Officials Cut the Ribbon on New Clark Avenue Middle School

The cutting of the official ribbon on the Clark Avenue Middle School on Oct. 3 signaled the ceremonial opening of the

Chelsea Supt. Mary Bourque, flanked by City Manager Tom Ambrosino and MSBA Director Jack McCarthy, cuts the ceremonial ribbon on the Clark Avenue School with other dignitaries.

school, but it also signaled the investment in the youth of Chelsea – an investment that community and state leaders said was deserved and overdue.

Supt. Mary Bourque welcomed dignitaries to the school the evening of Oct. 3 for tours and a celebration of a school that took six years to complete, and nearly 20 to plan.

“This is six years in the making,” said Bourque. “We have so many people to thank for this building…Most importantly, this community has invested in the next generation of leaders and we are proud of that.”

City Manager Tom Ambrosino thanked the abutters, who he said showed great patience while the City completed a two-phase, six-year planning/building project. In the end, he said the City promised a better neighborhood, and did deliver.

“I can’t think of anything more awful than being an abutter to a school building project, especially one that lasts three years in construction,” he said. “These neighbors put up with an awful lot. We asked they just have patience with us three years ago and they did. We promised them at the end they would have an investment in the neighborhood and they would have a building that would be the heart of the neighborhood and a municipal building they would be proud of…I think it’s easy to say the City and School Committee brought that promise to this neighborhood.”

The school building project began six years ago when the City started the planning and financial funding for the project. After a long process at the City and State level, construction began about three years ago. The first phase completed in Dec. 2016, with students moving in for January 2017. The second and final phase ended this past summer, with the entire school opening to students this school term. It was constructed on top of the site where the former Chelsea High School once sat – a building that was demolished in phases as part of the construction project.

The school cost around $53 million, and state School Building Authority (MSBA) Director Jack McCarthy noted that the state has paid about $36 million of that bill.

“I want to congratulate the leaders in Chelsea,” he said. “You created a great school and this was not an easy project. I knew it would be successful when I saw the team that had been assembled. I didn’t hear a lot about this project. When I don’t hear about a project, that’s a good thing.”

School Committee Chair Jeannette Velez said she has seen students at the Clark Avenue excited to come in and be able to access modern facilities. She said it’s important to have a new and up-to-date building to help students achieve.

“These are the students we are educating so they can come back and make our city even better,” she said.

The architects on the project were HMFH, which also designed the Burke Complex many years ago. The Owner’s Project Manager was Pinck & Co. and the Construction Manager W.T. Rich Company, Inc.

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Chelsea Supt. Mary Bourque, flanked by City Manager Tom Ambrosino and MSBA Director Jack McCarthy, cuts the ceremonial ribbon on the Clark Avenue School with other dignitaries.

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School Committee members (standing) Jeannette Velez and Julio Hernandez. (Sitting) Kelly Garcia, Yessenia Alfaro-Alvarez, and Rosemarie Carlisle.

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Councillor Bob Bishop and his wife, Ann.

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MSBA Director Jack McCarthy spoke about how smooth the Clark Avenue School project went.

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Former 5th grade math teacher Robert Dotolo with his former student, School Committeeman Julio Hernandez.

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School Committeeman Julio Hernandez, City Manager Tom Ambrosino, Supt. Mary Bourque, MSBA Director Jack McCarthy, Councillor Roy Avellaneda and Councillor Yamir Rodriguez.

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Noel Velez (right), assistant business manager for the schools, with his family, Sophia, Adriel and Julius Velez.

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The members of the project team gathered for a photo in front of the school.

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School Business Manager Mike Mason posed in front of the school values:  citizenship, leadership, accountability and knowledge.

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Former Principal Mary Leverone with current Principal Michael Talbot in the new gym.

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Members of the architectural firm HMFH, including Lori Cowles, Caitlin Osepchuk, Chris Vance, Arthur Duffy, Suni Dillard and Vassilios Valaes.

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ROADBLOCK:ZBA Rejects Request for Housing Project

A lot at the corner of Broadway and Clinton Street has sat empty for more than five years.

That site will remain undeveloped for the foreseeable future, as the Zoning Board of Appeals rejected a request for a special permit to build a four-story, 42-unit affordable apartment building at 1001-1005 Broadway on Tuesday night.

This coming just as the project cleared state environmental hurdles on Wednesday – seemingly all for naught.

The proposal was a partnership between the Traggorth Companies and The Neighborhood Developers (TND) to build 33 affordable and nine market rate one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, along with 1,100 square feet of retail space.

