Chelsea Centro : Business Community Looking to Re-Brand, Reinvigorate Downtown

One might have seen the colorful paint job on the gazebo at Bellingham Square and wondered what it was all about.

Well, it’s more than just a colorful paint job.

Rather, it is the first step in what business and City leaders hope will be a coordinated plan for the downtown business district – a plan that has already gained the confidence of state government with Chelsea getting two $20,000 grants to further the project along.

TDI Fellow Carlos Matos, Chamber Foundation President Sergio Jaramillo, Councillor Leo Robinson, and new CHISPA BizLab coordinator Deise Paraguay in front of the newly-painted gazebo in Bellingham Square

Carlos Matos, a fellow assigned to Chelsea from the MassDevelopment Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) program, said the gazebo was just the first piece of several placemaking initiatives they hope to achieve with the Chamber, a new business lab dubbed CHISPA BizLab, and the Chamber Foundation – among many other partners.

“The gazebo was the beginnings of this placemaking and focusing attention on the downtown,” he said. “It’s bright and like the things you’ve seen in Boston. We studied it and these are designs that will resonate with residents of Central America and South America in shape and color. They will also appeal to everyone because it adds color and vibrancy to the area.”

“The initiative is working well so far,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “Hopefully, progress will continue in our efforts to revitalize the Downtown.”

Sergio Jaramillo, who is a long-time Chamber member and the new president of the Chamber Foundation, said they hope to use a coordinated approach to bring life to the downtown, help businesses and make downtown Chelsea a place to be.

“Our desire is to have Chelsea be a destination point for the region – just like Chinatown and the North End and as it is becoming in East Boston,” he said. “We want to have Chelsea be that place they want to come to because of the activities and food and quality of life that is here…Jay Ash was great for building up the coffers of the City again and building up Everett Avenue. I think now we are on the cusp and ready to do the other half of the city.”

Added Matos, “There are great opportunities on Everett Avenue and the question is now how do we transform them from isolated goals to a greater economic impact and draw them to the downtown for that greater economic impact. That’s the challenge we’re working on now.”

An extension of the gazebo branding effort, now being dubbed ‘Chelsea Centro’ as a test run – complete with bags and buttons as promotional tools, is a $20,000 grant from the state that will bring the same bright color scheme to Luther Place – where the successful Night Market has been held twice this summer.

The parking lot/market will be painted in bright colors, and also be painted to accommodate basketball or street soccer – giving it many different opportunities for activation. That will be supplemented by murals on the walls in the same color scheme, and sun shades to protect from the summer heat. That grant is supported by a $55,000 matching grant from the Chamber, which will also help to provide programming for the district.

Chamber Executive Director Rich Cuthie has been very excited about the branding of the downtown using the grant and the Chamber’s resources. He said, like Jaramillo, that the district is on the cusp of something very exciting. That is particularly the case for the storefront improvement program, which has been paved by the passing of new storefront regulations by the City Council this year.

Part of that will be financed by the new CHISPA BizLab, which the state awarded a $20,000 grant to start. That will be supplemented by a $6,000 grant by the Chamber Foundation.

Meaning “spark” in Spanish, CHISPA will help to provide small business technical assistance and advocacy for Latino businesses. It will also serve as a business incubator for new startups in Chelsea’s business district. That assistance will particularly go towards helping the food-related businesses in the district.

Already, CHISPA director Deise Paraguay has started talking to local businesses, officially beginning on July 15. Right now she said she is listening and learning – trying to bring everyone together. She will also act as the organizer of all of the projects involved with the re-branding effort.

Jaramillo said they have hired a company to fly a drone up and down Broadway to highlight the district. Similarly, they have contracted with a professional kitchen to bring in all of the restaurant owners from Broadway to consult with professional chefs. Using traditional recipes, they will work to invigorate their menus and give them new life.

Jaramillo said he is confident that in a few years, the new efforts will all pay off with an enlivened and exciting downtown for residents and those who want to come to Chelsea as a destination.

