Bridge Operators Suspended After Couple Got Trapped on Chelsea Street Bridge

Bridge Operators Suspended After Couple Got Trapped on Chelsea Street Bridge

The operators working the vertical lift on the Chelsea Street Bridge Feb. 7 have been suspended at the behest of MassDOT after a couple in a vehicle got trapped on the bridge and lifted all the way to the top.

On Feb. 7, MassDOT said, a vehicle got caught between the safety gates on the deck of the bridge. Due to apparently not following procedures, the lift operators then lifted the bridge all the way to the top with the couple still on the deck in their car.

On Friday, Feb. 8, after learning of this incident, MassDOT directed the contractor responsible for operating the Chelsea Street Bridge to suspend until further notice the operators who were on duty on Thursday evening, Feb. 7.

“While fortunately no one was injured in this incident, the failure of operators to act according to safety procedures warranted their immediate suspension,” said a MassDOT spokesman.

MassDOT said it is unaware of any other instance of a vehicle being between the safety gates when the Chelsea Street Bridge has been raised and is continuing to investigate how this could have occurred on February 7.

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Smiles All Round – Dr. Fatima Maarouf Celebrates Second Year in Winthrop

Smiles All Round – Dr. Fatima Maarouf Celebrates Second Year in Winthrop

Dr. Fatima Maarouf is approaching the second anniversary of her growing dental practice, Harborside Dental, 313 Main Street.

Two years ago Dr. Maarouf made a major decision in her career to acquire the practice of long-time Winthrop dentist, Dr. Richard Schwartz, who had served the community for four decades.

“Dr. Schwartz retired and I took over the practice,” said Dr. Maarouf proudly.

One of the first orders of business was selecting a name for her new practice. As a homage to the town’s status as a seaside treasure, Dr. Maarouf chose, “Harborside.”

“I think of Winthrop as a beach town and I love the beach and being around Winthrop, so we decided Harborside is a good, calming name,” she revealed.

Dr. Maarouf has made an investment in the town and its future. She and her husband, Hugo Solis, who works as an attorney for the BPDA and as a real estate agent for the Winthrop office of Coldwell Banker, moved from East Boston to Winthrop a year ago. Harborside Dental is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and she and her husband are members of the Cottage Park Yacht Club.

Harborside’s dental assistant, Mirjeta Gjinovici, and treatment coordinator, Lindsey Robinson, also call Winthrop their home.

There have been some noticeable changes made in the dental office in the past two years. Dr. Maarouf renovated the entire office, installing new dental chairs, computers, software and other state-of-the-art equipment.

Dr. Maarouf, 33, grew up in Lebanon where she attended American University of Beirut and received her degree in Biology in 2007. She graduated from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry in Richmond in 2011. She moved to Boston in 2012 and completed her residency program at Tufts University, performing adult special needs dental care and hospital-based dental care.

“I ended up loving Boston and staying in the area,” said Dr. Maarouf.

She became an associate dentist at offices in the Boston area, but had dreamed of having her own practice.

“I realized that eventually I wanted to be a business owner,” said Dr. Maarouf. “When this practice came up, it was in a really cute town and excellent location with ample parking and T accessibility, so I felt it was a great opportunity. My husband and I really love it here. My team also lives here. We’re all invested in the town.”

Dr. Maarouf performs dentistry for patients of all ages, as early as age one to those in their senior years.

“We do a variety of fillings, crowns, fluoride treatments (for children), cleanings, extensive veneer and bridgework, implants, extractions, and teeth whitening,” said Dr. Maarouf. “We also work closely with specialists for certain procedures such as extensive root canals and implant placement.”

Dr. Maarouf recommends preventative care for all patients and suggests regular checkups every six months.

She has begun a series of educational visits to local pre-schools where she talks about the importance of dental care. “Prevention is really important, especially when kids are young,” she said. “I try to teach them that it’s fun to be at the dentist.”

Dr. Maarouf tries to accommodate her many patients’ work and activity schedules with expanded office hours (8 a.m.- 7 p.m. on some days and is open one Saturday a month).

And she is also expanding her knowledge, keeping abreast of the latest technological advances in the dentistry. “I do a lot of continuing education courses and attend workshops and seminars throughout the country.”

Dr. Maarouf said the decision to open her own practice was a tough one, but she is pleased with the reception in Winthrop and excited about her future here.

“There are challenges that you don’t anticipate and you’re responsible for everything, good and bad, so there’s a lot that is put on your shoulders – but when you’re trying to create something that you love, it makes it all worth it at the end of the day,” Dr. Maarouf concluded.

