The Rose Rush is On: Valentine’s Day at New Regional Flower Exchange in Chelsea is a Better Experience for Buyers

The Rose Rush is On: Valentine’s Day at New Regional Flower Exchange in Chelsea is a Better Experience for Buyers

Anyone in Greater Boston who got a rose yesterday on Valentine’s Day likely had that rose pass through the New England Flower Exchange in Chelsea.

Chelsea Florist Valerie LaCount of Washington Park Florists said having the New England Flower Exchange in Chelsea has made life much easier for her business, especially this week on Valentine’s Day. The Exchange moved to Chelsea last March from Boston’s South End after 50 years in that location. It was the first Valentine’s Day rush at the new facility for the wholesalers and their many customers from all over New England.

Chelsea Florist Valerie LaCount of Washington Park Florists said having the New England Flower Exchange in Chelsea has made life much easier for her business, especially this week on Valentine’s Day. The Exchange moved to Chelsea last March from Boston’s South End after 50 years in that location. It was the first Valentine’s Day rush at the new facility for the wholesalers and their many customers from all over New England.

In a formerly vacant warehouse on Second Street, the hub of Valentine’s Day – and every other flowery occasion – has been established.

The New England Flower Exchange on Second Street virtually handles about every rose that ended up in the hands of lovers on Valentine’s Day.

This past Monday, the Exchange was brimming with activity, as it was the last possible day for the nine wholesalers in the Exchange to get their product out the door to local florists, who in turn provide the necessary flowers, vases and accompaniments to customers for the big day.

It was the first Valentine’s Day holiday for the Exchange in its new location, after having moved from Boston’s South End (where it was next to I-93 and called the Boston Flower Exchange) after 50 years last March.

“Valentine’s Day is stressful,” said Jerry Cupp, of Cupp & Cupp Corp. – one of the long-time Exchange wholesalers. “I think that it’s one of the busiest times here at the Flower Exchange. So many things can go wrong. We’ve been going from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. If they had eight days, it would be eight days a week. Today is the big day though.”

For local florists who have been long-time customers of the Exchange in its former South End location – such as Valerie LaCount of Washington Park Florist on Eastern Avenue – having the Exchange in Chelsea is a relief.

That was particularly true this week as it was the first Valentine’s Day where she didn’t have to wade through traffic on the Tobin Bridge and downtown Boston to get to her flowers and supplies.

“I absolutely love it being here now because it’s in Chelsea,” she said. “I love not having to go over the Bridge. I’m here two or three times a day. It’s so much easier. I came over here today and looked at the traffic backed up on the Tobin and said, ‘Thank God that’s not me anymore.’”

Paula Parziale, a long-time general manager of Berkeley Floral Supply – and an Everett native, said Valentine’s Day can be a challenge  for a wholesaler.

“We do call it hell week around here,” she joked. “It’s actually more clean and organized than it’s ever been. Valentine’s Day is all about roses. There are so many varieties of roses now, you have to get your orders in to the growers early so you don’t get bumped. For us, family and friends know not to call us or text us until Feb. 15 – unless it’s an emergency.”

The New England Flower Exchange is a wholesaler, much like many of the fruit and vegetable dealers in the neighboring New England Produce Center. That means the general public cannot waltz into the facility and buy directly from any of the business there. However, anyone with the proper floral credentials can establish an account, and most every florist in the area does their shopping at the new Exchange – which sources most of its flowers from Ecuador, the United States, Colombia and Holland.

Many of those growers begin growing to supply wholesalers at the Exchange right before Christmas – meaning that the flower’s journey begins long before February.

LaCount said many consumers think that the flower industry engages in price gouging at Valentine’s Day, but it’s not the case. Instead, she said the growers have to sacrifice two or three crops to provide the volume needed for the American Valentine’s Day. That special circumstance comes at a premium cost, she said, for the wholesalers.

“People don’t understand the growers have to forgo an entire harvest or two to get the kind of production needed for Valentine’s Day,” she said. “People think it’s gouging, but it isn’t. The volume is there, but the wholesale costs are so high that you don’t make a lot of money on Valentine’s Day. Normally, I would charge around $60 for a dozen roses, but that goes up to $90 on Valentine’s Day because the wholesale costs are twice as high. Believe me, I’d close the store on Valentine’s Day if I could, but I can’t because I haven’t won the lottery yet.”

Meanwhile, the major story besides Valentine’s Day at the new Exchange is the move that they made last year.