Needing four votes out of five on the ZBA to garner the special permit to cover rear setback, parking, and maximum lot coverage issues, board members Henry Wilson and Arthur Arsenault voted against granting the permit.

The future of the site is up in the air, according to David Traggorth of the Traggorth Companies. During the hearing, Traggorth said the partnership with TND to provide affordable rental units was the only feasible plan for the site.

“We don’t have a project,” said Traggorth after the meeting. “We weren’t kidding. We have to assess our options.”

Previously, Traggorth and TND worked together to create the Box District, with Traggorth developing the Atlas Lofts project within that district.

During the public hearing, many of the usual suspects of residential development were brought up by residents, including traffic and size of the project.

But underlying the typical concerns was a larger debate about the need for affordable rate rental units versus affordable home ownership in the city. While there was a general consensus among all attending the hearing that the need for affordable housing is among the city’s greatest needs, there was a difference of opinion on how to go about achieving that goal.

“We’ve been hearing this conversation about what we are building in Chelsea for a while now,” said City Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda. As a councillor, Avellaneda said he has been a big supporter of affordable housing, sponsoring the Community Preservation Act (CPA) and supporting inclusionary zoning.

But Avellaneda said the pendulum has swung too far in the city toward providing only affordable rate rental units, and not building any affordable units for ownership.

“I am asking the board to say no to this project because it is not an ownership project,” he said. “Every parcel where we build a rental project is another lost opportunity for home ownership in this city.”

In the past decade, there have been 3,500 affordable housing units built in the city, all of them rentals, Avellaneda said.

“Affordable home ownership is being forced out; we’ve built affordable rentals but nothing for affordable ownership,” he said. “If you get the message out that we want ownership, it’s going to happen.”

The councillor noted that at many city meetings, those who come out and participate in the community are homeowners and not renters. Avellaneda said the two districts in Chelsea with the highest voter turnout are the two with the highest rates of home ownership.

However, several people spoke of the efforts of TND to get renters involved in the community process, and that the greatest need for affordable units is for rental units.

Maria Belen Power, associate executive director of Chelsea community organization GreenRoots, said her group supported the Broadway project.

“Seventy-five percent of people who live in Chelsea are renters,” she said. “We need is what the developer is showing.”

City Manager Thomas Ambrosino also voiced his support, noting that in his three years in the city, he has heard from no other developer with a plan for the vacant lot.

“This proposal meets the most critical need in the city, which is affordable housing,” Ambrosino said. “The complaint I hear most often in my office is the lament of the lack of affordable housing, and it is mostly renters who are being displaced. Many of those renters are long-time Chelsea residents.

“If you reject this, you are simply eliminating an affordable housing opportunity, and you are not providing an affordable housing ownership opportunity.”

The ZBA’s decision can be appealed in Superior Court or Land Court, according to John DePriest, the city’s director of planning and development.

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Encore Signs Agreement with Local Entertainment Group

Encore Boston Harbor added a local flavor to its five-star, $2.5 billion global resort this week, announcing that it has signed a lease with New England-based Big Night Entertainment Group to operate a 16,400-square-foot restaurant and lounge and an 8,000-square-foot luxury nightclub at the resort.

Named for both its alluring design and waterfront location along the Mystic River, ‘Mystique’ will be situated off the main esplanade of Encore Boston Harbor. The contemporary Asian-fusion menu will feature a spectacular array of artful sushi, traditional Asian delicacies and innovative new dishes.

The nightclub, dubbed ‘Memoire,’ will overlook the Encore Boston Harbor gaming floor and be one of the most glamorous nighttime entertainment destinations in New England, complete with luxury VIP bottle areas.

“Encore Boston Harbor will offer some of the most high-quality, entertaining and enjoyable dining and nightlife experiences in the nation, making Mystique and Memoire perfect fits,” said Bob DeSalvio, president of Encore Boston Harbor. “Big Night Entertainment Group owns and operates several of the most popular and award-winning restaurants and luxury nightclubs in the region and is very well respected in this marketplace. They know how to amaze people in every way and will help mark Encore Boston Harbor as the premier dining and nightlife destination for all who visit, live or work in the region.”

Big Night Entertainment Group principals Randy Greenstein, Ed Kane and Joe Kane designed Mystique as an energetic open-kitchen restaurant and lounge that will be richly appointed with Asian-inspired artwork and adornments from across the globe. The restaurant will seat more than 530 guests in its main dining room and three private dining rooms, including a 94-seat lounge with wrap-around bar that will entertain guests at night with music and small-plate offerings.

