For the first time,
Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop are combining forces to conduct a comprehensive
regional Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) and design a Community Health
Implementation Plan (CHIP). Major hospitals, along with health centers, human
services providers and non-profits that serve area residents, are working with
municipal leaders, health departments and the boards of health of each
community to develop the plan. Residents of the three communities are being
urged to go online and fill out a survey that asks about local health issues
and other aspects of community life.
The effort is being
co-coordinated by the North Suffolk Public Health Collaborative and the Mass
General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI) with the
ultimate goal of identifying, prioritizing and addressing the most urgent
health needs faced by each community and the region. Such assessments are often
used to apply for targeted funding to help address community needs.
Every three years, most
hospitals conduct a community health needs assessment to meet requirements set
by the Affordable Care Act. The Massachusetts Attorney General also requires
such a report and is encouraging regional collaboration among stakeholders,
including among healthcare systems who share the same service areas. “This is
one of the first regional assessments of its type in Massachusetts,” said Jeff
Stone, Director of the North Suffolk Public Health Collaborative. “Mayor
Arrigo, Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino and Winthrop Town Manager Austin
Faison realize that public health conditions don’t respect borders, and,
working together we can solve some of our health challenges more effectively.”
“The North Suffolk
Community Health Needs Assessment is critical for the City of Chelsea,” said
City Manager Ambrosino. “Not only will it provide the information necessary for
Chelsea to better understand our residents’ public health needs, but it will
also enable us to properly prioritize resources to better address those needs.
We encourage all of our residents to participate in upcoming surveys, forums
The collaborators have
set an ambitious timeline. The CHNA and CHIP will be completed by Sept. 30,
2019, and will result in a guide for a three-year community health improvement
plan that all providers can use. The process includes intensive data
collection–hundreds of resident surveys, interviews and focus groups as well
as collecting data from other agencies such as the MA Department of Public
Health and the US Census.
A website has been created, www.northsuffolkassessment.org, to
provide information to anyone who may be interested. People who live or work in
Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop are encouraged to complete a survey. It is
available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic, reflecting the languages
most frequently spoken in the communities.
Steve Poftak, who has been the MBTA General Manager for about a month, expresses his commitment to Chelsea during the inaugural Chelsea Transportation Task Force meeting at City Hall on Thursday, Jan. 24. The Task Force plans to continue meeting for the next six months regarding MBTA issues and the Better Buses program.
The people of Chelsea are demanding increased
frequency on the Silver Line, more reliability, and additional bus connections
from the MBTA. Over the next two years there will be three major construction
projects in Chelsea that will adversely impact bus traffic, and City leaders
and residents are concerned that the already poor services will worsen.
“There have been big shifts in population and
ridership, and the bus routes have stayed largely the same,” admitted Steve
Poftak, the newly appointed MBTA General Manager. “The T is playing catch-up.”
On January 24, Poftak sat with locals and
members of the City Council during the first inaugural Chelsea Transportation
Task Force meeting at City Hall. The goal of the committee is to gather once a
month for six months of interactive discussions with the community and Poftak
to develop solutions.
“For a lot of us who live on both of the
hills, buses are the only means of transportation,” commented a Bellingham
Square resident. “Every year or two, they threaten to cut off both of the
hills. That would leave us totally stranded, and I’m not having it.”
Many aren’t content with the massive traffic
that builds with the 20 minute rising and 20 minute lowering of the Chelsea
Street bridge, which slows bus travel. The MBTA noted that active discussions
with the Coast Guard regarding the creation of a period of time during peak
hours of commuting when the bridge does not open have been hindered by the
“We have limited control over the bridge.
Maybe we could have some predictability with windows when we know the bridge
will be active and when we know it won’t,” said Poftak.
The Better Bus Project is investigating the
quality of the current bus network and working on cost-neutral proposals that
will result in more frequent services for customers. Researchers have been
speaking with riders to learn more about where people’s trips begin and end,
the economic demographics of the area, and where jobs are located.
