Just as the Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line gets ready to launch in Chelsea on April 21, State Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said in a meeting in Boston that she would like to see it eventually expand to Everett – a plan that Everett officials and the Lower Mystic Regional Transportation Working Group has touted as well.
The Silver Line 3 (SL-3) will being operations on April 21, making a 30-minute journey from the Mystic (Market Basket) Mall to South Station, via Logan Airport and the Seaport in Boston, every 10 minutes. The BRT will run on a separate bus-only lane through Chelsea and over the Chelsea Street Bridge.
Pollack said that a draft of the soon-to-be-released Transportation plan, called Focus 40, will have a recommendation for Everett to be included in an expansion of the new Silver Line service.
“That service will open on April 21, and we’re looking forward to the opening,” she said. “That is a BRT service and we hope to continue it from Chelsea into Everett and Sullivan Square and other highly congested areas. That’s one other thing we are looking at in our Focus 40 plan.”
Those statements came at a breakfast in the Back Bay on March 20 where Pollack was the keynote speaker and addressing investment in the Orange Line. She also highlighted the new Silver Line service and the agency’s hopes to expand it in the years to come.
The contract for the multi-year Mystic/Tobin Bridge Rehabilitation project will begin on April 1 for the first full year of construction on the upper and lower decks of the Bridge.
The project is fully separate from the controversial Chelsea Viaduct project – which is adjacent to this project – and is still in the design phase.
JF White received its notice to proceed last October and the contract begins on April 1, which will clear them to move in and begin work, particularly on the Lower Deck (outbound) part of the Bridge. The Lower Deck in each of the three-years will have one lane closed for concrete structure repairs.
Another major component will be the temporary closures at different points during the year of the Everett Avenue on-ramp, the Beacon Street off-ramp and the Fourth Street off-ramp.
“The Lower Deck is a little more involved because it requires milling and paving and replacement of the existing concrete deck,” said John McInerney of MassDOT. “It’s a steel grid so it’s a little more tedious to replace that concrete. Because of worker safety and the fact that the work is tedious and we have to pour concrete and let it cure, the three lanes on the Lower Deck will be down to two throughout the job.”
On the first year, this year, that will be the right lane of traffic that will be closed outbound. On the second year, it will be the left lane, and on the third year, the middle lane.
Paving and milling operations on the Upper Deck (inbound) is less intrusive and will only be done in off-peak hours with no lane closures expected.
The ramp closures will likely be the most impactful thing for Chelsea residents this year, but McInerney said they will not close multiple ramps at the same time for construction. They will do one at a time.
The first ramp up will be the Everett Avenue on-ramp, which is in deplorable shape.
He said it will likely be closed from late April to May.
“We are going to want them to really focus on that when they close a ramp,” he said. “We aren’t going to let them close a ramp and only work on it three hours a day. We want them to get it done as quickly as possible.”
Once that is done, they will move to close the Beacon Street off-ramp for two months. When it is completed, they will move to close the Fourth Street off-ramp for about one month. That is anticipated to happen in November.
“The bottom line is these three ramp closures are anticipated for this construction season and they won’t close simultaneously,” he said. “They have to have to come one after the other.”
He added that the MBTA is working with them to talk about changes to bus routes that use those ramps.
McInerney said there will also be extensive steel repairs on the Bridge, but the extent isn’t totally known right now. Once crews are able to set up access points, they will be able to examine the steel more closely.
McInerney said before JF White proceeds on April 1, there will be a community meeting to address any concerns. Dates for those meetings are forthcoming.
The project contract ends each Nov. 30 for the three-year period.
By Seth Daniel
Chelsea resident Amy Schlegel’s dog, Fitzgerald, died after a vicious attack by an unleashed Pitbull on Lower Broadway Dec. 19. With her beloved family dog gone and facing $22,000 in vet bills, she said she learned there is very little recourse for victims of such attacks on public property. Now she’s hoping to change that before the dog park opens this spring.
A routine dog-walking trip on the afternoon of Dec. 19 in the waterfront neighborhood has completely upended Amy Schlegel’s life – leaving her coping with the death of the family dog at the jaws of a loose Pitbull and trying to figure out how to pay more than $20,000 in vet bills.
It’s been a hard lesson, she told the Record, but it’s a lesson that she hopes can enlighten dog owners around the city – especially before the dog park opens on the corner of Broadway and Admiral’s Hill, which is ironically where she and her dog was attacked.
