There has been no shortage of colorful language used to express frustration for the often ill-timed Chelsea Street Bridge closures, and now the MBTA has joined the chorus in cursing the 250-foot vertical lift bridge – a bridge that far-too-often makes a lift in the dead of rush hour traffic.
At the MBTA Fiscal Management Control Board (FMCB) meeting on Monday, Kate Fichter – Assistant MassDOT Secretary for Policy Coordination – said that the Silver Line extension to Chelsea has been a great success, but the delays at the critical crossing of the Chelsea Street Bridge have stifled the new service.
A plan put in place to warn Silver Line drivers in advance of a bridge closure has not worked out very well, she said, and the Silver Line’s growth is believed to be hampered by people frustrated with the bridge delays.
“It impacts a lot of things and it’s been an issue a long time for Chelsea, East Boston and Revere,” said Fichter. “With the SL3, we had a plan in place that had a system for early warning with dispatch that we hoped would mitigate the issue. It hasn’t really turned out to work as well as we had hoped. It is a challenge to the Silver Line, the 116, the 117 and a lot of its other uses…The Silver Line usage has grown, and we believe if we can solve the delays at the bridge, ridership can grow even more.”
Fichter said they are working with MassPort and several other partners to propose a six-month pilot program to the Coast Guard’s Maritime Regulations on the bridge. Those regulations prioritize maritime travel over all other forms of transportation and often result in ships coming through at the worst times of the day. That has caused problems for MassPort workers trying to get to and from the employee parking garage in Chelsea from the airport, and it’s also caused problems for parents trying to get to Chelsea to pick up their children from school or day care. Likewise, it is a constant headache for commuters and commercial/industrial ventures when it goes up.
“We are going to apply with the Coast Guard in the next couple of months to propose a pilot program to those regulations that would last six months,” she said. “At this point, we’re proposing that the bridge would not open in the a.m. peak times or the p.m. peak times for a two-hour period at each time.”
The exception would be if a fully loaded petroleum tanker sought to come into the Chelsea Creek or there was an emergency situation. The purpose of the pilot program would be to collect data on MBTA delays, as well as delays for other users.
“I am cautiously optimistic about getting the pilot,” she said. “The situation is such that we have no real leverage. We can only ask.”
She said the goal would be for the multiple agencies to seek a permanent regulation change with the Coast Guard if the pilot shows improvements. That, she said, is a tough road to travel and would likely get resistance from maritime uses on Chelsea Creek.
“They see it as a maritime facility and we see it as the bottom of a road,” she said. “It’s no secret the users of the Creek and vessel operators are very opposed to this and I anticipate they will oppose the pilot program and would really oppose a permanent change. There are plenty of regulations that have changed across the country, but it’s a tough fight…My hope is there is a compromise position where everyone gives a little and we all get some relief.”
Fichter said they would be having public meetings in the new year at some point to get input from the community, and they are encouraging everyone to come out and voice their frustrations with the bridge as it is set up now. The more people that voice their opinions, the more likely it will be that the pilot would be put in place.
She said they would like to see any approved pilot program start in June 2019.
Chelsea Silver Line extension seeing major growth in weekday ridership
MBTA officials reported this week that Silver Line ridership for the new Chelsea service has been growing steadily since implementation last April.
Members of the MBTA’s Chelsea Task Force reported to the Fiscal Management Control Board (FMCB) on Monday that ridership on weekdays has grown by nearly 2,000 riders per month.
The service started with about 4,100 riders per month on weekday at the outset, and now boasts around 6,200 riders per month on weekdays. At other times, though, ridership has stayed flat.
On Saturdays, ridership started around 3,000, grew to nearly 4,000 riders and has now declined to about 3,200 riders.
On Sundays, ridership started at about 2,900 and surged to about 3,000 riders in August, but has now declined to about 3,800 riders per month.
Chelsea Emergency Management/911 Director Allan I. Alpert was honored at a retirement party at Anthony, Malden. Director Alpert (third from left) is pictured with proud members of his family at the celebration, from left, Allan Dickerman and guest, Laraine Alpert, Lindsay Alpert, grandson Devin Alpert (front), Justin Alpert, Jonathan Alpert, and Robert Alpert.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he would gladly enforce the new Police and Fire residency ordinance confirmed last week at Council, but not until at least 2021.