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Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop Launch Region-wide Community Health Needs Assessment

Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop Launch  Region-wide Community Health Needs Assessment

For the first time, Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop are combining forces to conduct a comprehensive regional Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) and design a Community Health Implementation Plan (CHIP). Major hospitals, along with health centers, human services providers and non-profits that serve area residents, are working with municipal leaders, health departments and the boards of health of each community to develop the plan. Residents of the three communities are being urged to go online and fill out a survey that asks about local health issues and other aspects of community life.

The effort is being co-coordinated by the North Suffolk Public Health Collaborative and the Mass General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI) with the ultimate goal of identifying, prioritizing and addressing the most urgent health needs faced by each community and the region. Such assessments are often used to apply for targeted funding to help address community needs.

Every three years, most hospitals conduct a community health needs assessment to meet requirements set by the Affordable Care Act. The Massachusetts Attorney General also requires such a report and is encouraging regional collaboration among stakeholders, including among healthcare systems who share the same service areas. “This is one of the first regional assessments of its type in Massachusetts,” said Jeff Stone, Director of the North Suffolk Public Health Collaborative. “Mayor Arrigo, Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino and Winthrop Town Manager Austin Faison realize that public health conditions don’t respect borders, and, working together we can solve some of our health challenges more effectively.”

“The North Suffolk Community Health Needs Assessment is critical for the City of Chelsea,” said City Manager Ambrosino. “Not only will it provide the information necessary for Chelsea to better understand our residents’ public health needs, but it will also enable us to properly prioritize resources to better address those needs. We encourage all of our residents to participate in upcoming surveys, forums and interviews.”

The collaborators have set an ambitious timeline. The CHNA and CHIP will be completed by Sept. 30, 2019, and will result in a guide for a three-year community health improvement plan that all providers can use. The process includes intensive data collection–hundreds of resident surveys, interviews and focus groups as well as collecting data from other agencies such as the MA Department of Public Health and the US Census.

A website has been created, www.northsuffolkassessment.org, to provide information to anyone who may be interested. People who live or work in Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop are encouraged to complete a survey. It is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic, reflecting the languages most frequently spoken in the communities.

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BHCC Names New Dean of Workforce and Economic Development

BHCC Names New Dean of Workforce and Economic Development

Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) appointed Kristen P. McKenna as Dean of Workforce and Economic Development. In this role, McKenna will oversee corporate learning and development and community education programs at the College. The renamed Division of Workforce and Economic Development supports area businesses and community based agencies with career pathway building, customized training and individualized support to grow workforce and economic development for the greater Boston metro area.

McKenna possesses over 20 years of professional implementation, management and policy development experience in higher education, workforce development, nonprofit and government funded programs. She has held senior leadership positions focused on program improvement, enrollment and the development of industry supported training for workforce development at River Valley Community College in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and Bristol Community College in Fall River, Massachusetts.

Working with the Rhode Island Governor’s Workforce Board and the Institute for Labor Studies and Research, McKenna has also implemented a number of projects designed to accelerate credential attainment with technology-based solutions. She’ll bring expertise to the College’s workforce development initiatives and the development of non-credit to credit career pathways.

The Greater Boston community has come to rely on BHCC’s community education programs for English language instruction, test preparation, continuing education and international learning programs. In the 2018 academic year, over 2500 students enrolled in customized training, community education and adult basic education at the College. With a focused commitment on workforce and economic development, BHCC will expand access and equity with additional course development and innovative pathways development so all community members have options and flexibility in a supported environment.

The division is working with partners like Facebook to offer future opportunities that will support local entrepreneurs with workshops on social media marketing and more.

McKenna holds a Masters of Education in Adult Learning and Higher Education Administration from Eastern Nazarene College, a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from Bridgewater State University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Rhode Island College. To learn more about BHCC’s Workforce and Economic Development program and to view the courses that are offered visit bhcc.edu/ce.

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Community Preservation Projects Ready to Get Underway

Community Preservation Projects Ready to Get Underway

The deadline to apply for the pilot round of grant funding for Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds is fast approaching, with eligibility forms for potential projects due to City Hall by Wednesday, Feb. 13.

On Thursday, Jan. 31, the Community Preservation Committee held the first in a series of public informational sessions and application workshops centered around the draft Community Preservation Plan and the pilot round of funding. A public hearing on the plan itself is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 21 at the Chelsea Senior Center at 7 p.m.