“We are advocating for fair mitigation,” expressed
Council President Damali Vidot. “We’ve needed quality service for years and are
working at a sub-par level. Chelsea was an afterthought in the Better Bus
Project. We want to make sure we’re getting the service we deserve.”
The Better Bus Project has 47 proposals for
changes in the MBTA bus system that will impact 63 out of the 180 routes in 35
of the 50 communities that are served. Proposals include removing bus routes
with low ridership, and re-investing resources elsewhere.
The Transportation Task Force is suggesting
more inspectors, less cancellations, and easier transfers between Chelsea and
Lynn on the Commuter Rail.
“We are re-imagining the infrastructure on
Broadway,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “We will be presenting the City
Council with alternatives that do away with two fast lanes to make travel
safer. One idea is incorporating a dedicated bus lane.”
Gentrification has also forced many Chelsea
residents to relocate to Lynn because of the high cost of rent. One Chelsea
resident, who works in Lynn, voiced that it takes her up to two hours to
commute from Lynn to Chelsea using public transportation. She commented that
the only line that directly connects Chelsea to Everett is the 112 bus, and
many avoid it due to the lifting of the bridge; and recommended that the 426
bus through Lynn could stop in Chelsea, as it already passes over the Tobin
“In the overall bus network redesign, people
on the north side of the city are particularly interested in going to Lynn and
Malden,” Poftak concluded.
Better Bus Project proposals will be available
at www.MBTA.com with maps and data. The MBTA will also be providing riders with
a warm place to view proposals at Haymarket Station, where they see the most response from Chelsea residents.
Keynote speaker Lucia Robinson-Griggs receives a standing ovation for her speech from the audience, including her parents, Linda Alioto-Robinson and Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson, and City Manager Tom Ambrosino.
The People’s A.M.E. Church, led by the Rev. Dr. Sandra Whitley, and the Chelsea community honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the annual breakfast and awards ceremony Jan. 21 at Chelsea High School.
The Rev. Whitley and the Planning Committee
put together another impressive tribute to the late Dr. King, the civil rights
leader who dedicated his life to promoting unity and delivered one of American
history’s greatest speeches, “I Have A Dream,” on Aug. 28, 1963 in Washington,
City Manager Tom Ambrosino, State Rep. Dan
Ryan, Council President Damali Vidot, Councillors Leo Robinson, Joseph
Perlatonda, and Enio Lopez, School Committee Chair Richard Maronski and member
Yessenia Alfaro, CBC President Joan Cromwell, Latimer Society Co-Director
Ronald Robinson, and Roca Executive Director Molly Baldwin led a slate of
dignitaries in attendance at the tribute that featured, singing, dancing, awards,
and inspirational speeches.
The Chelsea Hub, a network led by the
Chelsea Police Department and comprised of 27 different agencies, received the
prestigious Spirit Award in recognition of its ongoing efforts to help people
facing difficult challenges. Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes, Capt. David
Batchelor, Officer Sammy Mojica, Community Engagement Specialist Dan Cortez,
and Roca Assistant Director Jason Owens were among the award recipients.
The highlight of the program arrived when
Lucia Robinson-Griggs stepped to the podium and delivered the keynote address.
Robinson-Griggs, who holds degrees from
Bentley and Lesley and is a former high school and college scholar-athlete,
rose to the occasion with a heartfelt and eloquent address to the people of
“I’d just like to start by saying thank you
so much for inviting me to be here today to celebrate Chelsea while honoring
the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Robinson-Griggs, adding that
she was honored to be the keynote speaker after receiving the Young Adult
Dreamers and Achievers Award in 2018.
She noted the “I Have A Dream” and “We are
all created equal” theme of the program, stating, ‘it’s incredible how relevant
[Dr. King’s famous speech in 1963] still is here in 2019.”
She encouraged members of the audience to
carry on Dr. King’s legacy “even when it isn’t easy to do so.” She said
everyone should work for a better Chelsea in the years to come.
my words today are going to be a charge for the people in this auditorium to
reach beyond this room and change the perspective,” said Griggs-Robinson.