“It has been such a smooth transition; it was wonderful,” said Janina Cupp, market manager. “They actually did business in the South End up to closing on Feb. 28, and on March 1 came over here and opened the next day. It’s been really great. It’s been better for some florists than others. Those from the North Shore and Maine love it. Those on the South Shore aren’t so happy, but they’re making the transition. The Tobin Bridge is the issue, but everyone has grown accustomed to it. The last market was worn. This market has a lot more open energy to it. There’s one aisle and you can see everything, plus the new lighting is much better.”

The Exchange began its build out in mid-December 2016 after their old location in the South End sold to the Abbey Group to be developed into about 1.5 million sq. ft. of premium high-rise office space. The former Exchange had been in that location for 50 years, but the development push on what had become prime property was too strong.

On March 1, 2017, nine of the wholesalers made the move, with one staying in the South End area and another closing. Several, such as Carbone, moved over their operations, but also significantly expanded their offerings of vases and other accessories.

A new wholesaler of vases from New York has also been added.

But the major message is that they’ve found success, and stayed together.

“It’s worked out a lot better than anticipated,” said Jerry Cupp. “We anticipated something like a 10 or 15 percent reduction in sales when we moved. It has turned out just the opposite. The way this building is designed is a lot better. It’s more open and you get a great visual of everything. There are coolers and refrigerators. You can get the product from the cooler trailer to the floor and the coolers much quicker. That matters.”

Parziale said one of the best parts for her has been keeping the wholesalers together. The floral business, she said, is one that doesn’t change much, and many of those in the wholesale and retail markets tend to become like family over the years. There had been a threat that everyone would split up, but the new Exchange has prevented that, she said.

“I don’t think there are too many complaints at all,” she said. “We’re just really lucky we all got to stay together because it’s very unique to see a Flower Market stay together under one roof. We could have all split up. That would have been sad. Many of us have been working side by side and together for 30 or 40 years…For the customers, it’s important because you walk in and have everything you need all in one place. You only have to get out of your car one time.”

Bob Hall of Kelley Wholesale Florists said they were also concerned in leaving the South End, but as it turned out, the concerns weren’t warranted.

“We were concerned, extremely worried really, about what would happen if things went the wrong way,” he said. “We had a few bumps, but in all, it’s been positive.”

Janina Cupp added that the City of Chelsea has been wonderful in the transition and the build out. Had it not been for the cooperation, she said, it would have been much more difficult.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he was glad to have the Exchange in Chelsea.

“We always try to be accommodating,” he said. “We are certainly happy to have them there. We certainly didn’t want that building to remain vacant.”

Cutlines –

FRONT 1291 –

Chelsea Florist Valerie LaCount of Washington Park Florists said having the New England Flower Exchange in Chelsea has made life much easier for her business, especially this week on Valentine’s Day. The Exchange moved to Chelsea last March from Boston’s South End after 50 years in that location. It was the first Valentine’s Day rush at the new facility for the wholesalers and their many customers from all over New England.

1300 –

Chelsea Florist Valerie LaCount talks over her order while Chris Birch of Cupp & Cupp Corp. wraps up a Valentine order.

1302 –

On Valentine’s Day in the New England Flower Exchange, Everett native Paula Parziale of Berkeley Floral Supply said it’s one week of chaos and careful preparation. The new Exchange celebrated its first Valentine’s Day in its new location on Second Street. The Exchange moved last year from its long-time headquarters in Boston’s South End.

1313 –

At the New England Flower Exchange on Second Street, MaryEllen Crowley of Berkeley Floral Supply wraps up an order from a customer. The Exchange was operating seven days a week for the past several days to keep up with wholesale flower orders for Valentine’s Day.

1317 –

A wall of red roses lined just about every stall at the market on Monday. It was the last big wholesale buying day for florists all around New England.

1342 –

Some nine wholesalers at the New England Flower Exchange on the Chelsea/Everett line celebrated their first Valentine’s Day in the new location this week.

1344 –

Janina Cupp, market manager, said they move from Boston’s South End to the Chelsea/Everett line has been very positive, despite initial concerns from many wholesalers.

1355 –

Elgreen Orchids owner Jeff Kim said as a specialist, the move has been hard on his business, but things are starting to turnaround. The new facility is much easier for keeping his colorful orchids though.

Read More

Potential Wynn Branding Problems Likely to Move into Uncharted Territory

Potential Wynn Branding Problems Likely to Move into Uncharted Territory

One of the biggest questions floating around all of Greater Boston right now regarding the allegations against CEO Steve Wynn is whether or not the casino building here will carry his signature brand name at the top when it opens in 2019 – a brand that has gone from impeccable to potentially tainted in a few day’s time.

Experts in the field of marketing and branding – something that is heavily studied and critically important in today’s business world – are closely watching this case with Wynn.