“I see in a few years that we will have an opportunity for the business community to capture a new market,” he said. “There will be more going on here and it will be more visually interesting for residents and visitors coming here. When people say, ‘Where should we go to dinner?’ They will say they want to go to Chelsea. Creating places where people want to live and visit is the best thing to do.”

Added Matos, “A lot of people are clamoring for authenticity in the places they go to. The places in Cambridge and Somerville are maybe lacking that. We think Chelsea has that authenticity you want and can’t get anywhere else. We want to highlight that, and that’s what we are setting out to do now.”

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Local Students Earn Academic Honors

Boston University Graduates Residents            

Boston University awarded academic degrees to 6,902 students in May 2019.

Receiving degrees were Richard Jean Baptiste, Master of Laws in Graduate Taxation; Jorge W. Baptista, Master of Public Health in Social and Behavioral Sciences; Sara Beqo, Bachelor of Science in Health Science, Cum Laude; Jhonatan Perea Piedrahita, Bachelor of Arts in Biology, Spec. in Cell Biology, Molecular Biology & Genetics; Raymond Novaes, Master of Science in Global Marketing Management; Ada G. Avila, Master of Social Work in Social Work; Makieya M. Kamara, Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership; Mathew C. Renik, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Business Administration and Management; Lindsay B. Zimnoch, Master of Theological Studies in Biblical and Historical Studies.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. Consisting of 16 schools and colleges, BU offers students more than 250 programs of study in science and engineering, social science and humanities, health science, the arts, and other professional disciplines, along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes integral to the University’s research and teaching mission. With more than 33,000 students, BU is the fourth-largest private university in the country and a member of the American Association of Universities (AAU), a nonprofit association of 62 of North America’s leading research-intensive institutions.

Local Students Receive Bachelor’s Degrees from UMass Amherst

Approximately 5,500 students received bachelor’s degrees in over 100 majors at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Undergraduate Commencement on May 10, 2019 at the McGuirk Alumni Stadium.

Below is a list of students from your area who earned a degree.

Chelsea

Nicholas James Estabrook

Faisal Nasimi

Tony Nguyen

David Michael Sklodowska-Johnson

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Second Night Market to Feature Two Bands, DJ and Children’s’ Activities

The second Chelsea Night Market will take place this Saturday evening, July 13, in the parking lot of Luther Place – bringing a wide range of food, vendors and live music to an enlivened downtown.

The first Night Market seized upon momentum built by the Pupusa Fiesta in April, and coordinators believe they’ll have another great crowd to bring foot traffic and excitement after hours.

This month, DJ Tempo Suave will return, and there will also be two live bands performing.

Sus will perform a variety of 70s rock and funk tunes, while The Group Activity looks to bring something new and exciting to the table – and one might find themselves in the act by the end of the night.

The band describes its act as, “The band blends folk, blues, and reggae to bring you a well-planned and often-improvised musical experience that relies on you for co-creation.”

The Chelsea Public Library will be on hand to coordinate children’s’ activities this time around, and organizers are excited to bring that to the Market.

We’re excited to be joined for all the upcoming markets by teams from the

Food vendors are:

•Eloti with the summer’s best corn on the cob served up Latino style.

•North East of the Border with a variety of Mexican specialties.

•Chung Wah, the downtown’s own Asian restaurant

•C&C Artisan Olive Oil with high quality imported Olive Oil, who will offering samples of their varieties to help you choose a bottle to take home.

Craft vendors are:

•Omis World presented by Chelsea’s own Noemi Torres with thrift shop items to buy or trade. In that same vein All Planets is also selling vintage clothing while Channel 94 sells clothes specifically from the 90s.

•Aldea Maya, selling beaded hummingbirds made by women in the Lake Atitlán region of Guatemala.

•Crafts and fine art from CBenjamin Art, Jeremy Veldhuis Illustration and Pan + Scan Illustration. Items from these vendors includes art prints, shirts, coasters, stickers, paintings, postcards, and bags.

•Pamper yourself with handmade soap from Unwind Soaps and soy candles by Wicked Sisters.

Finally, local artist Nirvanna Lildharrie leads an interactive art showcase. Meanwhile, outreach and engagement activities will be led by representatives from the Appalachian Mountain Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay, and Phoenix Charter Academy.

