Community Preservation Committee to be Very Active

Chelsea residents can expect to see a flurry of activity from the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) over the coming year.

Earlier this year, the City Council approved Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding for a round of pilot projects recommended by the CPC.

The projects recommended by the CPC included money for the rehabilitation of the city’s Civil War monument, improvements to the Garden Cemetery, a Marlborough Street Community Garden proposed by The Neighborhood Developers (TND), renovation of the Governor Bellingham-Cary House, renovations to the Congregation Agudath Shalom Museum (Walnut Street Synagogue) and for the city to hire an Affordable Housing Trust Fund housing specialist on a one-year contract basis.

Chelsea voters approved the adoption of the CPA in November 2016. It will provide hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to be used for the creation and acquisition of affordable housing, historic preservation, open space and recreation. The CPA trust fund currently has a balance of just over $2.2 million before any money was spent on the recent round of pilot projects.

The projects that could be funded during the initial pilot round were capped at $50,000 each. The total of the seven proposals that came before the CPC is just under $270,000, according to CPC Chair Jose Iraheta.

Although Iraheta said he can’t speak for the other members of the CPC, he said he was excited by the Council’s approval of the pilot program.

“The committee has been entrusted by our fellow Chelsea residents to help preserve our open spaces, historic sites, and housing affordability,” Iraheta said. “The projects that were funded through this pilot honor our fellow community members’ wishes. I cannot wait for our next funding round and see what kind of solutions our community comes up with.”

One of the immediate goals for the CPC is to make sure everyone in Chelsea knows what the CPA is, what the community values are, and how the CPC funds have been used, according to the CPC Chairman.

“The CPC will focus on standardizing the community engagement efforts, capture our community’s voice in the community preservation plan and create a straightforward application process so people can know what to expect,” Iraheta said. “We want to create a system that is responsible for our community’s goals and priorities. If organizations and individuals know what to expect, we hope to see more robust and strong community projects that reflect our community’s values.”

To accomplish this, he said the CPC will be engaged in deep reflective conversation around the pilot process, including inviting CPC members from other communities to learn from their experiences, building on proven practices.

“My expectations are for the next grant applications to receive more solutions that meet the values, goals, and priorities laid out in the Community Preservation Plan,” Iraheta said.

A CPC meeting was scheduled to be held on Thursday night.

During the summer, the CPC will work to finalize engagement and application timelines for CPA projects. The next round of funding will not be limited to the $50,000 cap of the pilot round, Iraheta said, but a final decision has yet to be made on if there will be a larger cap on the requested amount.

Organizations or individuals can get more information on how to apply and on the Community Preservation Plan through the City of Chelsea’s Community Preservation Committee dedicated portal at www.chelseama.gov/community-preservation-committee.

Iraheta said he would like to continue to see proposed projects that meet the core values of the Community Preservation Plan.

“The CPA funds are a tool that strengthens our communities through funding for open space protection, historic preservation, affordable housing, and outdoor recreation preserve,” he said. “The CPC does not implement projects; community organizations and individuals do. If your proposal adheres to the values in the Community Preservation Plan, we will consider your application for funding.”

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Ambrosino Asks to Renegotiate Casino Agreement to Shift Money to Workforce Development

Money the city is set to receive from Encore Boston Harbor could be going toward job training for Chelsea residents.

Monday night, the City Council voted 8-3 to allow City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to renegotiate the city’s Surrounding Community Agreement (SCA) with Encore to set aside $100,000 of the $225,000 earmarked for roadway repairs in the agreement for workforce development.

“I still believe that workforce development is an important and unmet need in the City,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the council. “This casino mitigation agreement provides an opportunity to set aside a modest annual amount for that purpose. The source would be a portion of the funds set aside in the existing Agreement for roadway improvements, a program which the City already adequately supports through other available revenues.”

Although the council approved Ambrosino’s renegotiation with Encore, several councillors opposed moving funds away from road improvements to workforce development.

“Why take the money from where it was intended to go and put it somewhere else?” District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero asked.

Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda countered that there are numerous mechanisms in the budget for roadway improvements, but revenue streams for workforce development are nonexistent.

“This is a good use, in my view, of that $100,000,” he said, adding the training would benefit Chelsea residents.