“Our backs were turned and there was no warning,” she said. “We passed the Pitbull and its owner on the sidewalk and something must have tipped it off. It came running after us at full speed and lit into my dog’s neck. I had absolutely no warning. It was a surprise attack. I didn’t see it coming because our backs were turned. It seemed like forever, but it was probably five minutes in total. My dog Fitzgerald is now gone and I have $22,000 in veterinarian bills and very little legal recourse or help. The key is that it was on public property and so there isn’t much anyone can do, I’m told.”
According to the police report, around 3 p.m., police were on patrol in the Lower Broadway area when they encountered two women screaming and a Pitbull attacking a Dachshund.
“The Pitbull was repeatedly biting and eating the skin of the smaller Dachshund dog as the Dachshund was laying helplessly on the sidewalk bleeding profusely with the Pitbull on top of him viciously and continuously biting him,” read the report.
Officers approached the scene and found Schlegel and the Pitbull’s owner trying to separate the dogs. Both women had injuries to their hands as the dog had bitten them too.
The officer quickly moved to shoot the Pitbull because it was clearly killing the Dachshund, but the owner of the Pitbull got in front of the officer and prevented him from shooting the dog. Even after he ordered her numerous times to move, she refused and her dog continued to rip at the innards of Fitzgerald. Finally, the officer pushed her out of the way and shot the Pitbull, stopping the attack. The Pitbull was rushed to Angell Animal Hospital, where it died later. Fitzgerald was rushed to another animal hospital, and after 11 days and many procedures, he died too.
“That additional time she stood there in front of the officer I’m convinced is what killed Fitzgerald,” she said. “The bites that happened to his stomach during that time are what really injured him to where he couldn’t recover.”
As horrible as the attack was, and the loss of her dog, it is the aftermath that has opened Schlegel’s eyes – and she now believes that the community needs to be starkly aware of what she is convinced will happen once the dog park opens.
Police follow up investigations yielded little cooperation from the other dog owner, and she never brought any information on the dog to police or answered her door – despite police indicating that they could observe her inside the apartment several times.
Nonetheless, Schlegel found that there are probably many, many more such attacks that go unreported or undocumented. She said when an attack happens on private property, insurance covers any losses. However, on public property, if the offending owner doesn’t cooperate, not much can happen.
“This is the kind of thing that could really change somebody’s life in an instant,” she said. “That dog park is going to be a nexus and I think attacks there are going to be inevitable. Something serious is going to happen there. It needs to be addressed beforehand. They say they’re going to have a big dog area and a small dog area, but I don’t know if people are going to abide by that. And how many people are going to volunteer information at the dog park that they own a vicious dog?”
Schlegel hopes that there might be a way to enhance the current laws to help police to initiate criminal charges against owners involved in attacks on public property. Right now, that is nearly impossible, she said.
Meanwhile, one idea she believes might help to bolster the cause is to start a record keeping system outside of the police. She said she would like to see the City create a dog attack hotline for statistical purposes.
She said she hopes it all points to some sort of reforms that Chelsea might be able to lead on.
“Bigger cities have tried things like bans and lost,” she said. “Chelsea is relatively small compared to Boston and you can get things done. There isn’t a lot of gridlock. Maybe this is a place where we can get something done that can be a model for other places. There is a huge hole here and it is attacks on public property. I’m hoping this will help the general public. It can change someone’s life forever. I’m a perfect example of that.”
By Seth Daniel
Revolutionary Clinic Product Consultant Sarah-Jaana Nodell displays two strains of marijuana buds that are dispensed at the clinic’s Somerville/Sullivan Square location. The two types are grown at their Fitchburg farm, and are among several products – from chocolates to tinctures to salves – that the clinic sells to state-registered patients.
The first medical marijuana dispensary in the Lower Mystic region has opened its doors in Sullivan Square on Broadway, Somerville, and operators of the clinic, Revolutionary Clinics, said last week at an open house they are seeing many new patients and believe people in the area with chronic pain are turning away from the black market to get a medicine that helps them deal with their illnesses.
Last Friday, Revolution – which sees itself as a regional dispensary serving the entire Lower Mystic region – said that it has been open every day since November (except Thanksgiving and Christmas) and the business has been ramping up every week – with an average of 38 new state-approved patients per week.
“The company is growing here and the patients are returning on a regular basis,” said Keith Cooper, CEO of the company, which is based in Colorado. “We are very, very excited about this location and obviously disturbed and concerned about what is being said at the national level. We hope that it will be just posturing and not hurt the patients taking advantage of this incredible plant.”
The open house at the dispensary was a chance for the media and for state legislators, including Somerville Sen. Patricia Jehlen, to see one of the area’s first functioning clinics in progress.
At a small panel discussion afterwards, the topic of the black market for marijuana came up.
Revolutionary Managing Director Meg Sanders said they don’t inquire, but they assume people in the area were getting marijuana somehow before there was a place like Revolutionary that is regulated and legal.
