A retail marijuana shop on Webster Avenue
near the Home Depot is one step closer to opening in Chelsea.
Tuesday night, the Planning Board approved a
site plan for a 10,000 square foot retail marijuana facility at 121 Webster
Ave. by The Western Front, LLC.
The pot shop still needs additional
approvals from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission as well as the local
Zoning and Licensing Boards before it can officially open its doors. But local
officials have praised the plans for the facility, which is filing for a
license to operate under a state economic empowerment provision.
The economic empowerment provision helps
provide for minority populations that have faced the brunt of marijuana
prohibition punishments achieve social and economic justice, according to
Timothy Flaherty, the attorney representing the Western Front team.
The Western Front’s board includes a number
of Massachusetts business and community leaders who have addressed social
justice issues in the past, including board chair Marvin Gilmore.
Gilmore has a long and storied history in
the Boston area and beyond. He co-founded Unity Bank and Trust, was a major
real estate developer in the Southwest Corridor of Boston, owned the storied
Western Front nightclub in Cambridge, and was awarded the Legion of Honor,
among other awards, for helping storm the beaches of Normandy in World War II.
Economic empowerment applications get
priority for consideration at the Cannabis Control Commission, Flaherty said.
As for the proposed site at 121 Webster
Ave., Flaherty said as a stand-alone building in an area with adequate parking,
is an optimal site for a retail marijuana facility.
All marijuana products will be shipped in
pre-packaged from a wholesaler, and the facility will feature a host of
security measures, from cameras the Chelsea Police can immediately access to a
what Flaherty called a mind-boggling number of alarms.
Chelsea police officials were satisfied with
the security measures for the building, according to John DePriest, the City’s
Inside the shop, plans also call for a
future workforce development area and a work bar where consumers can gather
before entering the retail sales floor.
The sales area will be like “a cross between
a jewelry store and a spa,” said Flaherty.
The facility will be open from 9 a.m. to 9
p.m., seven days per week. There will be a total of about 25 employees, with
eight to 10 working at any given time.
“The goal is to hire 100 percent Chelsea
residents,” said Flaherty.
All those employees will be trained and
certified by the Cannabis Control Commission.
“I’m impressed by the group before us and
their commitment to social justice,” said Council President Damali Vidot.
District 3 City
Councillor Joe Perlatonda also said he was very impressed with the organization
and happy that they are committed to hiring Chelsea residents.
A major $9.5 million improvement project for
the one-mile stretch of Broadway from City Hall Avenue to the Revere line could
get underway by the spring of 2022.
On Thursday, March 21, the Massachusetts
Department of Transportation held a public hearing on the preliminary design
plans for the roadway reconstruction. Although the state officials and
engineers outnumbered the residents in attendance for the meeting, there was a
good amount of information provided on the shape, scope, and timeline of the
road reconstruction project.
“We are finishing the 25 percent design
stage,” said Larry Cash, the MassDOT project manager. “After this hearing, we
will be advancing to the final design stage.”
The purpose of the project is to increase
safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles along the Broadway corridor
and intersecting streets in the city, according to Weston and Sampson engineer
Larry Keegan. He said there will be new turn lanes, additional vehicle stacking
room, and traffic signals at the project intersections allowing for the safer
turning of vehicles and improved safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. The
plans also include dedicated bicycle lanes through the one-mile stretch.
“There have been 97 collisions over a
three-year period” along that portion of Broadway,” said Keegan. “That is above
the state average.”
Keegan pointed to poor intersection layout,
outdated traffic signals, and deficient pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit
accommodations as being among the chief culprits for the high number of
accidents. All of those issues will be addressed during the roadway
reconstruction, he said.
In addition to the repaving of the road
itself, a major component of the work includes new sidewalks and improved
Sidewalk improvements will mean the removal
of some trees.
“The existing trees are old and unhealthy,
lifting up the sidewalks themselves so that they are not ADA (Americans with
Disabilities Act) compliant,” said Keegan.
Other areas that will get major upgrades are
the MBTA bus stops along the route. Keegan noted that there is deterioration of
pavement and pavement markings from years of use along the mile of Broadway,
and that the deterioration is especially pronounced at the bus stops.
The proposed project will require permanent
and temporary easements from adjacent property owners, but Cash said those
easements are either temporary to allow for construction work along the road,
or are for the installation or minor regrading of sidewalks.
