The turf field at Highland Park has been used nearly with pause since it was installed in 2011, but this hub of soccer activity in Chelsea has been defective from the get-go, and City officials are now looking at situations in other parts of the country where cities have won settlements to replace these defective fields.
An aerial view of the Highland Park soccer field in 2017 shows tremendous wear and bunching even though it is only six years old at the time. A problem with the materials in the field might be grounds for replacement for the City.
The turf field has been the source of great discussion for several months as the wear and tear on the field has been worrisome to many that use the field. The field has shown extreme wear in the center area, particularly when it comes to “bunching up.”
If experiences with field replacement by the installer, FieldTurf, in other areas are any indication, there might not be such a long and costly wait for relief at Highland Park.
A source outside of Chelsea, but intimately connected to the situation in Chelsea, contacted the Record last week with details about the defective materials used in the field when it was installed in 2011. That defective material is known as Duraspine and it is the fibers used to imitate grass. An outside supplier made the product for FieldTurf, and it was learned to be defective around 2009 or 2010. Now FieldTurf makes its own fiber.
In other locales, fields with the same problem have been replaced at no cost or at a discount, particularly when the warranty was still in place. In Chelsea, the eight-year warranty is still in effect until 2019.
“Area schools, towns and public agencies have spent millions of dollars installing synthetic turf fields in recent years,” said the source, who requested anonymity. “A number of important national class-action lawsuits have just been launched against the main supplier of synthetic turf fields in Massachusetts… Chelsea High School had a non-defective, proper FieldTurf field installed in September 2003. It performed admirably for almost 15 years until it was replaced this summer. The defective Highland Park field is still protected under full warranty until February 2019 at least. All FieldTurf fields had a non-prorated eight-year warranty as a minimum. Many FieldTurf fields have a 10-year warranty. The company’s key strategy is to sit back and ‘run out the clock’ on the warranty and hope that customers, most often taxpayers, don’t notice and get stuck with the replacement costs.”
The heart of the problem is that the outside supplier provided the FieldTurf company with Duraspine materials. At some point around 2009 or 2010, and that date is disputed, the company learned their supplier had used the defective Duraspine materials. That led to a settlement between the supplier and FieldTurf, and FieldTurf has replaced several defective fields across the country because of it.
“Do the responsible public officials even realize they have been completely defrauded; do they know they are possibly plaintiffs in one of the many class-action lawsuits filed against the company?” said the source.
City officials this week said they did not know about the defective materials, and they have forwarded the information to the City Legal Department to look at what can potentially be done for Highland Park.
“This is the first I’m hearing about this issue,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “We are having our City Solicitor investigate the information provided to us.”
All of the above considered, FieldTurf told the Record that the highly-publicized problems in other locales are likely exaggerated.
“We are committed to honoring our warranties and working with our customers to address any issues if they arise,” read a statement from FieldTurf. “It’s important to note that…the Highland Park field in Chelsea was installed in 2011 and is almost near the end of its warranty term. Since we first became aware of the issue with Duraspine, we have been responsive to our customers experiencing issues with their fields. The Duraspine issue has not impacted safety – only how a field looks as it wears – and has been limited to high-UV environments. Worldwide, less than 2 percent of Duraspine fields have been replaced under warranty because of issues with the Duraspine fiber. FieldTurf discontinued the sale of Duraspine in 2010 and transitioned fully to its own self-produced fibers in 2011 – and we have introduced many successful fibers since then.”
Some are asking how it is that Chelsea seemed to get the defective product at Highland Park even after FieldTurf knew of the problems and was transitioning to its own in-house process.
“(I think) FieldTurf knowingly installed defective material at Highland Park,” said the source. “This is outright fraud.”
Several media reports, as well as the source that contacted the Record, have indicated that there are class-action lawsuits in the works. However, FieldTurf said those reports are misleading and should be taken with careful measure.
“There continue to be media reports of a ‘class action’ lawsuit against FieldTurf, but this is misleading, as the Courts have not yet approved any class action against FieldTurf, and they have not yet even decided whether most of the claims are valid,” read the statement. “Importantly, the New Jersey Attorney General’s office and the Federal Trade Commission have both closed investigations into FieldTurf without finding any wrongdoing.”
That suit was filed in March 2017.
FieldTurf, in its statement, did not address why it installed the defective product at Highland Park even after it knew about the problems with Duraspine.
