Chelsea Night Market

After dark, fire breathers performed at the Chelsea Night Market.
Butterflies and Fire?: You bet. Performers entertained the crowd on stilts in butterfly costumes through the day, and at night with fire spinning tricks during the first-ever Chelsea Night Market on Luther Place last Saturday, June 8. The Market was a hit locally with large, but manageable crowds, a circus-like atmosphere and food and retail vendors throughout. The next market will take place on July 13.

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CHS Class of 2019: Deedee Hernandez is 2019 Valedictorian; Salutatorian is Jocelyn Poste

The surf is up for Chelsea’s Deedee Hernandez, who might be the first and only Chelsea High valedictorian that doubles as a surfer, a trumpet player and Ivy League student.

Hernandez has been very active in the school and community over the last four years, but being at the top of her class wasn’t something she thought would happen.

Valedictorian Degree Hernandez with Salutatorian Jocelyn Poste after graduation on June 9

“Honestly, I wasn’t aspiring for the valedictorian of the class,” she said. “My only goal was just to get into a college. That was a goal since I entered middle school. My mother always told us that we had to go to college. That was always a goal we were reaching for.”

And not only did she reach it, but she grabbed onto a great school in the Ivy League Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

Hernandez, 18, said she was drawn to the rural landscape – being interested in the outdoors and hiking – but was also impressed with the alumni network.

“I was really drawn to the alumni network they have,” she said. “A lot of them come back to the college and have relationships and share their experiences with students. I thought that was very unique. The college is very small and it felt like a family and people were friendly.”

At Dartmouth, Hernandez hopes to major in environmental science – something she was drawn to by her swim coach, Traverse Robinette, at the Jordan Boys & Girls Club.

In addition to swimming twice at the National Championships in Florida, Hernandez and several other Chelsea kids joined Robinette’s surf club. When surfing in Connecticut and Rhode Island, the students learned about the various animals in the ocean.

“My swim coach was passionate about the environment and pointed out the animals we saw,” she said. “I did research on it and was drawn to the idea of preserving these animals. I love nature and being outside, so it’s something I’m very interested in.”

In addition to those pursuits, Hernandez is well known for playing the trumpet in the band – having been the designated performer of ‘Taps’ for the City and the Soldiers’ Home for four years.

She said she started playing in fifth grade when her former band teacher, Mr. Thomas, picked up a trumpet and played ‘Reveille.’

“I heard him play that and I knew I had to play the trumpet,” she said.

She does plan to pursue the trumpet in college and hopes to play in their orchestra.

Hernandez has gone to Chelsea schools her entire life, starting at the Silber ELC, moving on to the Kelly School, then to the Clark Avenue Middle.

Hernandez credits her mother, Ana Moscoso, for always pushing her to reach higher.

“My mother was always the type of person to asked me what I would do next after I had accomplished something,” she said. “I’ve found that to be useful because you see what else you’re capable of doing and don’t get satisfied with one thing.”

Hernandez has two brothers, Mike, 16, at Chelsea High; and Akanni, 10.

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First ‘Night Market’ Draws Manageable, Excited Crowd

The first Chelsea Night Market is being deemed a success, bringing a good crowd to Luther Place for the music, vendors and excitement in the downtown.

“It was great,” said Downtown Coordinator Mimi Graney. “We had a decent, manageable crowd. The attendees and vendors were all really pleased. We had lots of neighbors attend, which was great. There were no major technical snags and the fire performance was a hit.”

The Night Market blocked off the City parking lot behind the main business district, using the refurbished Chelsea Walk as an entry point. On the lot were vendors with all kinds of wares, food servers and a stage. Musical acts were popular, but the hit of the night was the Boston Circus Guild’s fire-breathing and juggling performance.

The next Night Market will be on July 13, and coordinators said to look for some new and different things to be on the docket.

The next event for the downtown, however, is the Fiesta Verano – a great Latin music themed event that was cancelled last year three times due to rain. This year they hope to find some better luck.

They will have the Fiesta on Second Street and in collaboration with the Chelsea Cooperative.

