Students at the St. Rose School in Chelsea have organized a walkout on Weds., March 14, to make a statement about how the federal government is handling gun issues as related to school shootings.
Trinity Hoffman, 13, and an eighth grader at St. Rose, said she and several students felt it was important to be part of the national effort, which encourages students to walk out of school for 17 minutes to commemorate the 17 students killed recently in a Florida high school.
“We just really want a lot of people to hear how we feel about this and how the government is failing to deal with the problem.”
Hoffman said students would leave class on March 14 and march on Broadway to Chelsea City Hall for a gathering. There, they will mark the 17 minutes, which is being done at many schools nationwide. Revere High students are also staging a similar effort in that city.
When the solemn moment is over, students at St. Rose will return to class. The walkout will entail about 50 students from the St. Rose 7th and 8th grade classes.
Hoffman said they are encouraging students from other Chelsea schools to join them.
Teacher Cristina Rivera said the staff and school are supporting the student decision, and believe it to be a good learning experience.
“It came about because of conversations that we were having in class,” said Rivera. “Students were very concerned about Florida and about an incident that happened in Wakefield. Even though it wasn’t credible, students came back to St. Rose and initiated a discussion. We had heard about the March 14th date already and we let the students vote on it and they wanted to do it.”
She said the students have taken charge making signs and mapping out the route and planning the action. She said the school believes it’s a great learning experience for the kids, especially around getting involved civically.
“We feel it’s really an important part of learning democracy and something we want to support in our students,” she said. “In four years, our oldest students will be allowed to vote. However, having a voice and learning to participate starts before that. Exercising their right to assemble freely on an issue they are passionate about is the start of learning about this democracy.”
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) has announced that all RMV services, with the exception of law enforcement, will be unavailable from 7 p.m., March 22 until 8 a.m. March 26 due to the RMV changing over a new computer system that will allow the RMV to comply with federal and state mandates. In addition inspection station locations will be unable to conduct motor vehicle inspections on March 23, 24 or 25, RMV on-line services will be unavailable, and RMV service locations will be closed.
The Registry’s new computer system will enable the Commonwealth to issue federally mandated REAL ID credentials to members of the public who will need a REAL ID credential. REAL ID is a Federal Security Standard for IDs that was created in 2005 as a result of the increased federal security measures after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The new computer system will also have enhanced customer-centric features and more efficient process elements for access by law enforcement, the insurance industry, government entities and professionals who need to engage the Registry. The current RMV system is more than 30 years old.
Between March 22 and March 26, the following services will be unavailable:
Beginning at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 22, motor vehicle inspections will be unavailable at station locations in Massachusetts until the start of business on March 26, at 8 a.m.
Beginning at 7 p.m., March 22, and until 8 a.m., March 26, Registry on-line services will be unavailable.
Registry service locations will be closed on Friday, March 23, and will reopen on Monday, March 26.
AAA branch locations which offer Registry services to AAA members will be unable to do so beginning at 7 p.m., March 22, and until 8 a.m., March 26.
Law enforcement officers will continue to have access to RMV data at all times from March 22 to March 26 through the use of a back-up data file.
For more information regarding RMV service suspension, please visit: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/alert-no-rmv-services.
The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is taking steps to allow more customers the opportunity to renew a driver’s license or ID card online. The RMV has extended the length of time a customer can use a license photo from 9 years to 14 years which means more customers than ever are eligible for online renewals.
In addition, customers will be eligible to renew their licenses or ID cards online for two consecutive renewal periods. This will result in approximately 30,000 additional renewal transactions eligible to be processed online each month. With thousands of additional customers now eligible to conduct renewals online, the amount of customers who must visit a service center will decrease, which will make in-person transactions more efficient for customers who do need to visit RMV service locations.
“The Registry is pleased to offer these helpful enhancements to service options that are currently available to our customers,” said Registrar of Motor Vehicles Erin Deveney. “We encourage customers to conveniently renew their driver’s license or MA ID card online if they are eligible to do so, saving a trip to a service center and perhaps avoiding holiday traffic too.”
