What better way to introduce the new ordinance allowing food trucks in the city than with a Chelsea Food Truck
City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher (left) and City Hall summer intern Katherine Cabral invite Chelsea residents to attend the first-ever Chelsea Food Truck Festival Aug. 14-16 at the Williams School parking lot.
That’s the path that City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher and City Hall summer intern Katherine Cabral are taking with the city’s first food truck festival that will be held on Aug. 14-16 (Tuesday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) at the Williams Middle School parking lot at the corner of Arlington and Fifth Streets.
Watson Fisher, head of the Law Department for the city and a graduate of one of the nation’s finest law schools (Boston College), is the chief organizer, while Cabral, a CHS graduate and student at Bates College, is in charge of marketing for the organizing team.
Watson Fisher, who also supervises licenses in Chelsea, drafted the food-truck ordinance, which took one year to develop and gain approval.
“We’re trying with this festival to show that there is a customer base and market for food trucks in Chelsea,” said Watson Fisher. “We also want to get the food trucks here as an event for employees of City Hall. The Williams School is a good location for City Hall employees and other people who also work in the city during the day.”
Several employees from city departments, including licensing, law, DPW, inspectional services, schools, city manager’s office, will be in attendance and interact with the community at the festival.
Representatives from the National Institute of Justice will be conducting a survey at the festival. The Hubcats, which promotes the well-being of cats, will have an information table. The Archery, Limebikes, and Carter Park Crossfit are among the local businesses participating in the festival. There will be music and a possible appearance of the Chelsea Police “Copsicle” truck.
Attendees will have a wide of variety foods available for purchase, according to Watson Fisher.
“We’ll have a Chilean food truck, a Vietnamese food truck, a gluten-free, vegan truck, an American barbecue truck, as well as tacos, sausages, hot dogs, and hamburgers, and desserts,” said Watson Fisher.
Cabral said the festival will help determine which type of food trucks might be popular if the trucks were stationed here on a daily basis.
“We’re bringing in a big variety of food trucks to see what the people want going forward and whether the food truck operators are interested in collaborating with Chelsea,” said Cabral.
Though Watson Fisher is ready to review applications for food truck licenses and to potentially grant them, there are no food trucks currently operating in the city.
“We have allowed food trucks at certain events,” said Watson Fisher. “But at this point there are no food trucks operating in the city.”
Cabral believes the festival will ignite an interest in food trucks wanting to set up shop in the city.
“We really do want this event to be a springboard for food trucks to come to Chelsea and to expose our dayworkers to see this an opportunity to try new things, so we’re super excited to hold such a multi-faceted event in our city,” said Cabral.
Dimitris Meletlidis, owner of Broadway House of Pizza, was skeptical about the Chelsea Walk Revitalization Project when he was first approached about the idea. Now, he is one of the project’s biggest proponents.
Dimitris, came from Greece in 1981 and attended Northeastern University where he earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees in electrical engineering. He and his family purchased the Chelsea locale in 1987, just a few doors down from its present location. When the existing building became available, he bought it and opened up the thriving business he has run for the last 30-plus years. He also owns Prattville Pizza as well as locations in Revere and West Roxbury.
Dimitris comes to Chelsea twice a day and often is here until midnight or later. He knows practically everyone in the city, quickly chatting up teenagers, adults and the elderly alike. With a twinkle in his eye and a quick laugh, he says, “I’ve known this guy since he was practically a baby, always coming in for pizza!”
It is no surprise Meletlidis feels a strong sense of ownership and connection to Chelsea and the Chelsea Walk. He checks out the progress of the transformation daily and has donated pizza for Artist Silvia Lopez Chavez and the multitude of volunteers she’s had on hand over the past week.
Previously unsure of the project, now just like the Chelsea Walk’s transformation, Meletlidis is changing his mind and thinking it might just be nice to have the mural extend to the back of his building too.
