ZBA Approves Eleanor Street Apartment Building

ZBA Approves Eleanor Street Apartment Building

By Leah Dearborn

The Chelsea Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved a new apartment building project at 25 Eleanor St. on what is currently an industrial building with parking lot.

The approval came during the Nov. 14 meeting and the project is championed by Eleanor Street Associates LLC – headed up by Michael Massamino.

Currently the building houses 12 offices and two conference rooms and a parking lot. The new project will be a three-story building with 20 units and 28 ground floor parking spaces – 14 of them covered spaces. The building will house 10 units on the second floor and 10 units on the third floor. There will be no open space.

It was approved with standard conditions.

In other matters before the board.

  • 24 Tudor Street: A neighbor spoke in opposition to the conversion into three units. The Board will continue the hearing on December 12.
  • 145 Cottage Street: continued discussion on December 12.
  • 67 Jefferson Ave: Approved.
  • 73 Broadway: The owner wants to keep it two units and maximize the space. A neighbor from 62 Beacon St. spoke in favor of the work as good for the neighborhood.
  • 94 Fourth Street: Patricia Simboli spoke on the project, calling it “highly challenged” because it’s a direct abutter of Dunkin Donuts. She referenced parking issues, and suggested renting spaces elsewhere. It was continued.

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Chelsea Chamber to Participate in Small Business Saturday Nov 25

Chelsea Chamber to Participate in Small Business Saturday Nov 25

This is the season to Shop Small®! On main streets across America, small businesses are getting ready to welcome customers on Small Business Saturday, celebrated this year on November 25 across the country and on Broadway Chelsea.

Results from the 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released this month by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and American Express, show six in 10 (61%) U.S. consumers are aware of Small Business Saturday going into the day, and of those, 82% plan to shop at a small, independently-owned retailer or dine at a small, independently-owned restaurant on the day.

Created by American Express in 2010 as a way to help small businesses get more customers, Small Business Saturday is held annually on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Now entering its eighth year, the day is embraced by independent merchants of all kinds—from traditional brick and mortar retailers to service providers to e-commerce businesses. And as consumer shopping habits continue to evolve, they are prioritizing small businesses – even those online: the report found that 59% of consumers said they are likely to seek out a small, independently-owned retailer when shopping online on Small Business Saturday.

“Small Business Saturday provides people an opportunity to discover and celebrate the variety of small businesses that make their communities thrive,” said Elizabeth Rutledge, Executive Vice President, Global Advertising & Brand Management at American Express. “Beyond visiting their favorite go-to spots, shoppers say Small Business Saturday inspires them to visit places they have not been to before and would not have otherwise tried.”

Consumers Will Make Small Businesses a Big Part of Holiday Shopping Plans

Among those who are aware and who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday this year, 65% say the main reason they will support local, independently-owned retailers and restaurants is because they value the contributions small businesses make to their community.

The 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey found:

As much as 80% of all consumers surveyed say at least some of their holiday shopping will be done at small, independently-owned retailers or restaurants;

Three-quarters (75%) of all consumers surveyed are planning on going to one or more small businesses as part of their holiday shopping;

90% of all consumers surveyed agree it is important for them to support small, independently-owned restaurants and bars;

Of consumers who are aware of Small Business Saturday, 89% agree that the day encourages them to Shop Small all year long, not just during the holiday season;

For those who are aware and who plan to shop on Small Business Saturday, 44% plan to spend more this year compared to last year.

“Supporting small businesses is critical to the health and livelihood of our national economy and local communities,” said NFIB CEO and President Juanita Duggan. “We are proud to partner with American Express to bring attention to the importance of small business and look forward to another successful Small Business Saturday.”

Grassroots Support Boosted by Neighborhood Champions and the Small Business Saturday Coalition

Local support for Small Business Saturday is largely driven by Neighborhood Champions: small businesses, business associations, local Chambers of Commerce and other community organizers who help energize their neighborhoods on the day. To date, more than 7,200 Neighborhood Champions have signed up to plan activities and events to draw shoppers to small businesses across the U.S., leading up to and on Small Business Saturday. Click  here to find Neighborhood Champions near you. Small business owners can also find event inspiration and create customizable Small Business Saturday marketing materials to rally their communities at   ShopSmall.com.

Another important group that drives participation on the day is the Small Business Saturday Coalition. Led by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), the Small Business Saturday Coalition was created in 2011 to help amplify the Shop Small message. The Coalition is comprised of national, state and local associations that help coordinate Small Business Saturday activities with merchants, consumers, small business owners and public officials in every state across the country.

Show Love for Your Favorite Places on Social Media

Consumers have made it a tradition each year to share their love for Small Business Saturday on social media, and all are encouraged to show off their favorite independently-owned businesses by using #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This year, American Express is also encouraging consumers to RSVP on Facebook   here for reminders about the nationwide celebration to Shop Small this November 25th.