Licenses and ID cards will need to be renewed in person at RMV service centers or AAA locations (for AAA members) every third renewal period (once every 15 years). Customers should also know that they don’t need to wait for the RMV’s birthday card reminder to renew. They can go online and renew up to 12 months in advance.
To be eligible for online renewal, a customer’s license/ID card photo must be less than 14 years old and must have been taken after the customer’s 21st birthday.
The RMV invites license and/or ID card holders to visit www.mass.gov/how-to/renew-your-drivers-license to check their license status and renew online.
Effective March 26, 2018, the RMV is changing the way customers get and renew their driver’s licenses and ID cards. On that date, the RMV will begin to issue driver’s licenses and ID cards which meet the federal requirement for credentials which are REAL ID compliant.
Massachusetts residents do not need a REAL ID until after October 2020, and will only need a REAL ID for air travel or to enter a U.S. government building. On October 1, 2020, the following credentials will be accepted where REAL ID is required: a valid U.S or foreign passport, U.S. passport card, military ID, or a driver’s license or ID that is REAL ID compliant.
Anyone with questions about REAL ID may visit: www.mass.gov/realID.
Additional information can be found on the website of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security: www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs.
Jose Iraheta has been at nearly every Chelsea City Council meeting in the last four years.
Even when no one else showed up on cold nights in February, one could count on seeing him there.
He has translated for free to help those who couldn’t speak English, attended virtually every community event, sat next to and chatted up Federal Rese
Resident Mario Caballero of Webster Avenue shares his story about being in fear due to the potential of having his Temporary Protected Status (TPS) rescinded by the federal government. An announcement on TPS is expected in six months. Caballero said he had been in the US under TPS since 1988
rve Chair Janet Yellen when she visited Chelsea, and spoke up for things he agreed with and things he did not agree with.
But on Monday night, he was there to tell a far different story.
It was his story, and it was a story about how the man who is everywhere in Chelsea could one day in the next six months be nowhere in Chelsea – all due to the recently announced decision by the Federal Government that the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program is no longer necessary.
“I am a recipient of TPS due to an earthquake that happened in my country (of El Salvador) in 2001,” he said, holding back strong emotion. “I feel somewhat selfish to come up here because this directly affects me and it’s hard to talk about it. When I first heard that they had put out a letter saying TPS might be rescinded, it was a really dark place for me and probably everyone like me. I started thinking about an exit strategy. I’ve spent more time in the US than in my country. I came here when I was 12. I went to school here, graduated from college and built a life here and a home here. The thought of having to leave is so incredibly hard.”
Iraheta was one of several TPS recipients that appeared before the Council to call on the body to pass a resolution that asked the federal government not to eliminate the TPS program, which affects legal immigrants from Haiti, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador who have fled dangerous situations like earthquakes and other disasters.
Many Haitians who fled the earthquake in 2010 are greatly affected. It is estimated that about 340,000 people nationwide have TPS status, but a good many like Iraheta reside in Chelsea.
“This resolution gives me hope and gives others like me hope in this situation,” concluded Iraheta.
Other residents, such as Mario Caballero of Webster Avenue said he is retired, having received TPS many years ago. As a retired man who worked two jobs for more than a decade, he wonders what will happen to him.
“I had no worries at all until I heard this news that TPS could be gone,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. “And just like me, the man who owns the home where I rent an apartment also has TPS. We wonder what is going to become of us. I’ve been on a pension for three years now and my first question is what will happen to my pension and my insurance.”
Councillors voted 11-0 to support the resolution, which garnered a standing ovation from a large group that came to speak on the matter.
Councillor Judith Garcia spoke emotionally about the measure, noting that family members have TPS.
“I know so much how you have contributed to the community and the economy,” she said. “We are breaking families apart. Many of those with TPS have children born here…Expelling residents is breaking up Chelsea…This resolution is a bold and important move. I hope other communities like Everett, Revere and Lawrence will join us. We have six months to really rally and bond together to make our voices heard.”