Look for a cowboy them, Graney said.

“We’re embracing a rodeo theme this year with pony rides and a bounce house for little ones,” said Graney. “A ‘bike rodeo,’ presented by the Chelsea Bike and Ped Committee and MassBike, is an obstacle course and games for all ages so bring your bike or trike. Over on the big lawn a mechanical bull will be bucking and kicking all riders for your merriment.”

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Class of 2020 has Personality, President Says

Lisandra Molina said her class is yet another that should make an impression next year when they become seniors.

Molina, the junior class president, said they have learned a lot from the Class of 2019.

“I feel I learned a lot from the senior class, especially in NHS,” she said.

The class has already shown an acumen for raising money, and has quite a bit saved to help with the prom and other events. That has come through being a bit creative.

One thing they did was raise money by cleaning the classrooms of teachers for the end of school, and selling Pupusas to teachers to raise funds as well.

Certainly, she said, they will have a voice.

“We all have a lot of personality,” she said. “If you put us all in a room, there is no quiet person in there, especially when it comes to history. Our personalities don’t clash. They complement one another.”

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Councillors Want Guarantee on Soundproofing for Massport Money

District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero doesn’t like some of the noise he is hearing about a proposed Massport-funded soundproofing program.

Earlier this spring, Recupero and Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda proposed that the City use $300,000 of the $600,000 annual Massport mitigation payment to help provide soundproof windows for residents who deal with the whoosh of jets traveling to and from Logan Airport.

But a letter from City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to the City Council states it might not be that easy to automatically earmark those funds for a soundproofing program.

“I am not opposed to creating some local grant program, operated through our Planning Department, to provide funding for soundproofing to residents adversely impacted by airport related noise,” Ambrosino stated. “Deciding who should qualify for such grants, and how to prioritize areas of the City, might be a bit challenging. But, I feel with some time, we can work out those details together in collaboration with the City Council.”

But Ambrosino said the funding proposed by the Council is problematic, since the annual mitigation payment cannot be directly used for a specific program. The payment is considered a payment in lieu of taxes by the state’s revenue department, making it a general revenue source that is deposited into the City’s general fund.

“If the Council desires to depend upon this Massport payment to help fund a soundproofing program at the level of $300,000 annually, it must appropriate the $300,000 separately,” Ambrosino stated. “It can do that either in an annual Budget line item, or as an isolated appropriation from a source such as Stabilization or Free Cash.”

Ambrosino recommended the City commit to appropriating $300,000 for the soundproofing program from Free Cash whenever it is available, rather than making it a permanent part of the budget.

“I can see what the City Manager is saying, but this money comes to us direct from Massport, we get it all the time, so why do we have to wait and put it in free cash?” Recupero asked. “What kind of guarantee can the City Manager give us? I want the City Manager to give us some kind of guarantee that the money will be used for that purpose, not all of it, but a piece of it.”

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U.S. Citizen Extradited from Brazil to Face Wire Fraud Charges

A U.S. citizen appeared last week in federal court in Boston after being extradited from Brazil in connection with a $2 million wire fraud scheme.

Christopher Morris, 48, formerly of Lowell and Chelsea, was extradited from Brazil and arrived in Boston last week. Morris was detained following an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley. In November 2014, Morris was indicted on four counts of wire fraud and 12 counts of unlawful monetary transactions. Since 2013, Morris had been living in Uruguay and Brazil.

The indictment alleges that Morris, an accounting professional, participated in a wire fraud scheme targeting his employer, PBS Distribution (PBSd), a media distribution business with operations in Allston and elsewhere. Morris’ position gave him access to U.S. mail addressed to PBSd’s accounting department, including checks payable to PBSd. According to the indictment, beginning as early as January 2008 and continuing through September 2012, Morris took more than $2 million in checks under the guise of depositing them into PBSd’s bank accounts, but he instead endorsed them to himself and deposited them into a personal bank account. Morris allegedly used his access to PBSd’s accounting system to conceal the theft by, among other steps, fraudulently causing credits to be issued to the accounts of customers whose checks he stole, and by causing PBSd’s general ledger to be altered to show that the same customers had made payments. It is further alleged that Morris spent the proceeds of the scheme on a lavish lifestyle that included year-long apartment rentals in New York City’s Greenwich Village and Tribeca neighborhoods; the down payment, purchase and upkeep of a waterfront condominium in Chelsea; and luxury clothing, dining and travel, including a $16,000 two-week South American cruise.

