Strategic Scholarship Bootcamp Seminar Will Be Starting on April 29

Strategic Scholarship Bootcamp Seminar Will Be Starting on April 29

Last summer two friends were chatting about how expensive college tuition is these days and the impending mounds of debt their collective six kids were most likely going to be faced with.

The conversation continued and one of the moms shared that she happened to be in the audience when Major Nippy Betz gave his TEDx talk a year prior and she was lucky to get to speak with him afterwards. She recalled having her mind blown open about the hidden world of scholarships and how if you cast a wide net, and are disciplined (just like fishing), you can reel in a boatload of free money. It was at that moment where they looked at each other and had an idea.

Like many moms, these friends are employed, over-extended and crazed, however they decided they needed to bring Nippy to Boston to share his education and his secrets. As they began to dig deeper, it became quickly evident that there was a lot they didn’t know, and likely other parents didn’t know as well. They decided to roll up their sleeves and plan the first ever Massachusetts Strategic Scholarship Bootcamp.

Kerry Strollo, Lexington resident, mom and event co-organizer said “This is about educating parents that you don’t have to sit idly by and just hope something down the line will work out financially for your kids. This is about early success planning so you (and your kiddos) are not panicked when they are a senior in High School on how they, or you, will afford college. Who knew kids in 7th and 8th grade can start to obtain and stockpile scholarships, and High Schoolers can earn so much they pay for their college education and then receive overpayments for living expenses after college? I didn’t, and we have 4 kids! As soon as I learned this I wanted to shout it from the mountain tops.” Strollo added, “There are tips, techniques, and a path to finding the scholarships, however it starts with putting together a plan of action. This Bootcamp is designed to help you craft that plan for success.”

Rosette Cataldo, a Revere native, mom and event co-organizer looks at it though a different lens. “I watch my kids, albeit great students, wasting time every day on the internet, Fort Nite, YouTube, Netflix…you name it. These kids must use their devices and brains for a better purpose. I want to educate my children on how to make the internet a gold mine that works for them, their future and not just a time suck.” This event is all about educating local parents and students at the same time and getting them aligned to work together with a plan so that the family isn’t crippled with debt

The Strategic Scholarship Bootcamp will be held:

April 29, 2018 11 am – 1 pm Diamond Middle School, Lexington

April 29, 2018 4 pm – 6 pm Sheraton Hotel, Framingham, MA

April 30, 2018 7 pm – 9 pm Larcom Theatre, Beverly, MA

May 1, 2018 7 pm – 9 pm Marriott Hotel, Newton, MA

For more info please visit: www.strategicscholarships.com

Tickets are $49 per person. Students are encouraged to join their parents. Group rates (20+) available. To hear the story about a Tuft’s graduate with massive student debt please view this video

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Hotel Underway at Broadway Line

Hotel Underway at Broadway Line

By Seth Daniel

The elevator shaft and steel structure can be seen this summer going up on Chelsea’s next new hotel, a 124-room full service hotel at the Chelsea Line.

The elevator shaft and steel structure can be seen this summer going up on Chelsea’s next new hotel, a 124-room full service hotel at the Chelsea Line.

The Chelsea Broadway Hotel – not yet named officially – is making quick work of the vacant site next to the Walgreen’s on Broadway adjacent to the Chelsea/Revere line.

The hotel – another new hotel brought by Colwen and the XSS Group – is likely to be even better than the previous hotels, the last of which (Homewood Suites) just opened across from Chelsea High School. There are rumors that the Broadway hotel will include a restaurant that has water-side seating during the summer months. That, however, could not be confirmed.

The site overlooks the Mill Creek and marsh – an area that has been vastly improved and cleaned up in the last 10 years. The hotel property will also serve as a major connecting piece on the walkway that leads to the Chelsea Commons Park.

Already, the elevator shaft and steel structure are towering above Broadway as the building takes shape. Maureen Foley of Colwen Hotels said that the Broadway Hotel is a 124-room hotel that will open in late 2018.