The July Night Market runs from 7-10 p.m. on Luther Place (behind the Chelsea Walk).

Looking ahead to the August market, organizers are celebrating all things human powered on wheels. Bring a skateboard, bicycle, tricycle, scooter, or wheelchair. We’re anticipating some jaw-dropping performances by trick riders. MassBike will be on hand for free bike tune ups and simple repairs.

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Construction Look-Ahead

This is a brief overview of construction operations and traffic impacts for the Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project. MassDOT will provide additional notices as needed for high-impact work, temporary ramp and street closures, and changes to traffic configurations beyond those described below.

•No Work on July 4

No work will take place on Thursday, July 4 for the Independence Day holiday.

•Traffic Impacts

*Route 1 Northbound: Approaching the Tobin Bridge from Boston, the workzone begins in the righthand lane. 2 of 3 travel lanes will be open during daytime hours (5 a.m. –10 p.m.) and at least 1 travel lane will be open during overnight hours (10 p.m.–5 a.m.).

*Route 1 Southbound: Approaching the Chelsea Curves from the North Shore, the workzone begins in the right-hand lane at the Carter Street off-ramp. Just beyond the Carter Street on-ramp, the travel lanes shift to the right. 2 of 3 travel lanes will be open during daytime hours (5 a.m. –10 p.m.) and at least 1 travel lane will be open during overnight hours (10 p.m.–5 a.m.).

*Ramps: All on- and off-ramps will remain open at this time.

*Local Streets: The Spruce Street temporary reconfiguration will remain in place for approximately 2 months.

•Preview of Upcoming Traffic Impacts

*Beginning on Monday, July 15, the Fourth Street off-ramp will close for 1-2 months for required steel repairs, structural rehabilitation, and safety improvements.

•Work Hours

*Most work will occur in during daytime working hours (6 a.m.–2 p.m.) on weekdays. Some work will take place during afternoon (2 p.m.–7 p.m) and overnight hours (9 p.m.–5 a.m.) and on Saturdays (6 a.m.–2 p.m).

Summary of Work Completed

*In the two weeks prior to June 30, crews shifted traffic to create continuous work zones, formed bridge deck, cured concrete, repaired steel, bridge deck, and joints, installed a dust containment system, power washed and excavated around support column footings, and placed concrete columns.

Description of Scheduled Work

*Route 1 Northbound: Form bridge deck, place and cure concrete, and repair steel, bridge deck, and joints. Clean water from a hydrant will be used to cure the concrete and may drip off the structure due the condition of the existing drainage system on the bridge. Crews will also remove asphalt and begin bridge deck demolition in the right-hand side workzone through the Chelsea Curves.

*Route 1 Southbound: Weld and paint new deflector plates.

*Underneath the Structures: Replace and paint steel, continued installation of dust containment system, power wash and paint columns and support beams, excavate, drill, and grout around the support columns, and place concrete columns.

•Travel Tips

Drivers should take care to pay attention to all signage and move carefully through the work zone. Police details, changes in lane markings, temporary controls such as barriers and traffic cones, signage, and other tools will be used throughout the project to control traffic and create safe work zones.

The contractors are coordinating with local event organizers and police to provide awareness and manage traffic impacts during events. For your awareness, during this look-ahead period, the following events are scheduled:

*Boston Pops July 4th Fireworks Spectacular (Charles River Esplanade): July 3 at 8:30 p.m., July 4 all day

*Red Sox (Fenway Park): June 30 at 10:10 a.m., July 12 at 7:10 p.m., July 13 at 7:15 p.m.

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Construction Look-Ahead: May 19 – June 1, 2019

Traffic Impacts

Route 1 Northbound: Approaching the Tobin Bridge from Boston, the workzone begins in the righthand lane. 2 of 3 travel lanes will be open during daytime hours (5 a.m. –10 p.m.) and at least 1 travel lane will be open during overnight hours (10 p.m.–5 a.m.).

