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
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
Simon soared to victory with a career-best
jump of 18 feet, 10.75 inches, remarkably eclipsing her previous best by seven
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
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.
With plans to host four recreational
marijuana shops already at some phase of readiness in Chelsea, the Licensing
Commission is nearing a final vote on regulations for special additional rules
for those establishments.
On March 7, the Commission continued a
public hearing on the regulations, focusing on the topics of application fees,
locations of the pot shops, and security.
Commission Chair Mark Rossi said the
Commission should be ready to take a final vote on the regulations at its meeting
in early April.
The City is limited to four retail marijuana
Those shops will already be vetted heavily
before they reach the Licensing Commission for final approval. Other approvals
include a host agreement in place from the City and approved by the state’s
Cannabis Control Commission, as well as any necessary approvals from the City’s
Zoning and Planning Boards.
Rossi said the Licensing Commission will
grant the retail pot shop licenses in much the same manner as it does for
One of the questions raised by an early
draft of the Licensing Commission regulations was whether the Commission should
limit the shops to one or two per voting district.
The City ordinance already limits the
establishments to three zoning districts — Industrial, Shopping Center, and
Business Highway zones.
By the end of last week’s hearing, there was
general agreement among the commissioners that there would not be a restriction
on how close the pot shops can be to one other.
City Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda
agreed that was the right move on the issue.
“I would oppose any sort of restriction on
the number of feet from one place to another,” he said. “We already have zoning
in place in the city and we don’t need to add another layer to that; we don’t
do it for other businesses.”
The Commission also agreed on a $500
application fee and $5,000 yearly renewal fee for the marijuana businesses.
While there were some questions about the
Commission’s role in looking at security at the establishments, City Solicitor
Cheryl Watson Fisher noted that there are already strong security requirements
from the state, and requirements are also written into the host agreements with
the prospective businesses.
Commissioner Roseann Bongiovanni said she
would still like to look at the host agreements to see how they address
security before taking the final vote next month.
“I don’t think security is going to be an
issue,” said Commissioner James Guido, adding it is more likely traffic that
could cause some issues.
According to the proposed regulation, the
Licensing Commission would not issue a license to anyone who has violated
Licensing Commission rules and regulations in the past five years. All licenses
are subject to zoning approval and state Cannabis Control Commission approval.
hours for retail shops will be limited to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and all signage
will have to be approved by the City, according to Fisher.
If one is looking to hit the local bars this
Cinco de Mayo, the options are going to be a little more limited than usual.
At its March 7 meeting, the Licensing
Commission disciplined two local restaurants for a variety of infractions that
will result in them losing their liquor licenses for the Cinco de Mayo weekend
on May 4 and 5. (The restaurant Cinco de Mayo in Chelsea was not disciplined or
called to the Commission).
In addition to losing its liquor license for
that weekend, the Commission voted to roll back Acapulco’s hours of operation
indefinitely, forcing the Fifth Street establishment to close at 11 p.m.
instead of 1 a.m.
The Acapulco punishment stems from an
incident last November when a security worker at the restaurant struck a
customer over the head with a police baton.
The Commission also enforced an hours rollback
from 1 a.m. to 11 p.m. – along with the weekend suspension – for Bar La Cueva
at 802 Broadway. That punishment was enforced for an incident where several
patrons were overserved, as well as for past concerns about noise and unruly
patrons at the bar.
In addition, Commission member James Guido
requested a hearing next month to consider revoking Bar La Cueva’s
The attorney for Acapulco said the issue at
his client’s establishment is systemic of a larger issue in the city, where
security at bars is handled by companies that act almost as paramilitary or law
Several commissioners agreed that there is a
larger issue that needs to be addressed in the city with bar and liquor
establishment security, but noted that Acapulco deserved a more forceful
discipline than simply firing its current security contractor.
“You say security is a problem, but you’ve
had the same company for a decade,” Commissioner Roseann Bongiovanni said.
The issues at Bar La Cueva seemed to extend
beyond the recent incident where two people were overserved, as several
commissioners noted that there have been noise and unruly patron complaints at
the bar for years.
In a letter, one neighbor stated that the
“karaoke singing by drunks is terribly loud and they overserve their patrons.”
John Dodge, the attorney representing the
bar, said for the incident in question, his clients acted responsibly and asked
the patrons who appeared to be intoxicated to leave.
But Bongiovanni noted that the bar has been
a problem in the past, including racking up a 14-day liquor license suspension
about two years ago.
“They have been a complete nuisance and
annoyance to the neighborhood; you can roll your eyes all you want, counselor,”
she said to Dodge.