She said anyone looking for job opportunities at the hotel or any of their other Chelsea hotels can log on to www.colwenhotels.com.

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Police Captain Batchelor is Honored

Police Captain Batchelor is Honored

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Chelsea Police Captain David Batchelor was honored for his outstanding work with Chelsea HUB, which is a team of designated staff from community and government agencies that meet weekly to address specific situations regarding individuals facing elevated levels of risk. Chelsea HUB develops immediate, coordinated and integrated responses to these situations through the mobilization of resources. Pictured at the award presentation during a HUB training program Monday at Homewood Suites Hotel are (from left): Dan Cortez, community engagement specialist, Chelsea Police Department, Jason Owens, an assistant director at Roca, Capt. David Batchelor, award recipient, and Melissa Walsh, director of Chelsea Thrives, The Neighborhood Developers.

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Hotel Cleanup Approaches $3 Million, City Manager Calls for Revised TIF

By Seth Daniel

A clean-up that was supposed to cost about $1 million has ballooned to a $3 million project for the new Homewood Suites hotel going up across from Chelsea High School, prompting City Manager Tom Ambrosino to ask the Council to revise the terms of the existing tax break for the hotel.

Ambrosino proposed an enhanced Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) agreement for the hotel, and two smaller TIFs for a new hotel on Broadway and the move of Rosev Dairy to Griffin Way.

“Instead of it costing $1 million, the cost to clean it up was about $3 million,” Ambrosino told the Council on Monday. “There were certain assumptions about that made when the City sold the land to the developer and granted the original TIF about what that cost would be. The investment is significantly higher now. The total cost for them is actually $6 million. They’ve come back looking for an adjustment to the TIF we gave them.”

The hotel was once a heavy metals manufacturer, Lawrenceville Metals, and officials at the groundbreaking of the hotel said the heavy metal contamination was some of the worst they had seen in the Northeast region. However, it was believed that the costs could be contained at $1 million.

That has not panned out, leading to delays that were, until now, unexplained.

The new TIF agreement looks to move from five years to seven years with enhanced tax breaks on the new value.

Year one and two would go from 50 percent tax reduction to 60 percent.

Year three and four would go from 40 percent to 50 percent.

Year five would be at 35 percent.

The last two years would remain unchanged at 25 percent.

The overall investment into the property is pegged at $33.79 million.

“The developer would get an additional $500,000 in tax relief,” said Ambrosino. “They would get that additional relief to help them with the unexpected $2 million cost for cleaning up the property.”

He said there would still be significant new tax revenues brought in by the property even with the enhanced proposed TIF. He said new tax revenues would still exceed $1.5 million per year from the property.

Another hotel on Broadway, near the Revere line, was proposed to for a TIF as well.

The Broadway Hotel is expected to invest $29.56 million into the vacant property at 1012-1018 Broadway.

The TIF terms for that agreement are proposed to be five years, with 50 percent at year one, 40 percent at year two, 25 percent at year three through five.

Finally, it was announced that Rosev Dairy on Second Street has decided to relocate within Chelsea to a building they have purchased and will renovate on Griffin Way.

“This is really a token TIF to let the company know we are encouraging their investment,” he said.

That TIF agreement proposes five years with a 5 percent break.

TIF agreements have been routinely used in Chelsea to attract and retain businesses. It is important to note that businesses getting a TIF only get the percentage break on the new value they create. The existing value on the property is taxed at the regular rate.

The matters were sent to be scheduled for a public hearing.

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Councillors OK Hotel Renovation Agreement

City Councillors unanimously approved a tax incremental financing (TIF) agreement with XSS Hotels that would help them enter into an ownership partnership with the Wyndham Hotel – a partnership that would be for the purpose of renovating the 15-year-old hotel.

The renovations are said to be just short of $10 million.

The Council voted 9-0, with two absent, to approve the recommendation by City Manager Tom Ambrosino for a five-year TIF.

XSS Hotels operates several hotels in Chelsea already, including the Residence Inn and TownPlace Suites. They would enter into a partnership with WEDGE Group of Texas, which currently owns the hotel.