Councillor Dan Cortell said such decisions in Washington are being made by people who don’t have to look those affected – such as Iraheta – in the eye.
“The people making these decisions at a national level are missing having to look people in the eyes whom they are actually affecting,” he said. “Politicians like Trump aren’t looking people in the ye and understand the ramifications…We cannot sent people back to these places when they are not safe. Change is not going to happen from the top down so it has to come from the bottom up…These are our neighbors and we have to fight for them.”
The resolution won a unanimous vote and was signed by 10 of the 11 members.
The Chelsea Fire Department announced this week that they have secured a major federal grant to pay for the hiring of eight new firefighters in this year’s budget – with Chief Len Albanese saying the new recruits could hit the streets by Thanksgiving.
The Homeland Security grant provides $1.4 million of federal funding over a three-year period, covering 75 percent of the salary and benefits for two years. The third year of the grant will cover 35 percent of the share of salaries and benefits.
In the fourth year of the grant, the City would be responsible for 100 percent of the costs associated with the new hires.
Albanese said that in the end, concerns about not getting the grant due to Chelsea’s Sanctuary City status did not factor into whether the City did or did not get the grant as the application was put in last year.
Overall, the big news is that the Fire Department will go over 100 members for the first time in decades.
The grant will put the contingent up to 102 member.
“We’ve had 92 members for quite a while,” said the chief. “Prior to my arrival and when I got here and that’s a situation I assume goes back to the 1990s – post-receivership. (Last year), we added two members to get up to 94 and with the intention to add more. With the SAFER grant now in place, we can add eight new members and that brings our staffing up to 102…Having 102 is what we consider to be a really good staffing level for the Fire Department.”
He said that Revere’s contingent is at 98 and Everett – which also has a SAFER grant- is at 111.
He said adding the new members won’t eliminate overtime, but he believes it will bring it down to a reasonable number – eliminating what has been many years of controversy surrounding overspending on overtime.
“The purpose is to not just decrease overtime,” he said. “There’s always overtime in a 24/7 business…This will control overtime and put boots on the ground. It will stabilize overtime and increase staffing.”
Already, Albanese said he has identified the eight recruits from Civil Service, having been confident of getting the grant and taking early action. That will mean they get in the Station very quickly.
“We have eight recruits identified and they preparing to attend the Brookline Fire Academy on Sept. 5,” he said. “That means if all goes well, we will have these additional firefighters on the street by Thanksgiving.”
Along with this grant and another recently received, the fire department has garnered $2 million of federal funding from the 2016 DHS/FEMA programs.
The United States House of Representatives passed an immigration bill in June that includes harsh penalties for self-declared Sanctuary Cities like Chelsea, and even though it has a long way to go in passing the U.S. Senate to become law, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he would be ready to go back to Federal Court to fight it.
“I’m hoping the Senate does not go ahead with that,” he said. “If the Senate does go ahead and it is signed by the president, I expect we’ll look at at filing another lawsuit for violation of the 10th Amendment. Hopefully, the Senate will be more reasonable. I’m going to worry about legislation that passes the House.”
The law that passed the House deals with many issues, but when it comes to Sanctuary Cities, it takes away all grant money from cities that self-declare as a Sanctuary City – as Chelsea does. That would likely mean steep losses for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), for public safety grants (police and fire) and for grants to the Public Schools.
Ambrosino said he doesn’t envision the law clearing the Senate and isn’t too worried about that happening, but did say if the Senate happened to approve the legislation, Chelsea would look at another lawsuit.
The City filed a lawsuit earlier this year with Lawrence when President Donald Trump issued his executive order penalizing Sanctuary Cities. That order was also challenged by several other municipalities, and a stay of the order was granted by a Federal Appeals Court in California. That stay also applied to Chelsea’s case, making the executive order moot.
However, the new legislation does take away one of the key arguments in Chelsea’s original case – that being the executive order actions weren’t authorized by legislation.
However, Ambrosino said he and the City’s lawyers still believe a 10th Amendment violation would be grounds for another suit if need be.