As a proud husband and father of two Ð a son studying at Amherst and a daughter studying law at Suffolk Ð Meletlidis exemplifies the theme behind Lopez Chavez’ mural “A City of Dreams.”
The mural takes inspiration from the diverse multi-cultural background of Chelsea people, a city which has welcomed immigrants from various countries for many years, working together to promote inclusivity, diversity and tolerance.
With this past week’s high temperatures and high humidity, those of us who work and live in air conditioned buildings have had a lot to be thankful for.
Even a sojourn to the beach offers no relief from the heat, thanks to the prevailing southwest winds that blow hot air across the sand toward the ocean along our East-facing coastline of the Boston areaÊ
Still, as unbearable as this stretch has been for many people — and let’s not forget that hot weather kills more people than cold — does anyone doubt that in January, all of us will be pining for the heat of early August?
With just three weeks left until the Labor Day weekend, we do not have many more days of summer left. So let’s enjoy our Triple-H weather (hazy, hot, and humid) while we can. In the words of the early-’60s song by the great Nat King Cole:
If Bellingham Square is going to be fully returned to the community, then let that return be led by dominoes.
Roberto ‘Tito’ Rodriguez checks his dominoes during Game Night on Tuesday, July 31, in Bellingham Square. Game Night is slowly gaining popularity, and the City initiative takes place every Tuesday from 6-8 p.m.
It was slow going at first for the introduction of an outdoor Game Night on Bellingham Square – which is sponsored by the City’s Chelsea Prospers initiative. A few would trickle in and out, but the hard-scrabble Square had gained a reputation that many Chelsea residents hadn’t yet forgotten.
But now with about a month under the belt, momentum for the simple fun in the Square has begun to form with about 10 or so regulars – and that momentum has everything to do with something as simple as a domino.
“For me, this is the most popular game in Puerto Rico,” said Roberto ‘Tito’ Rodriguez, who moved to Chelsea from Puerto Rico seven years ago. “It makes me feel great because I feel like I’m right at home in my hometown. I’m meeting people in Chelsea and talking to people I don’t know. It makes me feel welcome.”
As the group enjoys their game, salsa music plays in the background and many observers pass by – seemingly wanting to join in, but not entirely certain why people are playing games in Bellingham Square.
“It’s very comfortable here now and that’s surprising,” said Sheila Rohena. “I grew up here, so begin able to come out of my house and sit here in the Square is great. I used to be scared to come out of my house because of all the things that happen here. Now, I’m sitting here and enjoying myself in the Square. That’s pretty amazing because there was a lot of bad stuff happening here. Did I think this would happen? Not for the life of me.”
But certainly it was, and Rohena and others who participate in Game Night found a peacefulness in the Square on a sunny, warm summer night that hasn’t existed there for a long time.
“I really like that it’s right here in this spot,” said Tina Rivera. “I like it being here at City Hall because it’s had a very bad reputation for so long. There used to be game tables here permanently, but they had to take them down. A lot of people were hesitant to bring them back, but we did it in a very low-cost, low-key way. It’s going well. There are now problems. You see from this that we can have nice things. You have to just trust people sometimes.”
Rodriguez has even brought in some converts like Jen Matheson, who is new to downtown Chelsea and was taught how to play dominoes. Now she’s a regular.
“I live right here and it’s so great to be able to come out here and meet new people,” she said. “They taught me how to play dominoes. I didn’t even know, and now I’m winning a lot of the time.”
Rivera said she has hoped for community building events like a Game Night for a long time because it promotes stability and familiarity. Without that, there is no community, she said, and that makes the people vulnerable.
“If we don’t get back to being a community, it makes it even easier for another community to replace us without us knowing,” she said.
There is no end date in sight for the Game Night, and organizer Mimi Graney said they will likely go until it gets too cold.
For now, the goal is not to get the ‘Chiva’ – which is Spanish for ‘female goat’ and is slang for getting no points in a game of dominoes.
