After more than two and a half years of negotiations, the City is on the verge of a new contract with its two police unions that will see pay increases of up to three percent and implement residency requirements for new hires.
Monday night, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino requested the City Council approve the contracts, which are retroactive to Fiscal year 2017. The Council forwarded the request to its subcommittee on conference, and will take up an official vote on the contracts at a future meeting.
The collective bargaining agreements are for the unions which represent police superior officers and patrol officers.
“Both deals encompass four years, made up of two separate contracts: a one year deal for FY17; and a subsequent three year deal for FY 19-FY20,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the City Council.
The contracts include a retroactive salary increase of 2.5 percent for FY17 and 3 percent for FY18 and FY19. There is also a 3 percent increase slated for FY20 and an additional 1 percent increase that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
All told, the retroactive salary increases total about $876,000.
“I strongly recommend that the City Council support these agreements, which have been the subject of lengthy negotiations spanning more than two and a half years,” Ambrosino stated. “We set aside in Salary Reserve for the resolution of these two agreements a total of $700,000. Accordingly, we will need an additional appropriation from Stabilization of $176,000 to satisfy these contractual commitments.”
The salary hikes are the only cost item in the new contracts, according to the City Manager. Other items in the contracts related to longevity, detail pay, sick leave incentive, and clothing allowance are limited to clarifications or minor changes and do not add any additional costs to the City, he added.
The percentage increases for salary are slightly more than those other City Hall unions have received, Ambrosino said.
“However, in return, the City did secure new language on residency upon which the City Council insisted,” he stated. “As of January 1, 2019, all new police hires must live in the City of Chelsea for five years, consistent with the Ordinance approved by the City Council earlier this year.”
While there was no debate over the union contracts themselves at Monday’s Council meeting, District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop did raise concerns about the City’s use of its stabilization, or “rainy day” funds.
Bishop noted that Ambrosino was requesting the use of stabilization funds for improvements to Eden Park and for a protective cover for the new high school turf field as well as for the contract salary costs.
Those stabilization funds should be used for emergency situations, Bishop said.
“I don’t think any of these requests rise to the level of an emergency to use the rainy day fund,” he said.
While Bishop said he supported the requests being made, he wanted assurances that any money taken out of the City’s stabilization funds be replaced by free cash as soon as those funds are certified by the state.
Outside graduation coming closer to a
resolution, decided Dec. 17
The Chelsea High School Class of 2019’s quest to graduate outside at the high school could come to a conclusion at the City Council’s next meeting on Monday, Dec. 17.
That’s when the Council is expected to vote on a $170,000 appropriation from the school stabilization account to pay for a protective mat for the new turf field at the high school.
City Manager Thomas Ambrosino made the request for the funds for the protective mat, which he said will allow for the use of the turf field for non-sporting events. The turf field comes with an eight-year warranty, but that warranty is voided if there are certain non-sporting uses on the field.
The possible purchase is good news for members of the high school’s senior class, who have been working with school and city officials, as well as fundraising, in an effort to have their graduation moved to the high school field.
Senior Manuel Teshe said the turf field cover will benefit the whole city, as well as students and their families attending the graduation.
“This investment is going to last for years,” he said. “If this is done, it is done for the city, and the future of the city is the students at Chelsea High School right now.”
Senior Class President Jocelyn Poste was one of a number of CHS students wearing “Dream Big” shirts who addressed the Council on Monday night.
“We are close to achieving our dream of graduating outside on our own field,” said Poste. “With the help of the City Council, this can be a possibility.”
School Supt. Mary Bourque also lent the students some support before the Council.
“This is a wise investment for our future and will have a positive impact on every generation here,” Bourque said.
District 5 Councillor Judith Garcia urged all the students present on Monday night to return with their friends on Dec. 17.
“I’m so incredibly proud of everything that was said tonight,” she said.
In other business, the Council approved a change in the zoning ordinance requiring tighter building controls in the Admiral’s Hill neighborhood.
Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda introduced an order requesting that the License Commission hold two recreational marijuana licenses for applicants that have a majority ownership consisting of Chelsea residents.
Ambrosino asked the Council to approve funding for renovations to Eden Park.
The majority of the renovations will be reimbursed through a state grant, the city manager stated.
“The proposed renovations of Eden Park include replacement of the playground’s rubber surfacing, introduction of new playground equipment, installation of a new water feature and splash pad, installation of new site furniture and lighting, and reconstruction of all site utilities,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the Council.
