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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Central Avenue Development Shortens Timeline; Creates Garage

The development team looking to re-build the Innes Housing Development into a mixed-income community has made some major changes this summer – inserting a central parking garage and implementing a single phase of construction that will cut two years off the build-out.

The Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) and Corcoran Development released the new plans this week ahead of a meeting with residents of the Innes on Tuesday night. The redevelopment plan includes 330 units of housing, with the existing 96 units of public housing re-developed alongside the market-rate housing and 40 workforce development units as well.

A rendering of the mixed-income development on Central Avenue

The major change in the project is completing it within a single phase, staring in the fall of 2020 and cutting off two years of construction due to eliminating phase 2.

CHA Director Al Ewing said as a result of community input, they decided it would be better for residents and neighbors to attack the project in just one phase. Previously, the project contained two phases and lasted two years longer.

“As we were meeting with people on this project, one issue coming up over and over was the cost of housing, but what the possibility might be for Phase 2,” he said. “So, we thought it might be best to do this in one phase. It would be better for residents and for the project overall.”

Said Joe Corcoran, president and CEO of Joseph J. Corcoran Company, “We’re proud to be part of a team that continues moving forward to ensure affordable housing for residents. We believe the redeveloped Innes Apartments will be a tremendous asset to the community and look forward to continued work with the Chelsea Housing Authority, Innes residents and our City, State partners through the summer.”

The single-phase approach would move the construction timeline to approximately 18-24 months, rather than four-plus years that was expected.

One of the keys to that is being able to put existing residents into temporary housing while construction takes place. With two phases, residents were going to be shifted in smaller numbers – with some staying at Innes in existing units and those impacted by construction moving to other developments in the city temporarily. Now, however, all of the existing residents will have to move at once.

Ewing said they are confident they can relocate residents, and they will be particularly conscientious of those residents with children in the school system.

“We are committed to keeping people in Chelsea to the degree we can,” he said. “We will continue to give priority to families that have children in the school system. We are working with the schools and we want to have minimal impact on our residents…Based on the number of vacancies we have and the people living in the development…we should be able to accommodate most, if not all of the residents.”

All residents will maintain their rights as public housing residents during relocation, with many being relocated to existing public housing units and some to private units – regardless of where they are placed, relocated Innes Residents will continue to enjoy all of their rights as public housing residents before, during and after relocation. Corcoran has employed Housing Opportunities Unlimited – an organization that specializes in providing direct assistance to residents impacted by renovation and unit rehabilitation projects in affordable and mixed income housing communities – to support the redevelopment team and Innes residents throughout the process.

“We continue to work diligently to ensure residents of Innes are fully informed of all updates on this exciting redevelopment project,” said Melissa Booth, co-president of the Innes Residents’ Association. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the improved construction timeline that allows for faster rehousing for all our families.”

Another new component of the project is a central parking garage facility that will be located on the eastern side of the development near the MassPort Garage.

“We felt that would work better, and the added bonus of that is we hope we can increase the numbers of on-site parking spots,” said Ewing. “We’ve been trying to be responsive to the concerns of the neighbors, the City Council and the City as a whole.”

Another new piece of the plan is that the development team has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the City to confirm commitments made to restrict on-street resident parking privileges for the new, market-rate tenants of the development.

The Innes Redevelopment team is committed to continued on-site office hours throughout the summer so that residents may informally drop by and ask further questions. The project team will continue its tradition of an annual backpack giveaway for residents in late August and also hold two resident engagement events, including a youth engagement party and an employment fair. A comprehensive Resident Relocation Plan will also be developed and introduced as part of the continued outreach to Innes residents.

“This newest plan is really the result of all the concerns we’ve heard from City officials, our residents and people in the neighborhood,” said Ewing. “We continue to address concerns and it makes it a better project.”

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A Lot of Noise but Little Action on Planes at Council

A Lot of Noise but Little Action on Planes at Council

For as long as jets have rumbled over Chelsea as they land at and depart from Logan Airport, City officials have struggled with getting state and federal officials to help mitigate the noise from that air traffic.

Monday night, District 6 City Councillor Giovanni Recupero introduced an order asking City Manager Tom Ambrosino to look at renegotiating a deal with Massport to bring back the window and soundproofing program to the city.

“People deserve a little more consideration than they have been given,” said Recupero.