“It has to be negotiated through collective bargaining,” he said. “The firefighters are under contract until 2021, and the police are now at the state Joint Labor Management Commission. It probably won’t be able to be negotiated with either unit until 2021. We have no plans to enforce it until there is a new contract because the law is clear this is a change in the contract subject to collective bargaining.”
The Council voted for the matter last month, and staved off a challenge to that vote last week, led by Councilor Giovanni Recupero. Recupero has tried for seven years to get the residency plan in place for new police and fire hires. The plan now in effect would require all new hires as of July 31 to live in the city for five years after hire.
The matter, however, cannot be enforced until the City Manager re-negotiates the contracts with the police and fire, meaning that all member would get raises in exchange for that change in working conditions.
Ambrosino said the unions could decide not to agree to the matter, which would also make it unenforceable if it is outside any contract.
“An ordinance cannot supersede a mandatory collective bargaining matter,” he said. “It is unenforceable until it shows up in a collective bargaining agreement.”
With the crowd overflowing from the room, State Treasurer Deb Goldberg kicked off her re-election campaign last night. Goldberg, who was introduced by House Speaker Robert DeLeo, spoke of how her principles and values have guided her tenure as State Treasurer.
“Economic stability, economic opportunity, and economic empowerment are the values I was raised with and what guides my work as your State Treasurer,” Goldberg told the crowd. “I am proud of what we have accomplished and am excited to continue to work for the people of Massachusetts as your Treasurer.”
In introducing Goldberg, DeLeo said, “Deb understands that the role of the Treasurer’s office is not just about dollars and cents; it is about making people’s lives better. The programs she has created have had a positive impact for our children, our families, our veterans and seniors across this Commonwealth. Deb Goldberg has made good on all the promises she made when she ran, and she has truly made a difference in people’s lives.”
DeLeo continued, “Massachusetts is lucky to have Deb Goldberg as our Treasurer. I know she can and she will do even more for our Commonwealth and our residents in the future.”
Since taking office in January of 2015, Deb Goldberg has brought a commonsense business approach to the management of the treasury’s various offices. Leading on initiatives that include wage equality, increasing diversity, and expanding access to financial education, she has also helped families save for college, protected the state’s pension fund and developed programs for veterans and seniors. For more information, contact Treasurer Goldberg’s campaign at email@example.com.
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.
The Chelsea 9-1-1 Dispatchers Union made a public apology Monday night, Dec. 4, at the City Council meeting to former Assistant Emergency Management Director Robert Verdone for issuing a No Confidence Vote against him on Oct. 1, 2016.
Verdone was part of a management group in Chelsea EMS department that the union was very dissatisfied with over a number of years, but the union said Monday that Verdone was new and shouldn’t have been characterized with the rest of the management group.
It appeared that the No Confidence Vote still stood for Director Allan Alpert.
Dispatcher Paul Koolloian told the Council that since the vote, Verdone has shown he is knowledgeable and the union grew to appreciate and have confidence in his abilities.
“We stand firmly by our vote of No Confidence, but after careful consideration and reflection, we are in agreement to acknowledge that affixing Assistant Director Verdone’s name to the Letter of No Confidence was a poor decision on our part,” Koolloian said. “At the time the letter was drafted, Assistant Director Verdone was fairly new in his position and unfamiliar to the past history concerning several issues that plagued our Communications Center, most notably a continual pattern of harassment, second guessing and blatant disregard for our well- being several years prior to his arrival. Simply put, we got it wrong (with Verdone).”
Most notably, the union said they demonstrated poor judgment in including him, as it could and will have dire consequences for his future employment. Koolloian said they didn’t want to penalize Verdone for things done before his tenure.
It has been rumored that Verdone has been hired or is a finalist for the director’s position of a regional EMS center in Foxboro.