For the pilot round only, applications will be limited to $50,000.

“We are doing this pilot program so we can get a better understanding of how the process will work and not having the committee approve huge amounts of money until we streamline the process,” said Karl Allen of the city’s Planning and Development Office.

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.

“Part of our mission is to build our capacity in the community and to build the funds,” said Allen. “We have a low bar of entry for anyone who wants to apply.”

Last week’s workshop was geared toward helping pave the way for individuals or groups who want to apply for CPA funds, or who simply are interested in seeing what types of projects are eligible for the funds.

“We want to use the taxpayer’s money in a thoughtful way,” said Anna Callahan, a community planner at JM Goldson, the City’s consultant for the Community Preservation Plan.

In addition to limiting the grants to $50,000 in the pilot program, Callahan said the CPC is looking for projects that are shovel ready by the summer or fall of this year.

The first step for anyone interested in the pilot program is to complete a one-page project eligibility form by Feb. 13. Those eligibility forms will help determine if the proposed projects could be allowed under the CPA.

The next step is a more involved application due to Allen by Wednesday, April 3.

The CPA prioritizes projects where the applicant has control over the property or land for a proposal, Callahan said.

The best tactic with those with potential project ideas is to work with Allen and the CPC, Allen said.

“Ideally, if you have an idea, you can write it up quickly on the eligibility form and you can bring it to a workshop,” Allen said.

The last informational CPA information session before the eligibility forms are due is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Chelsea Senior Center at 1 p.m.

There are also application workshops for the longer process scheduled to take place at the Chelsea Public Library on Wednesday, March 13 at 6 p.m. and on Saturday, March 23 at 1 p.m.

CPA funds can be used for community housing, historic preservation, or open space and recreation needs.

The CPC is broadly recommending that 40 percent of the funds be allocated to community housing, 15 percent to historic preservation, 25 percent to open space and recreation and 15 percent as undesignated and available for any type of project, according to CPC Chairman Jose Iraheta.

The remaining 5 percent is reserved for administrative expenses.

In addition to groups and individuals, the City is also eligible to apply for CPA funding.

The CPC must present any and all ideas before City Council for approval after creating a Community Development Plan. The City Council retains the power to approve, deny or lower the allotted funds for project ideas.

Callahan said the CPC favors projects where there is site control, demonstrated community support, an ability to implement the project, and a focus on public accessibility.

“The CPA really reflects the community’s needs,” she said.

City Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda pushed for placing the CPA on the city ballot in 2016 and said he has been closely following the CPC’s progress. “I’m thrilled that we are where we are right now,” he said.

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Council Looking into Keeping Some Marijuana Licenses for Residents

Council Looking into Keeping Some Marijuana Licenses for Residents

Chelsea city councillors are looking at ways in which they can legally find a way to reserve some of the recreation marijuana licenses for Chelsea residents.

Councillor Roy Avellaneda forwarded an order recently to reserve at least two of the four recreational licenses for Chelsea residents, as so many residents have been impacted by the War on Drugs and the prosecution of marijuana possession crimes.

Avellaneda said his order is to amend the current retail marijuana ordinance in similar fashion to Somerville and Boston. At the state level, the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) signaled early on that it would approve licenses quicker in communities like Chelsea that historically have been heavily impacted by drug prosecution.

However, Avellaneda and other councillors said they have only seen well-heeled investors from out of town turning up to take advantage of that designation in Chelsea.

“The recent rush we have seen by well-funded and politically connected individuals and groups to apply for the available licenses puts those living in communities like Chelsea at a serious disadvantage,” he said. “The goal of the legislation I have introduced is to provide a two-year window for two of the four licenses just for Chelsea residents or a business entity comprised of 60 percent Chelsea residents…I think we would have better host agreements and community benefits offered by an individual or group based from Chelsea than from someone with no connections to this city. Should we allow the money made from these lucrative licenses leave the city? Or should we try to keep that revenue here?”

The Council held a Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday night, Feb. 4, to discuss the matter and try to find a solution.

Council President Damali Vidot said she and Avellaneda and the rest of the Council seem to be on the same page with the idea, but may differ on how to accomplish it.

“My concern at Monday’s meeting and a couopld of other councillor’s concerns were that we could be interfering with a business’s right ot commerce,” she said. “If I own an adult-use shop and want to sell it, I don’t know if we can limit who you sell it to. We don’t want to cut people off at the knees. That will effect investors because they may not want to enter into a place where there are so many limits on their investment…Also, we’re only allowing the rich to get richer. If you live in Chelsea and have the money to buy one of these, you’re obviously already rich.”

