’s victory or the dramatic way in which she achieved it.

“Stephanie had jumped 17-9 as her best in her first three attempts,” said Hernandez. “In the final, she took off to 18-10. I knew she had it in her.”

Hernandez and CHS Director of Athletics Amanda Alpert watched the drama unfold at the Nationals.

“It was exciting to watch the long jump competition,” said Hernandez. “It feels good to coach a national champion.”

Alpert, who has won national championships as a women’s professional football player and coach, said the whole scene at Nationals was “amazing.”

“To hear and see the number that Stephanie posted was amazing,” said Alpert. “It was just about her hitting the board right and she did.”

Alpert said Simon’s competitiveness and work ethic set the foundation to victory.

“Stephanie is a rarely seen combination of hard work, dedication and pure talent,” said Alpert. “She has put in so much time in to making herself better both physically and mentally. Her dedication to the sport and her craft is amazing, but a lot of that comes from the Chelsea track coaching staff. They work to instill the importance of hard work and dedication because that is what is more important and will help you succeed after high school.”

Alpert expounded on the Chelsea coaches’ contributions to the Stephanie Simon success story.

“We have an incredible coaching staff that has played a part in the team and Stephanie’s success,” said Alpert. “We are fortunate to have Cesar Hernandez, who is a Red Devil himself and competed on the collegiate level as jumper and has helped bring Stephanie to the next level.

“While Mark Martineau and Adam Aronson (both collegiate-level track athletes) are no longer coaching, Mark laid the mental frameworks for what it means to be a student athlete, and Adam had taken a lot of time to teach the athletes how to be lifters and work their way around a weight room.”

Simon and her teammates will begin their outdoor track schedule in April. There is no doubt that Stephanie Simon is on the radar of college colleges nationwide.

Read More

Smart Growth Zoning Wins Unanimous Council Approval

Smart Growth Zoning Wins Unanimous Council  Approval

Much of the public discussion over the Smart Growth overlay district for Central Avenue over the past several months has focused on the technical aspects of the zoning ordinance.

But Monday night, as the City Council unanimously approved the Smart Growth zoning – which will pave the way for the Innes Development project to move closer to becoming a reality – much of the talk focused on the human and community benefits of that decision.

As the final vote was made official, cheers and applause were heard from Innes residents, project development team members, and even City Planning and Development Director John DePriest.

“This will allow for new homes that all the residents of Chelsea can be proud to call their own,” said Ronnie Slamin, the project director for Corcoran, the developer behind the Innes Street/ Central Avenue housing redevelopment plan.

The special zoning designation, allows the mixed-income project to have its own, special regulations for parking and density and other requirements. It also unlocks $5 million in state and local funding for the project.

Corcoran Development will assist in developing the 330-unit community on the site of the current housing development. Those units will include the existing 96 public housing units, as well as 40 workforce housing units. The remaining 194 units will be market rate, and with the state and federal grants, will subsidize the replacement of the public housing units.

Overall, the development would have a 41 percent affordable ratio, which is three times as much as what would normally be required by the City and double the state requirements.

For many of the current Innes residents, and for members of the Chelsea Housing Authority, it is a major step forward to replace the current units, which are rundown and decades old.

“It is our dream to live in new apartments that are safe and decent for our children, elderly, and the disabled,” said Melissa Booth, co-president of the Innes Residents Association.

The Smart Growth overlay district will cover the current footprint of the Innes Development, and puts a premium on affordable housing and access to public transportation.

Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) board member Bertram Taverna said the Innes redevelopment is the kind of opportunity that the City has not seen for decades.

“We are talking about an opportunity for these 96 families, as well as 40 more affordable housing units,” said Taverna. “Everybody is invested in this project and wholeheartedly all in.”

CHA Executive Director Al Ewing said the redevelopment will give the city the ability to deliver on its promise of providing a home where residents can be proud to live and raise their families.

“This is a win for the City of Chelsea,” said District 8 Councillor Calvin T. Brown. “Folks are going to see that Chelsea can do this and other cities are going to do this.”

Council President Damali Vidot said it’s been a long road for the Innes project to move forward. The Council voted down a project three years ago because prevailing wages for workers wasn’t on the table.

With prevailing wages now part of the development proposal, the only major issue that gained any traction over the past several months was, unsurprisingly, parking.

While the smart growth zoning is one major step towards getting shovels in the ground for the project, developers will be back before the Council for approval of a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) tax break for the project. That is expected to come before the Council later in the spring.