To discover and share the impact shopping small has in your state, visit:  www.shopsmall.com/mystate.

Corporate Supporters Rally Communities to Support Small Business

To help drive excitement for Small Business Saturday, American Express has enlisted the support of many companies that are serving as Corporate Supporters. Together these companies reach millions of small businesses and consumers and are key players in the e-commerce, retail, telecom, media, hospitality, transportation, and professional services industries.   FedEx is among the medium and large-sized companies that will be participating. The company is shipping Shop Small merchandise kits to Neighborhood Champions and small businesses across the country free of charge, and printing select materials in the kit at no cost through FedEx Office.  Grubhub is helping restaurants stand out, deliver memorable experiences and optimize online offerings on Small Business Saturday. Additionally,  Ace Hardware,  FTD,  Square and  Liberty Mutual Insurance are lending their support to the day.

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New Tree Board Celebrates Arbor Day

New Tree Board Celebrates Arbor Day

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The new Chelsea Tree Board celebrated Arbor Day last month on Clark Avenue by planting a White Oak in recognition of Member Denise Ortega’s birthday. Chair Julie Shannon said the Tree Board hopes to promote the value of trees in the community and the benefits for health and wellness.
“The presence of trees and green spaces enhances our neighborhood surroundings not only visually with their inviting appeal but they also offer financial benefits as well,” she said. “More tree lined streets increase property values and business sales by proving an esthetically pleasing environment to consistently visit. Trees also reduce costs in heating and cooling by offering protection from harsh weather conditions caused by urban heat islands.”
The Board, along with Assistant Public Works Director Fidel Maltez celebrated the day with a commendation.

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French Club Comes Down to Make Way for Affordable Housing

French Club Comes Down to Make Way for Affordable Housing

By Seth Daniel

After hundreds of athletic banquets, wedding receptions and a whose who list of Chelsea political functions, that history all came tumbling down last Friday when the French Naturalization Club on Spencer Avenue was demolished for affordable housing.

Crews secured the area last Thursday, and began the demo on Friday – taking down the old Function Hall that many had known from the old days of political times or youth sports banquets. By the end of it’s stretch, though, it had seen better times, as a man was murdered in the Club during a party a few years ago.

That led to the Club’s end, and it became vacant until The Neighborhood Developers (TND) purchased the property for an affordable housing development.

That development was controversial when Mill Hill neighbors learned late in the game of TND’s plans to put up the housing.

That sparked a vigorous debate throughout the community two years ago, and led to a scaling back of the project and a return of the Spencer Avenue Extension to the City so cars could continue using it.

Now, the project will include 34 units of affordable rental housing in a brand new building that will feature a community space on the bottom floor and the activation of the sidewalks with front porches on ground-floor units.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said TND has its permits and its financing in place. They are ready to commence the construction phase now.

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Improvements:City Awarded $1m Byrne Grant to Help Community Safety on Broadway

Improvements:City Awarded $1m Byrne Grant to Help Community Safety on Broadway

The City of Chelsea is pleased to announce that it was awarded a $1 million grant from the US Department of Justice to support community safety improvements.

Chelsea’s grant is just one of eight funded projects nationwide made in this fall’s Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program. The grant leverages community, business, non-profit and city investments in support of greater public safety managed collaboratively through the Chelsea Thrives initiative.

Since mid-2014, when Chelsea Thrives was launched, community leaders have met on a regular basis to align resources in support of greater public safety. Led by an Executive Council with regular participation by 20 civic, business, and municipal leaders, Chelsea Thrives seeks to reduce crime by 30 percent over 10 years and to improve our community’s perception of safety. Since the initiative began, 1,500 residents and 70 institutions have participated, drawing from local and regional government and non- profit agencies and our area’s businesses. Key areas of focus are youth safety, coordination of services to prevent trauma and violence, infrastructure improvements in support of safety, and greater community engagement in support of a safe community.

“Unfortunately Chelsea has historically faced persistent crime problems,” reports City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “Chelsea Thrives had just started to focus on safety when I started my position as City Manager. Safety is a critical component of a vibrant community, every bit as important as quality and affordable homes, good jobs, and high performing schools. Chelsea is making progress with steady reductions in crime year over year since 2013. The support of US Department of Justice will bring us one step closer to our goal of a safe and thriving community.”

The grant’s timeline and activities are designed to dovetail with the City’s Downtown Initiative to create a more welcoming downtown experience. The first phase of the Downtown Initiative is now underway. The Re-Imagining Broadway participatory planning started in January 2017 with construction to occur in 2018-2019. Design goals for the city’s downtown infrastructure investments include improvements to pedestrian safety, public transportation hubs, and traffic flow and deterrence of crime and loitering. The resources made available through the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation grant will further leverage the value of this significant infrastructure investment by providing complementary policing, community revitalization, and social service supports.