The total cost of the renovations is about $750,000, according to Ambrosino. The City Council appropriated $250,000 through the Fiscal Year 2019 Capital Improvement Program. Of the remaining $500,000, the City Manager said $400,000 should be reimbursed by the state.
The City of Chelsea is happy to announce that the Senior Tax Work-Off Program is being offered once again. We offer clerical tasks and various office duties.
The Senior Tax Work-Off Program is a special program offered by the City of Chelsea to help financially eligible seniors receive a reduction off of their annual real estate taxes. If a senior qualifies for this program, they then work for the City’s departments, earning $12.00 per hour for up to 125 hours for a maximum of $1,500.00 per year.
Deadline for all applications is January 31, 2019
There is a limit of 25 participants per year, in the event the city receives more than 25 participants a lottery will be held to determine the current year’s participants.
For further information visit https://www.chelseama.gov/ or contact Denia Romero at 617-466-4170 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Veterans Tax Work-Off Abatement Program
The City of Chelsea is happy to announce that once again we are offering the Veterans Property Tax Work-Off Abatement Program.
The program provides qualified Veterans and spouses of qualified Veterans who work up to 125 hours for the City an abatement of up to $1,500 against their real estate taxes.
We offer clerical tasks and various other office duties. If a Veteran qualifies for this program he/she would then work for the City’s departments, earning $12.00 per hour for up to 125 hours for a maximum of $1,500 per year.
Deadline for all applications is January 31, 2019
There is a limit of 25 participants per year, in the event the city receives more than 25 applicants a lottery will be held to determine the current year’s participants.
For further information visit https://www.chelseama.gov/ or contact Denia Romero at 617-466-4170 / email@example.com
Six members of the violent, transnational organization known as “La Mara Salvatrucha” or “MS-13” were indicted Nov. 28 in federal court in Boston with racketeering – with five charged in the murder of a teen last summer.
As alleged in the indictment, as part of the racketeering conspiracy, five of the six defendants participated in the murder of a teenage boy in Lynn, on or about July 30, 2018.
The indictment charges the following members of the Sykos Locos Salvatrucha clique:
Erick Lopez Flores, a/k/a “Mayimbu,” 29, of Lynn;
Henri Salvador Gutierrez, a/k/a “Perverso,” 19, a Salvadoran national previously residing in Somerville;
Eliseo Vaquerano Canas, a/k/a “Peligroso,” 19, a Salvadoran national previously residing in Chelsea;
Jonathan Tercero Yanes, a/k/a “Desalmado,” 21, a Salvadoran national previously residing in East Boston;
Marlos Reyes, a/k/a “Silencio,” 22, a Salvadoran national previously residing in Chelsea; and
Djavier Duggins, a/k/a “Haze,” 29, of Lynn.
The indictment also mentions an unnamed juvenile, who has been separately charged in a sealed information, as required by federal law.
Duggins was arrested Nov. 30 and will appear in federal court on Nov. 29, 2019, at 3:30 p.m. The five defendants accused of murder are currently detained on state charges or in immigration custody, and will appear in federal court in the days ahead.
As alleged in court documents, on Aug. 2, 2018, law enforcement officers responded to Henry Avenue Playground in Lynn, where a civilian had encountered the dead body of a young boy lying in a wooded area. Based on the condition of the body, it appeared that the victim had been murdered a few days prior to when the body was discovered.
It is alleged that Lopez, Salvador, Vaquerano, Tercero, and Reyes murdered the victim with premeditated malice, and with extreme atrocity and cruelty. The evidence includes a recording of Salvador allegedly describing the murder in graphic detail, including how he, Vaquerano, Tercero, and Yanes stabbed the victim numerous times while Lopez assisted. The recording also described Duggins as being a leader of the clique. The victim was allegedly targeted because the gang believed the victim had been cooperating with law enforcement.
“MS-13 is a ruthless, transnational gang operating in our backyard,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “This group routinely commits senseless acts of violence, including murder, to maintain control and instill fear. Dismantling MS-13 in Massachusetts and elsewhere is a top priority of the Department of Justice. Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies will continue working together to investigate and hold MS-13 members responsible for these heinous crimes.”