As with any project that involves ripping up
pavement and sidewalks to make way for improvements, there will be traffic and
construction impacts once work gets underway.
But Keegan said the plan is to keep
disruptions to a minimum and traffic flowing as easily as possible.
“No detours are anticipated at this time,”
During the day, the plan is to have a single
lane of traffic closed and have the traffic managed by police. At night, there
will be two-way traffic, according to Keegan. Access to schools, businesses,
and residences will be kept open as much as possible, he added.
Chelsea resident John Gunning asked if the
bus stops would remain in the current locations and if there would be
improvements to the bus shelters.
Keegan said engineers will be working with
the MBTA during the next phase of design to address some of those issues.
“The T wants certain things and the city
wants certain things (for the bus stops),” he said. “We are looking at
different options at this point.”
Dunning said he would like to see fresh, new
bus shelters and stops that will complement the surrounding area and completed
Cash said design,
permitting, and right of way acquisition for the project will continue through
2019 and 2020 with construction anticipated to start in the spring of 2022.
The Massachusetts Department of
Transportation (MassDOT) announced the Department will be rehabilitating the
surface of the Tobin Bridge and complete required maintenance to improve the
structure which will require lane closures and result in significant traffic
impacts on the Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Curves section of Route 1
beginning April 1.
These impacts will lead to increased travel
times on sections of Route 1 northbound and southbound for drivers and MBTA bus
The Department also released details about
transit options available to travelers such as free fares in the inbound
direction on the SL3 bus line offered at the Chelsea, Bellingham Square,
Box District, and Eastern Avenue stops for the duration of construction. The
MBTA also announced that they will be running additional MBTA Blue Line trains
to additional capacity, and these measures will be funded by MassDOT Highway
Division project funds.
Beginning April 1, lane closures on the
Tobin Bridge northbound will be put in place, although two of three travel
lanes will be open during daytime hours. One of the three travel lanes on the
Tobin Bridge northbound will be open during overnight hours.
Beginning by early May, Route 1 travel lanes
in the Chelsea Curves area will be reduced so that two of three north
and southbound travel lanes will be open in the daytime. One of three north and
southbound travel lanes will be open during overnight hours.
“MassDOT is carrying out simultaneous work
on this infrastructure which was constructed in the middle of the
20th century and hasn’t been rehabilitated since the 1970s in order to
ensure its continued use and reliability and minimize the overall impact on
commuters and the local community,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan
Gulliver. “We thank travelers for their patience as MassDOT begins this
necessary project, and we encourage everyone traveling throughout the Route 1
area to make smart commuting decisions such as considering public transit,
using the appropriate technology apps to find the best route and time to
travel, and building extra time into their commutes to account for potential
The MBTA said they will be offering the free
fares on the Silver Line and the Commuter Rail during construction.
“During construction, free fares are being
offered for Silver Line 3 (SL3) inbound customers at certain station stops and
additional Blue Line train capacity is being added. In addition, public transit
customers will be able to use a CharlieCard to travel between North Station and Chelsea on
the Commuter Rail,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Some MBTA
customers on certain bus routes will experience delays, so we urge riders to
consider taking advantage of these additional travel options being offered
MassDOT’s traffic modeling suggests that on
Route 1 northbound, afternoon peak travel times could increase in duration and
have significant delays. Vehicle backups are expected to extend onto the I-93
ramps, along the Leverett Connector, and towards Rutherford Avenue. On Route 1
southbound, morning peak travel times could similarly increase in duration with
significant delays expected.
MassDOT is carrying out work on the Tobin
Bridge and Chelsea Curves section of Route 1 at the same time so that
these projects will be completed in 2021. If the projects were done at separate
times, drivers would be inconvenienced for additional years. This work will
eliminate the need for weight restrictions and postings, and MassDOT will use
accelerated construction techniques to shorten the overall construction time.
For more information on traffic conditions
travelers are encouraged to:
•Dial 511 before heading out onto the
roadways and select a route to hear real-time conditions.
“http://www.mass511.com” t “_blank” www.mass511.com, a
website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information,
access to traffic cameras, and allows users to subscribe to text and email
alerts for traffic conditions.
•Follow MassDOT on Twitter @MassDOT to receive
regular updates on road and traffic conditions.
•Check parking availability at the T’s 8
largest garages @MBTA_Parking.
•Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view
real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.