Both the bars got off relatively easy
compared to Fine Mart, a liquor and convenience store at 260 Broadway. The
Commission suspended the store’s liquor license for a total of six weeks for
three offenses, including an incident where an employee struck a woman who was
intoxicated in the store, for selling nips after the enactment of the City’s
nip ban, and for the sale of alcohol to a minor.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino, an ardent
supporter of the City’s ban on 50 ml bottles of alcohol, said there needs to be
consequences for businesses that violate the ordinance.
“The ban has been
important in the city’s efforts to try to make Broadway a more attractive place
to shop and dine,” Ambrosino said. “We’ve spent a lot of money to make it a
better place. Having the nip ban in place is an important part of that. “(Fine
Mart) has a prominent place in the corridor and has to comply with its
When the Lime Bike rental program returns to
the streets of Chelsea this spring, riders might notice a little extra oomph in
Chelsea took part in a program with Lime
Bike, along with 16 neighboring communities, last year. Council President
Damali Vidot said the bike rentals will be up and running again this year.
However, there will be a difference this
year, as Lime is unveiling electric-assisted bicycles throughout the region.
Because electric bicycles are currently not
allowed in Chelsea, Vidot has introduced an ordinance to the City Council that
would allow for the vehicles as long as they do not travel faster than 15 miles
“Since the late Summer of 2017, the City of
Chelsea has been experimenting with dockless bikes, initially as a pilot with
the company Ofo and then, last year, as part of a regional Metropolitan Area
Planning Council (MAPC) contract with Lime Bike,” City Manager Tom Ambrosino
stated in a letter to the Council. “Notwithstanding some minor complaints, I
believe the experiment has been successful.”
Last year, more than 4,000 people used the
dockless bikes in Chelsea, taking almost 20,000 separate trips, according to
the city manager.
“The City would like to continue this
dockless bike program in 2019,” stated Ambrosino. “However, there has been a
change in the marketplace for dockless bikes. All the companies in this arena
are moving away from pedal powered bikes to electric assisted bikes, including
To continue with the regional effort with
Lime and allow the bikes in Chelsea, the City will have to change the current
ordinance that prohibits the vehicles.
“Over the past month, we have explored the
options of replacing Lime Bike with another company that might offer dockless
pedal only bikes, but no operator is interested in the restriction,” Ambrosino
While the change in the ordinance would
allow for the electric-assisted bicycles, Ambrosino said there are no plans in
the works to allow for electric scooters to operate on public streets.
“I am just alerting the Council that the use
of such scooters may soon become ubiquitous in surrounding communities,” he
Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda said he’s
looking forward to the transportation upgrade.
“I’m looking forward to them,” he said. “I
took a practice ride, and it was quite fun.”
•In other transportation-related news,
Ambrosino told the City Council it should keep the future appearance of
autonomous vehicles in the back of its mind.
“Right now, testing of such vehicles is
underway in Boston and other communities,” he said.
As with the electric-assisted bicycles, the
Council would have to adjust its ordinances to allow for autonomous,
self-driving vehicles. A MassDOT and MAPC agreement could allow for a pilot
route for the vehicles in the Industrial District.
“It is likely to be some time before
autonomous vehicles actually appear on this pilot route,” Ambrosino said.
“Again, such testing cannot occur until the City has given express permission.
However, I just wanted to give the Council notice that this transportation
innovation is moving forward and may someday make its way to Chelsea.”
Bob Doherty used his snow blower to clear the sidewalks in front of his Chelsea home on Monday morning. A late winter storm dumped between 10 and 11 inches of snow on Chelsea Sunday night – leaving a winter wonderland for residents to wake up to on 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
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
“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.
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
“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.
A small order on the Feb. 25 Council agenda
likely didn’t attract a lot of attention at the regular meeting, but Council
President Damali Vidot said she had hoped it could have sparked a conversation.
That measure, which she introduced, revolved
around looking at the possibility of allowing non-citizens that are here
legally to vote in municipal elections.
Instead, she said, she was greeted with
silence – and a ‘no’ vote.
“We have people invested in our community,
who own homes, have kids in the schools and own businesses, but because they
are citizens, they can’t vote in our elections,” she said. “Why not have a
conversation about allowing them to vote? The fact my colleagues didn’t want to
at least have a conversation is a travesty.”
The roll call consisted of a 5-6 defeated
vote, with Vidot and Councillors Judith Garcia, Yamir Rodriguez, Enio Lopez and
Giovanni Recupero agreeing to begin talking about it.
Those voting against were Councillor Roy
Avellaneda, Calvin Brown, Joe Perlatonda, Luis Tejada, Leo Robinson and Bob
Vidot said she fully intends to bring the
matter back in 90 days.