Locally, Northeastern University Assistant Professor Charn McAllister, who teaches in the Management and Organizational Development Department at Northeastern, said there are so many firsts in this case when it comes to branding.

One of the major issues with the Wynn situation is that the company is heavily tied to the man for whom some seriously negative allegations are being made. The company is tied so heavily that it in fact carries a brand name that is now associated with that negativity.

“I think Steve Wynn in many ways is the heart and soul of Wynn Resorts,” McAllister said. “It’s a cult of personality. When people invest in Wynn, they are investing in Steve Wynn…Five or six months ago, you would expect a company to remove an individual from a position of leadership. How do you do that when the company is the person? Though these are still allegations, it’s like Weinstein in that the allegations were so horrible that the name of the business became poison. When your name is on the building and on everything else, at that point it puts the Board in a very difficult situation.”

That difficult situation comes from the fact that the Board for Wynn – a publicly traded company – has stated in federal filings that the loss of Wynn from their company would mean significant financial losses. Now, they are facing a decision about the loss of Wynn versus the losses from the bad name via the publicity.

“They have already stated in SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) filings that the loss of Steve Wynn would result in major losses to the company, but at the same time you just had a 14 percent drop in your stock price because of Steve Wynn,” he said.

The branding of Wynn has been carefully guarded since the company arrived in Everett. From the local office to the Las Vegas office, the company has been very careful since day one to remain on brand and on message in all communications and imagery. That’s because they have spent decades building the name ‘Wynn’ into an image and vision of luxury and something fun and clean.

The allegations against Wynn now, which he fully denies, are anything but clean and fun. Regardless of their validity or not – or the circumstances of them surfacing – McAllister said today’s court of public opinion is very harsh on a brand.

He said some of the things he will be watching as the investigation moves forward is whether the company has a hard time recruiting new employees as they ramp up for the 2019 opening due to the public perception of the brand.

“The brand integrity is going to be downgraded substantially,” he said. “Recruiting for the company will be harder likely because the new potential candidates may not be so eager to work for the company. It’s not that they are afraid so much of getting assaulted, but the image of the company. Do you want to go home and tell your parents or friends that you work for this brand that is now associated with such bad things?”

McAllister said other things he is watching is how the allegations might be interpreted internationally, since Wynn has locations in Asia as well.

He also said he believes more companies might re-think making their brand the name of a company leader or founder. He said, for example, that everyone knows Jeff Bezos is the leader of Amazon, but the company doesn’t bear his name.

More than anything, McAllister said the unprecedented part of the situation will be whether public perception forces the brand to change. That, of course, is a question that nearly all of Everett is wondering as well.

Read More

Anti-Bullying Week Kicks Off at Collaborative, CHS

Anti-Bullying Week Kicks Off at Collaborative, CHS

By Seth Daniel

Chelsea Collaborative youth leaders Stephany Villatoro and Ashanti DeCosta look at a picture of Amanda Todd, a teen from another state who ended her life in 2012 due to cyber bullying. The moment was part of a kick-off event at the Collaborative on Tuesday, Jan. 16, for Anti-Bullying Week. A large event at Chelsea High for students, parents and staff will take place Thursday, Jan. 18, at 5 p.m.

Chelsea Collaborative youth leaders Stephany Villatoro and Ashanti DeCosta look at a picture of Amanda Todd, a teen from another state who ended her life in 2012 due to cyber bullying. The moment was part of a kick-off event at the Collaborative on Tuesday, Jan. 16, for Anti-Bullying Week. A large event at Chelsea High for students, parents and staff will take place Thursday, Jan. 18, at 5 p.m.

The Chelsea Collaborative youth leaders and Chelsea High School are combining their efforts this week to bring unprecedented attention to Anti-Bullying Week.

On Tuesday afternoon, youth leaders kicked off the week with a program at the Chelsea Collaborative designed to educate  youth and adults about how dangerous bullying can be in the 21st Century – a danger that can often lead to death.

Stephany Villatoro and Ashanti DeCosta of the Collaborative Youth Team said they see bullying all the time at the high school, and can definitely understand how

someone might commit suicide.

When asked if they could picture someone at their school going so far as to end their life over  bullying, they replied, “Oh yea.”

That is why the youth displayed personal stories of bullying from kids who live in Chelsea and also one national story about Amanda Todd. The teen had posted something online by mistake, and was attacked  with cyber-bullying that didn’t stop.

Soon, it was more than she could take, and she ended her life.

“I think it is such a necessary topic,” said Villatoro. “It’s something that many of us might have actually experienced ourselves in some form, but we don’t want to talk about it. By being youth leaders at the Collaborative, it gives us an opportunity to spread concerns and solutions about this to other youth our age.”

