Yellow bikes are preparing to invade the City’s sidewalks and thoroughfares as the increasingly-popular ofo bike sharing service has been approved to launch in Chelsea this week.
“ofo is coming to Chelsea,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “I think they may launch this week.”
ofo is a bike sharing company based in China that has recently launched operations very successfully in Revere – where their trademark yellow bikes have seen wide-spread usage in the rollout there this month. City Councilor Roy Avellaneda brought ofo to the attention of Ambrosino and, after a meeting, he said the City was willing to allow a 60-day pilot in Chelsea with about 150 bikes stationed in the city.
“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “I think this concept is in some ways better because there’s no investment. HubWay wanted a major investment from the City for infrastructure and they were still reluctant to come to Chelsea. This business is far superior from that perspective. The only question is are they going to be a nuisance. As long as you they get the right numbers for the usage, I don’t think they’ll be a nuisance.”
He said there is no commitment from the City and the bikes will be removed in December and the City will evaluate the program.
ofo is one of a number of companies, which also includes HubWay that is used exclusively in Boston. However, unlike HubWay, ofo doesn’t use permanent parking stations that take up sidewalk and/or parking spaces. Instead, the bikes have a GPS monitoring system and are parked wherever the user desires. They lock up automatically and are activated using a QR code scanner on a cell phone. They are also a lot cheaper, at $1 per hour.
However, right now, Revere is the only other user in the general area, making it a potential problem to be able to ride across City lines to Everett or East Boston.
Ambrosino said they are leaning towards a regional carrier that will be determined by a Massachusetts Area Planning Council (MAPC) Request for Proposals. He said connectedness is likely very important on this issue.
“I think the goal is to have what the region goes with,” he said. “MAPC will put out an RFP for a regional user. They will select one company so there is interoperability between cities and towns. I think we’ll be wanting to use the same one in Chelsea. You can’t have one in Boston and one in Revere and one in Chelsea…We’ve told ofo that’s where Chelsea wants to go.”
Wynn Boston Harbor is working closely with well-known international companies to implement battery technology into their building, a new technology that will help them store cheaper power purchased during off peak hours, and contribute to an overall energy usage that is but 60 percent of what would be expected for a building of its size.
The new battery technology program complements two co-generation plants, a rainwater irrigation system, a huge solar array and a “very aggressive” LED lighting program.
All of it will combine to make the Wynn Boston Harbor facility one of, if not the, most efficient large building in the region.
“We will be running at 60 percent of what the standard energy usage calculation is for a building like ours,” said Chris Gordon, president of Wynn Design and Development Massachusetts. “The interesting thing is when you look at green buildings…it comes down to less energy usage…These buildings are so well insulated and sealed that you save a lot just on leaks. The window seals are so much better than they were 30 years ago, it’s amazing. You save when you use less. Interestingly enough, years ago people started to build green buildings because it was the right thing to do. Now it’s a good business decision and a good environmental decision.”
Perhaps setting the pace for efficiency is a program that will likely be the first of its kind in the Boston area – an emerging technology using battery storage devices to optimize energy usage.
It’s something Gordon said is very new, but he predicted would likely be in every building, and in several homes, in the near future.
The change, he said, is the new technology being developed around better battery storage. Several companies have pushed the limits on new battery technology for electric cars, solar power and for energy efficiency.
Gordon said they are working with several companies to put an array of batteries on their property, but don’t have a specific company named as of yet.
The idea, he said, would be to install a 90,000 sq. ft. solar installation on the roof of the function hall and entrance, which will generate solar energy to be stored in the batteries.
The bigger savings, however, will be having battery storage available to store power purchased from the grid at off-peak times.
“You don’t want to buy power at peak periods, so if you have storage capacity using batteries, you can buy when prices are low,” said Gordon. “There are times of day and times of the year that are more expensive and they don’t want you to buy then. For example, in the summer with lots of air conditioners running, you don’t want to buy energy on a hot day. It’s more expensive…I don’t know if we’re the first, but we will be one of the first certainly to use this in Greater Boston.”