The Councillor said he would like to see Massport provide soundproof windows for residents suffering excessive noise from plane traffic, as it has done in the past.

“I’d like to get them back to the table and figure out a way to help with the problem,” Recupero said.

Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda said he appreciated Recupero’s efforts to get Massport back to the table to discuss sound mitigation, but that he didn’t have high hopes that it would be successful.

“Whenever the City Manager has approached Massport, the answer has been that it is a nonstarter; they have done their program,” said Avellaneda.

Avellaneda said he has been working with City Manager Tom Ambrosino to find a company to undertake an independent sound study of noise from the airport. But, he said it has been very difficult to find a company qualified to do that study.

If a company is found that can perform an independent sound study, Avellaneda said he hopes it has the support of his fellow councillors.

On the positive side, Avellaneda said he attended a recent Massport meeting with airport communities in which officials stated that a new Massport sound study is underway. He said this study will take into account items that a study released in 2017 did not take into account, such as the impact of hills on sound and the resonating sound of airplanes.

The 2017 study was conducted by the Center for Research on Environmental and Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life Course (CRESSH), which is a division of the BU School of Public Health.

That report showed that flights over Chelsea have nearly doubled between 2011 and 2015, and that certain health effects associated with airplane noise are very high in Chelsea.

But getting Massport to kick in for additional noise mitigation efforts has been an uphill battle.

“Confronted with the increase in air traffic, their response has been, ‘But our planes are quieter,’” said Avellaneda.

The Councillor has been pushing for the independent noise study since at least the time the 2017 airport noise study was unveiled.

“We (can) do a real noise study with proper equipment and prepare to say we have proof that our community is impacted and possibly prepare to embark on a lawsuit against MassPort and the FAA,” he said at the time.

•In other business, the Council unanimously approved sending a home rule petition to the state legislature that will allow for the construction of the new Innes Housing Development.

•Recupero introduced an order asking the City Manager look into hiring another animal control officer for the purpose of issuing fines to people that don’t clean up after their dogs.

•Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson introduced orders asking the City Manager for updates on the City’s master plan and the status of the Salvation Army building on Broadway. The Council approved taking the building by eminent domain in 2017.

•District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop was absent from Monday night’s meeting, but with good reason. He was celebrating his 35th anniversary with his wife. Happy anniversary to the Bishops.

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Smart Growth Zoning Wins Unanimous Council Approval

Smart Growth Zoning Wins Unanimous Council  Approval

Much of the public discussion over the Smart Growth overlay district for Central Avenue over the past several months has focused on the technical aspects of the zoning ordinance.

But Monday night, as the City Council unanimously approved the Smart Growth zoning – which will pave the way for the Innes Development project to move closer to becoming a reality – much of the talk focused on the human and community benefits of that decision.

As the final vote was made official, cheers and applause were heard from Innes residents, project development team members, and even City Planning and Development Director John DePriest.

“This will allow for new homes that all the residents of Chelsea can be proud to call their own,” said Ronnie Slamin, the project director for Corcoran, the developer behind the Innes Street/ Central Avenue housing redevelopment plan.

The special zoning designation, allows the mixed-income project to have its own, special regulations for parking and density and other requirements. It also unlocks $5 million in state and local funding for the project.

Corcoran Development will assist in developing the 330-unit community on the site of the current housing development. Those units will include the existing 96 public housing units, as well as 40 workforce housing units. The remaining 194 units will be market rate, and with the state and federal grants, will subsidize the replacement of the public housing units.

Overall, the development would have a 41 percent affordable ratio, which is three times as much as what would normally be required by the City and double the state requirements.

For many of the current Innes residents, and for members of the Chelsea Housing Authority, it is a major step forward to replace the current units, which are rundown and decades old.

“It is our dream to live in new apartments that are safe and decent for our children, elderly, and the disabled,” said Melissa Booth, co-president of the Innes Residents Association.

The Smart Growth overlay district will cover the current footprint of the Innes Development, and puts a premium on affordable housing and access to public transportation.

Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) board member Bertram Taverna said the Innes redevelopment is the kind of opportunity that the City has not seen for decades.

“We are talking about an opportunity for these 96 families, as well as 40 more affordable housing units,” said Taverna. “Everybody is invested in this project and wholeheartedly all in.”