But District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop said the workforce development money would be used mainly for casino and other hospitality trades.

“That is something the casino should be spending money on, not us,” said Bishop. “Why should we pay to train people at the casino?”

District 3 Councillor Joe Perlatonda cast the third vote against the measure, agreeing with Bishop that the wording of the proposal focused too heavily on training for jobs in the casino industry.

•In other business, the Council approved the Community Preservation Act Budget for Fiscal Year 2020, and approved Community Preservation Act funds for six projects, including renovating the Civil War Monument, the Marlborough Street Community Garden, Bellingham-Cary House building repairs, the Garden Cemetery project, Congregation Agudath Sholom repairs, and money for an affordable housing trust fund specialist.

•District 4 Councillor Enio Lopez also asked Ambrosino to look into the city installing removable speed bumps at Marlborough and Shawmut streets for the summer.

Lopez also asked the City Manager to provide the Council with a list of all City cars being taken home by City employees, and to provide the Council with a list of overtime hours worked by the Inspectional Services Department.

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Legislature Approves Chapter 90 Funds

The Massachusetts Legislature passed a bill authorizing $200 million for Chapter 90 funding to help municipalities complete road, bridge and infrastructure improvement projects. The bill also facilitates the financing of $1.5 billion for highway projects and $200 million for rail projects at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

“Not only will these funds provide critical resources to cities and towns across the Commonwealth and fortify larger regional transportation projects, they will create jobs and spur economic growth,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “These investments support our vibrant economy by improving our transportation infrastructure.”

“Each year, the Legislature invests in Chapter 90 funding to help cities and towns across the Commonwealth with critical improvements to roads, and I am once again proud to support this legislation which will help cities like Revere,” said Rep. RoseLee Vincent (D-Revere). “I thank Speaker DeLeo, Chairman Strauss, Boncore and the entire Transportation Committee for their work in crafting this bill that provides needed dollars to help municipalities with roadway infrastructure.”

“The Commonwealth’s roads, bridges and arteries are our economy’s life blood,’ said Transportation Committee Chair Senator Joseph Boncore (D-Winthrop). These appropriations approved today will go a long way toward providing our municipalities with the financial resources they need to ensure our infrastructure is building toward state of good repair.”

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Chelsea Jewish Lifecare Celebrates 100 Years of Care From Humble Beginnings In a Chelsea Home to Modern Care at Multiple Locations

One hundred years ago, Lena Goldberg started Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home by turning a small multi-family building into a welcoming home for elders. Today that home has grown into Chelsea Jewish Healthcare, one of New England’s leading healthcare organizations. The non-profit operates campuses in Chelsea, Peabody and Longmeadow, employing more than 2,000 individuals and taking care of more than 1,000 individuals every day. While there has been extensive growth and expansion throughout years, one thing never changed: the organization’s unwavering commitment to provide high-quality, compassionate care in a “real” home setting.

“From the very beginning, our goal was to provide the best possible care,” said Barry Berman, who has been CEO of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare for more than 40 years. “We encourage our residents to make their own choices and live their own lives by creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere with a caring and compassionate staff.”

He further explained, “Living in a residence that offers all the amenities of a real home greatly enhances the quality of life for elderly and disabled individuals.”

Berman recalled coming to Chelsea Jewish when he was only 23 and fresh out of graduate school.

“When they started this organization, that was before MediCare, MediCaid and public health programs,” he said. “It was just a bunch of Jewish women who saw elders that needed services and they decided to buy a home and help them. When I started, I was only 23 and just got out of graduate school. It was a small, 60-bed home that really needed an incredible amount of work. I went to the Trustees and I was honest with them. I said them I didn’t have a lot of experience, but we could all work together and figure out how to do this so we can improve the home.”

By 1983, they were able to demolish the home on Lafayette Avenue and build the brand new Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home – a home that was just completely renovated and modernized this past year.

Over the past 100 years, Chelsea Jewish Lifecare has achieved many similar and significant milestones.

The opening of the award-winning Leonard Florence Center for Living in 2010, the first urban Green House skilled nursing facility in the country, is one example. This revolutionary nursing home in Chelsea includes 30 rooms devoted to individuals diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and MS (multiple sclerosis). Individuals are able to live as independently as possible through the cutting-edge technology built into the center. Today the Leonard Florence Center takes care of more individuals living with ALS under one roof than any place in the world.