Said DeCosta, “Something that is very common at Chelsea High is cyber bullying. It’s not much with verbal or physical bullying, but the cyber bullying often leads to that. It all starts with the cyber bullying though. Someone will post something about someone else and they’ll go back and forth on social media. Then it just gets out of control.”

Both said one of the goals they have is to be able to teach students caught up in this about how to address the core issues and conflicts they have face to face. They hope to be able to instill a maturity in the community that allows people to resolve conflicts with one another and not turn to bullying online.

It’s a world that parents often find extremely foreign, as most parents didn’t grow up with social media and have a hard time understanding how an electronic message can hurt so deeply.

But it does, say leaders.

“Cyber bullying has taken on a life of its own and doesn’t necessary exist now in the way that it did even five years ago,” said Sasha Parodi, a youth organizer at the Collaborative. “It’s one thing that’s rapidly developing and there are so many ways for it to surface. It’s really more  of a lack of understand or resources to address it for some parents. It’s very hard because every kid has a phone and it’s hard not to get everything that comes with that phone, such as social media.”

Today, Jan. 18, Chelsea High School will have a major event to help bring the topic even more into the light for students, teachers and parents.

Alfonso Ceciliano, a Chelsea High parent liaison, said they will stage the event at 5 p.m. in the Auditorium.

“We’re going to be addressing all kinds of different topics with Anti-Bullying,” he said.

Cutline –

0796 –

Chelsea Collaborative youth leaders Stephany Villatoro and Ashanti DeCosta look at a picture of Amanda Todd, a teen from another state who ended her life in 2012 due to cyber bullying. The moment was part of a kick-off event at the Collaborative on Tuesday, Jan. 16, for Anti-Bullying Week. A large event at Chelsea High for students, parents and staff will take place Thursday, Jan. 18, at 5 p.m.

0799 –

Heyde and Kaley Vasquez write their thoughts about a bullying story that was posted as part of the kick-off Tuesday night.

0806 –

Youth Leaders from the Chelsea Collaborative kicked off Anti-Bullying Week at the Collaborative on Tuesday night.

Read More

Sen Elizabeth Warren Urges Congress to Restore Funding to Community Health Centers like EBNHC

Sen Elizabeth Warren Urges Congress to Restore Funding to Community Health Centers like EBNHC

By John Lynds

In an Op-Ed that appeared in State News on Monday, Dec. 18, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren called House Republicans onto the carpet for halting federal funding to the nation’s Community Health Centers like East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) while working on cutting taxes for the ‘wealthy”.

“I love community health centers,” Warren wrote. “They do wonderful work and enjoy widespread support. But I’m worried because Republican leaders in Congress have held these centers hostage by halting federal funding while they focus on passing tax cuts for the wealthy. It’s past time to step up the fight for community health centers in my state of Massachusetts and across the country.”

Warren argued that community health centers, like EBNHC, are a big part of what’s working well in health care today — more coverage at lower cost.

“They are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic,” she wrote. “They provide preventive services and chronic disease management. They are taking the stigma out of mental health treatment. And they save money by promoting disease prevention, providing care coordination, and reducing the use of hospital emergency rooms.”

On Sept. 30, Warren said Congress blew past a major funding deadline for community health centers — a reauthorization of the Community Health Center Fund.

“This program provides more than 70 percent of all federal funding for health centers,” she wrote. “Reauthorizing this program should be a no-brainer, and many of my Republican colleagues agree with that. But Republican leadership has been so focused on stripping health care coverage from many of the people who walk through the doors of community health centers that they ran right past this deadline — and they’ve just kept on running.”

Community health centers across the country are feeling the impact.

“They are holding back on hiring new staff or deferring opportunities to make vital improvements to their programs. If they don’t get this funding soon, they’ll have to make even tougher decisions, like laying off staff members, cutting services, or reducing hours,” she wrote. “In East Boston, which is geographically isolated from the rest of the city, the community health center operates an emergency room that is open around the clock.People who work in community health centers know that health care is a basic human right. The dedicated doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals at these sites take incredible care of families from every background. And they’re always looking for ways they can better serve their patients and their community. But community health centers can’t do this much-needed work if the federal government doesn’t keep its promises.”

Warren said tax cuts for billionaires shouldn’t come ahead of making sure that children, pregnant women, people in need of addiction treatment, veterans, and other vulnerable populations have access to health care.

“I’ll keep fighting for community health centers and for all of these health care programs that have improved the lives of people in my state and every other state,” she wrote. “I believe everyone deserves access to affordable, high-quality health care. Community health centers excel at providing that care — and they deserve our support.”