But for the future, the goal is to have several more tables full of people from the community functioning normally and having fun together.
Certainly in Chelsea, if anything, a domino game is good first step.
Roberto ‘Tito’ Rodriguez checks his dominoes during Game Night on Tuesday, July 31, in Bellingham Square. Game Night is slowly gaining popularity, and the City initiative takes place every Tuesday from 6-8 p.m.
William Molino celebrates a win in a game of dominoes during the Chelsea Prospers Game Night on Tuesday. Watching him enviously are Raul Melendez, Alex Garcia and Mike Vega.
The last second ticked off the clock on Beacon Hill Tuesday night, and when the score was settled, education funding for Gateway cities like Chelsea was the big loser.
School Supt. Mary Bourque and Chelsea’s State Sen. Sal DiDomenico voiced extreme disappointment on Wednesday that the Legislature could not come to a compromise on fixing education funding – an issue that has dogged Chelsea, Everett and Revere in particular for the last three years. The compromise committee, made up of members of the House and Senate, failed to reach a compromise between their separate bills, essentially killing the plan that would bring more dollars to Chelsea.
“We’re leaving another generation of kids behind by not addressing the issue now,” said Sen. DiDomenico, who had helped to pass a comprehensive funding revamp bill in the Senate earlier this year. “The districts that lost the most are the ones that need the most help. It was our responsibility to step up for communities who are continuously doing more with less and in these circumstances we have failed them. I was willing to go the extra mile to make that happen. To not be able to make a deal is extremely disappointing. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road. This bill would have seen substantial funding increases to our low-income communities like Chelsea and Everett – indisputably.”
Supt. Bourque said she was very angry when she heard the news that there hadn’t been a compromise.
She said that the time for waiting and watching for the state to take action is over.
“I just think it’s unconscionable that we aren’t putting student first and foremost in the budget,” she said. “We’re concerned about the economy and this is the next generation that will bolster that economy. It’s extremely short-sighted of our leaders to do this.”
She said that there should have been a compromise, as there were so many people willing to work out a solution, including Gov. Charlie Baker – who is a Republican.
“The House and Senate bills were so close in many ways,” she said. “It only required leaders to compromise at a certain point and they didn’t. It’s going to call on all of us for stronger advocacy moving forward. That’s what you’re going to hear from us. We have balanced our budget for this year. We made the difficult cuts this year and last year. We cut $2.7 million last year and $3.1 million this year. The greater implications and my concern is for the fiscal year 2020 budget. The situation will be much more difficult and we’ll be facing a third year of cutting $3-$4 million. Where do we cut? We’re already at class sizes of 30 students. We’ve eliminated all of our after-school programs.”
For those looking for answers within the inside baseball of the State Legislature, one clue came from a statement by Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, who was the lead sponsor of the Senate’s wide-ranging education reform fix.
In a statement on Wednesday, Chang-Diaz indicated that the House leadership was not willing to compromise. She said the House put forward their “deal,” and with time the Senate agreed to that deal – only to be told that the House was rejecting its own deal.
“This bill shouldn’t have been difficult to negotiate,” she wrote in a statement. “[The Senate] offered multiple versions of major concessions – on structure, on content, on money. I have only good things to say about the House conferees, who I believe really wanted to get to a deal. Yet, in the end House leadership rejected all our offer, moved the goal posts, and then killed the bill completely – stunningly, by rejecting one of their own proposals. I’ve seen a lot in my 10 years in [the State House], but I’ve never seen so many rationalizations and double-standards employed to avoid doing what’s right for kids.”
Chelsea has made numerous difficult cuts over the past two years especially. They have cut librarians, special education teachers at the middle school level and have not replaced positions.
Sources indicated that the compromise bill could have delivered along the lines of $10 million to Chelsea.
Other sources in line with Chang-Diaz’s comments said that the meltdown in the education funding fix came from the top of both houses.