“In a way, this is a landmark event because Wyndham was the first hotel here,” said Councillor Dan Cortell. “It’s the one we had to beg to give us a chance to build a hotel of this size…This is a full-circle event where the Wyndham is going to renovate to remain competitive. As our foundation hotel that was here when no other hotel was here, I support this.”

Councillor Giovanni Recupero said he supports the measure because it retains jobs.

“The jobs for the people there are going to be kept,” he said. “That’s the only reason why I vote fore it because it stays here and keep the people in their jobs. That’s very important.”

Said Councillor Calvin Brown, “It’s a good plan and a good move for the City of Chelsea.”

The plan would be for five years and would offer up to 60 percent relief in the first year from property taxes and personal property taxes. By the fifth year, it would trail down to 30 percent relief.

Ambrosino said the total new tax dollars to the City during the TIF would still be substantial, even with the discount. That figure was $243,307 in new taxes during the TIF as a result of the renovations.

The renovations would require a complete closure of the hotel between November and March.

In that time, Thomas wrote that current Wyndham employees would be offered employment at other area hotels in its network. Transportation would be provided to those employees if the new job is outside of Chelsea.

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Wyndham Hotel Owners Propose Partnership with Local Hotel Group

The XSS Hotel Group, which operates the Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites in Chelsea, has proposed to enter into the ownership of the Wyndham Hotel on Everett Avenue and completely renovate the 15-year-old facility – putting nearly $10 million into it for transformation into high-end accommodations.

“The principals of XSS are in the process of forming a joint venture with Texas-based WEDGE Group, owners of the Wyndham, in order to eliminate both an uncertain future and assure a positive trajectory for this pivotally located hotel,” wrote Christine Thomas of XSS. “This decision to join forces in this exciting opportunity makes sense to both parties…WEDGE Group also believes int eh future of the community and sees a partnership with XSS Hotels as good for both their real estate investment and their employees.”

Thomas unveiled the plan to the City last month in order to request a Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) plan. The plan would be for five years and would offer up to 60 percent relief in the first year from property taxes and personal property taxes. By the fifth year, it would trail down to 30 percent relief.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he was in favor of the modest tax reduction, saying it would still result in new tax dollars coming to the City even with the TIF in place.

“The new joint venture would continue to pay full real estate taxes on the existing base assessed value,” he said. “For this reason, notwithstanding the tax relief, this large investment by XSS will still result in new tax dollars to the City in every year of the TIF Agreement. The total new tax dollars to the City during the five-year TIF are estimated at $243,307…The proposed TIF terms are similar in many respects to other TIF Agreements approved by the City Council over the past decade.”

The TIF Agreement was presented to the City Council on Monday and will be discussed further at upcoming meetings.

If approved, Thomas said the company plans to invest $9.8 million into the hotel, beginning in November and concluding in March 2016.

“The appearance of the outside of the hotel will be modernized,” she wrote “The windows, mechanical systems, porte-cochere and bathrooms will be replaced as well as full interior upgrades to every area of the hotel. As part of the revitalization of the Wyndham, meeting space will be expanded and three separate dining options are planned with breakfast, lunch and dinner service available to guests and the public.”

The renovations would require a complete closure of the hotel between November and March.

In that time, Thomas wrote that current Wyndham employees would be offered employment at other area hotels in its network. Transportation would be provided to those employees if the new job is outside of Chelsea.

“We expect the proposed changes in hotel operation, which complement the physical improvements to the property, will cause no loss in the overall number of full-time or full-time equivalent jobs with an anticipated gradual increase in positions,” she wrote. “Our promoting-from-within philosophy combined with our strong regional growth will provide improved advancement potential to our Wyndham team members.”

Ambrosino said that without the partnership, upgrades and TIF, he worries that the property will sell to a less qualified hotel operator.

“I am concerned that if XSS does not obtain this tax benefit and is unable to proceed with this joint venture effort, the City might see a future decline in the Wyndham property or sale by WEDGE to another hotel developer of lesser quality,” he said.