“There is no plausible excuse for our delay to publicly communicate this message,” said Koolloian. “We apologized from the bottom of our hearts for any inconvenience we may have caused you and your family and most importantly any damage we may have caused to your credibility and reputation.”
The City has been ordered by an arbiter to pay overtime that was in dispute from not backfilling a position last year with overtime pay.
The arbiter ruled on Oct. 9 that Chelsea had violated the collective bargaining agreement by not backfilling the position – mostly in 2016 – to avoid having to pay overtime. The open position was created when the City, by contract, created a new deputy chief position, leaving the Safety and Training Deputy Chief position open.
The dispute was whether or not that position had to be filled with overtime when appropriate. The City said it didn’t, and the union believed it did.
“It is undisputed that Chief Albanese was faced with an unexpectedly large overtime bill for the first quarter of his first fiscal year as Chief,” read the decision. “Contractual considerations, however, constrained his response. I am not persuaded that the unilateral rescission of (regulations) was an appropriate exercise of management rights, pursuant to the parties’ collective bargaining agreement. Instead, I determine that the parties’ present practice was consistent with a specific agreement the Union reached with respect to command staff changes; namely, that a new Deputy Chief position would be created, and that the Safety and Training Deputy Chief position would be backfilled, on a day to day basis, for certain absences.”
The arbiter ordered that the City repay the overtime to those that were affected.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said the award would amount to about $30,000.
“I am further persuaded that, by operation of (the law), the Chief was obligated to meet and discuss overtime overrun concerns with the Union,” it read. “As a result, I conclude that by unilaterally rescinding (the regulation), the City violated the collective bargaining agreement. As remedy, I determine that the effected Deputy Chiefs should be made whole for their loss of overtime opportunities.”
Ambrosino said he is considering filing an appeal, but the ability to overturn an arbiter is not likely.
“We think the arbiter completely missed the boat and didn’t interpret the contract correctly,” he said. “However, it’s hard to overturn an arbiter’s ruling.”
The Chelsea Fire Union was not able to comment as its president, Anthony Salvucci, has stepped down from his position – according to other members.
Former President Brian Capistran said he is a candidate for president of the union, and that an election was to be held this week.
Excited residents and participants take off under the balloon arch at the beginning of last year’s LFCFL Walk for Living. This year’s walk will take place on Sunday, Sept. 25.
The Leonard Florence Center for Living (LFCL), the only urban model skilled nursing Green House in the world caring for individuals with ALS – was opening a second home for individuals living with ALS.
Within days, the new Dapper McDonald ALS Residence was filled with a diverse mix of residents in terms of ages, occupations and geographic locations. These residents, many of whom are completely immobilized, are now able to live more independently by controlling the lights, turning on the TV, opening doors and raising window shades – all through the use of their eyes.
The 8th Annual ALS & MS Walk for Living, a fundraiser to support these neurological specialty residences and its residents, will take place on Sunday, Sept. 25, 10 a.m. at 165 Captains Row on Admirals Hill. The Dapper McDonald ALS Residence marks the third neurological specialty residence within the award-winning Leonard Florence Center. The Steve Saling ALS Residence and the Slifka MS Residence opened in 2010. The revolutionary technology, dedicated support staff and nurturing home environment enable the residents to live as independently as possible.
“This year’s Walk for Living will honor Bill and Sharon Stein; major benefactors of our ALS Residences,” said Barry Berman, CEO of the Chelsea Jewish Foundation. “Their extreme generosity has changed the lives of our pALS.”
He added, “We also wish to thank our local communities, businesses, residents and their families. Clearly, their support of the Walk, year after year, is truly invaluable.”
Beloved radio personality Matt Siegel, host of “Matty in the Morning” on KISS 108 will once again act as emcee and kick-off the two-mile walk. Major corporate sponsors include Donoghue, Barrett & Singal, Lundgren Management (AHOA), M&T Bank, Kayem Foods Incorporated, ShiftGear, CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, A-1 Lighting Service Company, Genzyme and Eastern Salt.
Independent Newspaper Group is the media sponsor.