The organization greatly expanded in 2016 with the addition of a Peabody campus and again in 2018 with the affiliation of JGS Lifecare in Longmeadow. All three campuses reflect the organization’s mission: to be the most respected provider of service-enriched residential care and post-acute care for seniors and individuals living with debilitating neurological conditions.

In 2017, the Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home underwent a dramatic $16 million renovation. The new building reflects a legacy Green House skilled nursing model that can be easily duplicated by nursing homes across the country. This concept sets the stage for new level of care in senior housing.

“We came back to the home atmosphere that our founder, Mrs. Goldberg, originally had in mind,” said Adam Berman, president of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare. “What’s so unique about our model is that we’ve combined contemporary design elements with the traditional concept of making one’s home as warm and inviting as possible.”

On April 28, employees, residents, families, friends and community members came together to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare. Governor Charlie Baker recognized this momentous day by issuing a Citation in honor of this special anniversary. Amidst dinner, dancing and emotional speeches, attendees viewed a slide show with over 200 photos spanning the last 100 years. A highlight of the event was a heartfelt tribute to the 49 staff members who have worked at the organization for 25 years or more.

Barry Berman summed up the night perfectly: “Our employees are the real reason behind our longevity. Without them, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Looking to the future, Berman said they will look to grow, but not hastily.

“We believe in growth, but we also believe in very calculated and smart growth,” he said. “Some companies can grow too fast. Although we are ready to grow, we are cautious about it…We do it with our eyes wide open because we’re not going to grow just to grow.”

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Bellingham-Cary House – Slade’s Mill

By Marianne Salza

Along the edge of Rumney Marsh in the late 19th Century, Slade’s Mill was bustling. The tidal-powered factory on the creek, with its rooms fragrant with the wafting aroma of exotic spices – paprika from Spain and ginger from the Orient – was where the spice grinding industry originated.

“It was here, in an old Massachusetts mill that the most interesting step in the distribution of spices began,” said educator and historian, Jeff Pearlman. “Inside Slade’s Mill the air was golden brown from grindings of pure spices.”

During the Bellingham-Cary House Association Annual Meeting on April 27, Pearlman presented a timeline of Slade’s Tidewater Mill, explaining the connections between Revere and Chelsea. Pearlman is a member of the Revere Society for Cultural and Historic Preservation, a non-profit organization that protects and promotes the history of the Revere community.

The Town of Chelsea originally consisted of four farms, the first of which was purchased by Henry Slade, who erected the first church, bank, and City Hall on the waterfront land. In 1734, Slade began grinding tobacco and corn in the mill.

“The charter states the following,” began Pearlman. “’This mill must at all times hold itself in the readiness to grind corn for any citizen of Chelsea, provided that the corn is raised in Chelsea.’”

In 1837, Slade’s sons, David and Levi, conceived the idea of grinding spices in the mill, and began importing spices from around the world. By 1850, D and L Slade Company became the largest producer of spices in New England.

“The boys ground up a half barrel of cinnamon, slung the barrel between two poles, and trudged across the marsh to Boston,” Pearlman explained. “The cinnamon was sold to grocers, and a new industry was born: the business of spice grinding.”

First, the spices passed through magnetized steel plates to remove foreign objects, such as nails and wire. Spices were then pulverized into fine powders beneath grinding rolls. Next, the powder was lifted into continuous buckets, sifted, and loaded into barrels that were delivered to packing plants in Boston.

“Spices were not only used to stimulate jaded appetites; but their sweet, pungent odor made them useful as medicine and deodorants,” mentioned Pearlman. “Up to this time, spice had been sold to the housewife whole, and each had a hand-grinder.”

The mill was refurbished in 1918 following a fire and acquired by Bell Seasonings. In 1932, the mill was converted to electric power, and operated until July 1, 1976.

Slade’s Mill is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The building was renovated in 2004, and today, Slade’s Mill Apartments contains 18 studio and one bedroom units. A museum on the ground floor exhibits original machinery, photographs, and a spice cabinet with glass and metal Slade’s and Bell containers.