Vidot said that parking will be addressed in the TIF.

Corcoran is proposing 226 on-site parking spots, with an option to lease another 50 parking spots nearby.

Read More

Cocoran, Chelsea Housing Face Critical Vote At Council Monday

Cocoran, Chelsea Housing Face  Critical Vote At Council Monday

The Innes Street/Central Avenue housing redevelopment plan has cleared its latest hurdle with the Planning Board, but will face a critical vote Monday night at Council on whether or not to allow them to have a ‘40R’ zoning designation.

The Council will consider the special zoning designation, which allows the mixed-income project to have its own, special regulations for parking and density and other requirements. At the same time, it also unlocks $5 million in state and local funding.

“It’s a critical vote,” said Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) Director Al Ewing. “That is a very important ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ If we don’t get it, this project dies. It is our use it or lose it moment.”

The mixed-income development is in partnership with Corcoran Development, which will assist in developing the 330-unit community on the site of the current housing development. Those units will include the existing 96 public housing units, as well as 40 workforce housing units. The remaining 194 units will be market rate, and with the state and federal grants, will subsidize the replacement of the public housing units. Overall, the development would have a 41 percent affordable ratio, which is three times as much as what would normally be required by the City and double the state requirements.

It seems like a huge moment for residents like Jean Fulco, who is part of the Innes Residents Alliance (IRA).

“This will be a much better situation for the people who are there now,” she said. “The re-development would be so much better because the apartment conditions now are not very good.”

Resident Melissa Booth, also of the IRA, said she has a special needs child who cannot walk up the stairs, but they live on the second floor now.

“I usually have to carry my child up the stairs because there isn’t an elevator,” she said.

The new development is slated to have an elevator.

But one of the strangleholds in this second go-around of the mixed-income redevelopment – which had to be backed off two years ago – is parking. There are 226 spaces available on site, and another 50 spaces will be located off-site nearby.

Council President Damali Vidot said she does support the project, but she also lives in the area and understands that parking is already a mess. She said they have worked out a potential plan where the market rate units will not be able to apply for a residential parking sticker.

“Everyone says that these people who will live here will take the Silver Line and not have a car,” she said. “Let’s see them prove that. I’m ok with giving them the 40R so they can move forward, but when their Tax Incremental Financing comes up, I will let them know that I will not support the project unless they will enter into an agreement with the market rate tenants to not participate in the residential parking program.”

She said the decision is a tough one for the Council. While many have reservations, they also want to help the public housing residents improve their lives.

“I’m not in love with the project, but I know everyone is trying to do their best,” she said. “These 96 families deserve to live in dignity. I have family that lives there and no one should live in those conditions…If this is what I have to do to preserve the units for these 96 families, then we don’t have a choice really.”

Over the last several weeks, the IRA and the CHA and Corcoran have been pounding the pavement. They have had coffee hours, done personal outreach and have launched a website.

“We are in a competitive process and if this doesn’t get approved for whatever reason, Chelsea will not realize this opportunity,” said Sean McReynolds of Corcoran.

Read More

Corcoran, Residents Sign Letters of Assurance for Return

Corcoran, Residents Sign  Letters of Assurance for Return

In a move to show that they are committed to keeping residents in their homes, the Corcoran company and Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) have been signing Letters of Assurance with residents to legally ensure they can return to their unit after it is redeveloped into a new mixed-income community.

“We started signing those with residents about two weeks ago,” said CHA Director Al Ewing. “We wanted everyone to see that there is a commitment from us.”

Added Sean McReynolds of Corcoran, “It was important for us the residents see we’re committed to having them return. That is something that is usually done much further down the line. We wanted to do it now anyway so people felt confident that commitment is there.”

Melissa Booth of the Innes Residents Association (IRA) said many residents are relieved by the Letter, and the Association has been passing it around in English and Spanish to get as many residents signed as possible.

“They’re very relieved because the suspicion is the developers would go in and move the families and not let them back in,” she said. “We’ve been working really hard and trying to reassure everyone. No one wants to leave the place that they’ve been living so long.”

The document, signed by all parties, is about three pages long and clearly spells out what the residents will be entitled to when they return.

“JJC Co. and CHA assure that all Innes residents who are required to move for the redevelopment project will have the right to return to a newly constructed unit in the redeveloped Innes Apartments,” read the letter.

The two exceptions are if a household has been evicted before returning for serious offense, or if they have a large unit and state rules require them to go into a smaller unit than is available.

Also, it spells out that they will have the same units as the market rate residents.