Immediately following the walk, there will be a BBQ hosted by Chili’s, doughnuts provided by Dunkin Donuts, face painting, live dance performances, a petting zoo, a photo booth and a raffle. There is a $10 donation fee to participate in the Walk, which includes a Walk for Living tee shirt, the BBQ and all the activities. Registration begins at 9 a.m. on Sunday, September 25; the Walk begins at 10 a.m.
The Walk for Living is one of the few walks that are dog-friendly.
Without a doubt, the extraordinary ALS and MS residents reflect the very essence of the Walk – and the Center. Ten years after his ALS diagnosis, Patrick O’Brien, produced and directed TransFatty Lives, which won the coveted “Top Audience Award” at the prestigious Tribeca and Milano Film Festivals, among other honors. Steve Saling, an architect who helped design the Center, was told to he had two to five years to live at the time he was diagnosed with ALS in 2008; today Steve travels throughout the country, giving presentations and speeches through a voice activated computer. Bonnie Berthiaume, the first multiple sclerosis resident to move into the Leonard Florence Center, noted that the LFCL changed her life by giving her the freedom to attend Red Sox games, the theatre and weekly outings.
Tony Epifani, 47, a World Cup Soccer player from Syracuse, whose wife, son and daughter reside in New York, was confined to one room day after day, ultimately feeling lost and disconnected from the world. Now, after moving to the Dapper McDonald Residence, he is fully ensconced in the day-to-day activities at the Center. Together, these ALS & MS residents demonstrate how they live life to the very fullest every single day.
“I am excited to emcee the 8th annual ALS & MS Walk for Living,” said Matt Siegel. “The Leonard Florence Center for Living residents are an inspiration to us all, with their courage, determination, humor and zest for living.”
Support the ALS & MS Walk for Living by sponsoring or joining a team, or making a much-needed donation at www.walkforliving.org. For more information, call Joelle Smith at 617-409-8973 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barry Kirshon, owner of Kirshon Paint, is pictured inside his well-known store. Kirshon Paint is celebrating its 70th anniversary at 124 Pearl St. in Chelsea.
The name Kirshon has been a staple in the Chelsea business community for 70 years.
The Kirshon brothers, Abraham, Martin, and Russell started Kirshon Paint in 1946 at the same location where it stands today, 124 Pearl St.
Barry Kirshon, son of the late Abraham and Ruth Kirshon, has carried on the store’s tradition of excellence in the role of owner since 1988.
He understands well the family’s legacy and the outstanding role models that his father and uncles were in terms of running a business professionally and with the highest ethical standards.
“My father and his brothers ran the business and had great employees,” said Barry. “They built up a great clientele. They took care of their employees very well and had kept them on board for many years. They built up the business and I took over in 1988.”
Barry remembers being at the store after school and on Saturdays when he was 10 years old. “I came here and worked and helped my family in the business.”
Barry was well known in Chelsea as a student at the Shurtleff School and Chelsea High School before graduating from Huntington Prep. He received his college degree from Northeastern University, where he studied Business Administration, Business Management, and Marketing.
Those courses would seem a perfect foundation for running a business and they were. He started working at Kirshon Paint in 1979. His brother, Howard, worked alongside him, but he left the business to enter the field of electronics.
Now in his 28th year as the owner, Barry said the key ingredients to Kirshon Paint’s success are, “treating people fairly, treating the employees fairly having loyal, trustworthy employees, being good to the community and giving back to the community.”
There is no question that Barry has given back to Chelsea. His family has sponsored Chelsea Little League teams, donated to many local organizations, and supported events with his attendance and volunteerism.
Barry was a past president of the Chelsea Rotary Club and remains a 20-year member and Paul Harris Fellow. He has been a member of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce for decades. The City of Chelsea honored Barry with an All-City Award as Businessman of the Year.
Barry is a beloved member of Temple Emmanuel where he is known for his generosity and kindness. For years, he has been an outstanding candlepin bowler and has played softball for the Rotary team.
The painting business has changed in the 70 years Kirshon has been in the city. Large national chains have brought competition but Kirshon Paint has maintained his loyal customer base.