Route 1 Southbound: Approaching the Chelsea Curves from the North Shore, the workzone begins in the lefthand lane. 2 of 3 travel lanes will be open during daytime hours (5 a.m. –10 p.m.) and at least 1 travel lane will be open during overnight hours (10 p.m.–5 a.m.).

Ramps: All on- and off-ramps will remain open at this time.

Local Streets: The Spruce Street temporary reconfiguration will remain in place for approximately 2-3 months.

Work Hours

Most work will occur in during daytime working hours (6 a.m – 2 p.m.) on weekdays. Some work will take place during the afternoon (2pm – 7pm) and nighttime working hours (9 p.m. – 5 a.m.) and on Saturdays (6 a.m. – 2 p.m.)

There will be no work on Monday, May 27 in observance of Memorial Day.

Summary of Work Completed

In the two weeks prior to May 19, crews implemented additional lane closures to establish the median work zone, installed new drainage in Carter Street parking lot, and prepared, painted, and repaired portions of the bridge deck and joints.

Description of Work

Route 1 Northbound: Demolish and excavate grid deck concrete fill, power wash grid deck, repair bridge deck and joints, clean and weld new deflector plates.

Route 1 Southbound: Install negative pressure containment system, powerwash and excavate around support column footings, install micropiles, conduct surveys, upgrade utilities, and deconstruct the median barrier.

Local Streets: Prepare and pave new Carter Street parking lot.

Travel Tips

The North Washington Street Bridge Replacement is also underway which requires local traffic impacts. For information or to sign up for project-specific construction look-aheads like this one, visit the project website.

Drivers should take care to pay attention to all signage and police details and move carefully through the work zone. Police details, changes in lane markings, temporary controls such as barriers and traffic cones, signage, and other tools will be used throughout the project to control traffic and create safe work zones.

The contractors are coordinating with local event organizers and police to provide awareness and manage traffic impacts during events. For your awareness, during this look-ahead period, the following events are scheduled:

Stanley Cup Playoffs (TD Garden): To be scheduled

Red Sox (Fenway Park): May 19 at 1:05 p.m., May 27 at 4:05 p.m., May 28 at 7:10 p.m., May 29 at 7:10 p.m.

Boston Calling Music Festival (Harvard Athletic Complex): May 24 – May 26

BHCC Honors Class of 2019 at 45th Commencement Ceremony

On Thursday, May 23, Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) awarded 1,754 degrees and certificates to the Class of 2019 at the 45th Commencement Exercises.

BHCC President Pam Eddinger opened the ceremony with the annual “ritual of gratitude,” where graduates thank family and friends in attendance for their support throughout their educational journey. Eddinger also reflected on the cultural wealth of the graduates and how it left a positive impact on her as College President.

“I am braver today because I have learned from your struggles and have seen your courage,” said Eddinger. “I am more hopeful, because you have shown me, in your multiple languages, your ancestral songs, and your lived experiences that while life can be harsh, it is also limitless and ever-renewing.”

Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos E. Santiago delivered the keynote address. In his remarks to the graduates, he encouraged the graduates to use their education to give back to their communities. “Your communities benefit from your time and talents,” he said. “As students at our community colleges, you are uniquely connected to your cities and towns. I urge you to stay connected – to hold tight to your civic compass. Let it point you to where you can make a difference.”

Santiago also received the President’s Distinguished Services Award in recognition of his extraordinary service to the community and BHCC. Santiago has served as Commissioner of Higher Education since July of 2015. Santiago has made a great impact on important issues affecting the BHCC’s students; in particular his commitment to equity in higher education is something that resonates with us at the College.

The BHCC Nurse Education Department was awarded with the Trustees Distinguished Service Award, presented by William J. Walczak, Chair of the BHCC Board of Trustees. The department was recognized for the success of its collaborative leadership, steadfast resolve and decisive actions toward a secure and thriving program, and in recognition of the increased success of their graduates on the NCLEX Examination.

