Healthy Chelsea Launches New Website

Healthy Chelsea Launches New Website

The Healthy Chelsea Coalition has just launched a new website.

Heathy Chelsea was founded in 2010 when obesity was identified as the city’s top health concern through a community health needs assessment (CHNA) conducted by Mass General’s Center for Community Health Improvement.

Two years later, the coalition voted to expand its focus as residents and community partners identified substance use and its effects, including violence and public safety, as the city’s top health concern. From its inception, Healthy Chelsea has enjoyed substantial support from City leadership including the City Manager, Director of Health and Human Services, the School Department, Chelsea Police Dept. and others.

Through the new website, Jennifer Kelly, Director of Healthy Chelsea, is “excited to showcase all the great work that we are doing with our community partners. We also hope to educate residents about our programs and to encourage their participation in these important efforts.”

Coalition priorities featured on the site center around healthy eating and living strategies in both the schools and larger community; the Youth Food Movement (YFM) internship program, which allows high school and middle school students to advocate for higher-quality food in their school; promoting a trauma sensitive city; increasing community connection; and, a relatively new initiative focused on early childhood development.

Kelly is especially happy to talk about the recently funded youth substance use prevention work. Through a federal Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant and state Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative (SAPC) initiative, the coalition has hired two new staff members who are engaging youth and parents while also working with various community partners to implement proven strategies to reduce substance use disorders.

Healthy Chelsea is supported by the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI).

Mass General’s Vice President of Community Health, Joan Quinlan, said, “We are so proud of the work that Healthy Chelsea is doing and of our strong partnership with the Chelsea community. Now, with the launch of their new website, everyone can learn more about their programs and the significant impact they are making.”

Kelly added, “It’s wonderful to be able to promote what can happen when residents and community partners come together for the health and well-being of their community.”

Visit http://www.healthychelsea.org to learn more about their focus areas and programs; staff profiles; community partners; news and upcoming events; and, much more.

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Library Renovations Highlighted by Historic Rotunda Skylight

Library Renovations Highlighted by Historic Rotunda Skylight

The historic rotunda skylight above the circulation desk at the Chelsea Public Library has served for decades as a nice ceiling, but few knew that the elegant egg-shaped ceiling was designed to provide beautiful natural lighting to the striking entrance of the historic library.

Now everyone knows.

The rotunda above the foyer of the library was completed last Friday, June 15, and made a bright showing for patrons when the library opened on a sunny Monday.

Library Director Sarah Jackson said the rotunda is one part of several small, but effective, renovations that have occurred in the last three years at the library – which had been showing its age severely when she took over three years ago.

“The rotunda is original to the 1910 building, so that means it was 108 years old,” she said. “It certainly got its use, but it was time to replace it. The skylight is new and they re-built the entire structure off-site and moved it back on. It was one of the most extensive renovations that company has done. It was structurally deficient and leaked badly. There has been a tarp over it since I’ve been here. It lasted over 100 years and we decided to make it as historically accurate as possible, but with a modern look.

“It is beautiful and they did a beautiful job,” she continued. “It’s nice to have it open with so much natural light coming in, and we might even be able to see the stars in the winter.”

The rotunda was part of a five-year strategic plan for the building that Jackson wrote with her staff and the Library Trustees three years ago.

Two years ago they began putting new carpeting in the areas most heavily traveled.

Last year, they added more carpet and painted the reference and reading rooms, as well as putting in new lighting there.

“It’s really looking like a brand new building at this point, but with the beautiful details and woodwork still included and not touched,” she said. “It was very dim in the reading rooms, but now that’s changed too.”

Additionally, by getting rid of some of the obsolete books, mostly in the reference section, they were able to create new space at the front of the library to make a Teen Section. There, they have included games, magazines and an area with new furniture for teens to hang out and read.

Jackson said it all came together with very little money and was a way to make the old library new again.

“Every time someone walks in the door, there’s something new that we’ve done that they see,” she said. “I don’t like hearing people come in and say it looks exactly like it did when they were a kid. We’ve tried to change that and the skylight is the bright spot certainly. It didn’t take a lot of money, but really the will and desire to get it done.”

  • In addition to the great renovations, the library announced that it will be extending its hours to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays through the summer. Previously, they were only open late on Tuesdays.

“We re-arranged the schedule and made it work,” said Jackson. “We were pretty packed on Tuesday nights, so this opens up another evening for programming in the summer.”

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Chelsea School Official Gerry McCue Honored at Retirement Celebration

Chelsea School Official Gerry McCue Honored at Retirement Celebration

The guests at the retirement celebration for popular Chelsea Public Schools official Gerry McCue gave him a

Assistant Supt. of Schools Sarah Kent, Human Resources Director Tina Sullivan, Deputy Supt. of Schools Linda Breau, and Supt. of Schools Dr. Mary Bourque make a special presentation to their retiring colleague, Gerry Mccue

prolonged standing ovation.