A small order on the Feb. 25 Council agenda
likely didn’t attract a lot of attention at the regular meeting, but Council
President Damali Vidot said she had hoped it could have sparked a conversation.
That measure, which she introduced, revolved
around looking at the possibility of allowing non-citizens that are here
legally to vote in municipal elections.
Instead, she said, she was greeted with
silence – and a ‘no’ vote.
“We have people invested in our community,
who own homes, have kids in the schools and own businesses, but because they
are citizens, they can’t vote in our elections,” she said. “Why not have a
conversation about allowing them to vote? The fact my colleagues didn’t want to
at least have a conversation is a travesty.”
The roll call consisted of a 5-6 defeated
vote, with Vidot and Councillors Judith Garcia, Yamir Rodriguez, Enio Lopez and
Giovanni Recupero agreeing to begin talking about it.
Those voting against were Councillor Roy
Avellaneda, Calvin Brown, Joe Perlatonda, Luis Tejada, Leo Robinson and Bob
Vidot said she fully intends to bring the
matter back in 90 days.
“I don’t understand why we couldn’t
entertain this, to allow people to be part of the civic process,” she said. “At
the minimum, I thought we could have a conversation. If I had known there would
be this reaction from my colleagues, I would have organized before. I have
every intention of bringing it back again in 90 days. We can’t be in the habit
of saying ‘no’ without talking about it.”
Other cities in Massachusetts have voted to
allow non-citizens to vote, including Cambridge and Brookline. Such a petition
by the Council would require a home rule petition by the State Legislature. It
would also require legislative action by the State House as well.
The measure in
Chelsea would not allow non-citizens to vote in state or federal elections.
For the second consecutive year, three
Chelsea Jewish Lifecare (CJL) skilled nursing facilities have received the
prestigious Five-Star Quality Rating from the Centers for Medicare &
Medicaid Services (CMS).
This designation reflects the highest number
of stars allotted to a skilled nursing facility. Currently, there are a select
number of nursing homes that have been awarded this distinction.
“We are pleased that all our skilled nursing
residences have once again been recognized as being among the top nursing homes
not only in Massachusetts, but throughout the country,” states Chelsea Jewish
Lifecare President Adam Berman. “Earning this Five-Star designation is a
testament to our skilled and
compassionate staff, our strong commitment to excellence and our
dedication as an organization to provide the highest caliber of care possible.”
The CJL homes include the Chelsea Jewish
Nursing Home in Chelsea; the Jeffrey and Susan Brudnick Center for Living in
Peabody; the Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, which is the
country’s first urban model Green House skilled nursing facility.
These residences offer both short-term
rehabilitation services as well as long-term comprehensive care.
To receive a five-star rating, nursing homes
are judged by three components. Health inspections are one means of evaluating
a residence. The rating is based upon information from the last three years of
onsite inspections, including both standard surveys and complaint surveys.
Secondly, a rating is given based upon staffing, which details information
about the number of hours of care provided on average to each resident each day
by nursing staff and other healthcare providers. The final category involves
quality measures, which includes data on how well nursing homes are caring for
their residents’ physical and clinical needs.
Today the five-star rating system has become
a critical tool for the public to measure the quality and performance of a
skilled nursing facility. Nursing homes with five stars are considered well
above average quality.
Berman, “In reality, we work very hard, day in and day out, to achieve and
maintain these five-star ratings. We are so proud of our staff at each of the three
Last Friday members of the state
legislature, including Speaker Robert DeLeo and Rep. Dan Ryan, attended the
annual Legislative Breakfast at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home.
While the breakfast’s format usually gives
the opportunity for Soldiers’ Home staff and residents to lobby for more
legislation that helps and protects veterans, last week’s breakfast centered
around the new long-term care facility being constructed at the Soldiers’ Home.
“I was proud to once again attend the Chelsea Soldiers Home Legislative Breakfast and see first hand how this facility takes care of those who have served our country,” said Speaker DeLeo. “It was also a chance to hear about the progress on plans for the new building, which reflects our ongoing commitment to our veterans.”
State lawmakers, including Speaker Robert DeLeo and Rep. Dan Ryan, attended last week’s legislative breakfast at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home.
In October Gov. Charlie Baker broke ground
on the new long-term care facility. The current facility will continue to be
fully operational, caring for 154 veterans, during the construction process
with an anticipated project completion date in 2022.