The total contribution towards the property would be $7.4 million, with the remainder being attributed to the closure costs.

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Cunningham Retires from CRW Elder Services

After 39 years at the helm, James P. Cunningham, Jr. retired on Tuesday, June 30, from the Chelsea Revere Winthrop Elder Services (CRWES) organization.

Cunningham has served as Executive Director and CEO of the agency, which was the first home care agency established in Massachusetts, and has served as the pilot program for elderly services for the rest of the State.

Cunningham grew up in Lynn and is a graduate of St. Mary’s High School. He attended Merrimack College, St. John’s College, and Salem State College; he also earned two Master’s degrees. After his term of service in the U.S. Naval Reserve, he received an honorable discharge as a lieutenant. He then worked with various State and Federal agencies prior to coming to CRWES in 1975. The popular and unassuming Cunningham attributes the outstanding success of the agency to a competent and devoted staff, and an active Board of Directors, which has presided over the agency’s growth and evolution.

Allan Alpert, Chelsea’s Emergency Development Director and a CRWES Board Member, has worked with Cunningham over the years in Emergency Planning Programs, which have been recognized by State and Federal officials.

He recalled that the Chelsea Jewish community named Cunningham as the first ‘Mensch of the Year’.

Ellen Howe, current Board president, praised Cunningham’s efforts to provide programs and services to thousands of elders, persons with disabilities, and their families. Howe indicated that the Board of Directors voted not to replace Cunningham, but rather to merge with Mystic Valley Elder Services.

“In this day and age of cons

Joan Moscillo of Speaker Bob DeLeo’s Office and Ricky Serino of State Rep. RoseLee Vincent’s Office present Cunningham (center) with a Legislative Citation.

Joan Moscillo of Speaker Bob DeLeo’s Office and Ricky Serino
of State Rep. RoseLee Vincent’s Office present Cunningham
(center) with a Legislative Citation.

olidations of hospitals, banks, pharmacies, and retail stores, it makes sense for us to join forces with a larger entity,” said Carol Tye, clerk of the Corporation.

“Some of the advantages will be the ability to link up with additional health care programs and hospitals, to draw upon larger funding opportunities, and to establish overall efficiencies in the programs.” Charles Chapman, Treasurer of the Board, stated, “Hillary Clinton said that it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes an agency to replace Jim Cunningham.”

Cunningham was honored with a luncheon and retirement party at the Wyndham Hotel in Chelsea on Tuesday, June 30. The Board presented him with a Chelsea Clock as a token of its gratitude.

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Waterfront Development Plan to be Considered this Month

The ongoing process to begin considering development for part of the Chelsea Creek waterfront will be considered this month by the Economic Development Board and, likely brought to a vote, later this month.

Since earlier this spring, a local and state process has been underway to begin discussions about developing a portion of land on the waterfront from Willow Street to the Chelsea Street Bridge. The City has engaged since that time in an overall plan, and the state has also begun a longer process to remove the area from the Designated Port Area (DPA) district.

Planning Director John DePriest said the City is hoping to do a land swap.

Currently, the City owns 324 Marginal St. – a large swath of land across from the Creek that is now leased to Enterprise Rent-A-Car. The City hopes to make a land swap with a developer who wishes to build a large parking garage on the waterfront site – just next to the bridge where there is now a brick wall. The City hopes to be able to allow the developer to build the garage on the Marginal Street site off the water, get title to the waterfront parcel and open it up to hotel development and waterfront park access.

“We’re in the process of working up that plan now,” said DePriest. “We expect to hold an Economic Development Board meeting later this month to put the finishing touches on the plan and vote to endorse the plan…The plan is practical and shows how to achieve what we want. The end goal is a land swap to allow the City to gain access to a waterfront parcel. Our feeling is a parking garage on the waterfront restricts access to the water and the waterfront for a long time. It would be better on the other side and off the water.”

The Council would also have to endorse the plan, and a tentative date for the Economic Development Board is scheduled for July 23.

DePriest said a hotel developer has already expressed interest in obtaining a portion of that waterfront site to build another hotel. Word on the street is that the developer is Colwen Hotels, which has already built several hotels in Chelsea, but that could not yet be confirmed.