CHA Executive Director Al Ewing said the redevelopment will give the city the ability to deliver on its promise of providing a home where residents can be proud to live and raise their families.

“This is a win for the City of Chelsea,” said District 8 Councillor Calvin T. Brown. “Folks are going to see that Chelsea can do this and other cities are going to do this.”

Council President Damali Vidot said it’s been a long road for the Innes project to move forward. The Council voted down a project three years ago because prevailing wages for workers wasn’t on the table.

With prevailing wages now part of the development proposal, the only major issue that gained any traction over the past several months was, unsurprisingly, parking.

While the smart growth zoning is one major step towards getting shovels in the ground for the project, developers will be back before the Council for approval of a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) tax break for the project. That is expected to come before the Council later in the spring.

Vidot said that parking will be addressed in the TIF.

Corcoran is proposing 226 on-site parking spots, with an option to lease another 50 parking spots nearby.

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Cocoran, Chelsea Housing Face Critical Vote At Council Monday

Cocoran, Chelsea Housing Face  Critical Vote At Council Monday

The Innes Street/Central Avenue housing redevelopment plan has cleared its latest hurdle with the Planning Board, but will face a critical vote Monday night at Council on whether or not to allow them to have a ‘40R’ zoning designation.

The Council will consider the special zoning designation, which allows the mixed-income project to have its own, special regulations for parking and density and other requirements. At the same time, it also unlocks $5 million in state and local funding.

“It’s a critical vote,” said Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) Director Al Ewing. “That is a very important ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ If we don’t get it, this project dies. It is our use it or lose it moment.”

The mixed-income development is in partnership with Corcoran Development, which will assist in developing the 330-unit community on the site of the current housing development. Those units will include the existing 96 public housing units, as well as 40 workforce housing units. The remaining 194 units will be market rate, and with the state and federal grants, will subsidize the replacement of the public housing units. Overall, the development would have a 41 percent affordable ratio, which is three times as much as what would normally be required by the City and double the state requirements.

It seems like a huge moment for residents like Jean Fulco, who is part of the Innes Residents Alliance (IRA).

“This will be a much better situation for the people who are there now,” she said. “The re-development would be so much better because the apartment conditions now are not very good.”

Resident Melissa Booth, also of the IRA, said she has a special needs child who cannot walk up the stairs, but they live on the second floor now.

“I usually have to carry my child up the stairs because there isn’t an elevator,” she said.

The new development is slated to have an elevator.

But one of the strangleholds in this second go-around of the mixed-income redevelopment – which had to be backed off two years ago – is parking. There are 226 spaces available on site, and another 50 spaces will be located off-site nearby.

Council President Damali Vidot said she does support the project, but she also lives in the area and understands that parking is already a mess. She said they have worked out a potential plan where the market rate units will not be able to apply for a residential parking sticker.

“Everyone says that these people who will live here will take the Silver Line and not have a car,” she said. “Let’s see them prove that. I’m ok with giving them the 40R so they can move forward, but when their Tax Incremental Financing comes up, I will let them know that I will not support the project unless they will enter into an agreement with the market rate tenants to not participate in the residential parking program.”

She said the decision is a tough one for the Council. While many have reservations, they also want to help the public housing residents improve their lives.

“I’m not in love with the project, but I know everyone is trying to do their best,” she said. “These 96 families deserve to live in dignity. I have family that lives there and no one should live in those conditions…If this is what I have to do to preserve the units for these 96 families, then we don’t have a choice really.”

Over the last several weeks, the IRA and the CHA and Corcoran have been pounding the pavement. They have had coffee hours, done personal outreach and have launched a website.

“We are in a competitive process and if this doesn’t get approved for whatever reason, Chelsea will not realize this opportunity,” said Sean McReynolds of Corcoran.

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Corcoran, Residents Sign Letters of Assurance for Return

Corcoran, Residents Sign  Letters of Assurance for Return

In a move to show that they are committed to keeping residents in their homes, the Corcoran company and Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) have been signing Letters of Assurance with residents to legally ensure they can return to their unit after it is redeveloped into a new mixed-income community.

“We started signing those with residents about two weeks ago,” said CHA Director Al Ewing. “We wanted everyone to see that there is a commitment from us.”

Added Sean McReynolds of Corcoran, “It was important for us the residents see we’re committed to having them return. That is something that is usually done much further down the line. We wanted to do it now anyway so people felt confident that commitment is there.”