“The murder of 17-year old Herson Rivas is another sobering example of the savagery of MS-13, the ruthlessness of its members, and the utter disregard they have for law and order, our communities, and the opportunities afforded to them while here in the United States. This barbaric behavior cannot and will not be tolerated, and law enforcement at all levels will continue to use all available resources, aggressively exploit all available intelligence, and work as one integrated team with the sole intention of preventing additional murders or future acts of violence,” said Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “I commend the FBI’s North Gang Task Force for their unwavering pursuit of MS-13, the tremendous work conducted by our federal, state and local law enforcement partners regarding this threat, and the proactive efforts undertaken to move and share intelligence, all in an effort to stem the flow of violence. There is no place in society for MS-13—their violence and tactics need to be stopped—and this gang must be dismantled at all levels.”
According to court documents, MS-13 is a violent street gang whose branches or “cliques” operate throughout the United States, including Massachusetts. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence against rival gang members to gain promotions and to maintain membership and discipline within the group. Specifically, MS-13 members are required to attack and murder rival gang members whenever possible, and to attack and murder those suspected of cooperating with law enforcement. MS-13 often recruits younger members from schools and communities with large immigrant populations from Central America.
The charge of RICO conspiracy typically provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. However, Lopez, Salvador, Vaquerano, Tercero, and Reyes face up to life in prison because their racketeering activity involved murder.
Chelsea 9-1-1 Dispatchers were treated to a full course homemade Thanksgiving Dinner with all the fixings compliments of Emergency Management Director Keith Vetreno and his wife Tina during their Thanksgiving shift. Their act of kindness was greatly appreciated by all. Pictured above are 911 Dispatchers Richard Smith, Paul Koolloian, Emergency Management Director Keith Vetreno and Dispatcher Edward Collina.
The Chelsea Fire Department has embarked on another year of collecting toys at the Central Fire Station for needy families, delivering them mid-month to the Toys for Tots campaign.
Capt. Phil Rogers said the fifth year of collections at the Central Fire Station has begun and he urged everyone in the community to bring in a new, non-violent, unwrapped toy if at all possible. They are accepting donations through Dec. 14, and can take them at the Station in Fay Square between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day.
“We have started our annual Toys for Tots campaign,” said Rogers. “The toy drive ends a little early this year on Dec. 14, which is a little easier. We need all kinds of new toys and they should be unwrapped. Toys for Tots only accepts new toys. We have really enjoyed doing this over the years, and the people here have been so generous. We’re trying to make this an annual thing and it’s been working very well. If we can put a smile on a kid’s face, that’s a good thing.”
This year, the Fire Department is also sponsoring a winter clothing drive in conjunction with the toy drive to benefit St. Luke’s Food Pantry.
Rogers said several firefighters helped to cook and serve Thanksgiving dinner to those at the Pantry this year, and the needs there, he said, were “eye opening.”
In response, the Department decided to begin collecting winter clothing.
He said they need new or lightly-used gloves, hats, coats, mittens or scarves. For the homeless, he said they are requesting new packages of wool socks.
The Department will continue collecting the winter clothing through December.
Anyone in need of toys from the Toys for Tots campaign should contact their social worker or pastor, who will put them in touch with the proper people.
The Chelsea Soldiers’ Home water tower – a beloved local landmark – is slated to come down next month, and this Friday, the Soldiers’ Home is inviting everyone to its grounds to give an official good-bye to the red and white checkered symbol of Chelsea.
“The ceremony Friday is going to be very informal, but meaningful,” said Supt. Cheryl Poppe. “We’ve invited a lot of officials and the entire community. If anyone has a memory or a letter they would like to read, this would be a good time for that. This is a time for residents, staff and Soldiers’ Home residents to give the tower a farewell.”
Poppe said the tower has to be taken down due to the new $199 million Community Living Center project, which is starting construction now and will be in full building mode this spring. The tower has been a beloved symbol of Chelsea for decades since being put up in 1958. The red and white checkered tower was used to pump water, but for many more it became a symbol of the City of Chelsea – with people being able to see its ‘Chelsea Soldiers’ Home’ lettering from far and wide.
Poppe said it hasn’t been functional since 2009, and is structurally unsound now. There was no way to save it from the wrecking ball in order to build the new Center, but they do plan to commemorate it with a photo montage or a small model on the property.
“The construction company is still exploring ways to remove the tower and there are many ways,” she said. “They’re still examining things like how many layers of paint are on it and how they can safely take it down. It might now be until late in December, but we do expect it to go down soon. We wanted to make sure people had a chance to say good-bye before that happened.”
In addition, part of Malone Park will also be taken up soon by fences that will be used for construction activities and parking.
“I know I want to take my last walk around that loop before it’s not available,” said Poppe. “I’m sure others do, too.”