EBNHC recently hosted Sen. Warren were she saw first hand the important work that the Health Center and its staff does on a daily basis.

“We were obviously so pleased to host Senator Warren on her visit tour to the Health Center and we are glad she is fighting hard for Community Health Centers like ours across the country,” said Snyder.

Read More

MGC,Wynn and Others Watching Federal Sports Betting Case Closely

MGC,Wynn and Others Watching Federal Sports Betting Case Closely

By Seth Daniel

As the U.S. Supreme Court weighs the merits of legalizing sports betting nationwide, eyes in the region and at the state Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) can’t help but focus on that decision as well.

Were the court to side with those pushing to legalize sports betting nationwide – as it currently only exists legally as a grandfathered provision in Las Vegas – it could mean billions of dollars in added gaming revenues to the Wynn Boston Harbor casino when it opens in 2019.

While plans are already in place for the typical table games and slot machines at the casino, expanding it to include sports betting would mean an opportunity for the City, state and Wynn to capitalize on an even larger gaming market.

The American Gaming Association (AGA), a trade organization that represents all gaming entities, estimates that $150 billion is wagered on sports illegally every year, and often postulates that such illegal betting on the Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four events have become commonplace – making the prohibition almost a joke in their opinion.

Last summer, the AGA estimated that Massachusetts could gain $682 million in economic output, $133 million in added tax revenue and an additional 3,261 new  jobs if sports betting were allowed as part of the expanded gaming act.

For Wynn, it would simply mean an expansion of their existing, and very popular, sports and racing book in Las Vegas.

After oral arguments on Dec. 4 at the high court in Washington, D.C., Wynn officials said they remain interested in the case.

“We at Wynn Boston Harbor are watching the court case with interest,” said Bob DeSalvio, president of Wynn Boston Harbor. “Our industry supports legalized and regulated sports betting but the ultimate decision rests with the courts, state and federal lawmakers and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.”

The MGC will deliberated precisely on the matter last week at their monthly meeting Thursday, Dec. 7. Spokesperson Elaine Driscoll said there hasn’t been much discussion of the issue by the Commission aside from a short mention in a paper drafted last year on Daily Fantasy Sports. The Supreme Court case, however, is expected to have discussion before the Commission this week.

“We are following any developments closely,” said Driscoll. “The Commission has not taken an official position on this topic. I do anticipate it will be raised at the Commission meeting on Thursday. Part of that conversation will be a report on the arguments before the Supreme Court, as the Commission decides next steps.”

Following the meeting, the MGC did call for a White Paper to be researched and drafted on the possibility of legalized sports betting in the Commonwealth.

For the AGA, President Geoff Freeman said after the arguments that he was encouraged by the questions and will await to see the courts ruling in the months to come.

“It was a positive day for the millions of Americans seeking to legally wager on sporting events,” he said on the afternoon of Dec. 4. “While we can’t predict the intentions of Supreme Court Justices, we can accurately predict the demise of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection of 1992 (PASPA). The justices of the Court expressed deep interest in the role of the federal government – a role that we believe has created a thriving illegal market that has driven trillions of dollars to offshore websites and corner bookies. States and tribal sovereign nations have proven to be effective regulators of gaming and today’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court moved them one giant step closer to offering a new product that Americans demand.”

At issue in the case is the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which has come up through the case Christie (as in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie) vs. NCAA. The state of New Jersey pushed the boundaries of sports betting in 2012 and tried to institute it within their state – only to be stopped by lawsuits from five sports leagues, including Major League Baseball. That case has wound itself through several federal jurisdictions until landing at the high court earlier this year.

The act was put in place following the fallout from the Pete Rose baseball betting scandal, which is often forgotten nowadays. At the time, it was a popular sentiment and seen as a necessary protection. However, as time has gone on, the public has clamored to the trend of betting on sports of all kinds – and most all of it done illegally.

When the act passed, both New Jersey and Nevada – the only jurisdictions that qualified for grandfathering – had the ability to continue with sports betting. Only Nevada proceeded, which is why today the only legal sports bets in the United States are in Nevada.

That is where Wynn keeps its blockbuster Race & Sports Book, an actual area of its casino in Las Vegas that the company has just renovated at great expense.

The new area at the Wynn Las Vegas resort offers 1,600 sw. ft. of wraparound LED televisions for viewing events, food, a bar, and personal viewing areas with all the comforts one demands. A smaller Race & Sports Book venue at Wynn Encore also exists there.

The Wynn Race & Sports Book also offers a mobile app for placing a wager in that jurisdiction on any horse race or sports contest without ever having to leave one’s seat if in the state of Nevada in the City of Las Vegas.