The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 on each count. The government expects to move to dismiss the charges of unlawful monetary transactions under the Rule of Specialty, a doctrine of international law that permits prosecution upon extradition only as to charges authorized by the extraditing nation.

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City Council Approves $18 Million CIP Plan with Some Reservations

With a few adjustments, the City Council approved City Manager’s proposed $18 million Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) budget for Fiscal Year 2020. About $4.7 million of that proposal comes from the City’s free cash reserves.

The Council held a special meeting Tuesday night, May 28, to pass the CIP before the June 1 deadline.

The major changes to Ambrosino’s requests included paying for the second phase of the Mary C. Burke School roof project through $825,000 in free cash rather than the school stabilization fund, and doing away with $450,000 in the FY20 CIP for an updated Master Plan.

“Even though I am a huge proponent of the Master Plan, I think we should take a step back,” said Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson.

He said the City will be looking at some zoning issues in the near future, and should focus on that before it moves forward with a Master Plan update.

Earlier this year, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino presented the proposed 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Plan to the City Council. That document included 45 projects totaling $18 million for FY20.

“It is my strong belief that this comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan fully meets our promise to invest the City’s strong reserves in projects that enhance the quality of life in our City,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the City Council.

The program areas addressed in the CIP for FY20 include equipment purchases including furniture, desktop replacements, and vehicles for the library; roadway and sidewalk improvements; improvement and expansion of open spaces, including the Mary C. Burke playground; replacement of police cruisers, radio communication equipment, and a new engine pumper; and nearly $7 million for infrastructure improvements including utility replacement on Upper Broadway, mitigation of localized flooding and expansion of the City’s lead service replacement program.

“This gives our City Manager the leverage to go out and continue to fix our sidewalks and roads and also help with school projects and water projects,” said District 8 Councillor Calvin T. Brown. “It’s a lot of money, but it needs to be done to improve the quality of life in Chelsea.”

District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero voted in favor of the CIP, but questioned why the Council vote is necessary, since the City Charter already requires the annual adoption of the CIP. “The charter is telling you it has to be approved,” he said.

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Council Looking to Limit Resident Parking for New Developments

It’s a general consensus among City officials that parking and traffic are among the greatest challenges facing Chelsea.

But the best way to help ease clogged streets and ensure residents aren’t endlessly circling their block to find an open parking spot are open to debate.

The latest proposal is an ordinance introduced by City Council President DamaliVidot and District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop seeking a change in the City’s off-street parking requirements.

Under the proposal, the residents of any development or housing that is granted relief by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) from the City’s parking requirements won’t be eligible to participate in the residential permit parking sticker program. Already, in Everett, City officials at their ZBA have been requiring new developments or expanded housing units in triple deckers to not participate in their parking sticker program. That tool has proven quite successful over past several months.

The Chelsea proposal will head to the Planning Board for a recommendation before coming back for a public hearing before the City Council.

“This will require any developer that comes into the city to put their money where their mouth is by asking tenants not to participate in the City parking program,” said Vidot.

Bishop said it is unfair that larger developments come into the city and ask for and are granted well below the 1.5 parking spaces per unit required by the City.

“There are too many units and not enough parking,” said Bishop. “Where do you think all those cars go? They go all over the streets, that’s where they go.

“There is very little parking even in areas where there was once parking. This is something we should have done years ago.”

District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero said that while developers promote the use of Ubers, Lyfts, and public transportation, the fact is that more development brings more cars into the city.

“There are more cars being registered in our city, our streets can’t support all the cars,” Recupero said.

If developers want to build in Chelsea, Recupero said they should do like they do in Boston and provide parking underneath the units.