In the first year of the grant, a criminologist from the University of Massachusetts Lowell will work with CPD and Chelsea Thrives partners to better understand Chelsea’s crime patterns and locations. With that information in hand, the researchers and community partners will identify appropriate community-based interventions to address crime hot-spots. Included in the grant’s planning phase is a review of ideas proposed by the Chelsea Thrives partners in the grant application, including supports for:

  • The Chamber of Commerce to promote the city’s façade improvement loan program plus technical assistance made available to downtown business and property owners to access and utilize the loans;
  • Downtown festivals and community activities based out of Bellingham and Chelsea Squares;
  • A Roca-led youth work crew to assist with the festivals and downtown improvement projects;
  • Downtown area safety walks and beautification activities managed by The Neighborhood Developers; and
  • Emergency assistance funds for use by the Chelsea Hub, managed by The Chelsea Collaborative.

“Receiving the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation grant award is a testament to the hard work of all of the community leaders and institutions that have dedicated time and energy to the collective work of Chelsea Thrives partnership over the last three years,” says Melissa Walsh, who leads Chelsea Thrives as part of her position at The Neighborhood Developers (TND). “This grant award will bring valuable resources to the City and other community partners in order to continue to make progress on addressing the social drivers of crime and making Chelsea a safer place for all.”

The new Department of Justice grant is the second $1 million investment secured on behalf of Chelsea Thrives from the US Department of Justice. The Safe and Secure Grant has just finished its one-year planning phase and will soon begin implementation to build community capacity for youth opportunity and safety. The Safe and Secure grant responds to the high volume of young people who have recently come to Chelsea from Central America who have experienced harrowing and traumatic journeys. Chelsea Public Schools, CPD, MGH Chelsea Health Care Center, The Chelsea Collaborative, The Neighborhood Developers, and Roca are collaborating to deliver trauma informed care, Overcoming Violence training for all 7th graders, trauma training at Lesley University for CPS teachers, case management and social service supports for at-risk youth, and parent leadership training.

The Chelsea Thrives Executive Council includes representatives from many city departments, residents, businesses and non-profits, including the City Manager, CPD’s Community Services Division, Chelsea Public Schools, People’s AME Church, Bunker Hill Community College, Chelsea Chamber, the Chelsea Collaborative, the Community Enhancement Team, East Cambridge Savings Bank, GreenRoots, Metro Credit Union, MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center, Phoenix Charter Academy, Roca, and The Neighborhood Developers. Monthly meetings are open to all who are able to regularly attend. For information on how to join, contact Melissa Walsh at The Neighborhood Developers at MWalsh@tndinc.org.

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Bishop Tops in District 1, Brown Cruises in District 8

Bishop Tops in District 1, Brown Cruises in District 8

By Seth Daniel

Calvin Brown

Calvin Brown

Tuesday’s Preliminary Election in Districts 1 and 8 featured a severely light turnout, but some excitement politically nonetheless for two seats that will be hotly contested in the Nov. 7 election.

The District 1 Prattville contest featured three very well-known and seasoned candidates, and they duked it out on a day that saw only 10 percent voter turnout.

In the end, former City Clerk Bob Bishop topped the ticket in District 1 with 132 votes (45 percent). Second place went to Planning Board member Todd Taylor with 101 votes (34 percent).

Those two will now move on to the City Election on Nov. 7, and reports from the neighborhood indicate that both have been working hard and hitting the streets for some time.

Look for that to pick up in the next six weeks.

Knocked out of the race, in somewhat of a surprise, was School Committeeman Shawn O’Regan – who gave up his seat to run for Council.

He lost with 60 votes (20 percent).

In District 8, former Councillor at-Large Calvin Brown cruised to a victory over two newcomers to the political scene.

Brown captured 73 percent of the Admirals Hill vote, which was 171 votes.

Second place went to Jermaine Williams, who gathered 35 votes (15 percent).

Knocked out was Zaida Ismatul Oliva, who was rumored to have suspended her campaign weeks ago. Nonetheless, she gathered 24 votes.

The two seats opened up with District 1 Councillor Paul Murphy and District 8 Councillor Dan Cortell stepped down from their positions earlier this year.

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Attorney Olivia Anne Walsh Announces Candidacy for District 2 City Councilor

Attorney Olivia Anne Walsh Announces Candidacy for District 2 City Councilor

Chelsea attorney, Olivia Anne Walsh, has announced her candidacy for election to the City Council, District 2 Seat, where she will be a fulltime Councilor. As a longtime resident of District 2, I have a true and unwavering sense of appreciation and loyalty to the City and my fellow residents,” said Walsh.