“Friday I joined my colleagues to hear from
Superintendent Cheryl Poppe of the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea and Secretary of
the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services, Francisco Urena, about the
incredible new treatment center that will soon be built on their campus,” said
Rep. Ryan. “This investment will ensure that our veterans continue to receive
the best possible care in a new, state of the art facility.
In May 2017, Baker announced plans for a new
long-term care Community Living Center (CLC) and signed legislation authorizing
funding needed to advance the project in Chelsea.
The Baker Administration also has received
funding authorization from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs
(VA) for the $199 million project. The federal funding was awarded through the
VA’s State Home Construction Grant Program which provides reimbursement of up
to 65 percent of construction costs for approved projects. The Administration,
with strong support from the Legislature, plans to spend approximately $70
million net of federal reimbursement on the project.
“Great to be with many legislative
colleagues, including Speaker DeLeo, as well as Secretary Urena, at the Chelsea
Soldiers’ Home annual legislative breakfast this morning,” said Rep. RoseLee
Vincent. “Thanks to Superintendent Cheryl Poppe and Paul Moran for your hard
work and dedication in making sure our veterans are well cared for at the
Rep. David DeCoste (R-Norwell), a U.S. Army
veteran, also attended the breakfast and said, “I had a great meeting at the
Chelsea Soldiers’ Home as we discussed an updated overview of the services that
the Commonwealth is able to provide our veterans, particularly their new
Community Living Center project. I will continue to support and advocate for
the men and women who have fought for our country.”
Home first opened its doors to Massachusetts veterans in 1882. The first
residents were Civil War veterans who were wounded or unable to care for
themselves, many of whom had previously resided in the Commonwealth’s
The Chelsea Cultural Council has announced
the awarding of grants totalling $20,809 to 18 local artists, schools and
The grants were awarded from a pool of funds
distributed to Chelsea by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency
that supports public programs and educational activities in the arts, sciences,
“We are very grateful to Governor Baker and
the Legislature for their continued support of the Massachusetts Cultural
Council and the funding that directly benefits cultural activities here in
Chelsea, said Marlene Jennings Chair. Our city has its own unique identity and
in these sponsored events we get to really experience the spirit of
Awardees for this year are:
•Browne Middle School: Speaker – Lost
Boy of Sudan, $250
•Chelsea Black Community: Black
History Month, $1,800
•Chelsea Community Connections:
Chelsea Fun Bus, $1,000
•Chelsea Public Library: A Universe of
•Veronica Robles: Serenara a Chelsea
by Veronica Robles Female Mariachi, $1,500
•Walnut Street Synagogue: A Photo
Documentary of Chelsea Life in the 1970’s, $1,800
The Chelsea Cultural Council (CCC) has also
set aside an additional $3,121 to complete a public mural project in
collaboration with Chelsea Public School Art Department that began in the fall
of 2018. The CCC is one of 329 local councils that serve every city and town in
the state. The state legislature provides an annual appropriation to the
Massachusetts Cultural Council, which then allocates funds to each local
council. Decisions, about which activities to support, are made at the
community level by the council.
The members of the Chelsea Cultural Council
are: Marlene Jennings, Chair; Dakeya Christmas, Co-Chair; Devra Sari Zabot,
Recorder; Juliana Borgiani, Treasurer; Sharlene McLean, Angelina McCoy, and
Carolina Anzola. The CCC will seek applications again this fall. CCC
Guidelines will be available online as well as the 2020 application beginning
Sept. 1, 2019 at
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.
Johanna DiCarlo (right) presents the Massachusetts Women in Athletics Distinguished Service Award to JoAnne Lee-Nieves at the 2019 Girls and Women in Sports Day program Feb. 1 at Faneuil Hall, Boston.
When the Title IX law was first enacted, leading to increased athletic opportunities for females in the mid-to-late 1970s and setting the foundation for the explosion of high school girls’ sports that exists today, there was a Chelsea woman just getting started in coaching.
She was a pioneer in every sense,
introducing the joy of organized sports participation to Boston girls, teaching
them about teamwork and sportsmanship, instilling self-confidence in her
student-athletes, and providing lessons about life that they would carry beyond
the basketball court.
JoAnne Lee-Nieves was a woman ahead of her
time, recognizing right away the importance of athletics for girls as an
extension of the classroom. Her players at Jeremiah Burke would achieve
phenomenal success on the court. Long before ESPN started bringing attention to
women’s sports, Lee-Nieves was building a program and sending her athletes on
For four decades, Lee-Nieves earned multiple
championship and coach-of-the-year awards. No one did it better in Boston than
Last Friday, in an impressive ceremony at
historic Faneuil Hall in the city where Lee-Nieves became a high school
coaching giant, she received one of the MIAA’s most prestigious awards.