“I’m not done yet,” McCue politely told the crowd.

McCue continued his farewell speech, and when the guests knew he was done, they stood up again and showed their gratitude to a man who truly made a positive impact in Chelsea.

McCue, executive director for administration and finance for the Chelsea Public Schools, was honored at a retirement party June 14 at the Winthrop Yacht Club.

At the request of Supt. of Schools, Dr. Mary Bourque, McCue took a seat in a chair at the front of the hall as colleagues and associates took the podium to laud his 26 years of service in the Chelsea School Department.

Kelley and Lindsey McCue, his two daughters, spoke of how “our father has always led by example and he will be a tough act to follow.”

“Our dad has always been a role model, not only for his family, but for also for his extended family. He has a tremendous work ethic, he’s a compassionate leader, and a true advocate for the community he has worked in. Chelsea has been his home away from home for the past 26 years. Thank you for joining us tonight to celebrate Gerry’s next chapter in life which I’m sure will be filled with the same reward and fulfillment he’s had during his career here.”

Bourque said when she asked colleagues across the school district to describe Gerry McCue in one word, “we got, patient, listener, passionate, caring, dedicated, smart – but universally everyone one said, ‘calm.”

Bourque praised McCue’s wit and humor and his ability to remain calm no matter the chaos.

“Gerry, thank you for taking a risk on Chelsea public schools back in 1992 when the city was in receivership and the schools were not doing well,” said Bourque. “But we are a better school system because you have been here  and I am a better superintendent because I have had the honor of working with you as an assistant superintendent, deputy superintendent, and superintendent.”

In a warm and gracious speech, McCue said how much he enjoyed his work in Chelsea and being part of the Chelsea community at-large. He thanked his colleagues and his family for their support during his career and said the city will always have a special place in heart.

The two standing ovations said it all about the high esteem in which Gerry McCue was held and the valuable contribution he made to the Chelsea schools.

As Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson said afterwards, “This was a great tribute, a wonderful celebration for a true professional.”

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Community Preservation Committee Announced

Community Preservation Committee Announced

The newly established Community Preservation Committee will lead Chelsea’s use of funds provided by the Community Preservation Act (CPA).

Chelsea voters approved the adoption of the CPA in November 2016.  It will provide hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to be used for the creation and acquisition of affordable housing, historic preservation, open space and recreation.

Nine members appointed to the Community Preservation Committee are: Bea Cravatta, Judith Dyer, Caroline Ellenbird, Jose Iraheta, Michelle Lopez, Yahya Noor, Ron Robinson, Juan Vega, and Tuck Willis. Five members, by statute, represent City boards and commissions. The remaining four members are appointed by the Chelsea City Manager with the following requirements for each of the seats: one seat requires expertise in open spaces, housing and/or historical preservation; one seat requires expertise in development, business, finance, and/or construction; and the two remaining seats will be for individuals with a history of community involvement.

Community Preservation Committee (CPC) members serve a three-year term in a volunteer capacity, and must be residents of Chelsea. The CPC’s primary responsibilities include: approving an administrative budget for the City’s Community Preservation program; developing an annual Community Preservation Plan; reviewing project applications and making recommendations for funding approval. Further, CPC members are required to meet with regularity and engage with community groups throughout the City as needed.

The Committee is organized by John DePriest, AICP, Director, City of Chelsea Department of Planning and Development. An RFP has been prepared to hire a Professional Planning consultant services to develop the Community Preservation Plan. The Community Preservation Committee solicits and reviews proposals for use of the Community Preservation Act funds and  makes recommendations on how funds should be used. The funding of any project requires a recommendation from the committee.

For more information go to:  https://www.chelseama.gov/community-preservation-committee.

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Public Library Featured on Gateway Trail

Public Library Featured on Gateway Trail

Recognizing the integral role that public libraries play in their communities, Massachusetts Center for the Book (MCB) has added a Gateway City Library Trail to its live app, MassBook Trails.

Chelsea Public Library is celebrated on the trail for providing democratic access to reading and 21st century gateways to opportunity for their patrons through digital connectivity and programming that enhances life-long learning and cultural assimilation.

“This trail underscores the unique history, architecture, and attributes of each Gateway City library,” explains Sharon Shaloo, Executive Director of Mass Center for the Book. “Some are ‘Carnegie Libraries,’ built through the generosity of philanthropist and industrialist Andrew Carnegie; others had humble beginnings as a shelf of books to loan at the local general store.  But this trail also reflects the common mission of these public institutions that is as important today as it ever was: our public libraries are centerpieces of civic engagement and advancement and benefit from the local, state and federal support they receive to further their objectives.”