“We don’t ask that, but people who need the medicine were going to get it if they needed it,” she said. “There are a lot of black market operators out there. That’s the last place we would want patients to have to go because its unregulated and you don’t know what’s really in it. All of our products are tested and we know what’s in them.”
The clinic is only for those approved by the state for medical marijuana – though there is a desire to convert to recreational sales if permitted later this year. The system is set up with many security checks, from the parking lot to the entrance to the point of sale and delivery of the product.
After going through the procedures, one can work with a clerk to discuss the products available and options. There is an education area and an area for private consultation.
The clinic dispenses everything from traditional marijuana “flowers” or “buds” to salves, vaping cartridges, tinctures, oils, waxes, cookies, biscuits and chocolates.
The actual “buds” are produced in Massachusetts, and right now Revolutionary has a farm in Fitchburg that is producing two varieties now sold in the clinic.
The many different products, said clerk Sarah-Jaana Nodell, are only a matter of preference. Some people come in with arthritis and only want a salve. Some people have lung problems and cannot smoke buds, so they need a tincture or an edible product.
Others just need very low doses for their ailments, while others need to smoke strong buds to relieve chronic pain.
“The flower is really just the delivery mechanism for the oils,” she said. “The primary element is the concentration of oils and there are other ways to deliver it. If someone comes in with lung disease, the last thing we’ll do is give them something to smoke. I’m not going to give you edibles if you can’t digest things. That’s when a patient might be a better fit for a tincture.
“We have so many people saying they don’t want to get high,” she continued. “You don’t have to. You don’t have to get high. We’re here to help patients find the product that is going to make them feel better in any way we can. Many of our products are non-hallucinogenic so they will not get anyone high.”
However, for others, the hallucinogenic effect is precisely the medicine they need in smoking the flower – and the side effects, such as giggling, can be helpful too.
“We have some strains that make you giggly and happy,” she said. “Some people say they want something that will make them giggle. We can do that. For a lot of people with chronic pain, giggling is an easy thing to do.”
Nodell said she can relate to such pain, as she and many of the product consultants are medical marijuana users who have survived and coped with chronic pain for years.
“I lived with chronic pain and was allergic to most pain medications,” she said. “I was 15 when I discovered medical marijuana and never turned back. Six surgeries later and no morphine for me. Chronic pain is a hard thing. That 1-10 scale gets mixed up and it’s hard when 10 is all the time.”
Bringing the 10 down to a manageable level – whether dealing with cancer, Crohn’s Disease or arthritis – is what Revolutionary said they are all about.
“These products really help and provide relief,” said Sanders. “I have seen so many Crohn’s patients find great relief with these products after so many steroid treatments.”
After one finds the product they need and pays for it, the product is picked up in a secure dispensing area – much like a traditional pharmacy counter. After that, a patient can leave, and they do so with a great deal of security in the parking lot and with a network of cameras to prevent theft or assault.
“We haven’t had an incident since we opened,” said Sanders. “It is as secure or more secure than any bank or jewelry store you might enter…With all the cameras around here, we actually end up helping to solve crimes in our experience. In a store we have in Colorado, the police frequently ask us for footage from our cameras to catch things that happen around us. We are actually solving crimes.”
The clinic is open Monday, Weds., and Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, they are open 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. On Sundays, they are open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
They are located at 67 Broadway in Somerville, just two blocks from Sullivan Square.
By Seth Daniel
This little corner of Broadway and Commandants Way has been selected for the City’s first off-leash dog park for small to medium sized dogs.
Get your paws to City Hall on Saturday, as dog owners across the City are invited to rally and parade down to Lower Broadway where the City is planning its first off-leash dog park.
The Paw-Raid event will start at City Hall Saturday, Sept. 9, at 11 a.m. From there, dogs and their owners will stroll down Broadway to the site of the proposed new park under the Mystic/Tobin Bridge.
The new dog park will be at the corner of Broadway and Commandants Way across from the Chelsea Yacht Club on a small, 2,000 sq. ft. corner of the newly-constructed Mystic Overlook Park – soon to be Chelsea’s first under-the-bridge open space.
“It’s a smaller park so it’s designed for smaller dogs,” said Planner Alex Train. “While we do have larger parks beside it, all of our parks in Chelsea mandate dogs be on a leash. This will be the first off-leash park in the City and will have about 2,000 sq. ft. for dogs to run around.”
The small park will be separated into two areas with a retaining wall and will have benches and a doggie water fountain. It will also include landscaping and other improvements.