Melissa Booth of the Innes Residents Association (IRA) said many residents are relieved by the Letter, and the Association has been passing it around in English and Spanish to get as many residents signed as possible.

“They’re very relieved because the suspicion is the developers would go in and move the families and not let them back in,” she said. “We’ve been working really hard and trying to reassure everyone. No one wants to leave the place that they’ve been living so long.”

The document, signed by all parties, is about three pages long and clearly spells out what the residents will be entitled to when they return.

“JJC Co. and CHA assure that all Innes residents who are required to move for the redevelopment project will have the right to return to a newly constructed unit in the redeveloped Innes Apartments,” read the letter.

The two exceptions are if a household has been evicted before returning for serious offense, or if they have a large unit and state rules require them to go into a smaller unit than is available.

Also, it spells out that they will have the same units as the market rate residents.

“These newly constructed affordable housing units will be intermixed with market-rate units,” it read. “All units will be interchangeable with the same quality in all apartments including finishes and appliances such as washers and dryers.”

Both said they hope to have everyone signed as soon as possible as an act of good faith to residents and the community.

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Housing Secretary Jay Ash Leaves Cabinet Post, Likely for Private Sector

Housing Secretary Jay Ash Leaves Cabinet Post, Likely for Private Sector

State administration officials announced on Tuesday that former Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash has left his cabinet post as Secretary of Housing and Economic Development – a post he has held for the past four years since leaving Chelsea.

Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced the departure of Ash late Tuesday afternoon, and introduced current HED Assistant Secretary for Business Growth, Mike Kennealy, as incoming Secretary. A press conference was to be held in the State House on Wednesday afternoon and incoming Secretary Kennealy will be sworn in on Friday, Dec. 28.

There was no word what Ash might do next, but some have postulated he might be entering the private sector as a business-based lobbyist. Rumors persisted earlier this fall that Ash might be headed to MassPort as the new executive director. However, at the time, he said that he isn’t considering that post.

“From day one, Jay has worked tirelessly with members of the Legislature, local officials and private companies to enhance economic development, housing and the life sciences industry in Massachusetts,” said Gov. Baker. “Our administration will always be particularly thankful for his work to help reduce the number of homeless families living in hotels and motels, from over 1,500 to less than 40, and his focus on achieving economic growth across the entire Commonwealth. We thank Jay for his public service, wish him well in the future and look forward to welcoming Mike to the cabinet.”

Ash said he was proud to have served in the administration.

“I am proud of what we have accomplished together to grow and strengthen Massachusetts’ economy over the past four years as we worked to empower communities to achieve their economic potential, ensuring prosperity could be shared across the Commonwealth,” said Ash. “Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito led by example, engaging local and state officials and our vibrant business and nonprofit sectors in an active dialogue, and we followed by identifying opportunities for investment and areas where we could create more support. It was an honor to visit over 200 cities and towns over the last four years. I have been energized and inspired by the ingenuity and tenacity of our municipal, community and business leaders, and I am grateful to Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Polito for asking me to serve in this capacity. Incoming Secretary Mike Kennealy is uniquely qualified and played an instrumental role in our first term achievements. Finally, I would like to thank the talented and committed professionals in EOHED and across the administration, who have been generous with their time and talent, and totally committed to the Commonwealth.”

Under Secretary Ash’s leadership, the Baker-Polito administration conceived and pursued an economic development strategy entitled “Opportunities for All,” to bring vitality to communities, prosperity to people and growth for businesses in all regions of the Commonwealth. Key accomplishments include:

  • Transitioned over 1,400 homeless families out of hotels and motels, from 1,500 in 2015 to under 40 today.
  • Partnered with the Legislature to pass two billion-dollar economic development packages in 2016 and 2018, the $1.8 billion housing bonding bill and a $623 million life sciences bill to ensure our continued leadership in this sector on a national and global basis.
  • Delivered $12.5 million in state funding to the Berkshire Innovation Center in Pittsfield, a state-of-the-art facility that will have the potential to serve as life sciences hub for the region.
  • Supported Worcester’s revitalization, including the redevelopment of the Canal District with a recently-announced $35 million infrastructure and HDIP affordable housing investment, made in conjunction with Pawtucket Red Sox relocation, announced in August.
  • Partnered with Springfield on six projects designed to revitalize its downtown revitalization, including the October announcement of the $2.5 million refurbishment of the Paramount Theater, a lynchpin project for the city.
  • Played an important role in Lynn’s economic revitalization as a member of the Lynn Economic Advancement and Development (LEAD) Team – launching a number of commercial and housing projects, including Gateway North residences, which opened in 2018.
  • Served on Gov. Baker’s Workforce Skills Cabinet (comprised of EOLWD, EOHED, EOE secretaries) and drove the creation of 7 regional workforce plans, over $50 million in Skills Capital Grants and the launch of the first registered tech apprenticeship program in the state.
  • Helped facilitate expansions from leading companies like GE, Kronos, MassMutual, MilliporeSigma and Siemens.

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Chelsea Residents are Being Priced Out, Need Developments Like 1005 Broadway

Chelsea Residents are Being Priced Out, Need Developments Like 1005 Broadway

A few weeks ago, the Zoning Board of Appeals narrowly rejected our proposal to convert a vacant lot at 1005 Broadway into 42 new homes, a coffee shop (or similar business), greenspace, an open walking path along Mill Creek, and 42 parking spaces. We were motivated to propose this project because Chelsea residents are being priced out of their own city and there is an overwhelming need for all kinds of affordable housing options. We have chosen to appeal the Zoning Board of Appeals decision because we still believe that this site offers a unique opportunity to meet critical community needs.

In putting our proposal together we relied on Chelsea’s 2017 Comprehensive Housing Analysis and Strategic Plan and the City’s Waterfront Community Vision Plan. We asked for input from the surrounding community and changed our proposal to incorporate it. We are grateful to those who came out to the community meetings and made the proposal better and more responsive to neighborhood needs. Our project was also designed with state waterfront regulations (Chapter 91) and the City’s ordinances and zoning regulations in mind.

Our proposal had the support from many community members, the City Manager, and a majority, i.e., three out of five of the members, of the Zoning Board of Appeals. To be approved, our proposal, however, needed four out of five votes. Thank you to those of you who took the time to speak in support and share stories about the impact of rising housing costs in Chelsea.

It is clear from the comments of those who spoke for and against the project that members of our community would like to see more opportunities for residents of Chelsea to own their own homes. We agree. Opponents of the project argued that rejecting our proposal would encourage the development of homeownership opportunities and discourage more development of apartments for rent. However, the rejection of our proposal will not create any homeownership opportunities, let alone affordable ones. The limitations and costs of complying with Chapter 91 make for-sale condominiums not feasible at this site.

To achieve increased homeownership in Chelsea, it is helpful to understand the facts. Over 30% of Chelsea residents are home owners, according to the City’s 2017 Comprehensive Housing Analysis and Strategic Plan. Opponents to our project claim that all of the new construction over the past ten years has been of rental apartments, further skewing the homeownership rate. However, the reality is that Chelsea has also seen a significant growth of condominiums over the past fifteen years, with total condominium units increasing by over 700 units, including the conversion of existing rental apartments to homeownership condos, as is reflected in the 2017 Comprehensive Housing Analysis and Strategic Plan.

And while these condominium conversions (from rental to ownership) created new homeownership opportunities for some, they have decreased the number of apartments available to rent, contributing to higher rental prices for current Chelsea residents. The Housing Analysis and Strategic plan notes that monthly rents increased 38 percent between 2011 and 2016. According to Apartments.com the average one-bedroom rent in Chelsea is $2,114 per month and a family sized 3 bedroom is over $2,800 per month; a 6.6% increase over this time last year.

To help address homeowner displacement in Chelsea and regionally, since 2008, The Neighborhood Developers has created 36 affordable ownership opportunities in Chelsea on Marlborough, Cottage, Maverick, Suffolk, and Broadway, as well as the Box District. Traggorth Companies successfully completed 43 affordable homeownership opportunities in Mission Hill using City of Boston funding. We

would like to build more homeownership in Chelsea, but unlike for affordable rental apartments, there have always been fewer state or federal resources dedicated to affordable homeownership, and that which does get built requires heavy reliance on scarce municipal sources of funding.