Talk on Beacon Hill now is that the relationship between the Senate and the House – in particular their two leaders – is at an all-time low.
To promote safety and bike laws in urban areas, as well as introduce an emerging biking and pedestrian committee, the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition led an Urban Biking Workshop at the Chelsea Public Library on July 31.
Vivian Ortiz, a League of American Bicyclists, certified instructor, focused on the importance of safety in areas that don’t necessarily offer bike-protected paths, such as Chelsea.
Jennifer Kelly, director of the Healthy Chelsea Coalition, is seeking members to form a biking and pedestrian committee to address the issues and concerns in the community. The committee, funded by the statewide movement to work toward healthy and active lifestyles – dubbed Mass in Motion – will work toward funding programs.
One such program is an outreach effort to give free helmets to bicyclists to increase safety.
“I work as a teacher in Chelsea, and have taken a bike to school. In the mornings when I thought I would feel safe because there wasn’t a lot of traffic, I actually had a couple of problems because I think people at that hour weren’t expecting to see someone on a bike,” Lisa Santagate said. “It was actually scarier than I thought it would be, so I don’t do it all that much, but I really want to.”
Ortiz addressed the importance of understanding that, according to state law, bicycles are considered vehicles, and should be treated as such with traffic laws, traffic flow and signaling. Although Chelsea doesn’t have much in terms of bicycle infrastructure, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) implemented a bike-sharing system to promote bicycle use and offer cheaper travel alternatives.
Residents do have the opportunity to ride on the new shared-use path along the Silver Line, and plans are in the works to include protected bike lanes on the reconstruction of Beacham Street – the only access point into Boston by bike.
LimeBike and Spin’s dockless bike program, introduced in May, opened the dialogue for bike safety in Chelsea, and created an app-based bike rental system that charges riders $1 per hour. Since there are no additions to the city for docking, the city was able to implement the program at no extra cost.
Although there is no added cost, the main concerns brought up by citizens are the bright green bikes being left in places that create a less aesthetically pleasing environment, or in places that can be dangerous, such as pedestrian walkways.
“Riding in an urban area that doesn’t have any bike infrastructure is really, really scary,” Ortiz said. “A lot of my fear in the beginning was folks were just not used to seeing people on bikes in my neighborhood. So that’s one tip that I would give folks, if you’re not comfortable riding by yourself, find a group of people. It’s much easier riding with a group to be on the street because there’s more power in numbers.”
The workshop introduced a variety of group rides that take place throughout the greater Boston area, including Hub on Wheels Sept. 16, as well as general safety tips for riders.
Ortiz’s final tips for riders: ride with traffic, not against it; choose your line and maintain it without swerving or lane splitting; avoid the “right hook” and check to make sure a car isn’t going to turn right in front of you; and always signal turns using the arm signals.
Anyone looking to become more involved in the biking and pedestrian committee can reach out directly to Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The long-discussed wide- ranging opiate treatment bill passed the state legislature late Tuesday night just in the nick of time, after a conference committee on Tuesday agreed to a compromise form of the bill that went through many twists and turns over the past month.
State Rep. Dan Ryan, who is vice chair of the House’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Committee and had a big hand in the bill, said he was happy to see that the body came to agreement and voted unanimously on the final bill only hours after the compromise reached the floor.
He said that many hard issues were discussed – such as providing opiate treatment to inmates, creating Safe Injection Facilities, and looking at involuntary commitments for substance abuse treatment – but none of the sticking points caused the bill to derail in the last hours.
“A unanimous vote on such a major piece of legislation, such as the opioid bill, shows what we are able to do here in the Commonwealth,” he said. “Because we don’t retreat into our partisan safe zones, we are able deliver a bill that will go a long way in curbing this scourge that had affected so many communities… I have to thank Speaker DeLeo for appointing me vice-chair of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Committee. My knowledge of so much of the good work being done by others in Charlestown and Chelsea really helped me to shape discussion. I thank everyone in our communities that are doing recovery work.”