The park is actually a gift to the City in many ways, with the Stanton Foundation of Cambridge footing – or “pawing” – 90 percent of the costs. The City only has to pay about 10 percent of the costs of the Park, which are being done in conjunction with the larger Mystic Overlook open space next door.
Train said the plan is to put the project to bid at the end of September and begin work in the fall. The hope is to have completion of it by late spring 2018.
The event on Saturday is designed by the City and the Chelsea Prospers movement to get a critical mass of dog owners who could serve as a “Friends” group to the park.
“It’s a celebratory event to make people fully aware of the construction schedule and get a gathering of dog owners to walk together down Broadway,” he said. “There will be a lot of ongoing maintenance that the City is hoping to share with any Friends of the Dog Park group that could form. We hope that we could collaborate with a Friends group to maintain and improve the dog park. We’re really trying to foster that congregation of dog owners with Saturday’s event.”
Train said that City leaders – and even planners like himself – have seen the need for more dog facilities.
“I’ve worked here for two years and the numbers of people I see with dogs is steadily increasing,” he said. “This is definitely needed.”
Wynn officials are taking a careful read this week of a set of new requirements issued late last Friday evening by state environmental regulators that calls for more work on traffic mitigation and a remedy for what was termed to be an “illegal” land sale on Lower Broadway (Everett) between the MBTA and Wynn Everett.
The setback, or delay, came at 7 p.m. last Friday evening when the state Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Matthew Beaton, issued the long-awaited response to Wynn’s supplemental environmental filings, known as its SFEIR. That response declared that Wynn – despite making progress through continuous community meetings in Charlestown over the last few months – had not yet done enough to mitigate traffic and had not yet adequately complied with the environmental (MEPA) process. It also pointed directly at the MBTA land deal – calling it an illegal sale.
In all, Wynn was asked to concentrate on five specific areas before a final certificate could be awarded, and they were asked to complete a Second SFEIR (SSFEIR). The new issues identified by the Secretary include an explanation of Wynn’s purchase of MBTA land, the continuation of the planning process for the integration of Boston’s long-term plans for Sullivan Square and Rutherford Avenue, and discussions with the MBTA regarding a subsidy for the Orange Line.
While much has been made in the Boston media concerning what this means to the overall project, Beaton stressed at the outset of his letter that Wynn had made good progress and could likely meet the new goals in a timely manner.
“I am confident the limited scope items in the Second SFEIR can be addressed in a timely manner,” he wrote. “I want to recognize the significant time and energy that the proponent has invested in this project and in the preparation of the SFEIR. The SFEIR represents significant progress in identifying traffic and transportation impacts and developing appropriate mitigation…In addition, on behalf of the administration, I recognize the important balance between economic development and job creation and our responsibility to adequately avoid, minimize and mitigate damage to the environment.”
On Monday night at a meeting in Charlestown, Wynn Everett President Bob DeSalvio said the company is digesting the information in the letter – walking back delay discussions that had been cited in a release last weekend which said the new stipulations would push back any opening until 2018 and slow down the flow of jobs and mitigation money.
“The document came out at 7 p.m. on Friday evening on a holiday weekend and it’s a pretty thick document,” he said at the Monday meeting. “It’s going to take a lot of time to digest it. We will go through the document expeditiously…I can’t get into the details of everything in it. We started today (Monday) looking at the document and seeing what’s in it. I don’t know any timing on this or how long it will take. Our goal will be to move it along as quickly as possible.”
In a released statement over the weekend, DeSalvio stressed that the new steps in the process would delay the opening until 2018.
“The addition of this new and incremental step…will change our planned construction start and opening dates,” said DeSalvio. “While Wynn is gratified that the process is continuing to move forward…, we are disappointed that the new jobs and new tax revenues that would have helped so many people in the Commonwealth will be delayed. We’re gratified that after thousands of pages of analysis and years of review, the Secretary has generally endorsed all of our mitigation plans.”
Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria took the opportunity to voice his support of Wynn in a statement on Tuesday.
“I have every confidence in Wynn Resorts and in Wynn Everett,” he said. “This project is a game-changer for my community and one that I have worked tirelessly to make a reality. I have every expectation that the people of Everett will see this reality come to life – and the benefits that come with it – once these issues are resolved and construction can begin. In the meantime, my team and I will continue our hard work to ensure that this development is built transparently, responsibly and with the full support of the City of Everett.”
One of the points of contention is the MBTA land deal, which involved selling 1.75 acres of land from the Everett T Maintenance facility to Wynn for $6 million. It was first announced through a legal notice last August in the local newspapers. After a comment/counteroffer period ran out, the sale continued on its course and closed on Feb. 27. Wynn’s control of the land amounts to having an Everett-only entrance to the casino property, thus eliminating an entrance that was partially in Boston and partially in Everett (Horizon Way) and potentially gave Boston leverage over the process.