However, even if we are able to find sufficient funding, it is important to know that affordable homeownership opportunities are typically for families who earn at least $86,000 per year, or less than 20% of the current Chelsea population. The apartments we proposed are intended to serve families who earn about $60,000 per year or less. Sixty percent of Chelsea’s households have an annual income in this range, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In other words, this project was designed to serve current Chelsea residents who are clearly in critical need of affordable housing. It is for this reason that while we work with City officials to envision how more homeownership can be built and advocate for more resources to do so, we will continue to advocate for this project.

Rafael Mares is the Executive Director of The Neighborhood Developers, Inc. and Dave Traggorth, Principal of Traggorth Companies.

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Bishop Proposes City Council Pay Cut

Bishop Proposes City Council Pay Cut

If District 1 City Councillor Robert Bishop gets his way, he’ll be taking $6,000 per year out of his own pockets, and those of his fellow city councillors.

Monday night, Bishop introduced an ordinance asking that the Council salary be cut from $14,000 to $8,000 per year beginning in 2020. The councillor said he was unhappy when the salary increased from $8,000 to $14,000 several years ago, and wants to see it cut back.

The ordinance was moved to a second reading at a future council meeting before there was any discussion on the proposal, but Council President DamaliVidot said there will be an opportunity for debate and discussion during the second reading.

The council voted for the pay raise to $14,000 in 2013 and it went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

  • In other business, the council heard a legal opinion from City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher that stated that the Council’s subcommittee on finance violated the open meeting law when it discussed a $20,000 appropriation for legal services that was not properly placed on the subcommittee’s agenda. Bishop, who heads the finance subcommittee, countered that the matter was properly posted and fell under the heading of financial requests.

“I felt it would be appropriate to discuss,” Bishop said. “I see nothing in Rule 26 that says we could not speak about it. … To me, this is kind of petty and picayune.”

But Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson said he didn’t understand how the matter had gotten to the finance subcommittee without coming before the full Council first.

Vidot said there will be a subcommittee discussion about how to best move forward with financial matters on the Council.

  • Bishop also asked for a meeting to discuss traffic flow issues at Revere Beach Parkway and Washington Avenue, Revere Beach Parkway and Webster Avenue, and Spruce Street and Everett Avenue. The councillor noted that motorists are faced with an especially dangerous intersection at Revere Beach Parkway and Washington.

“It’s a wonder that there are not more accidents than there already are,” Bishop said.

  • The District 1 Councillor is also requesting a subcommittee meeting to discuss issues with the city and the Chelsea Housing Authority’s rodent baiting programs. Bishop said he has concerns that the programs are ineffective and dangerous for the workers implementing them.
  • District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero introduced an order asking the public works director provide the Council with an accurate account of how the City sets water and sewer rates and how those rates could be stabilized.

In contrast to the past several meetings, when discussion over water and sewer rates brought a steady stream of residents to the microphone, it was a more subdued public speaking session at Monday’s meeting.

Chelsea High School senior Manuel Teshe advocated for fundraising efforts that would allow the senior class to graduate outside at the school’s football field. Teshe estimated the total cost of covering the field to keep it safe for a graduation ceremony would be about $30,000.

“We are passionate about this and want to graduate from the school in the best way possible,” said Teshe.

Teshe’s classmate, senior class president Jocelyn Poste, was also on hand at the meeting to promote the Red Devil Turkey Trot race on Saturday, Nov. 17 to benefit the school’s track and cross country programs.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the race can visit  HYPERLINK “http://chelseahightrack.com” t “_blank” chelseahightrack.com. The event begins at 10 a.m. at Admiral’s Hill.

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Secretary Ash says Not Considering MassPort Job at the Moment

Secretary Ash says Not Considering MassPort Job at the Moment

Airplanes apparently aren’t in the future for state Housing Secretary Jay Ash.

Ash – the former City Manager of Chelsea – told the Record this week that he has no intention right now of pursuing the soon-to-be open job of director at MassPort.

“Secretary Ash is not focused on anything other than the work of the Baker-Polito Administration right now,” read a statement from his office.

MassPort CEO Tom Glynn announced two weeks ago that he would step down from his position next year after a run of several years at the helm of the airport.

That has brought on much speculation about who the next director would be, and more than a few insiders were pitching Ash’s name around the diamond. Many believe Ash would make a good candidate for MassPort, having served in Chelsea and knowing the surrounding community’s well.

However, Ash said he isn’t a candidate right now.

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