“Obviously, the fact that legislation exists would make that argument go away, but there are other arguments we made and one is that legislation would violate the separation of powers in the 10th Amendment.”
No new action has taken place on the House Bill since it passed in late June, but City officials are keeping close tabs on the Senate’s actions in relation to the Bill.
As around 40 residents assembled at the Williams School Monday night on a beautiful summer evening, their greetings to one another and their conversations had to be punctuated by numerous pauses to accommodate the endless parade of airplanes passing loudly overhead.
By a quick count, about 40 planes passed over in 30 minutes before the meeting started.
It’s that sort of thing that brought out so many to the meeting, and it’s also what spawned activists and neighbors to announce that it’s time to stop working cooperatively with the airport as it’s getting the community nowhere.
“We go from Chelsea to East Boston to enjoy the parks they get as mitigation for the airport,” said Roseann Bongiovanni of GreenRoots. “A little mitigation goes a long way on helping the burden. It’s a sign of goodwill and good faith to say, ‘We understand the burden you are facing.’ That’s not happening with MassPort. We tried for six to eight months to get a meeting with them and we finally did. They heard our concerns and absorbed it and said, ‘We’re going to come back to you.’ It was positive. Eighteen months later, where are we? Nowhere. We don’t have a park or any mitigation or any amenities. They just don’t give a rat’s (expletive deleted),” she said.
MassPort has long been a thorn in the side of Chelsea as many residents have contended that the noise and frequency of the planes over Chelsea are just as obtrusive as many parts of East Boston, the host community. Meanwhile, the City also hosts an airport overlay district that serves to provide a district on Eastern Avenue and Marginal Street for airport-related uses like heavy trucking, fuel storage and rental car storage.
None of it is exactly an ideal use for residents to endure.
That said, City Councillors, Bongiovanni and scores of residents have detailed that the last couple of months have been unbearable as the airport has engaged in a Runway Improvement Project to pave the runways. That has resulted in more flights temporarily going over Chelsea, Everett and other air corridors. It has been the straw that seemingly has broken the back of Chelsea’s relationship with the airport and its regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Bongiovanni said Logan announced two weeks ago that the runway project was to end on June 23, and that things would be far less intrusive. However, residents and officials have said nothing has changed.
“June 23 came and went and today is June 26,” said Bongiovanni. “Planes are going over every 90 seconds or more. They said it would be all done. We’re seeing other communities getting up and fighting, such as in Milton. In Chelsea, we’re doing little things…It’s time for the community to stand up here and fight. We need to give them a little bit of trouble so they will listen.”
Residents at the meeting detailed being able to see planes so close that they can and have waved to passengers from their balconies. One man said the noise is so loud – occurring late in the night and resuming early in the morning – that his five-month-old baby has disturbed sleep patterns.
Others joked that they can’t watch television without the Closed Captioning – even with the windows closed.
Some even said they were frightened by how low the planes were coming in – saying it causes anxiety that they might hit something or go down.
Residents said they would like to begin taking action, and Bongiovanni said it would be important to dig up some facts and studies to bolster Chelsea’s position.
One study that never got a lot of play in Chelsea, but made big waves in Eastie, was a Department of Public Health study 10 years ago. That Environmental Health Assessment focused on Eastie, but also proved that some parts of Chelsea were just as impacted as Eastie – the airport host community.
The meeting also featured a guest speaker, John Walkey of Air, Inc, an East Boston organization that is sanctioned to work on environmental impacts of Logan Airport.
Many in the audience left the meeting with a charge to gather information and to get on the agenda of the MassPort Board meeting on July 20. There, they hope to begin making a strong point for Chelsea.
There have been fewer frustrating situations lately than the increase in the number, proximity and volume of airplanes coming and going from Logan Airport during the past few months as a project to re-pave runways has played out, and now two City Councillors have decided now is the perfect time to ask for an independent noise study of plane traffic over Chelsea.
Councillors Dan Cortell and Roy Avellaneda, two staunch critics of Logan, put in an order on Monday night’s meeting calling for the City Manager Tom Ambrosino to authorize funds for a third party to perform a comprehensive sound study as it relates to the noise from airplanes passing over Chelsea from Logan. The order calls for monitors to be placed under and around flight paths over an appropriate period of time to get a reading of decibel levels and frequency of planes.