She said the marijuana licenses mimic the regulations for liquor stores, and there are no such limits on liquor licenses.

That said, she agreed that Avellaneda has a good idea that needs to be explored and hopefully implemented in some fashion to help Chelsea residents – to empower those economically who have been affected in the past.

Avellaneda said the idea is consistent with the recent 100 percent residency requirement for all new police and fire hires, as well as the affordable housing requirement for Chelsea residents.

“It asks that any new jobs created in Chelsea have a priority for Chelsea residents,” he said. “I doubt Chelsea would lose any opportunities or see a delay in applications because any outsider looking to open in Chelsea would look to partner with a Chelsea resident rather than risk losing a chance at a license by waiting two years.”

Western Front Moving Quickly on Webster

The Economic Empowerment marijuana proposal on Webster Avenue is moving quickly through the local process for a marijuana dispensary at 121 Webster Ave.

Western Front is a minority-owned firm that received the Economic Empowerment designation from the state last spring, and had its community meeting shortly after. The firm plans to open a dispensary and also employ those who have been adversely affected by the War on Drugs – particularly people from the Chelsea. The ownership of the company comes from Boston and Cambridge though. Western Front is scheduled to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. It is the first ZBA hearing in Chelsea for a marijuana proposal.

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Supt. Bourque Says Governor’s Budget Increases Still Aren’t Enough

Supt. Bourque Says Governor’s Budget Increases Still Aren’t Enough

Gov. Charlie Baker brought a short smile to the face of many when he unveiled an increase in education funding in his State Budget proposal two weeks ago, but this week Supt. Mary Bourque said the proposal needs to go further for cities like Chelsea.

“Although a step in the right direction for public education and in particular gateway cities, the Governor’s FY20 budget does not go nearly far enough,” she wrote in a letter on Feb. 6.

Bourque said the Chelsea Public Schools are facing another year where they will likely – as it stands now – have to cut another $2 million from their budget. That falls upon multiple years of cuts that have weighed cumulatively on the schools and taken away core services from students.

One of the problems is that salaries, health insurance and special education costs are rising so quickly. This year, she said, they are looking at increases in those areas of $5.2 million.

Gov. Baker’s budget proposal steers an increase of $3.2 million to Chelsea over last year, but in the face of rising costs, that still leaves the schools in the red.

It’s yet another year of advocacy for the schools to fix the Foundation Formula – an exercise that has seemingly played out without any success for at least five years.

“Once again we are facing another year of painful budget cuts because the foundation formula used to calculate aid to our schools is broken,” she wrote. “The formula from 1993 has not kept up with inflation, changing demographics or increased student needs. I am however, encouraged this year that all leaders at the State level have acknowledged that the formula is broken, including for the first time the Governor.”

Bourque also spelled out the complex nature of the Chelsea Schools, including numerous factors that are contributing to the reduction in funding.

One of the most startling situations is that there are fewer kids, and with education funding based on numbers of kids, that translates to even less money for the schools.

Bourque said this year they have begun to identify a downward trend in enrollment for the first time in years. She said fewer kids are coming in from outside the U.S. and families are leaving Chelsea for areas with lower rents and costs of living.

“In addition to the foundation formula undercounting critical costs, a significant portion of this year’s $2 million dollar gap is due to student demographic shifts taking place in our schools,” she wrote. “We are seeing a downward trend in student enrollment…This year we have noted fewer students entering our schools from outside the United States as well as a number of students and families moving from Chelsea due to the high cost of living in the Boston area.” The Chelsea Public Schools under the City Charter have until April 1 to submit their balanced budget. Bourque said they plan to lobby members of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the meantime to fix the funding gaps that now exist.

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Chelsea Stands in Solidarity with East Boston over Proposed Eversource Substation

Chelsea Stands in Solidarity with East Boston over Proposed Eversource Substation

Environmentalists, activists, residents and elected officials on both sides of the Chelsea Creek are standing in solidarity with one another in firm opposition to Eversources plan to place a substation at the City Yards in East Boston along the Chelsea Creek.

On Tuesday night in Eastie the the state’s Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) held a public meeting to discuss Eversource’s Notice of Project Change that moves the proposed substation from the eastern corner of the City Yards in East Eagle Square to the western corner. The original location on the eastern portion of the city-owned parcel was approved by the EFSB last year.