He said they will employ one person on site to monitor commodities markets to decide which time is best and what time is not best to buy energy. He indicated that all of this is just now available because of the rapid innovations in battery technology, which allows for smaller installations.
“The battery technology in a building like ours is a new concept,” he said. “In the old days, using them for energy efficiency was tough because they were massive. Now they are a lot smaller and you can put them in a building and they don’t take up as much real estate.”
Another major piece of the operation will be two co-generation plants that are being installed in the back of the house.
The units are about 15’ x 10’ and generate electricity that will be used to power the building. Co-generation works on the principal of heating water and creating steam by burning natural gas. Both the steam and hot water are then used to heat the building. However, as they are created, they turn a turbine that creates electricity as a by-product – electricity that can be used immediately in the building or stored in the battery system.
The two co-generation plants will produce 8-10mgW of electricity.
“Co-generation produces hot water, steam and also electricity,” said Gordon. “We’ll produce a lot of electricity with them, but we’ll keep it all on site. That means we’ll produce a lot of our electricity and the solar will be used on site as well…All in all, we believe we’ll be able to run 70 to 80 percent of the building’s functions just off of the power we have inside if we want to or need to.”
He said that if there is a power outage, they believe they will be able to power all critical functions, and still have enough left over to maintain the usual comforts.
“After all the critical functions are accounted for, like the lighting and heat, there will still be a lot more left,” he said. “People will be quite comfortable in an outage. You could pave people there as an emergency shelter really, because we’re well above the flood plain and we will have ample power stored.”
Other efficiency measures include:
A 10,000 sq. ft. green roof on top of the second floor of the building.
A giant water tank in the parking garage that will harness and store all of the rainwater on the site. That rainwater will then be used in the irrigation system to water all of the extensive plantings inside and outside the building.
All together, it also equals a tremendous amount of savings for the resort.
“We don’t have the exact figures yet, but we’re using 40 percent less than we should, and so you’re looking a very big number in terms of savings on energy,” he said. “We hope that it not only saves us money, but also that it sets the pace for everyone else.”
Above the Flood Plain
Many might have seen the photos of water rushing into the front doors of the Golden Nugget casino in Mississippi late last week as Hurricane Nate hit the Gulf Coast, but Wynn Boston Harbor officials said they don’t ever expect such a thing to happen at their resort despite being right on the Mystic River.
That’s because early in the process, officials said, they decided to change the design of the building so they would be well-above the 500-year floodplain and the storm surge levels too.
Chris Gordon of Wynn Design and Development Massachusetts said they don’t expect to get that kind of flooding on their waterfront site.
“The flood levels are at nine feet, and even with flood surge added, that’s still just 11 feet,” he said. “The garage entrance is at 13 feet and the entrance to the building is at 24 or 25 feet. In addition, all of the utilities have been moved out of the garage and are on top of the Central Utility Plant. If the garage does flood someday, we just pump it out. The pumps are already there and ready if need be. We don’t ever expect to see the garage flood, but if it does, we just pump out the water. It really does no harm.”
Gordon said it all goes back to a willingness to look at resiliency in the Boston area and go the extra mile instead of fighting it.
“Instead of debating it or trying to discredit it, we said, ‘Let’s just move the building up.’ And that has worked out really well.”
Residential is king in today’s development world, with developers vying for land to build luxury apartments where previously no one would have even parked their car.
That means, however, that industrial areas are shrinking or disappearing in the Greater Boston area, and places like Chelsea’s industrial area on Eastern Avenue and Marginal Streets are commanding high prices and great interest from developers intent on grabbing committed industrial property before it disappers.
That couldn’t be more true in Chelsea, where industrial/commercial properties are commanding a premium after several recent notable sales, and major developers from the region are scooping them up before it’s too late.
On Eastern Avenue, National Development – a well-known development company with major holdings in Boston, including the trendy new residential Ink Block development – has purchased 130 Eastern Ave. for $10 million in August from the Cohen Family, according to property records.
Pending a zoning variance, they plan to demolish the entire existing 38,000 sq. ft. warehouse on the seven-acre site.