The Soldiers’ Home has had many scares over the years due to underfunding and the fact that the Quigley Hospital has open wards, something that was permitted in the past but no longer is.
“When it was built, you were supposed to come here, heal and then go home,” she said. “It wasn’t meant to be a home. Now, of course, people stay here and it is their home. This new Center will make it more of a home, right down to how the meals are prepared.”
Poppe said the fact that the hospital is getting a remake is a tribute to Lawrence Quigley, who advocated for years and years to get it built in the first place.
“At one point he said that the VA had done 21 surveys and 21 studies and it was time to do something,” he said. “He was trying to take care of the veterans from World War I, not even knowing his son would go to World War II and need the same services.”
She said there was quite a lot of folks who were sentimental or upset about the removal of the tower at first, but she said she believes in recent months many have seen the value of the overall project.
“The residents have a sentimentality for the tower, but at this pint they realize it is more important for veterans who need long-term care now and in the future to be served by this Community Living Center,” she said.
The farewell to the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home tower will take place on Friday, Nov. 30, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Cross Country standout Yarid Deras may not talk much about her achievements, but the senior Chelsea High scholar-athlete has plenty of others to tout her accomplishments.
Aside from her coaches and Athletic Director Amanda Alpert, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) has also honored her.
On Nov. 14, at the MIAA Recognition Breakfast, Deras was named the Commonwealth Athletic Conference’s Female award recipient. It’s an honor she will add to being the upper division league MVP this year in Cross Country.
“It’s very surprising to me how fast four years have gone,” she said. “I didn’t start running until my freshman year. It was the first thing I really did my freshman year. I didn’t really think I would enjoy it. I enjoyed the team and not so much the running. The summer after my freshman year, something happened and I really learned to love the sport for what it is. I will definitely continue running after high school, maybe for a club team in college.”
Deras’s coach, Don Fay, had nothing but good things to say for his senior leader and league MVP.
“I have coached Yarid for the last four years,” he said. “She is one of the most impressive young ladies I have ever met. Extremely smart, hard-working and competitive. She never misses practice, and never complains. Yarid is a truly nice, genuine person.”
Alpert said Deras is soft-spoken and very humble, always the last person to talk about any of her achievements.
Deras said the team is small, with about eight girls, but they are very competitive. She said over the years she has learned to be a leader, but that may not always come vocally.
“I think I don’t really lead vocally,” she said. “I don’t say much, but I think I lead by example. I don’t do much with words, but I set the example for the younger runners on my team. That’s how they have come to respect me as a leader.”
Even though she was this year’s league MVP, Deras said the highlight of her Cross Country career was last year when the team won the league meet and went undefeated for the entire season. Her sophomore year, she also won the league MVP and turned in an excellent 21.04 time in the 5K.
As a senior, she still has outdoor track to look forward to, and the Chelsea girls are also very strong in that sport as well. She said she will run the one-mile and two-mile races for the team.
She is currently looking at several colleges, including Smith College and Providence College.
The Planning Board recommended approval to two changes to the City’s zoning ordinances on Tuesday night.
The first change affects the Naval Hospital Residential and Commercial Districts, also known as the Admiral’s Hill area of the city.
In the 1980s, the city slackened many building and zoning regulations for the district in an effort to encourage development, according to Lad Dell, the city’s planning and land use administrator.
“People were able to develop without much regulation at all,” said Dell.
A moratorium on building in the district was recently extended to the end of the year by City Manager Thomas Ambrosino as the City worked on new regulations for the district.
The new ordinance recommended by the Planning Board for approval by the City Council allows for four- to six-unit buildings to be constructed by right, with a special permit required for any construction above six units.
The ordinance brought before the Planning Board allowed for building heights of 2 ½ stories and 35 feet. The board amended the ordinance to allow for a building height of 40 feet.
“I would suggest that we add the half a story and a little height to allow for garages,” said John DePriest, the City’s planning director.
City Councillor Roy Avellaneda said the amendment was in line with Council subcommittee discussions on the ordinance to increase building height to make it easier to build garages.
The residents who spoke during the public hearing on the zoning amendment were supportive.
“It looks like this is an effort to protect the character of the neighborhood and not overload our streets,” said Christine Shields.
The second zoning amendment would allow for residential units on the first floor of buildings in the Retail Business District by special permit, as long as those units are not on Broadway.
Two years ago, a zoning amendment banned residential units on the first floor in the Broadway corridor. If the new amendment is approved by the City Council, residential units will still be banned on the first floor on Broadway itself, but could be allowed under special permit on other streets near Broadway in the zoning district.