Before a capacity crowd of female high
school athletes, athletic directors and many of her former colleagues in the
profession, Lee-Nieves accepted the Massachusetts Women in Athletics
Distinguished Service Award.
One could only imagine how very proud her
parents, the late Charles Lee and Jeanette Weiner Lee, would have been to see
JoAnne’s amazing career recognized so deservedly in such an awesome setting as
Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson understands
the magnitude of his cousin JoAnne’s statewide award and the immense
contributions that she made to high school sports. His own daughter, Lucia
Robinson-Griggs, is a former high school athlete and now a women’s basketball
coach at MIT.
“JoAnne is a very outstanding individual who
has achieved a lot in teaching and coaching,” said Robinson. “This is very
special for me that she was recognized for all the hard work that she has done
throughout the years. She is a true pioneer in women’s high school sports in
Boston. It’s a tremendous honor and I congratulate Joanne. We in Chelsea are
all proud of her.”
In a tribute to JoAnne that appeared in the
Girls and Women In Sports Day souvenir booklet, Jeremiah Burke Guidance
Counselor Ron Innes said, “JoAnne was a very reliable and dedicated teacher who
was well respected by her students as well as faculty and staff. Her knowledge
about her chosen discipline (Physical Education) and ability to reach and
connect with students made her a truly exceptional teacher. These great
qualities carried over to the many sports she coached. Her teams always played the
game with great discipline and pride.”
Burke Athletic Coordinator Sean Ryan had
nominated Lee-Nieves for the award. Said Ryan, “Her ability to engage a veteran
or a newcomer to the sport make her special. We evaluate a coach by how their
team progresses during the year, and JoAnne’s team each year plays their best
toward the end of the season. She truly provides each student-athlete with a
In her acceptance speech, Lee-Nieves was
humble and gracious. She thanked the MIAA for the recognition, but focused her
remarks on encouraging the young ladies in the audience to work hard and pursue
As she left the stage and walked to the VIP
area where she and husband Juan Nieves were seated, you could sense that JoAnne
Lee-Nieves was touched by this lifetime-achievement recognition from the
state’s official governing organization for high school sports.
It was indeed a special day for a special
teacher, coach, and role model.
Johanna DiCarlo (right) presents the Massachusetts
Women in Athletics Distinguished Service Award to JoAnne Lee-Nieves at the 2019
Girls and Women in Sports Day program Feb. 1 at Faneuil Hall, Boston.
JoAnne Lee-Nieves and her husband, Juan Nieves,
are pictured following the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award.
The Massachusetts State 9-1-1 Department is
pleased to announce that Text to 911is now available throughout the
Commonwealth. All Massachusetts 9-1-1 call centers now have ability to receive
a text message through their 9-1-1 system. The Baker-Polito Administration has
supported making these system enhancements since 2015.
Text to 9-1-1 allows those in need of
emergency services to use their cellular device to contact 9-1-1 when they are
unable to place a voice call.
“This is a significant improvement to our 9-1-1 system that will save
lives,” said Public Safety and Security Secretary Tom Turco. “By giving
those requiring emergency services this option we are greatly expanding the
ability of first responders to provide critical assistance to those in
To contact emergency services by text message, simply enter 9-1-1 in the “To”
field of your mobile device and then type your message into the message field.
It is the same process that is used for sending a regular text message from
your mobile device. It is important to make every effort to begin the text
message indicating the town you are in and provide the best location
information that you can.
“Having the ability to contact a 9-1-1 call
center by text could help those being held against their will or victims of
domestic violence unable to make a voice call,” said Frank Pozniak,
Executive Director of the State 9-1-1 Department. “Text to 9-1-1 also provides
direct access to 9-1-1 emergency services for the deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired,
which is a service that these communities did not have access to until now.”
It is important to note that the 9-1-1 call center may not always have your
exact location when they receive your text. For this reason, when sending a
Text to 9-1-1 it is important to make every effort to begin the text message
indicating the town you are in and provide the best location information that
The State 9-1-1 Department encourages citizens to Text to 9-1-1 only when a
voice call is not possible.
Remember: “Call if you can, text if you can’t.”