Ted Tye of National Development said they hope to start construction on the new 32-foot clear height building in late 2017 upon completing final designs and receiving all the permits and approvals. They expect construction to conclude in fall 2018.
Tye said they have one tenant for the new property, but that tenant hasn’t been disclosed yet.
“There is an increasing demand in Greater Boston for quality distribution space close to Boston,” said Tye. “Chelsea is ideally located and has been great to work with on expanding the City’s commercial base.”
Part of the certainty comes from the fact, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said, that Chelsea has committed itself to keeping things industrial – unlike other areas, such as Everett’s Lower Broadway area by Wynn Boston Harbor casino where all bets against residential creeping in are off right now.
“I think we have made a commitment to see industrial areas that are now industrial to remain industrial and that these areas are relatively important to the City,” he said. “We have plenty of areas for residential expansion, including the Forbes site. I think we’re committed to retaining a vibrant industrial district. Chelsea historically has done a great job. We’re not likely to create residential developments in our industrial areas.”
Ambrosino said one thing the City requires is that in the development of these new properties, that they are improved aesthetically a bit. For example, National Development will landscape its property upon completion, and the new LTI Limo Company – which moved from Everett’s Lower Broadway area to Chelsea’s Eastern Avenue this year after being bought out by Wynn – is also going to landscape its property significantly.
“There aren’t a lot of industrial areas in Greater Boston and so this industrial area has become quite desirable,” said Ambrosino.
Meanwhile, just last week, more significant action took place in the district with the sale of two prominent warehouse to the Seyon Group, a Boston commercial development firm with 30 years of experience.
E-mails to Seyon Group were not answered in time for this story, but property records – first reported by Bldup.com – showed that Seyon purchased two warehouses for more $10 million total last week.
They purchased 201 Crescent Ave. from New England Lighting Company, which is closing down, for $3.75 million. New England Lighting bought the warehouse in 2009 for $2.65 million. The building is empty and for lease.
Meanwhile, at the same time, Seyon Group bought 150 Eastern Ave. from O’Brien Realty for $7.475 million. O’Brien also owns 140 Eastern Ave., and it purchased 150 Eastern Ave. in 2015 for just $4 million – nearly doubling their money in two years time.
For at least three years, Councillor Giovanni Recupero has been pleading for a pedestrian crossing light on Marginal Street so as to make getting to the new PORT Park safe.
With tractor trailers and vehicles of all types flying down the thoroughfare, reaching the new park is very dangerous, especially for a child or a mother with a stroller.
For all those three years, he was told to find the money and maybe he could get it.
Well, he did, and last Monday night, Sept. 25, the crossing area was voted in by the City Council.
“This is one of the best things I have done,” he said. “I worked very hard for this. It took me three years. There was no funding, they said. Well, I found the funding. Now we have it.”
With the money he found, and a significant amount of extra funds allocated due to cost overruns, the signal is now designed and ready to be installed in the spring, hopefully in time for next summer.
Recupero identified $145,000 in funds from the Eastern Salt mitigation fund that came in 2007 as a result of adding the second salt pile. Part of that money went to the Highland Park Field, and some was left over.
Recupero said that’s the money he found.
However, earlier this month, City Manager Tom Ambrosino reported that a major increase in the cost had occurred. The design and construction had gone from $145,000 to $402,000 due to the signal being far more expensive that estimated.
However, Ambrosino still supported it.
“Although this is a major change in scope, I still feel this signalization is a worthwhile effort,” he wrote. “If we want pedestrians to get safely to the park from the abutting neighborhoods, the new scope of work is essential.”
The additional funding of $257,000 was voted in by the Council Sept. 25 as well.
For Recupero, it’s a double celebration as on Monday his opponent, Kris Haight, withdrew from the Council race.
Haight, a public transportation advocate, said his work was too demanding to also give attention to a Council position.