For the past two years, new leadership and the full and ongoing engagement of the Nursing Education program’s faculty and staff were all critical during an intensive reaccreditation process. The program’s faculty and staff have implemented high impact student success, pedagogical and post-graduate student interventions that have achieved immediate results: most notably an NCLEX Examination pass rate of 94% for its fall 2018 graduating class. Dean of Health Sciences Maryanne Atkinson, Assistant Dean Donna Savino, Director Elizabeth Tobin and Associate Professor and Chairperson Kristen Wenger accepted the award.

Also honored at Thursday’s ceremony were faculty speaker Bryan D. Craven, Student Government Association President Joan Acosta Garcia, and President’s Leadership Award recipients Cam Do and Eva Montrond.

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Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project Started May 14

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) began the closure of one of three southbound travel lanes on Route 1 in Chelsea and the Tobin Bridge the morning of Tuesday, May 14, snarling traffic in many parts of Everett as commuters looked for an alternative route.

The public was also reminded the one-lane northbound closure on the Tobin Bridge and Route 1 was expanded the morning of Tuesday, May 14. MassDOT anticipates that these lane closures will lead to increased travel times on sections of Route 1 northbound and southbound for drivers and MBTA bus customers for months to come.

These traffic impacts are associated with MassDOT’s Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project and lane closures will remain in place for approximately two years. Additional overnight lane closures will be necessary throughout the project meaning only one lane of travel may be open during certain evening hours.

In order to accommodate travelers during this necessary construction work, MassDOT is opening the I-93 southbound carpool lane between Medford and the Zakim Bridge to all vehicles regardless of the number of occupants. This lane will continue to function as an “express lane” and vehicles in this lane on I-93 southbound will not have access to Exit 28 (Mystic Avenue) or Exit 26 (Storrow Drive).

“North Shore commuters should be aware that beginning the morning of Tuesday, May 14, a travel lane will be closed on Route 1 southbound in Chelsea, and the lane closure that is already in place on the Tobin Bridge and Route 1 northbound will be expanded,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver last Friday. “MassDOT is carrying out this necessary rehabilitation work in order to ensure the continued use and reliability of Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Viaduct. We appreciate the cooperation and patience of the traveling public and advise everyone to make smart decisions such as considering public transit, using the appropriate technology apps to find the best route and time to travel, and building extra time into their commutes to account for potential roadway congestion.”

Travelers are also reminded of options such as free fares in the inbound direction on the MBTA Silver Line 3 bus line offered at the Chelsea, Bellingham Square, Box District, and Eastern Avenue stops for the duration of construction. In addition, public transit customers will be able to use a CharlieCard to travel between North Station and Chelsea on the Commuter Rail. The MBTA is also running additional MBTA Blue Line trains to increase capacity. These measures are all being funded by MassDOT Highway Division project funds.

MassDOT is also advising the public to also consider using the Haverhill or Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail lines and note that the Haverhill Line historically has parking capacity at Haverhill and Bradford stations. The Newburyport/Rockport Line historically has parking capacity at Newburyport, Salem and Lynn station. Customers can monitor @MBTA_Parking on Twitter for capacity updates and information. In addition, the MBTA has installed a digital parking capacity sign at the Blue Line Wonderland parking lot so drivers approaching the lot can get “real time” information on parking availability.

MassDOT is carrying out work on the Tobin Bridge and Chelsea Curves section of Route 1 at the same time so that the most impactful work will be completed by 2021. If the projects were done at separate times, drivers would be inconvenienced for additional years. This work will eliminate the need for weight restrictions and postings, and MassDOT will use accelerated construction techniques to shorten the overall construction time.

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MBTA Board Awards Contract for New Commuter Rail Station

The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board approved a $32.3 million contract that will result in the relocation and construction of a new, fully-accessible Chelsea Commuter Rail Station.

When complete, the new Chelsea Station will be an intermodal facility that connects the Newburyport/Rockport Commuter Rail Lines to the Silver Line 3-Chelsea service, which began operating in April 2018.

“This is a key investment in our Commuter Rail infrastructure that will allow for faster boarding and improved accessibility for people of all abilities,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Once complete, the new station will serve as a multimodal connection that will give our customers the choice of traveling to North Station on the Commuter Rail or South Station on SL3 from a single point.”