Read More

A Big Request:City Makes Big Ask of MassDOT for Viaduct Project Mitigation

A Big Request:City Makes Big Ask of MassDOT for Viaduct Project Mitigation

By Seth Daniel

Shown in blue is the aea that will be worked on by MassDOT.

Shown in blue is the aea that will be worked on by MassDOT.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino and the City Council have submitted an eye-opening mitigation package to the MassDOT to accommodate the upcoming Chelsea Viaduct project – a major rehabilitation project of the elevated highway leading to the Tobin/Mystic Bridge.

The project is slated to be advertised in 2018 by the state.

In a letter submitted this month, City Manager Tom Ambrosino asked for a total of $1.724 million from MassDOT for various items to make up for the construction project.

“As you know the Route 1 viaduct basically bisects Chelsea, running directly through its dens, environmental justice neighborhoods,” he wrote. “Because of its overwhelming presence in the City, substantial and lengthy reconstruction of the Route 1 viaduct will undeniably yield negative impacts for the City’s residents, businesses and visitors and severely diminish the City’s quality of life.”

He said the project would have substantial disruption to the daily lives of Chelsea residents, including middle school and high school students who routinely walk in the Viaduct area to get the school.

MassDOT said it is early in the design stage and looks to be at about 25 percent by the end of the year. It is considering the letter, but had no further comment than that.

“MassDOT is currently in the early design stage, and is in the process of engaging the public in order to develop a comprehensive construction staging plan that will accelerate construction and minimize disruption to the City of Chelsea and commuters,” said a spokesman for MassDOT. “Additionally, MassDOT is in the process of evaluating the letter from the City of Chelsea and as always, will consider all suggestions that avoid, minimize or mitigate impacts to local business, members of the community and to ensure reliable travel throughout the viaduct area.”

One of the biggest asks is $500,000 to fund a decorative lighting program under the Viaduct. Ambrosino said the lots beneath the Viaduct have historically been very dimly lit and subject to blight and criminal activity. The City is asking for post construction lighting that includes typical street lighting, and also a significant public art and special design program.

“As a commanding presence, the City envisions a spatial design and public art involving up-lighting that would enliven this corridor and lessen the negative attributes associated with the highway,” he wrote.

A second ask is for funding in the amount of $300,000 to re-design and renovate the football stadium and Carter Park – which are cut in half by the Viaduct.

Other mitigation measures include surveillance for parking lots, parking lot improvements under the Bridge for the City, improvements to the Fourth Street off-ramp, residential enhancements to homes abutting the bridge, additional crossing guards for school children, and a contribution to a bike-pedestrian path on the Tobin/Mystic Bridge.

Read More

AMAC: Aging is a Disease and Science is Determined to Find a ‘Cure’ for It

AMAC: Aging is a Disease and Science is Determined to Find a ‘Cure’ for It

Is old age a disease?  Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC], says a significant amount of scientific research indicates that aging is, indeed, a disease.  “More important there are many who believe it is a disease with a cure.”

Weber cites the work of Dr. Aubrey de Grey, a well-known biomedical gerontologist.  His focus is on extending life spans by intervening at the cellular level, repairing damaged cells and in turn extending life.

Some call de Grey a “mad scientist” but there is lots of independent study being conducted by those in the scientific mainstream to indicate that he is on the right track.

Most recently, researchers at the Universities of Exeter and Brighton in the UK released the results of a study that showed aging cells can be repaired.  They used naturally occurring chemicals to treat aging human cells with remarkable results.

“When I saw some of the cells in the culture dish rejuvenating I couldn’t believe it.  These old cells were looking like young cells.  It was like magic.  I repeated the experiments several times and in each case, the cells rejuvenated.  I am very excited by the implications and potential for this research,” according to Exeter’s Dr. Eva Latorre, one the principal authors of the research report.

Meanwhile, notes Weber, the New York Times reports that the study of the human aging process has evolved to the point where the focus is now on what are called “supercentenarians,” individuals who live longest of all.

“It used to be that a person who reached the ripe old age of 100 was a rarity.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, recently reported that the number of Americans over the age of 100 has grown by 44-percent since the year 2000.  The U.S. today is home to more than 72,000 centenarians,” says the AMAC chief.

But the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University, a leading medical investigative group concentrating on how we grow old, believes healthy aging is all in the genes, particularly the genes of the very, very old.  The study says on its Web site “the genetic influence becomes greater and greater with older and older ages, especially beyond 103 years of age.”