“Spices are now a common household necessity. No longer are they counted as the choicest possession of the wealthy,” said Pearlman. “Men and women live longer in a spice-laden atmosphere. Perhaps there is something in the theory that spices have a beneficial effect on health and appetite of the human race. I wonder where the saying, ‘Spice of life,’ came from.”

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A Good Start – Community Preservation Recommends Five Projects in First Round of Funding

Rehabbing historic monuments and buildings and establishing a community garden are among the first projects the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) will be recommending to the City Council during their initial pilot round of Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding.

Monday night, the CPC recommended approval of funding for five projects, and tabled two other proposals until May so they can get more information on them.

The projects recommended by the CPC Monday night included money for the rehabilitation of the city’s Civil War monument, improvements to the Garden Cemetery, a Marlborough Street Community Garden proposed by The Neighborhood Developers (TND), and renovation of the Governor Bellingham-Cary House.

The two proposals that were tabled until more information could be gathered were for renovations to the Congregation Agudath Shalom Museum (Walnut Street Synagogue) and for the city to hire an Affordable Housing Trust Fund housing specialist on a one-year contract basis.

Each of the proposals generated debate to its merits, with members keeping an eye on the potential that future years will feature requests with potentially larger impacts on the CPA fund.

Chelsea voters approved the adoption of the CPA in November 2016. It will provide hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to be used for the creation and acquisition of affordable housing, historic preservation, open space and recreation. The CPA trust fund currently has a balance of just over $2.2 million.

The projects that could be funded during the initial pilot round are capped at $50,000 each. The total of the seven proposals that came before the CPC is just under $270,000, according to CPC Chair Jose Iraheta.

The pilot round of funding is not only a way to get out the word about CPA funding, but also gives the CPC an opportunity to work out the best method for recommendation of the projects, Iraheta said. The CPC can make recommendations for projects, but the funding is ultimately approved by the City Council.

“There’s so much we have to do to educate the community and have them understand what this is all about,” said CPC member Bea Cravatta. “This is a good amount of money that can change the city in a positive way.”

Key among the factors CPC members weigh in considering recommendation for a project is its community support, benefit to the city’s vulnerable populations, matching funds from the project’s proponents, and how it fits into Chelsea’s overall Master Plan.

“I believe that little pieces like this are important to the community and to people of all income levels,” CPC member Tuck Willis said of the Civil War monument rehab. “Seeing a decaying monument is not good for anyone. A neater, cleaner, spiffier look is better for everyone.”

Improvements to the Garden Cemetery also got high marks from many of the CPC members.

“This is a fantastic project that strongly aligns with our leading and supporting principles,” said CPC Vice Chair Caroline Ellenbird.

Cravatta and CPC member Juan Vega both supported the project but said they would like to see some more ideas about how the community at large could make more use of the space.

The two projects with the most questions about them were tabled to give Karl Allen of the planning department time to gather more information for the CPC.

Vega and Willis both said they both had concerns about CPA funds being used to fund a staff position for the city with the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. CPC members also had questions about funding and budget specifics for rehab of the Congregation Agudath Shalom Museum.

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Three Chelsea Jewish Residences Awarded CMS Five-Star Rating

Three Chelsea Jewish Residences Awarded CMS Five-Star Rating

For the second consecutive year, three Chelsea Jewish Lifecare (CJL) skilled nursing facilities have received the prestigious Five-Star Quality Rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

This designation reflects the highest number of stars allotted to a skilled nursing facility. Currently, there are a select number of nursing homes that have been awarded this distinction.

“We are pleased that all our skilled nursing residences have once again been recognized as being among the top nursing homes not only in Massachusetts, but throughout the country,” states Chelsea Jewish Lifecare President Adam Berman. “Earning this Five-Star designation is a testament to our skilled and compassionate staff, our strong commitment to excellence and our dedication as an organization to provide the highest caliber of care possible.”

The CJL homes include the Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home in Chelsea; the Jeffrey and Susan Brudnick Center for Living in Peabody; the Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, which is the country’s first urban model Green House skilled nursing facility.

These residences offer both short-term rehabilitation services as well as long-term comprehensive care.

To receive a five-star rating, nursing homes are judged by three components. Health inspections are one means of evaluating a residence. The rating is based upon information from the last three years of onsite inspections, including both standard surveys and complaint surveys. Secondly, a rating is given based upon staffing, which details information about the number of hours of care provided on average to each resident each day by nursing staff and other healthcare providers. The final category involves quality measures, which includes data on how well nursing homes are caring for their residents’ physical and clinical needs.