Memoire will accommodate up to 600 guests in an exuberant setting of gold, leather, marble and hand-blown glass chandeliers direct from the flea markets of Paris. A mezzanine level overlooks the main floor and features VIP bars and private lounge areas.

“Mystique and Memoire are destined to be flagship destinations at Encore Boston Harbor,” said Principal Ed Kane of Big Night Entertainment Group. “We are thrilled to be able to deliver the premier, first-class experience that guests will expect at the resort.”

Mystique and Memoire will be two of the 13 dining, lounge and casual food offerings located in the three-million square foot Encore Boston Harbor Resort. The other restaurants currently announced to be at Encore Boston Harbor are Sinatra and Fratelli. Sinatra, the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Award-winning Italian restaurant that is owned and operated by Wynn Resorts and located at Encore in Las Vegas, will be located adjacent to Mystique. Fratelli, a casual-Italian restaurant, will be operated by Boston North End restauranteurs Frank DePasquale and Nick Varano.

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Chelsea Fire Dept to Host Free Family Fire Safety Night Oct 13

The Chelsea Fire Department welcomes local families to a free Open House on Saturday, October 13, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The open house, sponsored by Papa Gino’s, is aimed at teaching families fire safety and prevention practices.  The Chelsea Fire Department Open House will be held at 307 Chestnut St.

This open house commemorates National Fire Safety week. Participants will receive safety tips such as “stop, drop and roll”, learn how to plan escape routes and how to crawl safely through a smoke-filled room.  In addition, Papa Gino’s, the Dedham, Mass.-based pizza chain, will provide free pizza and children’s fire safety activity sheets at the open house.

“This open house event allows us to reach out to the community and arm local families with fire safety tips and procedures,” said Chief Leonard Albanese.

Papa Gino’s is celebrating its 24th anniversary of sponsoring fire safety open houses throughout New England to encourage families to learn about fire safety.

For more information about the Chelsea Fire Department open house, call Deputy Chief Richard Perisie at (617)466-4620.

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State Officials Seek to Reduce Stormwater Pollution

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), in partnership with the Statewide Stormwater Coalition, announced the launch of a new stormwater awareness campaign to help Massachusetts cities and towns comply with new federal stormwater management requirements. The announcement was made during an event at the Joseph H. Gibbons Elementary School in Stoughton.

“Stormwater runoff threatens the health of all water resources across Massachusetts,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “This unique public education campaign provides important information to residents, businesses and developers about what they can do to reduce these contaminants in our environment and keep our rivers and streams safe from pollution.”

The public awareness campaign, “Think Blue Massachusetts,” is designed to generate awareness among businesses and residents of the effects of stormwater pollution on waterways and wetlands and encourage people to do their part to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff. The campaign was developed by the Statewide Stormwater Coalition with a grant from MassDEP and will help 260 communities in Massachusetts meet new federal requirements for stormwater management. The new permit, called the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, requires cities and towns to implement a host of stormwater pollution prevention efforts, including public educational activities and outreach to targeted audiences.

“The new campaign is a toolkit to help cities and towns meet the public education and outreach requirements of MS4,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “The material is available online and can be easily downloaded and customized to reflect a community’s individual needs. It provides one-stop shopping for our local officials who are working hard to meet these requirements.”

Stormwater runoff occurs when rain or snow-melt travels along roadways and parking lots and picks up contaminants on its way to local rivers, streams and groundwater sources. Contaminants – such as fertilizer, trash, oils, gasoline, solvents, pollen and pet waste – is washed into catch basins and into our stormwater systems and eventually discharged into the environment. The new requirements in the MS4 permits will reduce the overall amount of stormwater runoff entering our waterbodies.

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.

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Carl and Sharon Minkovitz Coordinate Beatles Tribute Concert on Oct. 13

Carl and Sharon Minkovitz Coordinate Beatles Tribute Concert on Oct. 13

Sharon and Carl Minkovitz (pictured above) are planning a Beatles tribute fundraising event on Saturday, Oct. 13, from 7 to 11 p.m., at Temple Emmanuel in Chelsea. The Glass Onion, an acoustic Beatles cover band, will be performing many of the Beatles’ songs. Tickets include the show, pizza, and snacks. There will be a cash bar. Tickets are $20 per person and may be purchased by calling the Temple Emmanuel office at 617-889-1736 or at the door. Proceeds will go toward the restoration of the temple.