When that data is received, it would be compared to the existing Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) noise abatement requirements.
The matter was praised by other councilors and passed the Council.
The initiative was the latest volley in what has been an historic rough relationship with MassPort regarding the frequency of planes and the level of sound coming over Chelsea. Chelsea also hosts an Airport Business Overlay District for rental cars and freight forwarding and jet fuel storage. For that, it receives an annual payment to the City, but many feel that the expansion of the airport in recent years demands more mitigation for the residents of Chelsea, who arguably are as close as anyone to the airport except for East Boston.
Both Cortell and Avellaneda said the final straw was when elected officials began fielding numerous calls for increased jet noise. They had few answers, but later learned that a runway re-paving project was diverting more flights over Chelsea from April to June as the project played out.
MassPort said the project would end on June 23, but they told City Manager Tom Ambrosino that they would not come and address the Council about the project.
“We are now looking to get a sound study from an independent third party,” said Cortell. “There is a very difficult thing to do. It’s federal; it’s the FAA. They have rules and guidelines. We believe some studies are too old or not done by and independent third party. We want to see what our numbers reveal.”
Cortell has been a frequent critic because his district on Admiral’s Hill doesn’t get mitigation despite routinely getting very low flights and sometimes, he said, being able to see the faces of the pilots as they approach the Hill.
Avellaneda said Chelsea has been disrespected for too long by MassPort. He said, most recently, the City was snubbed when the airport wanted to expand Terminal E. Now, he said, they have refused to meet with the City in regards to the paving project that has so impacted residents for months.
“When they put together our mitigation package…they really underestimated the numbers of flights Chelsea would get,” he said. “MassPort has not been a very good neighbor. I’ve had discussions with the City Manager about getting us a meeting. Despite his requests, no one from MassPort would come to talk to us. We can now only take it up in our own fight…If we all agree it’s a good idea, we will do a sound study.”
The matter was praised by Councillors Damali Vidot and Luis Tejada as well.
Additionally, the matter has gathered steam in the environmental justice community, and GreenRoots announced Wednesday that it would be holding a meeting on airport noise this coming Monday, June 26, at the Williams School, 6 p.m.
In an affidavit issued in federal court late last week, special agents detailed numerous firearms sales, attempted murders, huge amounts of drug sales and a gang that said it was ready to go to war with the Chelsea Police.
In an early morning raid last Thursday, June 9, federal, state and local law enforcement cracked down on the East Side Money Gang (ES$G) and the 18th Street Gang in Chelsea – arresting at least 12 targeted members in Chelsea alone and leveling charges against 66 members of those two gangs and another gang in Jamaica Plain. In total, 53 defendants have been charged in federal court, three of whom were previously arrested. Thirteen defendants have been charged by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office in state court. More than two dozen individuals have been detained for administrative deportations.
The raid was reminiscent of the early-Thursday raid of the MS-13 gang earlier this year where more than 60 members of that gang were also charged.
The ES$G is known in Chelsea for its brash behavior despite being only about five years old and made up mostly of very young men. It has an ongoing feud with the Chelsea-based Outlaws and the East Boston-based Maverick Street gang. In the most serious charges, Federal officials detailed one attempted murder of an Outlaw at a Revere gas station in early April by ES$G member Brandon ‘Big Baby’ Baez.
The 18th Street gang is a multi-national gang that specializes in firearms, officials said, and the drug trade. That gang goes beyond the borders of the City and was often a rival and target of MS-13 – as the two have engaged in a years-long war in Chelsea, East Boston and Everett.
Officials said the two gangs had worked cooperatively to supply one another with drugs and guns.
During the course of the investigation, more than 70 firearms were seized.
On Thursday, more than 400 federal, state and local law enforcement officers carried out the arrests of numerous leaders, members, and associates of the 18th Street Gang, the East Side Money Gang and the Boylston Gang in JP. These individuals operated primarily in East Boston, Chelsea, Brockton, Malden, Revere and Everett. Additional individuals were taken into custody on federal immigration violations.