Several councillors said there are still some questions about the proposal made by Vidot and Bishop.

Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda asked what would happen with condominiums, where there are owners as opposed to tenants. He also questioned what would happen if developers did provide required parking.

“If they meet the conditions and there are 15 spots for 10 units, would we still allow the parking sticker?” he asked.

Avellaneda said he is supportive of working out more details for a parking plan, and also noted that many of the biggest parking issues come not from the larger developments, but from smaller conversions where parking relief is granted for buildings increasing from one to two or two to three families.

District 3 Councillor Joe Perlatonda said there needs to be a closer look at the overall parking program for the city.

He said the current program, which limits resident sticker parking to 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. is unfair to residents.

“Unless we change the parking program to 24/7, these people are still going to be parking in our streets, and I’m sick of it,” said Perlatonda.

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Roller Coaster Resort Wynn Applies Uncertainty and Certainty in Run-up to Opening

In a journey that has zero time available for a detour, Wynn Resorts seemingly got off the freeway to smell the flowers last week.

Now, however, they seem to be back on the road to an opening on June 23, with President Bob DeSalvio telling the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) on Wednesday that Wynn will definitely open the resort at 10 a.m. June 23 – with the talks last Friday about a sale now being a distant memory.

Just when it seemed like the road was clear for cruising into the June 23 opening – preparing the building and conducting massive, quick trainings for workers in all facets of the operation – the company announced in a joint statement last Friday that it was considering an offer from MGM International (which operates the Springfield casino) to buy Encore Boston Harbor.

It was out of the blue, and few locally were informed of the new development in the constant roller coaster ride that has been the norm with the Wynn marriage in Massachusetts.

“Over the past several weeks, we have engaged in conversations around the potential sale of Encore Boston Harbor,” read the joint statement from Wynn and MGM – a statement that came from Wynn. “They are very preliminary and of the nature that publicly traded corporations like ours often engage in, and in fact when opportunities such as this are presented, we are required to explore.”

Then, late on Tuesday night, that all seemed to change with dueling statements from MGM and Wynn.

“Wynn Resorts prides itself on the design, development and operation of the world’s best integrated resorts,” read the statement. “At times, world class assets attract the attention of others and our board takes seriously its fiduciary duty to review such interest. After careful consideration we have agreed to cease discussions with MGM Resorts. We remain committed to opening and operating Encore Boston Harbor as only Wynn Resorts is able to do.”

It was as if the company risked it all on a roll of the dice, lost it all, and then won it all back.

The matter became quite stressful because the talk of a sale gets into murky, and time consuming territory.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) said it was preparing for a June 23 opening despite any talk of a sale. They said the $35 million fine for the company, the $500,000 fine for CEO Matt Maddox, and the other stipulations for training and the like continue to stand.

“The Commission’s written decision stands,” read a statement from the MGC. “The deadline for fine payment and notice of appeal is May 31. The MGC continues to focus its efforts on the significant amount of regulatory preparations required before Encore’s opening.”

The MGC also provided a list of things that would be required under law in order to sell such a property under state law – all of which add up to a lengthy process that could include the purchaser re-applying for the gaming license. At a minimum, written notice has to be given and a number of hearings and meetings must take place that look like they could take as long as six months. Likewise, one operator cannot own more than one license in the state.

Just how much of the former sale talk is inside baseball that has a purpose few will ever know, and how much of it was a real possibility, is hard to gauge at this point.

Few, it seems, know anything about what Wynn Resorts really plans to do.

MGC approves extended 4 a.m. liquor license for Encore

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) approved an extended 4 a.m. liquor license for Encore Boston Harbor by a vote of 4-1 on Wednesday, May 22.

The MGC had discussed the matter at its May 6 meeting in-depth, as well as the other numerous regular 2 a.m. closing licenses that the casino requested.

A comment period was initiated with Mayor Martin Walsh and Councilor Lydia Edwards voicing displeasure with the idea of granting the extension, which is only for those involved in active gaming. The last call is 3:30 a.m.

They can re-open at 8 a.m.

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