The Chelsea High boys soccer team dropped a heartbreaking 2-1 decision to Acton-Boxboro in a first round contest of the Division 1 North Sectional of the MIAA state soccer tournament last Friday evening on the turf at Highland Park.
The Red Devils grabbed a 1-0 lead at the 30 minute mark of the opening half when Delmer Romero found the back of the A-B net with a beautiful strike from the top of the box.
Delmer, Chelsea’s leading scorer this season, initially took possession of the ball in the right corner of the box and then made a few moves toward the center to create some space from the A-B defenders. When he obtained a small window of opportunity, Romero let go a powerful drive high to the opposite corner to beat the A-B keeper.
However, that would prove to be the apogee of coach Mick Milutinovic and his Red Devils’ hopes for advancing to the next round of the tournament.
Five minutes after Romero’s goal, a ref whistled Chelsea for a controversial hand-ball in the box and awarded a penalty kick to A-B. The alleged hand-ball call was not evident to anyone else on or in the field — and the ref who made the call was 60 yards aways from the action.
Acton-Boxboro converted the PK, bringing the contest back to level at the half.
The contest remained deadlocked for the next 55 minutes — 40 minutes of the second half, 10 minutes of the first overtime, and five minutes of the second OT — until A-B reached the back of the Chelsea net for the victory with five minutes left in the second overtime period.
“This was a great tourney game,” said CHS assistant coach Evan Protasowicki. “Our defense was solid and our keeper, Roberto Portillo, played the best game of his career with some outstanding saves.
“We had a great crowd and the team fought hard the whole way,” added Protasowicki, who noted that the Red Devils had enjoyed a superb season with a 13-0-3 record entering the tournament. “It’s too bad that the outcome of the game hinged on that hand-ball call.”
CHS runners do
well at Coaches Meet
Last Saturday a small contingent of the Chelsea High boys and girls cross country teams traveled to Wrentham to participate in the Frank Mooney State Coaches Invitational.
Senior Justin Turner raced to a personal best of 17:05 on the 3.1 mile course to finish seventh out of 189 runners.
“Every week Justin gets better,” said CHS head coach Don Fay. “He had a great summer of training and it is translating into a remarkable season. He hasn’t missed a day of practice and he is a great leader.”
Senior Julio Valladares ran 17:51 to improve by over a minute and was 30th overall out of 189.
“Earlier this season Julio had a virus he couldn’t shake,” said Fay. “The last three weeks he has finally been running to his potential.”
Jazmany Reyes ran 18:29 and also had a personal best by almost a minute. Oscar Amaya ran 19:22 in the sophomore race while freshman Ian Padilla also ran in the sophomore race and ran 20:10. Only nine other freshman beat Ian in the race.
Limilson Tavares raced to a 19:09 time in the junior race. Joseph Terval ran 20:07 to smash his former best time by almost two minutes. WidinButras finished in a time of 22:10.
On the girls’ side, YaridDeras finished 28th in a time of 22:11 for the 3.1 miles.
This Saturday both the boys and girls squats will go back to Wrentham for the Division 2 State Meet.
CHS football team
meets O’Bryant Friday
The Chelsea High football team turned in its most-productive offensive effort of the season, but came out on the short end of a 40-22 decision to Cathedral High this past Friday evening.
“Unfortunately, it’s not the outcome we wanted, but I am proud of my guys for putting up a fight until the last whistle,” said CHS head coach Rasi Chau. “Our new quarterback, freshman Joshua Sosa, took the call and did a great job controlling the field.”
Sosa threw a 76 yard touchdown pass to Daps Olunbuson and ran a quarterback sneak for a two-point conversion. Jabes Escalante did a great job running the ball, scoring touchdowns, including his longest run of the year of 57 yards, plus a two-point conversion. Jabes ended up with 176 yards on the ground.
Ivan Soto, Chelsea’s leading tackler this season with more than 100 tackles, recorded 13 solo tackles of Cathedral ballcarriers.
Chau and his squad will play at O’Bryant High School in Boston tomorrow (Friday). Kickoff is set for 4:00.
CHS girls soccer
Although the Chelsea High girls soccer team dropped its last four games of the season to finish with a final record of 5-10-2, CHS head coach Randy Grajal was upbeat about his team’s performance and its future.
“We have a very young team and we improved as our season went along,” said CHS head coach Randy Grajal. “I am looking forward to our next season.”
Historically, there’s been very little to do on a summer night in Chelsea, and that’s been the problem.