“After great consideration, I have decided to bow out of the Chelsea City Councilor’s race,” he wrote in a statement. “I am dropping out for a number of reasons, but time and effort is the biggest one. My day job has become a bear, to the point where I am going non stop most of the day. I’m just exhausted when I get home, let alone have to get on my feet to canvass for a few hours to meet the voters.”
He said the demands of his job would not allow him to be an effective councillor, and if elected, that wouldn’t be fair to the residents.
He said he is no longer a candidate.
Recupero said he is running and hopes the voters notice the things he’s done, such as the pedestrian crossing signal, and believe he’s doing a good job for them at City Hall.
“It would be my honor and pleasure to continue representing the people of District 6 for another term,” he said. “I will try my hardest, and I hope they will help me get back to City Hall for another term.”
The 30th Annual Chelsea Chamber of Commerce $10,000 Pot of Gold is around the corner. The event will be held on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at Anthony’s of Malden, 105 Canal Street, Malden, MA. It will be an outstanding evening filled with great networking opportunities, delicious food and Back to the 80s fun, all while supporting your Chamber. This is the longest running major fundraiser for the Chelsea Chamber! Proceeds greatly contribute to the important work the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce does for the business community in Chelsea. First prize is $10,000. Only 250 will be sold and can be purchased by Chamber members and nonmembers alike. Act now and you could be the next $10,000 Pot of Gold winner!
Chairs Sue Gallant and Arthur Arsenault are working with their committee to make the 30th Pot of Gold the best yet! The Chamber will be going back to the 80s when it all started celebrating all the iconic music, fads and outfits from that decade. Prizes will be awarded to the best outfits from the 80s! Get creative and let’s see what you can put together! Maybe you will be one of our prize winners!
We also have opportunities to purchase raffle tickets to win Megaraffle baskets that are each valued at over $500. Themed baskets include Nights on the Town with Celtics, Bruins or Red Sox tickets, Ultimate Tailgate Package and a North Shore experience to name a few. We will also raffle off an Instant Wine Cellar where one person will win enough wine to start their own wine Cellar as well as a 50/50 raffle! So many great prizes to win besides the big prize of $10,000!
Tickets are $175.00 each. The ticket price includes one entry in the drawing for a chance to win the $10,000 top prize, opportunities to win one of our many fabulous door prizes, one dinner which will include a delicious meal of surf and turf and open bar. Additional dinner tickets can be purchased for $60. Festivities start at 6:00pm with dinner at 7:00pm and the first ticket drawn at 8pm.
The Chamber would like to thank the following for sponsoring this important fundraiser for the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce:
Chelsea Bank, a division of East Cambridge Savings Bank
MGH Health Center
Arsenault & Cline, CPAs, Stop & Compare Supermarkets, Cameron Real Estate Group, Hispanic American Institute, North Shore Advisory Group
Coprico Printing, Cataldo Ambulance, Chelsea Community Cable Television, Fairmont Copley Plaza, El Planeta, Independent Newspaper Group
Sponsorships are still available. Your name will be included on the Chamber website, in social and print media and advertised throughout the event. What a great way to highlight your business to people from all over the North Shore!
Only 250 tickets will be sold, so get your tickets now! Check out the Chamber website at www.chelseachamber.org, call the office at 617-884-4877 or drop by 308 Broadway Chelsea today. Rich Cuthie, Executive Director of the Chamber, will be happy to help you pick that winning ticket number!
Kathryn McKenna was in the middle of reinventing herself – getting into peak physical condition – when her life took an abrupt turn to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
McKenna, a life-long Salem resident with deep roots in that city, now lives at the Dapper McDonald House in the Leonard Florence Center for Living (LFCFL) on Admirals Hill – and she couldn’t be happier and more hopeful.
On Sunday, she and a huge contingent of family and friends will participate in the ever-popular Walk for Living on the campus of LFCFL and on Admirals Hill. The walk is expected to attract 1,000 or more people raising money to help expand opportunities at the home – which is considered on the forefront of facilities in the world for treating and managing ALS.