She singled out the Chelsea High student
choir (who performed at Gov. Baker’s inauguration), the Latimer Society (in
encouraging careers in STEM), and the award recipients, The Chelsea Hub and others,
as being positive influences in the city.
Briggs-Robinson cited her personal
experiences as an associate head coach of the MIT women’s basketball team,
relating how the coaching staff encourages its players to be “a part of the
solution and be a builder, to find the good somewhere and work to help build up
She said that people should be positive in
their actions and in their interactions with others, that even a small act of
kindness or an inspiring phrase or a compliment can have a profound effect on
starting to change another person’s life.
“Kindness catches on,” said Robinson-Briggs.
Strive to be someone’s builder every day. Be their bright spot and give hope
that we can be the generation to make Dr. King’s dream a reality.”
Robinson-Briggs received a warm, standing
ovation as she returned to her seat beside her parents, Councillor-at-Large Leo
Robinson and Linda Alioto-Robinson, and City Manager Tom Ambrosino in the front
row of the auditorium.
The Rev. Whitley concluded the impressive
program by having all audience members join hands and sing “We Shall Overcome.”
And in an unsung
but important gift to the community, CCCTV Executive Director Robert Bradley
and Technical Director Ricky Velez videotaped the entire two-hour program and tribute
to Dr. King, including Robinson-Griggs’ remarks, for broadcast on the local
City officials said they will not pursue
legal action for the replacement of the turf field at Highland Park, this
coming after the Record received information that the field was one of
thousands installed with defective materials nationwide.
City Solicitor Cheryl Fisher Watson said
they haven’t had many complaints about the turf field until recently, and were
not able to locate any warranties that would give them grounds to negotiate
“We did a lot of research and found that the
turf was installed in 2011 and our contractor at the time has confirmed it was
FieldTurf,” she said. “Our problem in Chelsea is the statute of
limitations has run out since the installment and we have not been able to lay
our hands on any warranties. The City did have the responsibility to maintain
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they did
complete a thorough investigation of their options, but found that they learned
of the issue too late.
“The City Solicitor’s Office has completed what
I consider a fairly thorough investigation of this issue,” he said. “The bottom
line conclusion is that the Statute of Limitations has long since expired on
any claims the City might have. Further, the field is getting close to the
end of its natural life. Accordingly, even if we could pursue a claim,
which we don’t believe we could, it would be hard for the City to distinguish
between defective materials and natural wear and tear. For these reasons, we
are not pursuing any legal action.”
Late last year,
the Record learned through a source that the Chelsea field and several others
in Boston were installed with defective materials. The materials had been
provided to FieldTurf by a third party, and once it was learned by the company
that the materials were defective, they began to manufacture them in-house.
However, many fields nationwide had been installed prior to the revelation with
the defective materials. Few, however, knew of the problem in the Boston area
until last fall.
The City of Chelsea has filed a brief with
the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) to dismiss the case brought
by nine liquor licensees to overturn the ban on small liquor bottles (50 mL),
known as nips.
On Dec. 8, in a hearing at the ABCC, the
licensees argued their cause.
However, the City has now filed a motion
indicating that the ABCC does not have jurisdiction to decide on the challenge
of the ban. The case is somewhat groundbreaking because Chelsea is the first
municipality to attempt to ban all nip sales. While few communities find nips a
plus due to increased litter and public drinking, the sales are strong pieces
of business for many liquor stores – including Chelsea. A number of communities
and liquor retailers are watching the case very closely to see what they will
do in their communities as well.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said the key will
be whether there is jurisdiction.
“They will decide on that preliminary issue
soon,” he said. “If they have jurisdiction, they’ll decide on the issue. If
they decide they don’t have jurisdiction, then the ban stands.”
The motion by the City indicates, “The ABCC
is not a super-regulatory authority for review of regulations issued by local
licensing authorities, and therefore is not the proper forum for Appellants to
challenge the regulations.”