In 2014, a federal investigation identified a network of street gangs which had created alliances resulting in the trafficking of weapons and drugs throughout the state, and generated violence against rival gang members. The investigation also revealed significant cocaine, crack, and heroin dealing committed by gang members, many of which were supplied though a Brockton-based drug network.
The ES$G gang has been particularly noteworthy in Chelsea lately, drawing much attention online for brazen postings of rap videos detailing their crimes and for recruiting in local high schools.
“Despite its relative short lifespan, the gang has been responsible for numerous acts of violence, including multiple shootings,” read the affidavit. “The gang has presented significant public safety problems for Chelsea and East Boston where the gang engages in violence and drug trafficking and is also where the gang is frequently targeted by rival gangs…The ES$G has targeted rival gangs and members of the public to further its goals. ES$G members and associates have actively sought to intimidate potential witnesses to its illegal actions in order to prevent detection and prosecution. There is an ongoing conflict between the ES$G and the Outlaws in Chelsea, which has resulted in multiple violent crimes, including three attempted murders by ES$G.”
The leaders of the gang were identified as Angel ‘Stacks’ Mejia and Josue ‘Superbad’ Rodriguez. Mejia was involved in the sale of several firearms, more than a kilogram of crack cocaine and multiple attempted murders, as well as arming other gang member, some of whom were juveniles. Both men can be viewed on YouTube videos rapping about some of the criminal exploits alleged in the indictment.
One attempted murder that was detailed and caught on a wiretap by investigators was a shooting on April 3 in Revere where two Outlaw gang members were allegedly shot at some nine times at a gas station by Baez. Mejia and Rodriguez were alleged to have armed him two days earlier in preparation for the hit.
Others charged were:
Emmitt ‘Easy’ Simpkins, sold 77 grams of cocaine to agents.
Henry ‘Junior’ Del Rio, allegedly sold a Ruger .45 to an undercover agent and was heard on a wiretap detailing the armed robbery of a drug dealer.
Jerry ‘Fetti’ Leiva, sold a pistol and a shotgun to an agent – a shotgun he allegedly used to shoot someone before he sold it. Leiva also told police the ES$G was ready to go to war with the Chelsea Police when they questioned him about a domestic violence incident he was witnessed perpetrating.
“Leiva threatened officers by identifying the locations where officers parked their vehicles including a specific personal vehicle used by an officer who lives in Chelsea and stating that he would have someone take care of them,” read the affidavit. “Leiva said he was in the ES$G and that they were prepared to go to war with the police.”
Elyhas ‘Boi Boi’ Diaz, allegedly sold two firearms to an agent with Leiva.
Roberto ‘Forty’ Jimenez, has been incarcerated on other drug charges and was heard on a wiretap saying he set up one victim to be whacked. His mother, Jessika Heyer, is alleged to have sold a gun last July on his behalf to other ES$G members while he was federally-incarcerated.
The 18th Street gang was singled out by authorities for their proclivity to arm other gangs. Authorities began buying guns from the 18th Street Gang in Chelsea in April 2015.
Authorities noted that the gang had the ability to move large quantities of guns throughout Chelsea and Boston. In a little over one year, agents alleged to have made controlled purchases of 37 firearms from 18th Street Gang leaders and members – including three assault rifles, 29 handguns, and five shotguns.
The first buy came in April 21, 2015 from Oscar ‘Droopy’ Oliva.
Others charged included:
Luis ‘Catracho’ Serrano, allegedly sold to agents crack cocaine and six firearms, including two assault rifles purchased in the last two weeks.
Jose ‘Little Joker’ Pineda-Ramirez, allegedly sold at least four firearms, including a shotgun, to agents.
Cristian ‘Bombio’ Velasqeuz, this man has been deported once before agents said and had returned somehow to Chelsea. He was involved in the sale of 10 firearms and crack cocaine to agents.