“When I envision a Leonard Florence resident with ALS, Kathryn McKenna was the ideal candidate,” said Barry Berman, CEO. “That’s because Kathryn has a zest for life and living at the Leonard Florence allows her to continue living a very active and engaged and dignified life. We all realize that if Kathryn was in a traditional nursing home, she would be leading a much different life. Our staff are experts in understanding the nature of the disease, thus offering our residents the highest quality of life possible.”
McKenna led an active life for certain. The son of a famed basketball coach at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, she was always in top shape and active – known as a chatter box.
She was a flight attendant, was multi-lingual, traveled the world and worked at the Lahey Clinic.
That active lifestyle was cut out from under her starting in 2014 when she noticed changes. She was diagnosed in 2015, but the degenerative disease has not taken completely taken away her active nature – especially since coming to the LFCFL in January.
“It was very hard to leave my apartment in Salem overlooking the Harbor, but I had to do it,” she said. “it was the best decision I ever made. I’m very independent. I was very chatty and that has changed, but I still get my point across…I believe in a cure by 2020.”
Many of the things that McKenna and the other residents at the two ALS homes at the Leonard Florence would not be afforded them at other facilities. Designed by resident Steve Saling, who has ALS, the homes are customized with technology and the staff is trained specially to meet the needs of those with ALS.
That combination, plus a very active and understanding administration, has led to remarkable achievements in quality of life for individuals who were written off in the past.
McKenna, 60, said she had been inspired by a co-worker at Leahy to go back to college and finish her degree in 2013. She decided to major in Sports Science. While working two jobs, exercising with 20 year olds and taking care of her elderly mother – the active woman began to notice some inconsistencies.
“I knew something was wrong in 2014,” she said. “My speech was getting impaired. One day I was working out and my colleague, who was so nice, noticed and said, ‘Kathryn, you don’t have to do anymore.’ I was diagnosed with ALS in 2015, but I still had a semester of school left until graduation. I had promised my dad I would finish, so I went back…It was hard during that semester, but I wanted to persevere.”
And that she did, graduating from Salem State in 2015 with her degree.
Now, with that same die-hard spirit, she keeps focused on eating and attitude.
“The doctor told me when I was early on that appetite and attitude would determine my quality of life,” she said. “I work very hard to keep my appetite up and my attitude positive.”
She and many other residents of LFCFL and the community will bring that same positive, can-do attitude to Admirals Hill on Sunday, where critical fundraising and fun are set to take place.
“The walk certainly helps raise money, but it also gives our residents a sense of well-being when they see how many people that do care about their living situation,” said Berman. “We are now working on opening our third residence, but obviously that will take time with the fundraising.”
The LFCFL Walk for Life will begin registration on Sunday, Oct. 1, at 8 a.m., with the Walk beginning at 10 a.m. A celebration will follow.
A Chelsea man has pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to two years in jail in connection with trafficking illegal guns in Greater Boston, Attorney General Maura Healey announced.
Jesse Cardona-Restrepo, 22, pleaded guilty in Suffolk Superior Court Wednesday to the charges of Trafficking a Firearm (one count), Carrying a Firearm (one count) and Possessing Ammunition (one count). Following the plea, Judge Peter M. Lauriat sentenced Cardona-Restrepo to two years in the House of Correction followed by four years of probation. The AG’s Office recommended a sentence of two and half to four years in state prison followed by three years of probation.
Cardona-Restrepo was one of nine defendants indicted in seven separate cases in April 2016 in connection with a gun and drug trafficking operation in East Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Jamaica Plain.
The charges were the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which uncovered that the defendants were members and associates of the 18th Street Gang and the East Side Money Gang and were allegedly trafficking illegal guns and drugs including heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. The defendants were arrested as part of a larger sweep where 66 gang members were arrested and charged with federal and state charges.
An investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives(ATF) revealed that Cardona-Restrepo illegally sold a revolver and ammunition in Chelsea.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Sara Shannon, of AG Healey’s Criminal Bureau, and Assistant Attorney General Gina Kwon, Deputy Chief of AG Healey’s Enterprise, Major and Cyber Crimes Division. The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Chelsea Police.