“These newly constructed affordable housing units will be intermixed with market-rate units,” it read. “All units will be interchangeable with the same quality in all apartments including finishes and appliances such as washers and dryers.”

Both said they hope to have everyone signed as soon as possible as an act of good faith to residents and the community.

Read More

CAPIC’s Fuel Assistance Program Provides a Vital Service to Residents

CAPIC’s Fuel Assistance Program  Provides a Vital Service to Residents

Under the leadership of Executive Director Robert Reppucci, Community Action Programs Inter City (CAPIC) has been a national model in addressing the needs of low-income families in Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop.

CAPIC’s fuel assistance program has been one of its most utilized services, aiding more than 2,700 residents in the three communities.

Since his appointment last July as energy director, Giancarlo DeSario has overseen the program that is in its sixth decade of existence. The recent addition of well-known Chelsea community leader Henry Wilson as an outreach coordinator has also helped expande the program and bring recognition to the valuable services CAPIC provides in many areas.

DeSario explained the process by which residents can apply for fuel assistance.

“If someone finds themselves in need – whether they’re a tenant, homeowner, family or single person – they should call the CAPIC fuel assistance line to set up an appointment,” said DeSario. “We would conduct an interview with the individual and review all their paperwork. We’ll let them know if we need additional information and then we’ll process their application in about 30-45 days.”

Candidates for fuel assistance must meet some income guidelines.

“In order to qualify for fuel assistance, you need to be at 60 per cent of the state median income, which for a single person would be $35,510; for a family of four people, it would be $68,280,” said DeSario.

CAPIC’s program covers heating expenses between the months of November and April.

According to DeSario, the fuel assistance program is funded through federal and state grants. CAPIC is currently waiting for a supplemental budget to be approved by the state.

“What we’re looking for is $30 million extra dollars in funding to help out with this heating season, but we’re looking closer to receiving $11 million,” said DeSario. He indicated that CAPIC has been working with Chelsea’s state legislators to secure additional funding.

DeSario has made a point during his tenure to “get out in the field” and meet individual clients. He has earned praise for his accessibility.

“I’m always available – I hand out my direct extension to clients all the time,” said DeSario. “I find it’s really important that if you’re going to serve clients correctly, you have to be in touch with them and understand their needs.”

DeSario has local roots

Giancarlo DeSario grew up in Maine, but he has always had local connections. “I’ve been coming to East Boston since I was a child. My mother (Yolanda DeSario) moved here from Italy when she was 10 years old. And my grandmother (Maria Caserta) has been living in East Boston for 50 years.”

DeSario attended high school in Maine and graduated from Roger Williams University where he studied Business and Legal Studies.

He began his career in woodworking and was promoted to the position of project manager, working with clients in Manhattan and Long Island, New York.

From there, DeSario entered the solar industry as a district site surveyor and rose through the company to become operations manager, overseeing several projects throughout the New England region.

DeSario came to CAPIC last July. “I saw a position was open and I applied for it. I was ready to go back to my old job when I got a call from Executive Director Robert Repucci, requesting that I come in for an interview.”

Like the entire staff at CAPIC and residents throughout the area, DeSario has come to appreciate Repucci’s exceptional leadership of the agency. Repucci arrived at CAPIC in 1972 and has been of Chelsea’s most influential and revered leaders.

“Mr. Repucci is an outstanding leader of CAPIC and in the community as a whole,” said DeSario. “He really pushes you to be a better person. He’s inspiring. He wants you to put people ahead of yourself, and you can tell, because he does that. He leads by example and I respect that about him.”

DeSario has also been impressed by the dedicated and knowledgeable staff at CAPIC.

“I was fortunate to come in to an agency where we have some really key players who know the programs in and out,” said DeSario. “The transition in to this industry was tough, because you don’t know it – but I was lucky to have a very good support group here to help out. They really care about the programs succeeding.”

DeSario said he finds his job rewarding and he appreciates the kind words from clients.

“There is nothing better than when we get a letter (of gratitude) or a phone call from a client who had no heat and we were able to restore a heating system that went out overnight, replace a heating system with a new one, or weatherize someone’s home,” said DeSario.

Read More

Enliven Downtown Chelsea Prospers Unveils Plans For ‘Chelsea Night Market’ This Summer

Enliven Downtown Chelsea Prospers Unveils Plans For  ‘Chelsea Night Market’ This Summer

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 food trucks.

“It would be scaled for an intimate, community oriented atmosphere,” read the literature.

Read More