“I don’t understand why we couldn’t
entertain this, to allow people to be part of the civic process,” she said. “At
the minimum, I thought we could have a conversation. If I had known there would
be this reaction from my colleagues, I would have organized before. I have
every intention of bringing it back again in 90 days. We can’t be in the habit
of saying ‘no’ without talking about it.”
Other cities in Massachusetts have voted to
allow non-citizens to vote, including Cambridge and Brookline. Such a petition
by the Council would require a home rule petition by the State Legislature. It
would also require legislative action by the State House as well.
The measure in
Chelsea would not allow non-citizens to vote in state or federal elections.
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
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,”
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
“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
DeSario attended high school in Maine and
graduated from Roger Williams University where he studied Business and Legal
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.”
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
“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.
At a certain point, it would be wise to just leave the Chelsea High record books in girls’ track blank until junior Stephanie Simon graduates.
Chelsea High junior Stephanie Simon is putting together another outstanding indoor track season this year, and will head to the National Championship meet in New York this weekend. When she’s not on the track, though, one might find her weaving in and out of the streets on her skateboard.
The champion jumper, runner and hurdler
tends to break most school records, and then break her own records time and
time again. At a certain point, her coaches say, they will probably fill it all
in after she graduates.
Simon, 16, comes from a strong athletic
family – and her sister, Martine – is the only runner to have ever beat her in
a meet. Now, she has focused in on jumping events and has put together a string
of wins during the indoor season this winter.
Recently, she took first place in the
Division 2 state long jump, and took second place in the New England Championship
meet. Earlier this year, at the multi-state Dartmouth Relays, she took first in
the long jump and high jump.
This weekend, she will travel to New York
City for the second year in a row to compete in the National Championship
But back in Chelsea, if you see a young lady
cutting it up on a skateboard, that might be Stephanie Simon.
“When I’m not training or practicing, I like
to ride a penny board,” she said. “I ride it everywhere, even to school. I
think that’s why I can jump. I think that’s something every jumper has to have
to be successful and that is being able to take a risk. You have to be willing
to take a risk to throw yourself in a pit of sand or give it everything you
have to flop up and over the high jump bar. It’s the adrenaline I like.”
Simon was born in Chelsea to Hubert and
Mathilde Simon, who originally came from Haiti. Her older brother, Norbert, was
also a track standout, as was her sister, Martine, who graduated last year. She
said her younger brother, Emanuel, has potential in the 200 sprint.
She attended the Early Learning Center, the
Berkowitz School, the Clark Avenue Middle School and has settled in at Chelsea
High – where she keeps a 3.4 grade point average and is active in academics.
But her cool demeanor likely comes from
having to contain herself on the track. Unlike with the sprints – where she
also has great success within the conference meets – she said she has learned
that a jumper (whether high jump, long jump or triple jump) needs to stay in
“Adrenaline is good for running, but for
jumping you have to kind of put it in a bottle and use it to motivate you and
counter it with technique,” she said. “For jumping and sprints, unlike distance
running, it’s half mental and half physical.”
It will be a very important quality when she
arrives at the New York City Armory this weekend with her coach, Cesar
Hernandez. Last year was her first indoor national meet, and she said it was
“Last year, stepping into that building was
so overwhelming,” she said, noting that there hasn’t been another Chelsea
runner since Bobby Goss decades ago to go to nationals. “Every runner there was
working hard and wanted to win. I didn’t do so well, but it made me even more
determined to do better at the national outdoor meet in North Carolina last
spring and I did.”
When she went to the Dartmouth Relays
earlier this year, she said that same New York feeling came upon her, but she
was able to shake it off, which is something she said she will do when she goes
back to New York this week.
“I told myself it’s the same events and the
same sand,” she said. “I was able to recover and move on.”
Amazingly, Simon was never a runner until
she got to high school, unlike many top runners who have been at it since grade
“My freshman year I didn’t even run that
first season,” she said. “I liked soccer. I was able to make varsity my
freshman year. In the winter, I played basketball. Then I did outdoor track and
I was really good at it. In track, there was so much support and it was like a
big family. My freshman year I was trying to figure everything out. Everyone
kept telling me I had more potential in track. I listened to them and I’m glad
Simon credited Coach Hernandez with helping
her take bigger and bigger steps as a runner and, especially, as a jumper. As a
raw athlete, she had talent, but she said Hernandez helped her to develop
technique and pushed her not to just rely on athleticism.
“If he wasn’t my coach, I would not be doing
what I’m doing,” she said. “He fits the kind of coach I need.”
She also credited her teammates for being a
great support system.
She also credited her family, who she said
has been very proud of her academically and in sports.
“In our family,
everyone has their thing they are best at,” she said. “I guarantee I win at