Now, in its third summer, The Movement has been the cure to hapless wandering for local youth.
Instead, they hoop it up.
Coordinated by Councilors Yamir Rodriguez and Damali Vidot, along with Isidra Quinonez and Danny Mojica, The Movement keeps Chelsea kids age 13-20 busy on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings.
“I think it’s just a great environment because a lot of the younger kids play with the older kids and they can see them on the street outside of the league and say ‘hi,’” said Rodriguez. “A lot of friendships start because of The Movement. It develops kind of a mentor situation because a lot of these kids don’t have an older brother and this helps that too. It’s kind of an unintended consequence, but it’s one of the best things about it.
“The kids love hanging out and playing ball,” he continued.
Vidot said it helps to bring youth together in a relaxed, but supervised, environment.
“On Saturday morning, they don’t hand out, but they come to play,” she said. “After playing all day long, they will not want to go out to the streets when they get home. They’ll stay in and take it easy. On Friday night, they don’t want to stay out because they have to be here on Saturday morning. You have the 13-year-old playing with the 20-year-old, so it helps them become better players. It also builds community. It’s not like a lot of other youth leagues where you have to sign in and sign out. It’s street ball. They can be themselves.”
The Movement came out of a desperate situation, where the community was reeling in the spring of 2016 after the shooting death of Pablo Villeda during an early morning teen party on Washington Avenue. The shooting also injured numerous other young people, and it showed that the youth who are not “at-risk” needed some activities as well.
That’s when The Movement came together.
Now, the league has several hundred young people playing against one another all summer. Typically, the games are played at Highland Park, but a renovation project there may force them to move to the Williams School.
The Movement will begin play in early July, and it had its annual kick-off at Chelsea High last weekend – with the Battle of the Classes and Police vs. Fire basketball games.
“Basketball is the entertainment,” said Rodriguez, “but it’s the environment that has become very important.”
The City has moved to protect the resident parking around the new Silver Line Stations and busy 111 bus stops, anticipating a rush of commuters that will look to capitalize on easy parking in the day and a fast bus into Boston.
The Traffic Commission in late May approved the plan to enforce the existing resident parking program during the day hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Typically, in most parts of Chelsea, the resident parking program is enforced at night from midnight to 5 a.m.
Some exceptions are near the Commuter Rail and near the Chelsea Court.
The City Council approved the plan last week, on June 4.
The idea came from Councilor Roy Avellaneda, who first began talking about it at Council in December.
He said this week that he was glad to see proactive action.
“We don’t want to see commuters coming from Everett, Malden and Revere driving over to Chelsea and parking all day long so they can take the Silver Line into Boston and park for free,” he said. “I’m glad they also decided to take the extra step of protecting the busier 111 bus routes too. This is a win for Chelsea residents.”
After suggested by Avellaneda, Planner Alex Train worked up the proposal and sent it to the Traffic Commission.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they will begin enforcing the ordinance soon after they relay information to residents, as residents will need to have information in the areas affected. Most residents already have resident stickers, but they may need to be aware to get placards for their visitors during the day hours.
That’s a major change from what is currently in effect.
Ambrosino said they plan to have a public meeting on June 21 to explain the program and give out information to those effected. He said he wants to make sure people have a chance to digest the information as there were no public meetings beyond the Traffic Commission.
The meeting will take place at Chelsea City Hall in the City Council Chambers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 21.
The areas effected for the Silver Line include:
Gerrish Avenue from Broadway to Highland;
Library Street, from Broadway to Highland;
Highland Street, from Marlborough to Box District Station;
Marlborough Street, from Broadway to Willow.
Those areas affected by the 111 bus stop protections are:
On April 30, at 10:40 p.m., officers were dispatched to the area of 99 Willow St. for a report of an accident. Upon the officer’s arrival, they came upon the operator of a Ford Escape with its front end on top of a 4X4 boulder. The boulder was used to stop vehicles from driving onto the grass. The operator of the car was later determined to operating under the influence and placed under arrest.
Antonio Timas, 62, of 95 Highland St., was charged with operating under the influence of liquor.
TAGGING THE TEACHER
On May 4, at 8:30 a.m., a CPD responded to the Browne Middle School for a report of a vehicle tagged with paint. Upon arrival, the officer met with the principal who stated that a student tagged a teacher’s car in red paint. The mother of the Juvenile was notified, and the student was placed under arrest.
The 14-year-old juvenile was charged with tagging property.