Available on the web and as a free download, Mass Book Trails was launched in 2017 with two literary walking tours in Boston and two statewide trails:  Literary Museums of Massachusetts, and African American Writers Heritage Trail.  Additional tours are being added as libraries have accepted MCB’s invitation to develop their own local literary, cultural, and historic tours.

The Massachusetts Center for the Book, chartered as the Commonwealth Affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is a public-private partnership charged with developing, supporting and promoting cultural programming that advances the cause of books and reading and enhances the outreach potential of Massachusetts public libraries.

For more information, contact info@massbook.org.  MassBook Trails may be found in the app store and through Google Play.  It is also available on the web at https://massbooktrails.oncell.com/en/index.html.

Cutline –

The Chelsea Public Library has been added to the MassBook Trail App for Gateway City Libraries.

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Anniversary Celebration

Anniversary Celebration

Kiaralis, Mike, and Sara Sandoval attended the 40th Anniversary of Chelsea TND where Mike was awarded as Chelsea member of the year. TND celebrated 40 years as an organization founded in Chelsea, and also celebrated their outgoing Director Ann Houston and their incoming Director Rafael Mares.

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School Shuffle:Several Key Members of the CPS Make Moves

School Shuffle:Several Key Members of the CPS Make Moves

The Chelsea Public Schools are making some big moves at the end of this school year, with the biggest news being Chelsea High Principal Priti Johari moving to the Central Office from CHS to an assistant superintendent position.

Her departure from CHS follows the departure of Assistant Principal Ron Schmidt – who now will lead the new alternative high school within CHS.

“I am announcing that effective July 1, 2018, Chelsea High School Principal, Priti Johari, will be promoted to the position of Assistant Superintendent for Strategic Programs and Accountability,” wrote Supt. Mary Bourque. “To replace Ms. Johari, we will be posting for principal candidates as soon as possible. We are also convening a ‘Selection Committee’ to do the first round of interviews. The job of the Selection Committee will be to narrow the field of possible candidates to the top 2-3 highest qualified for me to interview. I will choose from the 2-3 finalists.”

Bourque told the Record that right now the Committee is looking at five or six semi-finalists. She said they would forward two names to her soon, and she expected that an announcement could come as soon as Friday.

She said with two key leaders at CHS leaving, the thought of a slip-back is on some people’s minds, but she said they are prepared not to let that happen.

“One of the good things we’ve put into the CPS is we build the system so that we collaborate very well,” she said. “One of the things about Chelsea is because of our turnover, we have gotten very good at picking things up quick and making sure they don’t go back…As superintendent, that’s why you always build a deep bench.”

Another piece of big news is that Principal Maggie Sanchez Gleason is leaving the Kelly School as her husband has received a promotion that requires them to move to London.

That opened up the position for Assistant Principal Lisa Lineweaver, who is a former School Committee member and a Chelsea resident. Lineweaver has two children in the schools and came to Chelsea last year after teaching in Boston for many years.

In the realm of retirements, the biggest news is that long time Director of Administration and Finance Gerry McCue will be retiring.

Bourque said she is still looking for a replacement for him, and will be engaging the Collins Center from UMass Boston to help locate and choose replacements. The Collins Center was engaged by the City Council a few years ago to help choose a city manager.

Other notable retirements include:

The six Central Office and district wide administrators retiring are:

  • Tina Sullivan, Director of Human Resources
  • Linda Breau, Deputy Superintendent (who will be moving to Human Resources for one year before retiring).
  • Linda Alioto Robinson, Director of REACH
  • Miguel Andreottola, Director of Technology
  • AnnMarie LaPuma, Director of Assessment and Planning

For Andreottola, Bourque announced this week that long-time resident Rich Pilcher has been promoted to director of technology. Pilcher is also a Chelsea High graduate.

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TND to Announce New Director at Annual Meeting

TND to Announce New Director at Annual Meeting

The Neighborhood Developers (TND) will announce its new director on May 31 just as it honors its outgoing, long-time Director Ann Houston.

Trey Greer of TND told the Record that the big announcement for their new director will come during their 40th Anniversary Annual Meeting at the Homewood Suites in Chelsea on May 31.

“Part of this process is that Ann Houston, TND’s Executive Director,

will be moving up to lead this new partnership,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Ann really defined the TND we all know today. And so, TND will be taking on a new Executive Director. They will be announced at our Annual Celebration on May 31.”

Houston has been the director of TND for quite some time, but an announcement came this month officially that she would be transitioning to a larger role that would encompass TND and Roxbury’s Nuestra Comunidad Development Corp.

It’s called OppCo, and it will involve preparing partner CDCs for the next generation of our work: building homes, supporting communities, and fostering opportunities.

The 40th Anniversary comes on May 31st at Homewood suites in

Chelsea at 6 p.m.

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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.”

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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.

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