Whether the cellular approach or the genetic approach is ultimately successful in increasing the life span of more people in the future, Weber points out that living an extra long life can be fraught with financial danger.  It will require a whole new way of thinking about retirement.  Modern medicine has already extended longevity and that has resulted in fewer of us being able to retire.  Many more people these days have given up on the notion of full retirement at the traditional age of 65.  We stay in our jobs longer than we might like or we find ways of supplementing our incomes.

But for many elderly Americans, finding work to supplement their incomes is not an option.  Social Security is what puts food on their tables.  It’s their principal source of income, meager as it might be, and they would face cruel hardships if their monthly checks were cut.  For them, the fact that Social Security faces major fiscal challenges in the coming years is a scary prospect.

“We need to focus, as a nation, on how the less fortunate of us will cope in the brave new world of centenarians and supercentenarians.  How will they cope with their everyday lives?  For them, it is not a benefit-it is a necessity and it is imperative that our lawmakers find and enact the fixes that will keep Social Security viable for the long term.  For our part, AMAC remains relentless in its pursuit of solutions in our ongoing meetings with Congressional leaders.  We’ve vowed never to give up and we won’t,” says Weber.

The Association of Mature American Citizens [http://www.amac.us] is a vibrant, vital senior advocacy organization that takes its marching orders from its members.  We act and speak on their behalf, protecting their interests and offering a practical insight on how to best solve the problems they face today.  Live long and make a difference by joining us today at http://amac.us/join-amac.

Read More

No Debate Necessary:Strip Club Application Dismissed by ZBA, New Owner Might Look to Other Things

No Debate Necessary:Strip Club Application Dismissed by ZBA, New Owner Might Look to Other Things

By Leah Dearborn and Seth Daniel

In what has been one surprise after another with the Phantom Ventures suit-and-tie strip club proposal, Tuesday night’s events perhaps took the cake – with a new owner of the club now coming into play and the proponents withdrawing their three-year-old proposal at the last minute.

That came, however, after the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) denied the application due to lack of standing.

It was a surprisingly quiet meeting on Tuesday night, despite all the behind the scenes excitement, with representatives of Phantom Ventures failing to make an appearance. The controversial application concerned a Special Permit to establish a nude cabaret and sports bar at 200 Beacham St. – the former site of the King Arthur’s Strip Club.

After addressing the room several times to ask whether a representative of Phantom Ventures was present, Chairman John DePriest announced that the board had received an email earlier in the afternoon requesting withdrawal of the application.

DePriest said the board also received an affidavit from the owner of the property, Demetrios Vardakostas, stating they had been unaware the proposal for the site was submitted. The affidavit clarified that the applicants are no longer tenants of the address at Beacham Street, and that they had been evicted in Chelsea Court last month for non-payment of rent and taxes.

Citing a lack of proper authority to come before the board in the first place, members of the ZBA dismissed the case without further debate from the public.

Another twist in the affair came in that the building was sold late last week, with Everett’s Greg Antonellli now being the new owner.

Antonelli, who owns GTA Landscaping Co., hasn’t revealed what his plans are for the site, but the real estate arm of his business has been buying up a lot of property in the industrial areas of Everett – some of them just on the other side of the Produce Center.

Some in the City said Antonelli may be willing to work with the Phantom proponents to re-apply at his new property, while others said he is considering a different use altogether.

Antonelli said it is too early to discuss any plans for the property, as he has just taken ownership.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he hopes the new owner will consider something different than the nude dancing use.

“I’m pleased that the Zoning Board of Appeals rejected the application,” he said. “Hopefully, the new owner will propose a better use for that site.”

City Councillor Dan Cortell has organized major opposition several times regarding the Phantom application, and he said he was pleasantly surprised by the outcome Tuesday – which was somewhat unexpected.

“A lot of hard work went into this fight that included not just of our City Manager, City Solicitor and staff, Department of Planning and Development and Inspectional Services, but also our volunteer Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Board, Economic Development Board and Licensing Commission as well as the literally hundreds of residents I called upon to support the fight all whom were looking out for the best for the city and its future,” he said. “Some football games end in a spectacular interception or last second score. Others end with a run out the clock ‘kneel down.’  Last night’s ZBA meeting ended with the latter. A win is a win and last night Chelsea put the notorious history that is King Arthur’s behind us. Chelsea is a better and more desirable city for it.”

Member Janice Tatarka said Phantom Ventures could still theoretically re-apply for the permit since the original application never went to a vote.

“They could come back,” said board member Janice Tatarka. “It’s possible.”

What is certain is that the controversial Phantom Ventures application – which resulted in numerous hearing and a Constitutional Court case in federal court – is currently dead. Phantom Ventures had re-submitted their application for Tuesday’s meeting after a Federal Court ruling declared the City’s adult entertainment ordinance unconstitutional earlier this year – a case that resulted from the ZBA denying Phantom’s original application in 2015.