Sharon and Carl Minkovitz (pictured above) are planning a Beatles tribute fundraising event on Saturday, Oct. 13, from 7 to 11 p.m., at Temple Emmanuel in Chelsea. The Glass Onion, an acoustic Beatles cover band, will be performing many of the Beatles’ songs. Tickets include the show, pizza, and snacks. There will be a cash bar. Tickets are $20 per person and may be purchased by calling the Temple Emmanuel office at 617-889-1736 or at the door. Proceeds will go toward the restoration of the temple.

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Walk for Life

Walk for Life

Leonard Florence Center for Living (LFCFL) resident Patrick O’ Brien and a group of supporters make their way through the course during the 10th annual LFCFL Walk for Life on Admiral’s Hill last Sunday, Sept. 30. The walk was reported to be the biggest and most exciting since its inception 10 years ago.

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Roca’s 30th Anniversary

Roca’s 30th Anniversary

Roca’s 30th Anniversary Community Celebration was held Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018 at Roca Headquarters in Chelsea. Enjoying the outdoor event are from left, Councilior at-Large Leo Robinson, State Rep. Dan Ryan, State Sen. Sal DiDomenico, and Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes. Look for more coverage in next week’s edition of the Chelsea Record.

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Drug Treatment Center Looks to Strengthen Ties in the Community

Drug Treatment Center Looks to Strengthen Ties in the Community

As part of the Recovery Month activities, the Health Care Resource Center Methadone Clinic on Crescent Avenue

Counselors and staff at the Health Care Resource Center Methadone clinic on Crescent Avenue pause for a picture during their open house last Thursday, Sept. 27, as part of Recovery Month. Directors said they hope to build strong ties with the community and overcome the misconceptions about what they do.

opened its doors on Thursday, Sept. 27, to let residents find out more about what they do.

Victoria Johnson, treatment center director, said they offer a valuable service to patients looking to beat an addiction to opiates and other drugs. Known as medication assisted treatment, Methadone is administered at the Chelsea facility to about 750 patients on a daily basis – and it’s a system that has seen many happy endings.

“One of the biggest things we’re up against is the misconception of what we do and the benefits of medication assisted treatment,” she said. “Also, when people stigmatize the patients, it hurts the community. It’s the biggest fight providers are always up against.”

The clinic has often been seen as a location that Chelsea doesn’t want, and hasn’t been in close connection with the community at times. However, Johnson said they treat many residents of Chelsea and the surrounding communities and they want to forge closer ties. She also said they already work closely with the HUB/COR program and with the Chelsea Police.

During Recover Month, she said she wanted to stress they are part of the solution to this epidemic.

“We have a lot of people who have recovered,” she said, meaning they have weaned themselves off of Methadone. “We try to get them to come back and talk to the counseling groups we run about their success. We want them to share about how life has been when they no longer need to be medicated. We also try to stay in the community and build strong connections. A lot of people don’t know how to get into treatment, and that’s the biggest question we have.”

A typical day at the clinic starts about 5:30 a.m. when the staff arrives and prepares for the first patients to come in at 6 a.m. Those patients are typically those that work or take care of children or elderly family members. Normally, they will take their does and be in and out in about 15 minutes. Dosing continues throughout the morning until 11 a.m.

Anyone using the treatment also has to come in for a counseling component two hours per month, and 15 counselors are on hand to run group counseling for a variety of types.

Most of the patients pay for the service with MassHealth, and some insurances like Blue Cross/Blue Shield pay for the treatment as well.

Typically, Johnson said, patients will come in and stabilize using the Methadone treatment. That takes about two weeks to two months.

She also said they have very strict policies on loitering outside the clinic. She said if they find patients loitering or causing issues outside, they will call the police. Any problems with law enforcement can cause the patient to be removed from treatment.

“They’re not causing those problems here,” she said. “I always say to people, if they see it, call the police. Our goal is to get people into treatment, stabilize them, and set them up for success.”

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Counselors and staff at the Health Care Resource Center Methadone clinic on Crescent Avenue pause for a picture during their open house last Thursday, Sept. 27, as part of Recovery Month. Directors said they hope to build strong ties with the community and overcome the misconceptions about what they do.

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Split Decision:50/50 Night for Reimagining Broadway as Council Wrestles with Legalities

Split Decision:50/50 Night for Reimagining Broadway as Council Wrestles with Legalities

There’s still time to reimagine Broadway.

Or at least a few stretches of the $5 million traffic project city officials have been working on for close to two years.