In other Planning Board business, the developers of the massive 1 Forbes Street project withdrew their plans for the project.
But rather than a massive blow to development in the City, it was a procedural move that gives developers more time to fully present the project to a full Planning Board, according to Paul Feldman, who is representing the developer for the 630-unit residential and office building project.
“The public hearing on this was opened on Sept. 22, and at that time, there were a couple of vacancies on the board and a member who was not present,” said Feldman. “With a nine member board, to get site approval, we need six votes.”
Feldman said developers are withdrawing the site plan, but immediately refiling it to start the clock over on the hearing process. He said he expects the project to be back before the Planning Board at its Dec. 18 meeting.
“We would like the participation of all nine members, or all that can attend,” said Feldman.
Tuesday night, the board also approved a special permit for a 16-seat Peruvian bistro-type restaurant at the site of a former liquor store on 22 Adams St.
Woodlawn Cemetery has announced it will be holding its 18th annual Christmas Ecumenical Memorial Service in the chapel on Thursday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m.
Francis J. LaRovere, III, esquire president and chief executive officer, in making the announcement said, “This is a difficult season for those who have lost a loved one; we hope that in offering this opportunity to share in this memorial service, the loss will be less painful.” LaRovere continued, “We are gratified with the response we have received form the public regarding this event and are pleased to be able to offer it each year during the holiday season.”
In addition to the service, Woodlawn will again light a memorial Christmas tree while the carolers sing traditional Christmas hymns. Reverend Thomas Coots and Father Vincent Gianni will celebrate the service.
Staring at 6:30 p.m., a seasonal music program will be performed by the Figgy Puddin Holiday Carolers. This acappella quartet of Dickensian carolers will perform traditional Christmas music in beautiful Victorian costumes.
This program is not recommended for children under 12 years old. Following the program, a collation will be held in Patton Memorial Hall. Gates will open at 6 p.m. seating is limited and may not be held for late arrivals, therefore; it is suggested you arrive early. For additional information please contact Paul M. Maniff, director of sales.
Members of Chelsea Uniting Against the War, a group of young women from the Chelsea Collaborative, peace activists from neighboring communities, Rhode Island and Vermont filled a bus from Chelsea City Hall to attend the Women’s March on the Pentagon on October 21. Other Chelsea residents came in large vans or cars.
The march was organized by Cindy Sheehan whose commitment against war and the military was sparked after the death of her first born son, Casey Austin Sheehan, an Army Specialist, who was killed in combat in Iraq in 2004. In an effort to talk to the President Bush, who refused to meet with her and to express her opposition to war, Cindy Sheehan set up camp outside of Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas in 2005. For three years, tens of thousands of people from the U.S. and internationally came to Camp Casey to show their support .
Cindy Sheehan’s activism has not wavered. She chose Oct. 21, 2018, as the date for women and others to march on the Pentagon to mark the 51st anniversary of the first March on the Pentagon. In 1967 over 50,000 people gathered at the Pentagon to demand and end to the war in Vietnam and to bring the troops home. The demands of this year’s march included the complete end of wars abroad, closure of foreign military bases, slashing of the Pentagon budget and the funding of healthy social programs and education.
Two women from Chelsea Uniting Against the War spoke to the crowd about the grass roots successful anti-military recruitment campaign at Chelsea High School. Every year since 2004 at the beginning of the school year, members of Chelsea Uniting Against the War welcome students and hand out English and Spanish leaflets in English and Spanish to each of the 1200 students to remind them of their right to withhold their contact information from military recruiters. In 2017, 70-percent of the seniors exercised their right to opt-out. Interest was expressed by many people in the audience to adopt Chelsea Uniting Against the War’s approach to educating students in their local high schools.
For some activists, the Women’s March on the Pentagon was their first national protest in the U.S.
As Juitiza Torres, a youth from the Chelsea Collaborative stated, “As a young Latina this march and the people involved encourages me to speak up and talk about what really needs to be talked about.” Dalia Juarez added “It was my first time in D.C. It felt like an amazing experience for me and it felt empowering to be there for something I feel very strongly about. It was an overall great experience to start the (school) year.”
The work of Chelsea Against the War continues with monthly meetings and events. For more information about Chelsea Uniting Against the War, contact us on FaceBook at ChelseaUnitingAgaistthe War (note there is an “n”missing) or firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-884-5132.
For more photos or to learn more about the Women’s March on the Pentagon, go to MarchonPentagon.com.