In Beaton’s letter on Friday, the land deal was outlined as a problem due to the fact that it occurred outside the MEPA environmental review process. It was, however, cited as a procedural mix up that could likely be straightened out.
“The SFEIR represents significant progress in identifying traffic and transportation impact,” read the letter. “While the SFEIR represents significant progress in identifying traffic and transportation impacts, there are still Scope items that were not fully addressed, including the identification of measures to ensure MBTA operations are protected in the long-term…In addition, the MBTA and (Wynn) completed a land transfer necessary to support the construction of access to the project site. MassDOT has acknowledged that the conveyance of land to the proponent prior to the conclusion of the MEPA process is a violation of the MEPA statute. Therefore, MassDOT and (Wynn) must file a Second SFEIR (SSFEIR) to develop appropriate remedies to satisfy the above-mentioned issues.”
In a letter from MassDOT, they acknowledged the error and said that it occurred as a result of a “breakdown” between MassDOT and the MBTA. It said that, despite already owning the property, Wynn has agreed to put the property in escrow. MassDOT indicated it had put new procedures in place to flag property sales by the MBTA that require environmental review.
“In relation to the inappropriate final agency action that occurred in this instance, the proponent has agreed to place the property in escrow until a Secretary’s Certificate of Adequacy is issued on the Wynn Casino and 60 days has elapsed since the publication in the Environmental Monitor of the final MEPA filing of the project,” read the MassDOT letter.
Secretary Beaton also cited negative comment letters from Boston, Revere and Somerville that were submitted as part of the Wynn SFEIR process. In particular, despite working with Wynn and the Charlestown community for months on traffic plans in Charlestown, Boston submitted a letter highly critical of the short-term traffic plans contained in the SFEIR.
“Comments from municipalities demonstrate that additional analysis and mitigation is necessary for the parties to satisfy the statutory requirement to avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts…,” the MEPA letter read. “Governor Baker has made a firm commitment to elevate the Commonwealth’s partnership with cities and towns…The City of Everett and its citizens have expressed its firm support for this project and its economic development potential. Comments from the cities of Boston, Malden, Revere and Somerville identify significant concerns with the project’s impacts on transportation infrastructure…I am aware these comments are provided not only within the context of MEPA review, but also within the context of active litigation. Nonetheless, I note the practical consideration that much of the proposed transportation mitigation, including mitigation necessary to minimize impacts to roads under state jurisdiction, requires municipal review and approval.”
With that, Beaton issued five points that had to be worked on in order for Wynn to get the final sign offs in the MEPA process, including:
- Provide an explanation of and remedy for the premature conveyance of land from MassDOT/MBTA and its acceptance by the proponent prior to the completion of MEPA review.
- Commit to a specific dollar amount for an annual operating subsidy to the MBTA to support service and capacity improvements on the Orange Line.
- Clarification of the Traffic Impact Assessment and supplemental data and analysis, which essentially means that Wynn will continue working towards a long-term solution in Sullivan Square of Charlestown.
- Revised Draft Section 61 findings that incorporate commitments associated with the three above requirements.
- Response to comments document that provides clear and specific responses to issues raised.
In Revere, Mayor Dan Rizzo expressed vindication, as he has been calling for a review of the MBTA land deal in Everett since last fall. He called for investigations by the Attorney General, the Inspector General and a hearing by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC).
“I, and others, have been asking questions about the Illegal land transfer since last year,” Rizzo wrote in comments last Saturday. “Despite our pointing out to the T on multiple occasions the severe problems with the deal, including the lack of public review, violations of the T’s own procurement requirements, and the lack of compliance with MEPA, the T and Wynn went ahead with the sale anyway…It is simply not credible that this was an administrative or mere procedural mistake. It’s part of a blatant pattern of behavior that has plagued Wynn’s project from the start. Wynn is no victim here. Wynn and his legal team set the price and terms of the sale, designed the proposal process that somehow permitted Wynn to not have to submit a bid, and clearly had to be aware it was illegal all the while.”
Wynn officials stressed that most of the 59 points in the SFEIR were found to be adequate, and that their measures to help traffic were endorsed by MassDOT.
Wynn officials pointed out that a MassDOT letter read, “The SFEIR is a vast improvement from the FEIR and adequately addresses most of the comments raised.”
Dr. Anthony Gambale and Dr. Jason Gambale at Essential Chiropractic
in Revere said they are getting ready to see a steady stream of patients come through the door in a week or two after snow-related injuries begin to take their toll. Meanwhile, in ERs and doctors offices, patients with a variety of injuries are already making visits.