On May 4, at 10:20 a.m., officers responded to a Cottage Street address to conduct a well-being check on the occupants. While on scene officers uncovered what was believed to be drugs. The drugs were consistent in its packaging for distribution. The male subject was taken into custody.
Ezequiel Aranda, 27, of 179 Winnisimmet St., was charged with possession to distribute a Class A drug, and possession to distribute a Class B drug.
CRAZY DRIVER FLIED UP BROADWAY
On May 6, officers heard a loud crash at 2:18 a.m. in the area of Broadway at Library Street.
They observed a vehicle that struck a car flee the scene onto Broadway at a high rate of speed toward Revere. They eventually stopped the car and after conducting field sobriety tests placed the operator under arrest for OUI.
Jose Laboy Cruz, 29, of Roxbury, was charged with operating under the influence of liquor, leaving the scene of personal injury, failing to stop for police, speeding at an unreasonable speed, reckless operation, marked lanes violation, red light violation, stop sign violation, operating with a suspended licensed, and possession of an open container of alcohol.
MS-13 MEMBER PLEADS GUILTY TO RACKETEERING INVOLVING MURDER
An MS-13 member pleaded guilty May 9 in federal court in Boston to racketeering conspiracy involving the murder of a 16-year-old boy in East Boston.
Edwin Diaz, a/k/a “Demente,” 20, a Salvadoran national, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO or racketeering conspiracy. U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for Aug. 20, 2018.
At today’s hearing, the Court accepted the defendant’s guilty plea but deferred acceptance of the plea agreement until the sentencing. Under the terms of the proposed plea agreement, Diaz will be sentenced to 35 years in prison and be subject to deportation upon completion of his sentence.
After a multi-year investigation, Diaz was one of dozens of alleged leaders, members, and associates of MS-13 named in a superseding indictment unsealed in January 2016 that targeted MS-13’s criminal activities in Massachusetts. Diaz is the 45th defendant to be convicted as part of that ongoing prosecution.
Diaz was a “homeboy,” or full member, of MS-13’s “Westers” clique. On Jan. 10, 2016, Diaz and other MS-13 members murdered a 16-year-old boy whom they believed to be a member of the rival 18th Street gang. The victim was stabbed and shot multiple times. A few days after the murder, Diaz was caught on tape admitting to stabbing the victim multiple times, and he was arrested soon thereafter.
Two of the highest tides ever recorded on Boston Harbor have happened in the last three months, with one of those being last Friday, March 2, around 11:15 a.m.
Last Friday’s storm caused some severe flooding in Chelsea, particularly on Marginal Street where the Chelsea Creek breached its banks. However, the storm also packed a punch with heavy winds, which blew Chelsea’s official Christmas tree Down.
And on Friday, and on Jan. 4 before that, the tides and coastal storm surge combined to inundate areas of Chelsea that normally stay dry – particularly on Marginal Street and its tributaries up the hill.
This past Friday, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said floodwaters breached the banks of the Chelsea Creek once again – just as they did during the blizzard and coastal surge on Jan. 4.
He said there isn’t much the City can do short-term to alleviate that kind of powerful force.
“There just wasn’t a whole lot we could do about that situation when the Creek comes over its banks, onto the roadway and floods the entire road,” he said. “We may have to be thinking about – like other cities and towns – very long, long-term solutions because I think these types of storms are going to continue more and more. I think like everyone else we’re going to have to start thinking about Coastal Climate Resiliency. I don’t know what that would mean for Marginal Street, but it would have to mean something because we can’t keep having this kind of flooding.”
Ambrosino said the tidal action on Marginal Street is also what caused the closure of several streets on the hill, including Congress, Willow, Highland and others. Fixing that would mean years of planning and millions and millions of dollars, but perhaps that is something, he said, that needs to happen.
Beyond that, flooding issues on Eastern Avenue on Friday near the Burke School Complex may have a solution. He said there is some infrastructure work they intend to do in the coming years that should make a difference in that flooding situation.
On Friday, high tides inundated the area near the Burke and caused some disruptions in school activities.
The same is true for flooding on the Island End River, which exceeded its banks on Friday too. That type of flooding issue threatens the food supply at the New England Produce Center, but like Eastern Avenue, Ambrosino said there are solutions that have been planned.
“There are long-term solutions there, but they are expensive,” he said. “However, there are ideas that can make a difference with that situation.”