The U.S. Border Patrol’s checkpoint in Lincoln, N.H. last week which resulted in the detention of two undocumented Excel Academy Charter School students.
Two Excel Academy Charter School students were among the 14 people detained as part of U.S. Border Patrol operation a week ago in Lincoln, N.H. Border Patrol officers established the checkpoint with the support of the Woodstock Police Department on Interstate 93 in Lincoln.
“Checkpoints are just one of the tools we utilize to enforce the immigration and other federal laws of our nation,” said Swanton Sector Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent John Pfeifer. “In addition to technology, manpower and intelligence, checkpoints help to deny access to major routes of egress away from the border and into our communities in the interior of the U.S.”
The checkpoint was the first major enforcement action of this type in five years in New Hampshire and while it resulted in the detention of 25 undocumented immigrants, two of those immigrants were Excel Students who were thriving in school according to Excel’s Executive Director Owen Stearns. Stearns confirmed the students detained were enrolled in Excel’s 7th grade and 11 grade classes. School has already begun for one of the state’s top charter school.
In a statement Stearns said the two students, whose names have not been released, were ‘exceptional students’ and were involved in athletics at the school and were leaders in their class.
President Donald Trumps hardline stance on immigration and executive orders made people like Stearns nervous. With 80 percent of his student body Latino students from Eastie and surrounding neighborhoods Stearns said Excel families on alert, especially after Trump’s executive order calling for more Border Patrol checkpoint operations throughout the country.
“I think we sort of girding ourselves for this and are now very sad and distressed and angry that it happened,” said Stearns in a statement. “And also fearful that it may continue to happen and this may not be the last time.”
Civil liberties groups, including the ACLU, argue these checkpoints violate Fourth Amendment protections against illegal search and seizures.
“The Supreme Court has upheld the use of immigration checkpoints, but only insofar as the stops consist only of a brief and limited inquiry into residence status. Checkpoints cannot be primarily used for drug-search or general law enforcement efforts. In practice, however, Border Patrol agents often do not limit themselves to brief immigration inquiries and regularly conduct criminal investigations and illegal searches at checkpoints,” says ACLU-NH legal director Gilles Bissonnette in a statement.
While the checkpoint detained 25 undocumented immigrants, it also resulted in the seizure of two pounds of marijuana, as well as smaller amounts of cocaine, mushrooms and hash oil–all taken from U.S. citizens. This resulted in 32 arrests outside of the 25 people detained during the operation.
The detention of the two Excel students came a week before Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, escalating the White House’s targeting of immigrant communities.
“Repealing DACA subjects over 800,000 young people to deportation,” said Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, Esq. “Beneficiaries of DACA, known as Dreamers, came to the United States as children and grew up here becoming integral members of our society. Deporting Dreamers would send them back to countries to which they have little or no connection and subject them in many cases to intense violence or poverty present in some of those countries. DACA’s repeal comes on the heels of pardoning ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio.”
Outdoor, sidewalk seating in Chelsea was something few ever considered until the owners of Ciao! Pizza and Pasta put together a proposal to have some tables and chairs on the sidewalk in front of their newest venture, Ciao Market, on Broadway.
When Edson Coimbra and Marvin Posado conceived the idea, they did their research, had an architect draw a rough sketch, outlined their materials and did pretty much everything they could to combat what they thought would be a skeptical response from City Hall.
To their surprise, they got no pushback, but a lot of cooperation.
Now, four tables and chairs are planted on the sidewalk outside Ciao Market in the 200th block of Broadway, and it’s a statement many believe for where Chelsea is going.
“We got an e-mail back from the City saying that it was possible,” said Coimbra this week while holding down the fort in the new sidewalk seats. “That really told us this City wants these businesses and wants the businesses to grow…It sends a very positive message and creates this environment we’ve never seen before in Chelsea. This is history. It’s the first time ever. It really shows how the City officials are moving forward in Chelsea and how we can grow…This is the beginning of something really big, I think.”
City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher said they took the proposal from Ciao and have been working with the License Commission to establish a pilot program for sidewalk café seating. One stipulation is that alcohol is not permitted outdoors, but in time that could change.