Rep. Ryan said he thanked Conference Committee Chair Rep. Denise Garlick and Sen. Cynthia Friedman for their quick analysis of a tough issue.
“After months of public testimony, stakeholder meetings and expert analysis they worked through the weekend processing all of that info and hammered out a bill we can all live with and will save lives,” he said. “Our neighborhoods, hospitals, schools and even correctional facilities will be safer places because of this bill.”
One of the sticking points in the bill was Safe Injection Facilities (SIFs), which allow people to use illegal injection drugs in a supervised medical environment. It is illegal in the United States and opposed by the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts. While that measure had supporters in the Senate, it did not get support in the House. The compromise on that created a commission to study the concept with municipal leaders, including Mayor Martin Walsh – who opposes the idea outright.
A second measure allows a pilot program in county jails and state prisons to allow treatment medicines, such as Methadone, to be given to inmates. Currently, those in treatment when they enter jail are cut off from that treatment. The pilot, however, does not operate in Suffolk County. Only two state prisons are included – MCI-Cedar Junction and the Plymouth treatment facility for men.
Finally, Ryan said the House had been very much opposed to the idea of Section 35 involuntary treatment, but Gov. Charlie Baker was very supportive of the idea. The program is running in Boston on a pilot with the West Roxbury District Court, and it allows police and medical professionals to involuntarily hold certain individuals for the sake of treatment without the approval of family – which is usually required.
The matter was adopted for study by a commission.
Other highlights include:
Requires electronic prescribing for all controlled substances, with limited exceptions, effective January 1, 2020.
Expands access to naloxone (Narcan) in the community by (1) establishing a standing order, providing access to naloxone without a prescription, (2) allowing certain Sheriffs to purchase naloxone at a lower cost through the state’s bulk purchasing program, and (3) allowing local governments and agencies to exchange unexpired naloxone.
Establishes a commission to make recommendations on the certification of Recovery Coaches.
Mandates that providers check the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) prior to issuing any prescription for a benzodiazepine.
Establishes a Center for Police Training in Crisis Intervention to support cost-effective, evidence-based mental health and substance use crisis response training programs for law enforcement, providing the tools to respond appropriately to behavioral health crises.
When the chips were down a few years ago and few were willing to stand up, rock the boat and call on President Barack Obama to slow down deportations from the country and places like Chelsea – Illinois Congressman Luis Gutiérrez told a crowd of people at Pan Y Café in Cary Square last Friday that one man stood with him.
That man was Congressman Michael Capuano, and the popular Latino congressman from Illinois appeared with Capuano Friday morning, July 20, in Chelsea to endorse Capuano and remind voters here how hard Capuano has been working – both in good times and bad times.
“Ten years ago I came to East Boston to tell President Obama to stop the deportations,” Gutierrez said. “There wasn’t a lot of Democrats who wanted to strongly tell our president to do that. Barack Obama was popular, we liked him and we wanted him to success, but the deportations were continuing. Not many wanted to do that. Mike didn’t hesitate. We met with immigrant groups together 10 years ago to deliver that message and we’ve been working together every since then on these issues.”
Gutierrez has become a very popular member of Congress in the last few years as immigration issues have come to the forefront and he has combined with others like Capuano to tell the stories of those caught up in the system. Capuano took him on a tour of two locations in Chelsea Friday and one in Boston – talking to Latino and immigrant groups throughout the City. It reinforced that battle ground nature that Chelsea has taken on within the congressional race between himself and challenger Ayanna Pressley.
On Friday, he also received the endorsement of Councillor Leo Robinson and Roy Avellaneda. State Rep. Dan Ryan, who previously endorsed him, was also in attendance – as were several local movers and shakers.