Beyond the flooding, the storm packed a punch with wind gusts that often went above 80 mph. That wreaked havoc with many trees in the city, and particularly with the City’s official Christmas tree in Chelsea Square.
That tree was knocked down in the winds, and had to be removed from its long-time home.
“The Christmas tree did get knocked over,” said Ambrosino. “As I understand, it was transplanted some years ago and didn’t have very deep roots. The Tree Board will look at that and try to figure out what we’ll do about a new Christmas tree. Luckily, we have plenty of time to think about it.”
When Councillor Giovanni Recupero walks around his district on streets like Suffolk Street and Hawthorne Street this summer, he’ll be walking on sidewalks.
That wasn’t the case for nearly 30 or more years, and the outspoken councillor this week is celebrating the end of a long fight to get the City to pay more attention to his oft-forgotten enclave of the city abutting Chelsea Creek. Just two summers ago, he took the Record on a tour of his district, much of which had no sidewalks, was littered with garbage and lacked even cursory street lighting – making it an inviting area for criminals and those who wished to dump dead bodies (which used to happen occasionally).
On Monday, he stood on the exact location at Suffolk and Highland Street where weeds, dirt and used drug needles formerly served as a sidewalk, and celebrated brand new concrete walking paths. It’s what would be the minimum in some neighborhoods, but was rare in District 6.
“That’s something the people here, including myself, thought would never be done,” he said. “I lived here 40 years and people never thought they would see a streetlight here and I never thought I would see a sidewalk on Suffolk Street. Everyone’s happy this summer. Why wouldn’t they be? These are things that have been neglected by the City for a very, very, very long time.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said the “love” for District 6 is part of an overall massive infrastructure investment in the City.
“The City is seeking to invest in infrastructure improvements, particularly streets and sidewalk, in many areas of the City,” he said. “The Council has been supportive, approving a Capital Improvement Plan in FY17 of $11 million and in FY18 of $19 million. As a result of this investment, residents of all areas of the City, including District 6, should see improvements that enhance their neighborhoods.”
In addition to the sidewalks and granite curbing on Suffolk Street, Hawthorne Street is currently getting sidewalks right now, and both will be paved this summer too. Last year, on Lynn Street and Lynn Street Extension, streetlights went up for the first time in decades – putting an end to the darkness and the crime that took place in the absent of well-lit streets.
On Wednesday, crews moved in to start paving and implementing sidewalks on Lynn Street as well. Lynn Street Extension will be paved, but it will not get sidewalks because residents preferred to have parking.
On Charles Street, a small street that has no residents and connects Suffolk and Marginal Streets, and abuts Boston Hides and Furs, Recupero pointed out a new streetlight just installed. He said it’s a small thing, but one that will prevent a lot of criminal activity in what is a dark and deserted area.
“They told me for a long, long time they couldn’t do this,” he said. “There it is so I guess they could do it. They just didn’t want to do it.”
Next year, Recupero has designs on getting the same thing done on Congress Avenue and Division Street, among others.
“District 6 should be equal to other districts,” he said. “It hasn’t been and that’s not fair because there are just as many hard-working people here as in the rest of Chelsea. They keep their properties nice and we should be able to keep the City property nice too.”
The extensive improvements to Highland Park’s basketball courts and playground are now being expanded to include lighting improvements and a rehabilitation of the parking lot – at an extra cost of $230,000.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino broke the news to the City Council on Monday night, June 5, and told the Council that the scope of work needed to be expanded.
While the original work included just refurbishing the basketball courts, playground and sitting areas at Highland, once the City’s Planning Department began designing the improvements, they realized there was a desperate need to make additional improvements.
“As the City began to look more carefully at this park during the design phase, it determined that the parking lot area was likewise in desperate need of repair,” he wrote. “
The lighting fixtures were outdated and the irrigation system was not working.
The added improvements include paving the lot, replacement of the perimeter irrigation system, landscaping, an putting in modern lighting to illuminate the area more effectively. He also suggested installing new lighting on the Willow Street side of the park to help illuminate that busy area as well by the Jordan Boys & Girls Club and the Al Huda Society Mosque.
In the original scope, the City received a state grant for $400,000 and contributed $170,000 to the project through the City Capital Improvement Plan.
He called for the Council to tap into the $34 million Free Cash fund.
The full expenditure will now be $800,000.
The Council filed the request and will take it up for a second reading at Monday’s meeting.