Monday night, the City Council delivered a split decision on the Reimagining Broadway downtown traffic proposal following a presentation by Alexander Train, the city’s assistant director of planning and director.

The most controversial aspect of the project, converting the section of Broadway from Bellingham Square to Chelsea Square from a one-way street to a two-way street with increased smart traffic signalization at several intersections, was sent back to the Traffic and Parking Commission for revision.

Councillors also opposed, by a narrow margin, the plans for the improvement of the Bellingham Square portion of the project. However, the Council did give its okay to two portions of the proposal tied to Fay and Chelsea Squares themselves.

The debate over Reimagining Broadway included several short recesses as Councillors debated in smaller groups the legality of how the vote was proceeding, and what a split vote would mean for the overall project. City officials kicked off Reimagining Broadway in the beginning of 2017 as a way to improve the downtown streets for motorists, pedestrians, and public transit.

During one of the breaks, a call was made to the City’s legal counsel to make sure the Council could legally split the vote on Reimagining Broadway into four sections, according to District 5 Councillor Judith Garcia. However, legal counsel drew the line at, and the majority of the councillors agreed, that amendments to the four sections beyond what was presented to the Council were not legally in order.

By the end of the evening, there was still some concern as to what the Council had accomplished.

“I just want to be clear on what the Council voted on,” said District 8 Councillor Calvin Brown as Council President Damali Vidot gaveled the two-hour meeting to a close.

“I’m not diminishing the hard work of the City staff, but I am asking that they go back to the drawing board and come back with options A, B, and C,” said Vidot, who voted ‘no’ on each section of the proposal.

Vidot also said she was uncomfortable passing the Reimagining Broadway plan through piecemeal without knowing what that would mean for the project as a whole.

“I don’t know what it means to approve one part and deny another,” she said.

Going back to the drawing board would provide a better opportunity to reach out to Chelsea’s citizens, Vidot said.

“Let’s reach out and do a better job,” she said. “We can do better, let’s go back to the drawing board.”

But Garcia said the time has come to put the plans in motion, especially when it comes to the safety of her constituents.

“I am excited to bring change to Broadway and hopeful of the possibilities it can create in the downtown,” said Garcia. “But one of the key messages we keep forgetting is safety.”

Garcia pointed to the addition of a traffic signal in front of a senior and handicapped housing building at 272 Broadway as one of the safety benefits of the project.

“That is a dangerous intersection,” she said. “When I ran for election in 2015, I promised to try to make is safer for them. Today, what we are being presented with is a concept. What we are voting on today is not set in stone.”

During his presentation, Train stressed that the Council was only giving its okay on conceptual plans.

“There will be more engineering and design details in preparation for construction,” he said. That process would also include more opportunity for public input, as well as plans on how the project would be phased over time to minimize construction impacts for local businesses and residents.

ONE WAY OR TWO?

The most heated debate on the nuts and bolts of Reimagining Broadway itself was easily the proposal to convert Broadway from a one-way to a two-way street from Bellingham Square to Chelsea Square.

Train presented two versions of the plan.

The one recommended to the Council called for 11-½ foot travel lanes in each direction with sidewalks and parking on each side of the street. The second proposal included just a single travel lane with the sidewalks and parking along with a dedicated bicycle lane.

Several councillors, including Vidot, said they were concerned that converting to a two-way street would make Broadway more, not less, dangerous for pedestrians and motorists.

There was also a difference of opinion among councillors, and long-time Chelsea residents, Leo Robinson and Giovanni Recupero, who couldn’t even come to a consensus on whether the road was safe when it was a two-way street in the 1960s.

Robinson, who supported the two-way proposal, said he grew up on Broadway and there was a good flow of traffic on the street at that time.

But Recupero said going back to the past would only make a bad situation worse.

“My constituents do not want it and say it is crazy with traffic already,” he said. “It didn’t work then and I don’t think it will work now.”

Some of the legal wrangling during the evening centered on Councillor-at-Large Roy Avellaneda attempting to strike out some of the language in the proposal, essentially keeping Broadway one-way, but including the traffic lights and other improvements for the road as presented by Train.

“I do not want to support a two-way Broadway, but the residents need and deserve the traffic lights,” said Avellaneda.

But after the call to the city solicitor, the Council voted that Avellaneda’s move to strike language from the initial proposal was the same as an amendment to the proposal.

The two sections of Reimagining Broadway will now go back to the Traffic and Parking Commission for revision before being brought back to the City Council.

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