There’s no doubt the recent snow cavalcade has taken its toll on the general attitude of most folks, but health care providers report that it has also taken quite a toll on the physical well being of young and old.
On a typical day in the Chelsea MGH Urgent Care, Dr. Brent Ragar might see two or three broken bones or wrist sprains, but in the last few weeks the rule has been to double those numbers.
“We actually have seen a lot more than normal in several instances related to the snow,” he said last Friday. “There’s been a good amount of broken bones and broken fingers. We’ve had a lot of broken feet and ankles from slip and falls too. There have also been several injuries related to snowblowers, cuts and bruises. Of course there are also many lower back injuries and muscle strains that have come in. There are actually a lot of folks who have to shovel snow for their job and have been injured in the course of that. We’re definitely seeing more of this kind of thing than we normally do.”
Meanwhile, at the Whidden Hospital Emergency Room, the story is pretty much the same.
“It’s definitely the case that the snow storms have triggered more injuries here,” said Dr. Joe Butash, of the Whidden ER. “We’ve really had a lot of injuries involving children – slip and falls. However, it seems to have affected young and old alike. I’ve seen children 2 and 3 years old with snow-related injuries and adults up to age 92. Definitely, there are a lot of injuries related to shoveling – wrist injuries and back spams. The other thing we’ve noticed is injuries involving plows – individuals struck by plows or those doing the plowing. Even individuals not directly involved in shoveling or working on the road have had issues…We’ve even seen people with dislocated elbows.”
Agar of MGH added there have been many motor vehicle crashes that resulted in injuries that can also be attributed to the snow.
“We’ve definitely had a lot more car accidents,” he said. “We’ve seen more of them than normal. Certainly a lot of people are coming in after behind hit from behind by another car.”
But by and large, it’s the shoveling injuries that have filled the waiting rooms.
At Essential Chiropractic in Revere, Dr. Anthony Gamble said he has one great solution for shoveling.
“There is no good way to shovel,” he said. “The best way we’ve found is to find some young kid in the neighborhood and pay him to do it. That’s the only way to avoid injury. We only have to shovel in a normal year for about two weeks. We never get used to it and don’t train our muscles for it. So, we end up relying on our lower back muscles instead of our legs, which results in an injury. The best advice is to take your time. Do a little at a time; take a break, and then go back to do more. People tend to want to just push through it though and get it done. Even if you do it the right way, you’re going to feel it because you’re using muscles you haven’t used.”
Gambale said the treatment for a sore back is contrary to what many might think. The common sense cure is an anti-inflammatory, like Motrin, and a hot back or a hot pack. Instead, Gamble said you have to fight inflamed muscles with – of all things – ice.
“When people are hurting they want to put heat on it,” he said. “The last thing they want to do after coming in from the cold is put ice on their back. Ice is the best because the lower back muscles are inflamed. As unappealing as it may be, ice is the best way to fight inflammation. The anti-inflammatory and heat makes you feel good for a bit, but it goes right back. Bite the bullet and put ice on it because if you keep injuring it over and over, you’ll end up with a permanent problem.”
He said the best way is to apply ice for 10 to 20 minutes intermittently.
Finally, of course, Gambale said the snow injuries and aches are likely to drive a lot of folks to his office, and he is expecting a rush of patients in the next few weeks.
“It does seem to be a good re-activator for old patients,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for; to help people get back on track. Right now, everybody is just trying to get everyday stuff done, but the slip and falls, the digging out and the car accidents – that’s going to take a few weeks. You might feel like your fine now, but in a good week or two, the whole inflammation sets in and the pain begins. That’s usually when we begin to see more patients.”
The controversial land deal on lower Broadway slated to hold the new Wynn casino passed papers on Monday, with Wynn purchasing the former Monsanto Chemical property for $35 million from FBT Everett.
On Tuesday, City leaders had planned to celebrate the milestone at a gathering on the property, but the extreme cold weather drove the celebration indoors.
Numerous members of Everett United, as well as elected officials and a herd of Boston news media members crowded the Council Chambers for the jovial ceremony – where Mayor Carlo DeMaria gave Wynn’s Bob DeSalvio a new curbside trash bin as a gag gift to welcome them as new property owners in the City.
The mayor referenced the Lower Broadway Planning process that started in 2008 and how the Wynn project unexpectedly fit right into those plans. He said it has been a long road, but one that he’s glad the City took.
“A lot of people weren’t on board at first,” he said. “There was a lot of hesitation in the city about a casino. Many on the City Council were questioning it. My wife and I had long conversations about it every day…I wanted to build something great for the city and soon this became a no-brainer. At one point, [former] Gov. [William] Weld took me aside and told me I had to do it and he laid out the reasons why. He was right.”