“I didn’t know a lot about Mike when I came on the City Council many years ago, but on the advice of a neighbor and other councillors, I met with him and he was a solid guy,” said Avellaneda. “I looked at his resume and I’ve never looked back and never regretted supporting him. I’ve called on Mike so many times over the years for an issue regarding Chelsea…He earned my vote back then and has for the last 20 years.”
Robinson reminded everyone that Capuano has always brought home important monies for Chelsea from the federal government, including money recently allocated for rebuilding Quigley Hospital at the Soldiers’ Home.
Capuano was gracious, and said he really appreciated the support from Chelsea and Gutierrez, his colleague in Washington, D.C.
“It’s nice when you’re under the gun to learn who stands with you,” he told the crowd, moving on to the immigration issue and the family separation he recently saw in a trip to the Texas/Mexico border. “It’s a simple question. Do you like people or don’t you? Do you want to be a country that’s welcoming or don’t you?…None of us would have said that we would live in a country where the official policy was to rip nursing infants from their mothers…It’s horrible and it’s not right. Infants and their mothers should be together…Unless Democrats get the House back, we won’t have any progress on these issues. If Democrats get the House back, I promise you we will deal with the TPS (Temporary Protective Status) issue. We will deal with the infants ripped from their mother’s arms. We will have honest discussions and debate about comprehensive immigrations reform. It will be difficult, but at least we will have a chance because we’ll be talking about it.”
The opening of the fully-completed Clark Avenue Middle School is just about one month away, and work crews are finishing up the final preparations to welcome students into the completed new school project – after more than three years and two phases of construction.
“I think we’re shooting for substantial completion by the middle of August,” said Gerry McCue of the Chelsea Schools. “Teachers go back on Aug. 27 and students come into the new school on Aug. 29. We expect to have the school operational then. There will be punch list items to get to, but nothing major will be left.”
The completion of Phase 2 will mark the end of the $57 million project that started under former City Manager Jay Ash, and was carried out by City Manager Tom Ambrosino and the School Department.
Already, Phase 1 opened in December 2017, and students and teachers have been using half of the school since that time. The former building, the Old Chelsea High, had been completely demolished earlier this year to make way for Phase 2.
Demolition of the other side of the old high school started in March 2015, when the project first got off the ground.
With the addition of the Phase 2 building, the school will be introduced to many of the amenities, including the gym, an auditorium, a small performance stage, the library, technology labs, art rooms, music rooms, an administrative suite and the new front courtyard facing Crescent and Clark Avenues.
“In addition to things like the gym, there will be a smaller performance space and things can be done on that stage and the cafeteria can be used for seating,” he said. “Larger productions can be done in the auditorium. That’s important because the Clark Ave is the feeder program for the Chelsea High Drama Club, so they have an emphasis on music and performing arts at the Clark Avenue.”
The courtyard will be a very welcome addition to the school and the neighborhood, he said. The space was designed to open up to Crescent and Clark Avenues so that the buildings are pushed back and the space seem more open and inviting. He said the possibilities are endless for the new space.
“We could do outdoor performances or in the summer the City could have a movie night for the neighborhood out there,” he said. “There will be seating and decking in the courtyard. There will also be a school garden there too. There has been a big emphasis on school gardens across the district and the Clark Ave will have one too.”
He said that the top floors are pretty much completed, and many classrooms are set up now. He said the bottom floor is still having work done – as the contractor started from the top and worked down.
As it is, the action is aplenty on the site as the final work is completed.
“There’s just a lot of activity there now and it will be non-stop until the first day of school,” he said.
The Clark Avenue School is expected to have 668 students when it opens in August.
The good news for Chelsea residents is that the $5 million redesign of the Broadway business district is moving forward, and a final decision will be made by the City Council about its exact components next month.
And if the vision and innovativeness that City Manager Tom Ambrosino fostered in all parts of Revere can be matched here, then Chelsea residents can expect a Broadway and Bellingham Square bustling with activity and commerce.
But a big question about “The New Broadway” remains: Should the six city blocks from Williams Street to City Hall Avenue be a one-way street (as it exists now and has for many decades) or a two-way street?