In the wake of a Waterfront Planning Process for the areas next to Chelsea Street Bridge, Councillor Roy Avellaneda has called for the strip of land running along Marginal Street from Highland Avenue to Winnisimmet Street to be re-zoned to provide what he believes are better uses.
In an order presented to the Council on Monday and passed, he called for the City Manager and Planning Department to draft a zoning amendment for the City Council to review within 45 days, adding a Waterfront Residential Commercial Overlay District (WRCOD) to the highly-industrial – though partly residential – area. He said he believes the new overlay district would promote economic development, eliminate blighted properties and encourage residential and commercial uses.
Some of the uses suggested to be allowed in the new district include multi-family dwellings with four or more units, dwellings containing six or fewer units, multifamily dwelling units of 12-35 units per acre, hotels, bakeries, convenience stores, supermarkets, restaurants, banks, cinemas and indoor commercial recreation – to name a few.
In addition, he calls for uses currently allowed by right in the industrial area should only be allowed by special permit, and those allowed now by special permit should be prohibited.
“What I’m doing is taking advantage of the face we’re in this process to look at the waterfront planning,” he said. “This part is not in that study. In the conversation I’ve had with residents down there who live along Marginal Street, they’d like to see less industrial uses – which doesn’t fit waterfront zoning. The things they would like to see are not allowed now, things like commercial mixed use, more larger residential or banks. We should take a look at this piece of land to and allow those things to happen…The current study, again, does not include that area. It’s been cut out…It would be great to envision something for that corridor, which is the front door of our city.”
District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero agreed that he believes it’s a good idea.
“I am in favor of it,” he said. “It will make our area much better and it isn’t going to make the taxes go up. All of that isn’t allowed there now. We would have retail and stores with apartments above. All of that makes sense down there.”
Meanwhile, there are rumblings that not everyone agrees with the idea, and it is believed that heavy industrial owners like the warehouse on Essex Street, Eastern Salt and Boston Hides & Furs might have concerns.
Some on the Council had initial concerns as well, though public comments were not yet made on the matter. It will be scheduled for a public hearing at the Planning Board, and later at the Council
One week after an idea was floated publicly by Councillor Roy Avellaneda to look into taking the Soldiers’ Home park (Malone Park) out of the state’s hands so the City could use it for youth sports programming, several councillors are lashing out and Avellaneda said it’s all politics.
This week, Councillor Luis Tejada, who represents part of the Park along with Councillor Matt Frank, said he is absolutely against any proposal to use the park for youth sports.
“I live directly across the street from the park,” he said. “For kids, we have 13-plus parks to play in. Question, how many parks do we have for the elderly and our veterans to go and be in peace and quiet? One, and now they want to take this away. The fact is that we do enough in this country to push our elderly and veterans aside so they don’t bother us and its a shame. We need to not allow this to happen. Not every park has to be set up for kids and young loiterers. Our elderly deserve respect. They have done their part in helping mold our city into what it is and it would be a shame to take the last place afforded to them just because some people feel they are not entitled.”
But Avellaneda said Tejada was playing politics.
He said he reached out to many councillors when he first starting thinking about the idea, back last spring when the playing field crisis first unfolded and it became apparent the City either needed a new field or needed to revisit the way it doled out its existing fields.
He said Tejada was open to the idea when they first spoke.
“If he had originally expressed his reservations and taken a position against this when I first talked to him, I wouldn’t have never gotten to the next step where we were meeting with the Soldiers’ Home,” he said. “For him to come out now and say he is totally against this, I ask why he mention he was against it six months ago when I first asked him about it…To do this now – being totally against it in the way he is – is bush league politics.”
Avellaneda said nothing was a done deal and it was simply an idea.
“Nothing was done in a vacuum and we never excluded the public or neighbors because, in fact, we never got to the point where we could get public input,” he said. “We were certainly going to get to that point. I was trying to find a solution to a problem. We had a long way to go.”
Councillor Damali Vidot, who initiated the discussion last year about the use of the playing fields.
She said Malone Park isn’t the answer, and looking at how the fields are doled out is what should be done first.
“I believe before the City starts to take away tranquil space from our beloved veterans and neighbors, we start to better manage our existing spaces,” she said. “We have a soccer field at Highland Park that has been completely monopolized by one entity under various names and catering to non-residents. Perhaps if we focused more on accountability and better management of those spaces, we could provide Chelsea youth the space they need as well as preserve space for our vets and neighbors during their golden years.”