DeSalvio said there was nothing that could stop Wynn from developing the resort now that the land had been purchased and cleared.
“With this land transaction and our arrival, nothing gets in our way from moving forward,” he said. “We look forward to getting started with remediation. We know how important that clean up is to you. We know how important it is for you to reconnect with the waterfront. We’re going to be taking the next six months to make sure that site is cleaned up and we’re coming out of the ground this summer and opening late 2017.”
Wynn now has full ownership and control over the property and company officials said that clears the way for site cleanup and construction to move forward. That will likely take place after permitting is completed in the next few months.
Wynn officials in a press release on Monday said the purchase was the most significant advancement on the project since being awarded the license last September.
Added DeSalvio, “Today, we hit the ‘go’ button and we’re not stopping until a spectacular Wynn Resort with a new waterfront public park for all to access and enjoy is completed.”
The long-vacant property has been and continues to be the source of a great amount of criticism about the Wynn project.
On Monday – the same day the sale was finalized – the City of Boston filed a lawsuit against the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) under the auspices, partially, that the state had been defrauded by the land deal.
The genesis of those complaints arise from the allegation that Revere businessman Charlie Lightbody had been a one-time partner in FBT Everett, but was barred from ownership rights due to the regulations set by the MGC. He had alleged that he was out of the partnership before Wynn began negotiations on the property, but an MGC investigation showed cause for pause as to whether that had happened.
There is currently a case in state and federal court related to Lightbody and some other owners about whether or not they misled investigators and committed wire fraud in the deal.
Through all that, though, the MGC had always contended that Wynn Resorts was not aware or a party to any of those situations. The MGC went so far as to require the owners of the property to reduce their price from $75 million to $35 million in light of the controversy. They also required the partners to sign an affidavit that stated no “unspoken” or “secret” partners would gain from the sale of the land.
The federal and state cases are still working their way through both levels of court.
Seth Daniel can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com
Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo has called for the MBTA to stop in its tracks on a land sale to Wynn Resorts – a crucial sale of land that will allow the proposed casino to create an access road on Everett-only land and to avoid troubles with Boston.
Rizzo listed five specific reasons why the MBTA should stop the process, which was announced in public advertisements a little over one month ago.
“The public record concerning this sale indicates that Wynn has not completed the necessary work to evaluate the impacts, the MBTA and MassDOT have reached no conclusion as to the proposal’s impact on transit and rail operations, there has been a woeful lack of public discussion about the sale of valuable public property, public officials and communities interested in expanded rail service to the North Shore have not had an opportunity to review how this sale may impact future service in the region, and the MBTA appears to be violating its own procurement statue,” read the letter.
The letter was sent to the state Department of Transportation (DOT) on Oct. 2, and made public on Oct. 9.
A spokesman for the MBTA said they have received the letter and are reviewing it.
“MassDOT has received the mayor’s letter, and we are reviewing the questions [Mayor Rizzo] has raised,” said MBTA Spokesman Joe Pesaturo. “MassDOT and the MBTA will be providing the (Revere) mayor’s office with a response.”
The MTBA advertised the potential land sale in early September, noting it had received an offer of $6 million from Wynn Resorts for certain parcels of land in and around the MBTA Maintenance Facility on Lower Broadway Everett (Rt. 99). Since that time, the state-mandated process has been underway, with the MBTA soliciting higher and better offers.
Rizzo’s particular concern revolves around what he contends is a plan not only to sell part of the maintenance facility, but also part of the commuter rail right-of-way.
He said one of his major concerns is that there has been no study of how this sale will affect future commuter rail expansion. Revere has long been lobbying for a new commuter rail station at Wonderland Dog Track, which is on the same line – the Newburyport/Rockport line.
“This is of particular concern for me given the need for additional rail service to the North Shore, including the City of Revere, and MassDOT’s proposals to add diesel multiple units on certain lines, including the Newburyport/Rockport line,” he wrote.
Finally, Mayor Rizzo criticized the MBTA for not following its own processes in public procurement. He said the MBTA has shown favoritism in allowing Wynn Resorts the first crack at buying the land.
“It seems to me this procedure is not only inconsistent with [the law], but it also treats Wynn as if it has some sort of property interest in the MBTA’s property, such as a Right of First Offer,” Rizzo wrote. “The MBTA has also demanded payment of 25 percent of the proposed purchase price in case at the time of the submission of the bid…This up front payment requirement will certainly dissuade competing bids, making a sham of the entire procurement process.”