Omar ‘Negrito’ Villegas, allegedly was involved in multiple firearm and cocaine deals and was a supplier of guns to the ES$G. Also sold agents a sawed-off shotgun.
Chester ‘Chapin’ Martinez, allegedly sold three firearms and crack cocaine to agents.
The charge of RICO conspiracy provides a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Depending on the drug quantity, the drug trafficking conspiracy and distribution charges provide a sentence of 20 years, 40 years or a lifetime in prison; a minimum of three, four or five years of supervised release; and a fine of $1 million, $5 million or $10 million. The charge of conspiracy to engage in the business of dealing in firearms without a license provides a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm or an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition provides a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Oscar ‘Droopy’ Oliva caught on video by federal agents in April 2015 making a sale of a firearm to undercover investigators in Chelsea. Olivia is alleged to be a leader in the 18th Street Gang, which showed a remarkable ability to run large numbers of guns through Chelsea and Boston during the federal investigation.
New federal flood maps – set to be fully approved for Chelsea next month – could bring about quite an expensive surprise for homeowners in areas where flooding is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind.
Flood maps are reviewed and compiled by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), and have been in the process of being revised for several years. The maps this time, however, account for far greater coastal inundation by storms like Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina. So, there are far more areas that are now considered flood prone, including areas like Addison, Heard and Blossom Streets that were never in flood zones before.
Proposed flood maps for Chelsea include new flood areas such as the entirety of the Everett Avenue Urban Renewal District – including the Market Basket. It also includes streets on the other side of Rt. 1 like Addison, Blossom, Heard and Second Streets – including Chelsea High School.
It also now extends far into the industrial areas along Eastern Avenue – all the way up to the MWRA property.
“The new maps is a significant change from the previous maps that were in effect,” said City Planner John DePriest. “The use the new levels on coastal inundation like parts of the country got in Hurricane Sandy or in New Orleans. The old zones went out a couple hundred feet from the creek. It now extends over to the urban renewal area in Everett Avenue and on Eastern Avenue all the way to the MWRA property.”
Those expanded maps mean that anyone in the new flood plain – which goes before the Council on March 16 for approval – would now have to carry flood insurance – which can be very expensive.
For a residential home, some estimates indicate it could cost as much as $5,000 per year for those who now find themselves in the flood plain.
For places like Market Basket and other existing businesses, it means a very large, new bill to operate in places they have been for a long time.
“Insurance companies have begun to or will soon be sending the bills to property owners,” said DePriest. “The first thing is people should be talking to their homeowner’s insurance company. Getting federal insurance is much easier to find and less expensive than the market rate.”
He said they can also contact FEMA directly for discussion of the situation.
There is also a way to dispute the designation, particularly for homeowners on the fringes of the new maps. That is called a Notice of Map Change, and it would likely mean spending a few thousand dollars for a survey and proving one’s case.
“The burden of proof is on the homeowner,” he said.
For pending development, the new maps bring about some certainty and many new developments would have the advantage of being able to build around the problem.
For instance, an apartment building could eliminate the first floor of residences and put parking underneath. Other work-arounds are also available, such as raising the building threshold height.
“I don’t think it’s going to stop development,” he said. “It will add to the cost of it. Market Basket has more development plans down there. We continue to have discussions with Market Basket and they haven’t given any indication they don’t want to continue redevelopment on the site.”
The City did appeal the maps last year, and small changes were granted in that appeal, but the significant changes were kept in place.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said there was only so much the City could do to influence the federal government in such big policy decisions like this.
“We know it is expensive and what I can say is we appealed the maps, but at some point the city’s influence is limited,” he said. “We tried our best to prevent it, but this is the end result.”
Ambrosino said he hasn’t heard much from the public yet, but if there is an outcry, he would consider having a public meeting to address the new maps.
The Planning Board held a hearing on the maps Tuesday night, Feb. 23, at City Hall. Their recommendation sends the matter to the City Council.
An affirmative vote of the maps by the Council allows residents to participate in the federally-subsidized federal flood insurance program – which is still expensive, but much less than prices on the open market.