One of the other objections in the motion
are that the licensees did not appeal the decision until many months later, in
September, while the ban started in May.
Chelsea moved last year to institute the ban
on nips, and it has been in effect for many months. A second attempt to ban 100
mL bottles of liquor was tabled until the case was heard and decided.
Ambrosino said he has noticed some definite
improvements since the ban went into effect.
“I do notice a little difference,” he said.
“I think the Downtown Task Force police officers will tell you the same. I
think it’s been effective. It’s one piece of many efforts we have in place.
There’s a lot of things that contribute to the absence of that problem,
including all the social services and resources going on as well.”
The licensees are expected to file their
brief in response to the City’s motion to dismiss within the week.
When Governor Charlie Baker was elected to
his first term of office four years ago, his first major announcement was the
appointment of Jay Ash to the post of Secretary of Housing and Economic
The announcement by Gov. Baker, a
Republican, came as a surprise to many political insiders because Ash was a
lifelong Democrat and at the time was serving as the City Manager for the City
of Chelsea, a post he had held for almost 15 years. Moreover, the Secretary of
Housing and Economic Development is among the most important members of a
governor’s cabinet, and typically goes to a person who is among those most
trusted by the governor to implement his broad policy objectives.
However, Ash’s appointment by Gov.-elect
Baker signaled two things about the incoming administration: First, that Baker
was going to “reach across the aisle” to Democrats and second, that he was
seeking the most-qualified persons he could find to serve in his
During the past four years, Charlie Baker’s
appointment of Jay Ash, who officially stepped down from his cabinet post in
December to become the new president of a nonprofit business group known as the
Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, has proven to be a win-win for Gov.
Baker — and the people of Massachusetts — on both scores.
Ash, who had served for many years as the
chief of staff to former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Voke,
not only knew the ins-and-outs of the legislative process, but also was on a
first-name basis with many legislators, most notably House Speaker Bob DeLeo,
who played a key role in working with Jay in implementing the many initiatives
put forth by the Baker administration.
In addition, Jay Ash brought to the table
his experience as the City Manager of Chelsea, a small city that is the
prototype for both the potential and pitfalls of economic development of urban
areas throughout the state.
During his tenure, Jay Ash brought to
fruition many projects that will bring economic benefits for future generations
of our state’s residents. Among Ash’s signature accomplishments, he played a
key role in bringing the Pawtucket Red Sox to Worcester, which included the
redevelopment of the city’s Canal District with $35 million in infrastructure
and affordable housing funds; he brought $12.5 million in state funds to the
Berkshire Innovation Center, which will focus on life sciences in Pittsfield;
he played an integral role in persuading General Electric to locate its world
headquarters in Boston’s Seaport District; and he was instrumental in bringing
about a significant reduction in the number of homeless families living in
All in all, Jay Ash’s tenure as Secretary of
Housing and Economic Development has been among the most successful and
remarkable of any Cabinet member of any administration in the state’s history.
We know we speak not only for the residents
of his native Chelsea, but also for citizens throughout the state, in thanking
Jay Ash for his years of public service and wishing him well in his future
It’s been so long since Chelsea has sought
out a new superintendent that there isn’t even a current job description.
For so many years, Boston University (BU)
appointed a superintendent as it ran the public schools for decades, and when
current Supt. Mary Bourque came into the role, it was long-decided that she
would succeed former Supt. Tom Kingston – the last BU appointee.
Now, for the first time in 30 or 40 years,
the School Committee will be tasked with finding a new leader for the public
“This is all new to all of us,” said Chair
Rich Maronski. “It’s even new to the School Department. They don’t even have a
job description for superintendent. They have to create one now, which tells
you how long it’s been.”
Bourque said the Collins Center was most
recently used by the schools to hire Monica Lamboy, the business administrator
who took the place of Gerry McCue. She said it was also used to hire City
Manager Tom Ambrosino and former City Manager Jay Ash.