Featuring high-level platforms, canopies, benches, and windscreens, the brand new station will also include new sidewalks, landscaping, stairways, lighting, communications systems, and structures for maintenance and bus operations personnel. The project also includes the demolition of the existing Chelsea Station, upgrades to railroad signal systems, and new traffic signal system installations at local intersections.

The project to construct and relocate Chelsea Station aims to relieve traffic congestion and overcrowding on existing area bus routes in Chelsea while also providing better transit options to environmental justice populations through improved accessibility to employment opportunities in downtown Boston and the Seaport district.

The project also includes the installation of transit signal priority improvements for the SL3-Chelsea along with improved operational efficiency and the incorporation of green operations elements at the new Chelsea Station. Greenhouse gas emissions will also be reduced by increasing the transit mode share and decreasing the idle time of commuter rail and BRT vehicles.

The Chelsea Commuter Rail Station Project was advertised in February 2019 with bids open in April 2019. After six bids were received, the Chelsea Commuter Rail Station contract was awarded to A.A. Will Corporation for $32,367,200.

Construction could start as early as this summer, with project completion estimated for late 2021.

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Boston to Install Dedicated Bus Lane on North Washington Street, Helps 111 Riders

Boston to Install Dedicated Bus Lane on North Washington Street, Helps 111 Riders

In a move that could dramatically reduce the commute times for Chelsea 111 bus riders, the City of Boston announced they are planning on installing a dedicated bus lane on North Washington Street from Causeway to Haymarket – a key clogging point for riders heading into Haymarket from Chelsea.

It would be a move that would accommodate the 111 bus routes and two Charlestown bus routes, and Boston officials said the new lane could reduce travel times by as much as 25 percent.

“We are planning on building an exclusive bus lane on North Washington Street from the intersection at Causeway Street after the bridge to Haymarket,” said Vineet Gupta, director of planning at the Boston Transportation Department (BTD). “It would be a dedicated bus lane 24/7 on the inbound side. Right now, we’re working with the MBTA to install that bus lane.”

BTD Director Gina Fiandaca said they have been working closely with Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and the MBTA on the North Washington Street bus lane, and hope that they can get it done as early in 2019 as possible. She said that stretch of the bus route is often the most congested, and riders often find themselves waiting longer on the bus for the last leg than it would take them to walk.

“This inbound bus lane will have the opportunity to move along at a quicker pace than the rest of the traffic,” she said. “Another good part of this is in the future when the North Washington Street Bridge is completed, it will have a bus lane as well. That will provide a connection with this new lane to have one unbroken exclusive bus lane from Charlestown when the Bridge is done.”

In order to accomplish the new lane, the City will have to remove some metered parking spaces and a commercial parking space, but a large chunk of the stretch is a large bus stop and ‘no parking’ zones.

Gupta said they have no clear data yet on the time it could save commuters going inbound – though they will begin keeping that data very soon. However, in Roslindale where they installed a bus lane last year, commutes were shortened by 25 percent. The same data also presented itself in Everett two years ago when they put a dedicated bus lane on Broadway Everett.

The announcement was one of several made by Boston Mayor Walsh at the Greater Boston Municipal Research Bureau meeting on March 7. The North Washington Street bus lane would be the first one in effect 24 hours a day in Boston.

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Student Exodus – Young People, Families Leaving for the North Shore Due to Higher Rent

Student Exodus – Young People, Families Leaving for  the North Shore Due to Higher Rent

Supt. Mary Bourque said that for the first time in decades, more students are leaving the Chelsea Public Schools (CPS) than are coming in – an exodus of students that seems to be heading mostly to Lynn.

“We’ve always had more students coming in from certain communities than students leaving Chelsea for those communities,” said Bourque this week. “Since July, we’re seeing the inverse. We have more going out to the four communities of Lynn, Revere, Everett and Boston…A few years ago, we were seeing an influx of students from outside of the country. We’re seeing the reverse. We’re not seeing that influx from out of the country, and we’re actually seeing the exodus of our families more to the North Shore communities. The movement is more to the North Shore. I think it’s linked to housing and affordability.”