Today the five-star rating system has become a critical tool for the public to measure the quality and performance of a skilled nursing facility. Nursing homes with five stars are considered well above average quality.

Adds CJL’s Berman, “In reality, we work very hard, day in and day out, to achieve and maintain these five-star ratings. We are so proud of our staff at each of the three residences.”

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Massachusetts Greenworks Is an Investment in Our Present — and Future

Massachusetts Greenworks Is an Investment in Our Present  — and Future

The announcement last week by House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo that the state will be investing $1 billion over the next decade to help communities across Massachusetts adopt technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fortify infrastructure is welcome news to everyone who realizes that time is running out if we are to offset the inevitable effects of climate change that already are taking place all around us.

The proposal – known as GreenWorks – builds on a long-standing approach by the House under Speaker DeLeo’s leadership to provide the means for our cities and towns (especially along the coast) to build sustainable and resilient communities that hopefully will prepare us for the impending threats posed by rising sea levels and catastrophic weather events.

Environmental groups and clean-energy businesses across the state have praised the plan. The $1 billion investment envisioned by the GreenWorks proposal not only will provide cities and towns with the ability to cut greenhouse gases and lower their long-term energy and operating costs, but it also will adopt Massachusetts-made innovative technologies that will put people to work on clean-tech infrastructure projects.

These competitive grants, to be administered by the governor’s Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, will provide funding for a wide array of projects, including energy-efficient buildings, solar, microgrids, energy storage, electric vehicle charging stations, and resiliency infrastructure.

Inasmuch as the GreenWorks plan presents an opportunity to pursue innovative approaches to funding clean energy and climate-change resiliency projects, the economic and environmental benefits of GreenWorks grants will be felt immediately, while also expanding the state’s commitment to embracing cost-effective investments in leading-edge clean technologies.

In our view, the GreenWorks program represents a timely part of the overall solution that is essential if we are to address the imperatives we face from the looming catastrophe of climate change. We applaud Speaker DeLeo for taking the lead in advancing a plan that acknowledges this reality and the need to deal with it immediately.

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Rep. Ryan Pleased with Assignments

Rep. Ryan Pleased with  Assignments

State Rep. Dan Ryan said this week he is pleased in what is considered a step up in becoming the vice chair of the Post Audit Oversight Committee – a powerful committee that runs investigations of government operations and actually has subpoena powers.

“I want to thank Speaker DeLeo for this appointment, and my House colleagues for voting to affirm his trust in me,” said Ryan. “I look forward to working with Chairman Linsky and other committee members in continuing to bring solid, cost-effective government programs to the electorate.”

Ryan said Post-Audit Oversight certainly isn’t a household name for most people in the Town, but said it has a unique mission and is a sought-after committee on Beacon Hill.
“The Post-Audit Oversight Committee is a select House committee that has a unique mission,” he said. “Members of the committee are tasked with ensuring that State agencies are abiding by legislative intent and the program initiatives put forth, by the legislature, through the budget process. When necessary, the committee will work with administrative agencies to propose corrective actions to best serve citizens of the Commonwealth.”

One of the most visible investigations conducted by the Committee came several years ago in the previous administration when the Department of Children and Families (DCF) came under fire for its handling and management of numerous cases involving children.

Ryan has also been assigned as a member of the Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Recovery Committee, and as a member of the Transportation Committee.

•Just across the North Washington Street Bridge, State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz came away with one of the biggest scores for the Boston delegation in getting assigned as chair of the powerful Ways & Means Committee.

Rep. Ryan said that having such an important chair nearby will be very good for Charlestown as well as the North End. That will particularly be apparent with projects like the North Washington Street Bridge, which affects the North End as much as Charlestown.

Michlewitz told the Patriot-Bridge that he is humbled by the appointment, and that while he has to build consensus across the state, he will keep his district and Boston in the forefront.

“I am honored that Speaker DeLeo believes I can do the job,” he said. “The first order of business is creating and debating a $42.7 billion budget. A lot of work has been done in committee, but we have a short timeframe to get a lot done. The thing I was to stress is my district is my number one priority.”

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