The letter also references Everett public safety officials requesting two means of entrance into the casino site, while the land sale would allow only one entrance.
The Wynn access road via the MBTA land is a vital piece of the project that avoids having to use Horizon Way further down Broadway. Horizon Way shares a city line with Boston via a tiny piece of property that extends northward to that street. Last year, Boston had fought the use of the road and indicated it wanted to be a host community if Wynn used Horizon Way. However, the Gaming Commission threw that out and Wynn had indicated it planned to work out a solution with the MBTA for access via Everett-only land.
As the City enters this new fiscal year, changes in billing for City-provided services are being implemented.
Half of the City’s water and sewer customers will see reductions in their bills, with the remaining half continuing to enjoy the third year of rate freezes. Trash fees, however, will be going up for those who pay the City for the pick-up of non-owner-occupied residential units and commercial properties.
“The City’s budget is balanced in various ways utilizing more than 50 different revenue accounts, including those collecting water and sewer and trash fees,” said City Manager Jay Ash. “For this FY’14 Budget, we’ve decreased water and sewer fees by nearly $400,000, but increased trash fees by about $100,000. In total, those paying both should see a modest reduction in their combined costs.”
Water and sewer fees pay exclusively for the cost of operating and maintaining those services. Using a tiered system, higher fees are charged for bigger users, which, in effect, reduces the cost of water and sewer services for smaller user. Those smaller users are typically one, two and even three-person households – and smaller stores whose primary business does not involve dispensing water.
The reduction in charges collected will impact higher users and not those on the lower end, Ash said.
“Our bottom fee is already below what it normally could be and is about average for the entire MWRA district. So, in providing the $400,000 in rate relief for this year, we are targeting it to those who are already paying a greater share of the tab,” said Ash.
Rate tier one users, those who use less than 1,000 cubic feet a month, will continue to pay the same rate they have been charged since January of 2011. The City will drop more users into tier two, from tier three, by expanding tier two from between 1,000 and 1,500 cubic feet to now include those who are using up to 2,500 cubic feet. The top tier will now begin at 2,500 cubic feet.
“Ratepayers who were formerly in tier three will see a savings, either by being dropped down to tier two, or by having more of their cubic feet usage charged at the lower, tier two cost,” said Ash. “In summary, the costs for each tier aren’t changing. We’ve just expanded the amount of usage that will get charged at the lower tier two rate, instead of the higher tier three rate.”
Ash reports that 66 single family, 331 two-family and 706 three-family ratepayers, as well as 182 commercial ratepayers and other residential property owners, will see lower bills as a result of the tier expansion.
“The City Council continues to ask us to keep water and sewer bills down,” said Ash. “This effort is a direct result of that and of our increasing ability to better manage our operations and capital needs within the entire utility system.”
One of the major voices in that fight for lower rates has been Councillor Giovanni Recupero, who has made it his business to bring up the subject frequently at Council meetings.
This week, he said he was happy with the result, but said it didn’t mean he would quite advocating to get even lower rates for the typical homeowner.
Another voice, Councillor Joe Perlatonda, said he was pleased to see the rates decrease or stay the same, but he said raising the trash fee on those who pay it kind of offset any gains.
“On the one hand, you do have lower water and sewer rates, but then they turn around and raise the trash fee,” he said. “That just takes away any savings one might have seen from the water and sewer rates. It’s not great news for everybody.”
Regarding trash fees, Ash said the City decided to increase fees by 5 percent to help cover increases in costs related to pick-up and disposal. The fee will increase by just over $12 a year to approximately $270.
That fee is assessed to every residential unit that is not occupied by the property owner and for which the City provides curbside pick-up service.
“The last couple of years, we programmed for no increase or for a more nominal rise in the fee, but we couldn’t cover the rising costs associated with our trash program any longer without going up the 5 percent,” said Ash. “We think we can hold the water and sewer charges level for another year, but, looking out, I think the trash fee will continue to increase around 5 percent unless we all do a better job of recycling.”
The City pays to dispose of trash, but pays nothing to have recycling picked-up. Ash said his hope is that more recycling will take place, thereby driving down the 20 million pounds of waste the City’s contractor picks up annually.
“Recycling translates into green: a greener environment and local property owners keeping more of their cash,” he said. “We’re out talking with more and more people about recycling, but we need property owners, especially our bigger property owners, to work with their tenants to encourage recycling.”
Chelsea’s recycling rate has climbed to 8 percent, but that number is still less than a third of the statewide average of more than 26 percent.
“We need to do better for our environment and our bottom lines, both for recycling and for water and sewer usage” stressed Ash. “In the meantime, the City will continue to manage these services and seek every option we can find to keep our charges as low as possible.”