“The first couple of steps will go slowly,
but from the middle of February to May it will be intense,” she said. “I can’t
be involved in it then. I’ll be more of the logistics part. There is a lot of
community input, but it’s a School Committee decision. Chelsea hasn’t had a
search since before BU…One interesting point is we don’t have any internal
candidates. In Revere, Supt. Paul Dakin was succeeded by an internal candidate,
Dianne Kelly. None of our internal candidates feel they are ready to move up.
Because of that, it’s going to be an outside candidate.”
Maronski, Supt. Bourque and the rest of the
Committee met with the Collins Center last Thursday, Jan. 10, to go over the
timelines and parameters of the upcoming search.
“It’s all structured by the Collins Center,”
he said. “They are looking at the May 2 School Committee meeting for us to vote
on this. That would be the first Thursday in May. I believe they will want to
get it done by June because that’s a very busy month for us. I think the
Collins Center is pretty good. They had all the dates worked out and structured
for us. That helps.”
The notice of a job opening will go out on
Feb. 8, and focus groups of teachers, staff, parents and community groups will
form about the same time. They will be charged with coming up with a candidate
profile that will be used by a Screening Committee to review all of the
The Screening Committee will be selected by
the School Committee on March 7, and it will be made up of appointed members,
including City Manager Tom Ambrosino, parents and teachers.
They will conduct private interviews of
candidates in April, and they will forward a public list of finalists to the
Committee around April 4. Community forums and public interviews will take
place from April 22 to 25.
A contract is proposed to be signed by May
Bourque said she will remain on through
December 2019 so that she can mentor the new person and help transition them
into the “Chelsea way.” Since it will be an outside candidate, she said that
will be critical.
“Chelsea has a very strong reputation and coming
in with a solid transition plan with the exiting superintendent to help them is
something people will like,” she said. “At the same time, it is an urban district
and it is a complex district. Some people don’t like that, others do.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said this week he
is preparing new City regulations that would govern the short-term rental
market (known as AirBNB) in Chelsea.
That comes after Gov. Charlie Baker and the
State Legislature worked out a sudden compromise at the end of the year to a
bill that had been stalled since the summer. That bill was signed into law and
went into effect statewide on Jan. 1. While it governs the practice, it also
leaves a lot of room for cities to come up with their own regulations and to
tax such entities.
Ambrosino said he hoped to have something to
the Council in March.
“I’m working on them now,” he said. “I hope
to have a proposal up to the Council with new regulations and requirements
about the local options taxes that we want to collect. I’ve been working on
some drafts and we’ll circulate those internally. We’ll have a proposal to
submit in early March.”
Both houses of the state legislature and
Gov. Charlie Baker found a sudden compromise at the end of December in their
two-year session to push through the stalled short-term rental bill – which
Gov. Baker signed into law on Friday, Dec. 28.
The bill has been a long time in the making
and has been shepherded through the legislature for years by State Rep. Aaron
Michlewitz of the North End, who was happy to see the compromise reached.
Short-term rentals are not a major issue at
the moment in Chelsea, but there are more than a few out there. More are
expected due to the proximity of the city to the airport and the Encore Boston
One of the keys of the state law is that it
will be obvious who operates them and where, something that is kind of a
The new law requires a statewide registry of
operators, something the governor had opposed for some time until late in the
It also levies a 5.7 percent state tax on
all short-term rental units, and allows cities and towns to levy their own
local taxes as well. In Boston, it is proposed to put an additional 6 percent
on each short-term rental unit.
The trade-off with the registry for the
governor seems to be a provision that allows for anyone renting out a unit for
14 days or less to avoid the taxation portion of the law. It was uncertain, but
it initially did appear that those units would have to participate in the
Ambrosino said they would undoubtedly push
to go for the maximum 6 percent local option taxes.
go for the maximum option,” he said. “We’ll look at the Boston ordinance as a
model. It was well-crafted. We’ll make sure rentals are adequately inspected
and safety is addressed.”