Another one acre site on the waterfront parcel, DePriest said, would be reserved for some sort of park or activation zone.

“We would really like residents to gain some sort of access to the waterfront, whether it’s a park or a building or something like that,” he said. “We don’t really have that access to the water now.”

On the state front, the DPA process is still ongoing and is separate from the City’s land swap plan.

The state is expected to issue a draft report on the DPA removal in October or November. That will result in a 30-day comment period, and then a Draft Final Report in December, with another 30-day comment period.

An overall Harbor Plan would likely come 12 to 18 months afterward.

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Salvation Army Week Kicked Off with Awards Luncheon Monday

Salvation Army Week Kicked Off with Awards Luncheon Monday

Speaking as a success story for one of the many Salvation Army programs, Gilberto Rivera told a packed house at the annual Salvation Army Luncheon in the Wyndham Hotel on Monday that he had been in jail, homeless and hopeless, until he found the Salvation Army. Not a dry eye was to be found in the room after his testimonial. The annual luncheon kicks off Salvation Army week in Chelsea.

Speaking as a success story for one of the many Salvation Army programs, Gilberto Rivera
told a packed house at the annual Salvation Army Luncheon in the Wyndham Hotel on Monday that he had been in jail, homeless and hopeless, until he found the Salvation Army. Not a dry eye was to be found in the room after his testimonial. The annual luncheon kicks off Salvation Army week in Chelsea.

Gilberto Rivera had been hopeless, homeless and suicidal before he met the Salvation Army.

Standing in front of a room full of Chelsea officials, business leaders and supporters of the Chelsea/Eastie Salvation Army branch on Monday at noon, Rivera told about how he has been steadied and his ship re-righted for the past year after finding revival in the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC), which is based in Saugus and supported in part by the Salvation Army store in Bellingham Square.

“I was with no hope in my heart because I came from jail, the streets, homelessness – suffering,” said Rivera. “I didn’t have hope. I would pray to God and Jesus, why me? Why did you take my family, my parents, away from me? Why can’t I stop with the drugs and alcohol? One day, by the grace of God I woke up in a hospital. I told the doctors if they couldn’t find a place for me, I was just going to commit suicide. One person there told me he could get me a place at the Salvation Army because he had been there before himself. He told me not to kill myself, that there was hope. I didn’t believe him.”

However, Rivera did find his way to the Salvation Army, and after a year in the ARC, he is employed and doing well. Most importantly, he has hope and said he wants to help others.

“I don’t have a father or mother, but to be honest, I have you guys,” he said. “If we don’t help each other, every single one of us could fall. Yesterday, I was in prison; today, I am here eating lunch at the table beside all of you guys. I made a decision. I decided to live my life.”

Following Rivera’s testimonial, there wasn’t a dry eye in the function room at the Wyndham Hotel, and applause erupted.

Capt. Scott Peabody pointed out that the program is more powerfully understood when a participant speaks, and he also pointed out that it was just one of many programs that are active in the Chelsea community.

The annual Awards Luncheon is the annual kick off to Salvation Army Week in Chelsea, which entails several events and an open house at its headquarters on Chestnut Street. Peabody highlighted the Meals on Wheels program, the food pantry, the after-school program, the homeless program and the summer camp program – among many others.

“The Salvation Army could not do all of this great work without the community members – the Army behind the Army,” he said.

Also included in the luncheon was two special awards that are presented annually to outstanding supporters of the Salvation Army.

This year, Shelagh Mahoney of Eastern Minerals and Dennis Cataldo of Cataldo Ambulance were honored with the Community Awards.

Both were present with their families and accepted the awards humbly.

Also present was Major David B. Davis, who oversees the region and is based in Canton. He harkened back to one of the Salvation Army’s first generals, who had said they would do the most good for the most people in the most need.

He said they still follow that principle.

“Whatever you give to the Salvation Army, you can trust us that we’ll do the most good with the resources you’ve provided,” he said.

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