The Chelsea Traffic Commission hosted a public meeting Tuesday night at City Hall to hear residents’ opinions about the potential change of Broadway to a two-way street. The Commission is scheduled to vote on the matter at its next meeting before the Council casts the final vote about the entire redesign project, including the traffic plan.
Alexander Train, Chelsea’s assistant director of the department of planning and development, gave a thorough presentation of the re-imagined Broadway project that will totally transform the business district’s intersections, sidewalks, bicycle paths, tree pits, and physical appearance.
“We’ve completed the planning and development portion of the process and we’re now approaching the Traffic Commission to vote and adopt and enact the plan,” said Train. “Their vote will be relayed to City Council, who has the authority to approve or reject their decision.”
Police Chief Brian Kyes spoke in favor of a two-way Broadway, saying it would improve the flow of traffic.
“If a person double parks his vehicle, we have a reason to tow the vehicle ASAP,” said Kyes. “We want to keep the traffic flowing.”
Kyes said he was happy to hear that the intersection of Broadway and Third Street will have traffic lights in the redesign project. “Broadway and Third is probably one of the most dangerous intersections in the entire state,” said Kyes.
He said that when he drove from the police station to City Hall for the meeting, “the backup when I got to Hawthorne Street was incredible, because everybody is making the loop (around Broadway). I think the final [redesign] project makes a lot of sense. I drive down Broadway, Revere all the time and I very, very rarely see double parking there.” Councillor-at-Large Damlili
Vidot said she would like to see the city pay more attention to cleaning up Broadway (such as removing the weed in the metal grates). She also disputed the claim that two-way traffic would curtail double parking and that it would make it safer for pedestrians. She also asked about potential back-ups on the Tobin Bridge and how it would affect traffic on a two-way Broadway.
Vidot said she was not happy with the swiftness of the entire redesign process.
“I urge everyone to just take several steps back and let’s figure out a way to engage more people,” said Vidot. “The way that this process has gone, having a meeting in the middle of summer when the City Council isn’t even meeting – in a hot room where everyone is aggravated and we had to wait 10 minutes to even start the meeting, all of it is just not right.”
Ambrosino, who favors a two-way Broadway, said the traffic configuration should not predominate the discussion of the redesign project.
“That’s only a small part of the reimaging Broadway,” said Ambrosino. “Many of the improvements [to Bellingham Square, Fay Square, City Hall Avenue, traffic signals at dangerous intersections] are happening regardless of which of these two configurations between Williams and Fifth Streets is chosen. Even the one-way configuration is a major improvement over the two-lane speedway that currently exists on Broadway. The two-way configuration is still safer, calmer, and slower for bicylists and pedestrians.”
Ambrosino said the two-way configuration will be “transformative.”
“It will make a difference to the feel and the look of that downtown. It makes it vibrant. It makes it aesthetically pleasing. This will be better for pedestrians, for traffic, and for businesses.”
Rick Gordon, owner of Allen Cut Rite on Broadway, said the No. 1 issue in the downtown district is parking. “I personally prefer a one-way plan for the flow of traffic. The street is much narrower than other communities and I don’t think two-way makes a business more visible.”
Gordon credited the Chelsea Police for their efforts in slowing down motorists and enforcing double-parking restrictions on Broadway. Some residents at the meeting had noted that double-parking is a recurring issue on Broadway.
Councillor-at-Large Roy Avellaneda, whose family owns Tito’s Bakery, asked whether the City Council will have to vote on the redesign project in its entirety as opposed to voting on individual components such as the traffic configuration, and the placement of new bus stops and traffic lights on Broadway.
Following more than two hours of discussion, the one-way/two-way Broadway issue remains a hotly debated one and all eyes will be on the Traffic Commission when it convenes for a vote at its next meeting.WE should be Ambrosino said he favors a two-way Broadway