In its Notice of Project Change Eversource seeks approval to move the Substation 190 feet to the western side of the City Yards lot. The scope of the upcoming meeting is limited to Eversource’s proposed relocation of the substation from its current site on the eastern side of the city parcel to its new proposed location.

Eversource said the two 115-kV transmission lines that would connect to the substation would no longer be routed along Condor and East Eagle Streets if the substation is placed in the western portion of the parcel.

Local environmentalists from Eastie and Chelsea have called on the EFSB explore alternatives to placing Eversource’s proposed substation along the Chelsea Creek.

For two years local environmentalists on the Eastie and Chelsea sides of the Creek have launched a visual, media and talking campaign against Eversource’s plans to place the substation at the City Yards in Eagle Square.

At Tuesday night’s meeting Chelsea City Council President Damali Vidot attended the meeting and gave testimony in opposition to the substation.

“I’m here tonight to express my opposition,” said Vidot. “Although I represent Chelsea, a community of 40,000 low income, hardworking immigrants and people of color who are always the afterthoughts of corporate greed and irresponsible planning, I am here today as an ally with my brothers and sisters of the Eagle Hill East Boston neighborhood whose demographics are reminiscent of home. Planes, a salt bile, fuel and now a high voltage electrical substation–I am tired of communities like Chelsea and East Boston forced to bear the burden of environmental injustice at the hands of greedy corporations. We are environmental justice communities and the civic engagement in this neighborhood, or lack thereof, is a blatant disregard and inconsideration of the densely populated areas of hardworking men and women forced to bear the environmental ignorance of others for the sake of protecting profits.”

Vidot called for an independent study to see whether or not a substation is even needed in the area and, if so, does it need to be placed an area susceptible to future climate change issues and sea level rise.

U.S. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who represents both East Boston and Chelsea, sent a video testimony from her office in Washington D.C.

“I’m your sister in solidarity,” said Pressley. “This at its best is boor urban planning and at its worst and injustice. It is unconscionable that a community already overburdened with environmental injustices would be put in harm’s way and have those existing health hazards exacerbated. The community should be a part of planning and I know when we organize we win and this is a fight like so many others we are taking on and I stand with you.”

Last year the EFSB ruled in favor of placing the substation at the City Yards. However, the final ruling came with some provisos. According to the state board the EFSB vote to approve the substations and 115 kV underground cables in Eastie, Chelsea and Everett came with some conditions. The EFSB directed Eversource to enter into discussions with the City of Boston regarding the possible relocation of the new substation and the related cable on the Chelsea Creek site.

Local activist John Walkey, who lives in Eastie and works with Greenroots Chelsea argues that the project represents an increased risk in both communities already bearing a huge environmental burden in the region by playing host to Logan International Airport, highways and jet fuel storage tanks along the Chelsea Creek.

Walkey made a push for the EFSB to see a more logical place to site the substation.

“If only there was a place in East Boston with restricted access that would a more appropriate location. Maybe a place that already had millions of dollars invested in raising the ground level so it is more flood resilient. Maybe a place that already much more secure with state police oversight and very limited access. Maybe a place that takes up over a third of the land mass in East Boston. And just maybe a place that is going to be a consumer of over half the electricity that goes through the substation anyway. Obviously the (Logan) Airport is a far more logical place,” said Walkey.

As part of its decision the EFSB directed Eversource to provide an update to the board on the status of discussions between the community and city before construction on the substation commences. This has given additional time for Eversource, the City of Boston, and residents to iron out the alternative locations for the substation. The substation was initially slated to be built on an Eversource-owned parcel on Bremen Street. However, under the former late Mayor Thomas Menino Boston executed a land swap with Eversource. Eversource have the City of Boston the Bremen Street parcel so the city could build the new East Boston Branch Library in return for a city-owned parcel in East Eagle Square.

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Fire at Pollo Campero treacherous, but controlled quickly

Fire at Pollo Campero  treacherous, but controlled quickly

A Chelsea firefighter fighting the stunning blaze created by Pollo Campero in Park Square on Sunday
night. The popular restaurant was a total loss, but owners said they intend to re-build.

Heavy smoke poured from the popular Pollo Campero restaurant in Park Square on Sunday night, with firefighters facing treacherous conditions that forced their evacuation numerous times as they tried to put out the stunning fire.

In the end, crews battled and made quick work of it – getting it out within an hour.

Chief Len Albanese said it is still under investigation this week, and that it was a total loss.