“We are able to compete because we have better products, better service – having Benjamin Moore is a big plus because of the higher quality and lasting that Benjamin Moore provides,” said Barry. “We carry only quality products at reasonable prices and provide excellent service to our customers. Homeowners and property owners would rather deal with us because they have more confidence that we’re going to direct them with the right advice on how to use the products.”
Kirshon has become the place to go for Hollywood producers filming movies in the Boston area.
“Movie production companies buy their paint and supplies at our store,” said Kirshon. “We’ve done many of the movies that are filmed here, including Ted 1, Ted 2, the Equalizer and Ghostbusters. Our paint is being seen by millions of movie goers on the big screen.”
Has Barry met any of the movie stars?
“The only star that I’ve met is Kevin Spacey,” he replied.
Bruce Mauch of Chelsea Clock and a past president of the Rotary Club, said Kirshon Paint’s sterling reputation is well deserved.
“Kirshon Paint is a great place to do business,” said Mauch. “They’re friendly, personable, and they have everything you need at a price that’s reasonable. He’s a great Rotary member and a pretty good golfer.”
Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson is another fan of Kirshon Paint.
“I’ve known Barry for many years and he has run a business that is second to none,” said Robinson. “I’d like to wish him continued success.”
Barry lauds his staff of outstanding employees, Ryan Mazin, Eddie Hernandez, Audy Hernandez, and David Padgett-Pino for their dedication and commitment to every customer.
In addition to the business’s anniversary, Barry has another very important celebration this year. He and his fiancée, Darlene Nelson, will soon be married.
“Darlene is the love of my life and very special and very supportive of my business,” said Barry, who has two married daughters, Melanie and Kimberly.
Barry, who turns 60 this week, said retirement may be beckoning but not yet. “I’m looking toward the light at the end of the tunnel – not immediately but in the near future.”
Park Square and Pearl Street in Chelsea just wouldn’t be the same without a Kirshon overseeing operations at Kirshon Paint.
A four-alarm fire tore through a Cottage Street home on Friday evening, April 22.
Chelsea 911 started receiving multiple calls for smoke coming from a building at 61 Cottage Street about 5:30 p.m. When firefighters arrived heavy fire and smoke was coming from the third floor of the building and Act. Deputy Massucci ordered the working fire. The fire was also extending into the second and third floor apartments as well as the cockloft and roof.
As first arriving firefighters started attacking the fire, many other residents were still being removed from the building by police and firefighters. One police officer, David Delaney, is being credited with saving two young boys who were playing video game inside the home and had no idea there was a fire raging.
Due to the deteriorating fire conditions and exposure to adjacent buildings, as well as the inability to efficiently utilize ladder company ariels due to overhead power lines, Deputy Massucci quickly struck a Second, Third and Fourth Alarm bringing help from Boston, Everett, Lynn, Malden, Medford, Saugus, Somerville and Winthrop.
Several firefighters were injured fighting the fire and were transported to the hospital. Assistant Emergency Management Director Robert Verdone arrived on scene and located shelter for 16 residents that were displaced by the fire.
The fire cause was determined to be accidental due to improper disposal of smoking materials on the 3rd floor porch. This fire also highlights a common fire hazard in the City. Fires on porches spread quickly due to the open wood frame construction and heavy fire loads. This combined with outside air and wind cause rapid auto-exposure from floor to floor and structure to structure.
“Building owners and tenants are reminded to keep their porches free from debris,” said Chief Lou Albanese. “There should be no storage, and no furniture that is meant for the interior of dwellings used on porches. Also, the fire department has restricted the use of gas grills on porches. Grills should only be used at ground level away from the structure.”
Cataldo EMS and President Paul Boudreau of Boston Sparks Association, along with several club members, were also on scene providing refreshments and ReHab for firefighters.
Captain Richard Perisie and the State Fire Marshalls office are investigating the cause of the fire.
“This once again was strong work by Chelsea Fire,” said Chief Lou Albanese. “They made an aggressive attack with limited manpower upon arrival, and made a great stop, keeping this fire contained to the structure without spreading to nearby exposures.”
Flames burst from the third floor of a home at 61 Cottage St. on Friday evening, April 22. The four-alarm fire was complicated to fight.