Currently, the ZBA said any nude dancing application had to be fit under the ‘theatre’ use. Phantom Ventures had planned to apply on Tuesday under the ‘Theatre’ use provision – that is until it was learned they had no standing with the owner and the new owner.

Phantom’s ownership, which did not appear before the Board, had no comment on the matter immediately.

Read More

Piece of Chelsea History Goes Down to the Wrecking Ball

Piece of Chelsea History Goes Down to the Wrecking Ball

By Seth Daniel

The old Chelsea Clock building was torn down on Friday and Monday of this week. The building stood as the headquarters for the luxury clock maker for more than 100 years. They moved out in 2014, and Fairfield Residential tore down the iconic Chelsea landmark to make way for more than 700 apartments.

The old Chelsea Clock building was torn down on Friday and Monday of this week. The building stood as the headquarters for the luxury clock maker for more than 100 years. They moved out in 2014, and Fairfield Residential tore down the iconic Chelsea landmark to make way for more than 700 apartments.

Three generations of Chelsea residents have worked, walked or driven by the famous Chelsea Clock building on Everett Avenue, but none will be able to do either any longer.

The last pieces of the former brick luxury clock factory – outfitted with the black banner and white lettering reading ‘Chelsea Clock’ – came down last Friday and Monday.

After more than 100 years and two major conflagrations, the old building that in many ways symbolized Chelsea as much as the Soldiers’ Home water tower, is now gone.

“I think most people in Chelsea are a bit saddened by seeing that iconic building disappear, but the environmental conditions made it impossible to retain,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “I just hope that what replaces it, a modern apartment complex with a bit of retail on Everett Avenue, will bring positive benefits to the City.”

The Chelsea Clock company, now on Second Street in a restored building, said it had no comment on the demolition of its former long-time headquarters.

What is about to replace that piece of Chelsea history is a 700-plus unit apartment community on a large piece of land, adding some retail in the mix fronting Everett Avenue.

Fairfield Residential is developing the property, and intends to begin construction soon now that the demolition is complete.

The Chelsea Clock company moved out of the old building in 2014, and has occupied their new headquarters for three years.

Fairfield has said it hopes to have occupancy of its project in 2019.

Read More

House,Senate Pass Legislation to Help Open Up Casino Jobs

House,Senate Pass Legislation to Help Open Up Casino Jobs

By Seth Daniel

The State Legislature has approved a major change aimed at helping those with minor criminal records from the past not be barred from getting casino jobs statewide, and particularly at the Wynn Boston Harbor resort.

Earlier this year, it became apparent that the Expanding Gaming Law was very stringent, and was likely going to bar people with minor offenses from the past from getting jobs at the casino – including jobs in restaurants or housekeeping.

Many spoke out in an effort to reform the statute, and Speaker Bob DeLeo took up the cause – including it in the Supplemental Budget last week that passed both the House and Senate.

“At its heart, the gaming law is about providing jobs and improving the economy,” said DeLeo. “I wouldn’t want to see people – particularly those who are underemployed or unemployed – barred from working in a hotel or a restaurant, for example. I’m pleased that we made the change and look forward to seeing the Gaming Commission’s work on this time-sensitive matter.”

Mayor Carlo DeMaria

“My top priority is to ensure that Everett residents have the opportunity to succeed, have a career and raise a family right here in Everett,” said DeMaria. “We all know people who have made some mistakes in their past, but now deserve the opportunity to lead productive lives. The best way to do that is to provide them with a job. I commend the legislature for passing criminal justice reform for service employees and the gaming commission for supporting this measure. Otherwise restaurant workers, hotel housekeepers, and parking lot attendants would be barred from working in a hotel because of a minor conviction.”

The Gaming Law currently has the “automatic disqualifier” provision that prevents a non-gaming employee from working in a casino – even in hotel work, restaurant work and physical plant work – if they have a felony conviction in the past 10 years. In Massachusetts now, it takes 10 years before a person can seal such a felony record and not have it count against them for things like employment in the casinos. Additionally, in Massachusetts, many felonies have a very low threshold – such as larceny over $250.

The changed language is not as specific and puts more power in the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s (MGC) hands to vet potential employees. The language puts it at the MGC’s “discretion.”

“the Massachusetts Gaming Commission established pursuant to section 3 of said chapter 23K, may exempt certain gaming service employees by job position from the registration requirement at its discretion,” read the new language.

The language will have to be vetted by several agencies and then will go to the MGC for potential implementation.

The MGC has been in favor of such changes in letters sent to the Legislature this year, but chose not to comment for this story.

Read More