“It’s great for our business community to be allowed to use our outdoor spaces from April through October,” she said.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said having such small, but noticeable changes, are the reason he felt that Broadway deserved a major investment. Already, a planning effort for the infrastructure of the area is wrapping up and money has been allocated for the improvements by the City Council.
This month, the first-ever concerts in Chelsea Square kick off, with one tonight by the Tarbox Ramblers as part of the Chelsea Prospers initiative from Chelsea Downtown Coordinator Mimi Graney.
“The sidewalk seating just increases the ambiance of things and the atmosphere,” he said. “We are trying to make the area more attractive to diners, and shoppers and visitors. We want to encourage people – especially Chelsea residents – to come downtown and shop in the stores and eat in the restaurants – many of which are owned by Chelsea people. We want them all to be successful. This is one thing that we can do to encourage that.”
Some other places like Chelsea, including Everett, have recently pushed the idea of outdoor seating in its Square. Drafting regulations last month that require uniform seating and furniture (no plastic or cheap chairs), Everett is now actively seeking restaurateurs to seek outdoor dining spaces.
Coimbra said he and Posada felt that Chelsea Square is the perfect location for sidewalk seating. Few areas have such an ornately planned square made for pedestrians and having wide sidewalks and landscaped medians.
While it doesn’t come without some problems, Coimbra said he has been manning the seating since they put it out a few weeks ago. Most everyone has encouraged him, though some don’t like it.
“In the end, it really brings people into the café,” he said. “It’s a very simple thing that’s well put together. There are some people who cause problems, but most everyone feels safe. It’s not a war zone over here. It is safe on Broadway and this is working.”
Meanwhile, applications for the pilot have become available and the City and Coimbra and Posada are hoping for other owners to add seating.
“This could be just like Newbury Street all the way down Broadway in Chelsea Square,” said Posada. “I can think of three or four places that would be able to do this very easily if they wanted. We’re willing to help anyone do this too. We think we can all work together and it will be good for all of us.”
The Chelsea Fire Department announced this week that they have secured a major federal grant to pay for the hiring of eight new firefighters in this year’s budget – with Chief Len Albanese saying the new recruits could hit the streets by Thanksgiving.
The Homeland Security grant provides $1.4 million of federal funding over a three-year period, covering 75 percent of the salary and benefits for two years. The third year of the grant will cover 35 percent of the share of salaries and benefits.
In the fourth year of the grant, the City would be responsible for 100 percent of the costs associated with the new hires.
Albanese said that in the end, concerns about not getting the grant due to Chelsea’s Sanctuary City status did not factor into whether the City did or did not get the grant as the application was put in last year.
Overall, the big news is that the Fire Department will go over 100 members for the first time in decades.
The grant will put the contingent up to 102 member.
“We’ve had 92 members for quite a while,” said the chief. “Prior to my arrival and when I got here and that’s a situation I assume goes back to the 1990s – post-receivership. (Last year), we added two members to get up to 94 and with the intention to add more. With the SAFER grant now in place, we can add eight new members and that brings our staffing up to 102…Having 102 is what we consider to be a really good staffing level for the Fire Department.”
He said that Revere’s contingent is at 98 and Everett – which also has a SAFER grant- is at 111.
He said adding the new members won’t eliminate overtime, but he believes it will bring it down to a reasonable number – eliminating what has been many years of controversy surrounding overspending on overtime.
“The purpose is to not just decrease overtime,” he said. “There’s always overtime in a 24/7 business…This will control overtime and put boots on the ground. It will stabilize overtime and increase staffing.”
Already, Albanese said he has identified the eight recruits from Civil Service, having been confident of getting the grant and taking early action. That will mean they get in the Station very quickly.
“We have eight recruits identified and they preparing to attend the Brookline Fire Academy on Sept. 5,” he said. “That means if all goes well, we will have these additional firefighters on the street by Thanksgiving.”
Along with this grant and another recently received, the fire department has garnered $2 million of federal funding from the 2016 DHS/FEMA programs.