“The fire is still under investigation; however, I can report at this time that it appears that the fire started in a concealed space within a wall, then traveled to the loft space above the ceiling where the fire was allowed to burn for some time before breaking out and activating the Fire Alarm system,” he said. “This would account for the major fire condition on arrival even though the building had a working fire alarm system. Also, there were no sprinklers within the structure. The fire remains under investigation for a definitive cause that will be reported upon completion.”

There were no civilian injuries, but one firefighter was injured.

On Sunday evening, at 11:40 p.m. Chelsea Fire Alarm received an alarm of fire from Box 1134 for the Pollo Campero restaurant located at 115 Park St. First arriving companies from Chelsea E2 and L1 under the command of Capt. Phil Rogers reported heavy smoke showing on arrival from the rear of the building. C4 Deputy Wayne Ulwick arrived on scene assuming command and immediately ordered the Working Fire. Due to the heavy smoke and reports of heavy fire within the interior of the building, a Second Alarm was requested bringing companies from Revere, Everett, Boston and MassPort to the scene. Crews were ordered out of the building several times due to conditions rapidly deteriorating from heavy fire conditions within the structure forcing firefighters to attack the fire with defensive operations using blitz guns, hand lines and ladder pipes

The fire was brought under control within an hour.

The Boston Sparks Club under the command of President Paul Boudreau responded to the scene supplying Re-Hab and refreshments for the firefighters. Chelsea Police also provided traffic and crowd control during fire. Crews from Medford and Boston provided mutual aid during the fire.

Chief Albanese said it was a defensive fight for firefighters because the structure was too far along to be saved. Nevertheless, owners are determined to rebuild. “It was determined that the fire was well involved within the structure, and crews were ordered out of the building and proceeded with a defensive fire attack,” he said. “Given the time of day, a closed business and no reports of occupants, this was the safest course of action given that very early on it was apparent that this building could not be saved. Members of Fire Prevention are working with the ownership, who reported to us that they intend to rebuild as soon as possible.”

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City Council Wants to Look at In-house Municipal Trash Collection

City Council Wants to Look at In-house Municipal Trash Collection

Rather than Russell Disposal, the trash and recycling trucks rumbling down city streets could one day say City of Chelsea.

While that possibility is a slight one at the moment, the City Council is asking City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to look into the costs of the City owning its own trash trucks and picking up its own trash. Currently, the City has a contract with Russell Disposal, Inc. of Somerville.

More than half the sitting councilors had their name attached to the order that was introduced at Monday night’s meeting: President Damali Vidot, District 6 Councilor Giovanni Recupero, District 1 Councilor Robert Bishop, District 4 Councilor Enio Lopez, District 3 Councilor Joe Perlatonda, and District 2 Councilor Luis Tejada.

Lopez said he does not believe Russell is doing a good enough job with trash removal, sometimes leaving trash behind and picking up recycling on a haphazard schedule.

“They are being paid big bucks and they are not doing it,” Lopez said. “For the amount of money we are paying, we can get a few trucks and hire people from the city of Chelsea.”

Bishop said he has heard no complaints from his district about trash collection, but did support having Ambrosino look at the numbers.

“If this saves money, I’m interested in what (the city manager) has to say,” said Bishop. “The whole idea is to see if we can save money.”

In some procedural wrangling, Councilor-at-Large Leo Robinson made a motion to move the issue into conference committee.

“I feel like we keep putting things out there and we have no idea what the costs will be,” said Robinson. The councilor, who said his family has a long history in the waste management business, said a single trash truck could cost over a quarter of a million dollars, along with additional costs to retrofit the trucks to collect trash barrels in Chelsea.

“If we make the move to go pick up our own trash, there is a lot involved,” Robinson said. “I don’t have a number in front of me, but it could cost $3 million to $3.5 million per year.”

Recupero said there was no need to put the issue into council committee at this time, since the request was to have Ambrosino get more information and numbers on municipal waste collection.

“If he tells us it’s not feasible, then it can’t be done,” he said. “If it is feasible, then we can send it to committee.”

Perlatonda estimated that the costs could be even higher than those estimated by Robinson.

While Cambridge has more than double the population of Chelsea, he said annual costs of municipal collection there are about $12 million.

“I don’t think it is going to be feasible to find (an option) cheaper than Russell,” he said. The vote to move the issue to committee failed, with Robinson, Perlatonda, and District 7 Councilor Yamir Rodriguez on the short end of the vote. The request will now go to Ambrosino for his review.

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