Walsh brings over four decades of experience in government at both the City and State levels, serving most recently as Legislative Chief of Staff to a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. She also has the educational credentials to match this experience:

1976 University of Massachusetts, Boston

BS in Management

1981 Suffolk University, Boston

Master of Public Administration

1987 New England Law, Boston

Doctor of Juris Prudence

She has been a member of the Massachusetts Bar for almost 30 years. “I have been fighting for Progressive values my whole life, growing up in the Mattapan section of Boston, and for many years in the City of Chelsea,” Walsh noted.

Among community affiliations Walsh included:

Chair, Chelsea Ward 4 Democratic Committee

Commander, Chelsea Disabled American Veterans Chapter 10

Member, The Neighborhood Developers

Member, Green Roots Chelsea

“Progressive change takes a willingness to listen, hard work, and a commitment to bring people together for the common good. That’s what I will do each day for everyone in District 2,” added Walsh. “So many issues must be addressed: City services, economic development, affordable housing, public safety, elder services, Veteran care and traffic concerns, to name a few,” Walsh stressed.

“Together we can ensure that we have a strong consistent voice for our community. I look forward to having your support and ask for your vote in the City Election on Tuesday, November 7,” Walsh added.

Attorney Olivia Anne Walsh resides at 91 Crest Avenue and is available to hear your concerns at 617-306-5501.

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East Boston Health Center Leads the Way

East Boston Health Center Leads the Way

Last week, the US Senate tried to undo the Affordable Care Act or Obama Care.  This system while it is not perfect and as a matter of fact it is far from the mark, still it provides a safety net for literally millions of Americans who would not otherwise be able to afford any health care.

What a sad commentary it is about our country and our leaders that in spite of our leading medical care that thousands of world citizens come here to use and yet for too many Americans, medical insurance still remains out of reach.  As a result, these same Americans are forced to wait – sometimes too long – to take advantage of our medical care that could save their lives.

What brings this to mind is that on Monday, US Senator Elizabeth Warren was in East Boston to praise the work of the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. For decades, this health center has been delivering care to many low-income residents who lack insurance but are in need of medical help.  This center has helped thousands to cure a simple disease before it becomes progressively worse and possibly terminal.

Given all the rhetoric that is coming out about repealing or keeping the Affordable Care Act, our elected officials should look at the success of health providers like the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center.  The Center is located in an area that is serving a clientele that is below the national income average and in many cases first generation Americans who are struggling to raise a family and make financial ends meet.  Yet, these same Americans are receiving quality healthcare at a price that they can afford.

It would be too simplistic to say that the model that is now being used at the Center can fit all areas of our country.  However, it can fit many areas that are urban and poor.  If this system works here, why should it not work elsewhere?  The East Boston Neighborhood Health Center model could be one piece of solving the puzzle of affordable health care.

The quote from Boston political legend and former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Albert “Tip” O’Neil who coined the phrase that “all politics is local,” seems very apt with debate going on about the Affordable Care Act in Washington D.C. and Monday’s visit and remarks from Sen. Warren on the success of the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center.

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Council Votes to Approve Acquisition of Spencer Triangle

Council Votes to Approve Acquisition of Spencer Triangle

By Seth Daniel

The City Council approved a $90,000 expenditure to buy the triangle piece of land on the Spencer Avenue Extension that has served for parking over the years, but actually was never owned by the City.

The small piece of land abuts Webster Avenue and is used by residents for parking and also for parents picking up kids from the Burke Elementary Complex. It was formerly owned by the French Club, but was purchased by The Neighborhood Developers (TND) when it began pursuing the affordable housing project on that site.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino requested that the Council purchase the land so that it could be used for parking and open space rather than be used for private purposes.

Councillor Matt Frank said the land has been used publicly, but was never owned by the City. He said it is a critical piece of land for neighbors in the area and for those picking up school children.

“If we don’t own the land, someone else will control the land and we can’t tell a private owner to let people park there,” he said. “Voting for this is getting control of that land. That land was never owned by the City. It will now lawfully be owned by the City and we can do with it what the neighborhood would like.”

The money was appropriated from the Urban Renewal Fund, and was approved 10-0.

When introduced a few weeks ago, some councillors grumbled at the steep price for such a small piece of land. However, those concerns were mitigated by Monday night.

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Police Captain Batchelor is Honored

Police Captain Batchelor is Honored

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Chelsea Police Captain David Batchelor was honored for his outstanding work with Chelsea HUB, which is a team of designated staff from community and government agencies that meet weekly to address specific situations regarding individuals facing elevated levels of risk. Chelsea HUB develops immediate, coordinated and integrated responses to these situations through the mobilization of resources. Pictured at the award presentation during a HUB training program Monday at Homewood Suites Hotel are (from left): Dan Cortez, community engagement specialist, Chelsea Police Department, Jason Owens, an assistant director at Roca, Capt. David Batchelor, award recipient, and Melissa Walsh, director of Chelsea Thrives, The Neighborhood Developers.

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