According to CPS data, from July 1, 2019 through February 14 – 257 Chelsea students left for other communities in Massachusetts. Of the 257, the largest pattern saw 29 going to Boston; 35 going to Everett; 44 going to Lynn; and 34 going to Revere. Those are places that, historically, Bourque said usually leak more students to Chelsea than Chelsea loses to them. That trend has changed now.

The root cause could come for multiple reasons, but Bourque said she firmly believes it all comes down to the drastic rise in rents and housing costs in Chelsea.

“I do believe it’s the rising rental properties around the community,” she said. “Right now, Chelsea is experiencing it just like, if not more so, than other communities. We’re losing many, many families. I’m seeing documents of many, many families going to Lynn in particular. Lynn seems to be the most popular destination for families being able to find rental properties. Secondarily, they are going to Revere, Everett and Boston.”

Bourque, who has studied student mobility in depth during her career, said many studies have indicated over the years that student population is a bellwether for the changes that are coming to a community.

In Chelsea, she said she believes this latest trend in student population could be sounding an alarm for the community to try to take action.

“This is definitely something we have to pay attention to,” she said. “The demographics in our schools are telling of what is coming to the community at-large. We’re the canary in the coal mine for community shift. I see it as a positive though because we can look at it and get out in front so we can be prepared to meet the needs of that shift.

A consequence of that loss is that the CPS budget is likely going to shrink due to the smaller enrollments.

“We already have an issue with the Foundation Budget at the state level being broken, and it still needs to be fixed,” she said. “We still need to advocate for that. At the same time, we have a confounding situation where we’re losing student enrollment that results in a natural decrease in staffing and resources due to that lower student enrollment. The challenge will be keeping those two budgetary issues separate and not allowing them to blend together. They are two different issues.”

Bourque said the situation reminds her of what Somerville Public Schools went through some years ago as it gentrified on the back of Cambridge’s successes. At one point, she said she recalled they had somewhere around 6,000 students enrolled in the public schools, but as that City changed, the numbers dwindled down to around 4,000. She said Chelsea should fight to keep that from happening here.

Looking for a wave from Venezuela, Brazil

Chelsea has always had a reputation and a practice of having open arms to refugees and new immigrant populations.

Now, as new immigrant families seem to be migrating a bit towards the North Shore, Supt. Mary Bourque said they are keeping an eye on Brazil and Venezuela as potential sources of incoming students.

Bourque said immigrant groups from crisis areas of the world typically begin showing up in Chelsea schools about 10 to 15 months after the crisis in their countries.

With the recent political upheaval in Venezuela with its leadership, she said the federal government is considering giving Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Venezuelans. That, she said, could result in more students arriving from that country soon.

“It will be interesting to wait and see if we get an influx from Venezuela,” she said. “It usually happens 15 to 18 months after a crisis. We’ll watch to see if this summer enrollments begin to come in from that country.”

In Brazil, she said a down economy has already brought a trickling of new Brazilian students to the district.

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Rep. Ryan Pleased with Assignments

Rep. Ryan Pleased with  Assignments

State Rep. Dan Ryan said this week he is pleased in what is considered a step up in becoming the vice chair of the Post Audit Oversight Committee – a powerful committee that runs investigations of government operations and actually has subpoena powers.

“I want to thank Speaker DeLeo for this appointment, and my House colleagues for voting to affirm his trust in me,” said Ryan. “I look forward to working with Chairman Linsky and other committee members in continuing to bring solid, cost-effective government programs to the electorate.”

Ryan said Post-Audit Oversight certainly isn’t a household name for most people in the Town, but said it has a unique mission and is a sought-after committee on Beacon Hill.
“The Post-Audit Oversight Committee is a select House committee that has a unique mission,” he said. “Members of the committee are tasked with ensuring that State agencies are abiding by legislative intent and the program initiatives put forth, by the legislature, through the budget process. When necessary, the committee will work with administrative agencies to propose corrective actions to best serve citizens of the Commonwealth.”

One of the most visible investigations conducted by the Committee came several years ago in the previous administration when the Department of Children and Families (DCF) came under fire for its handling and management of numerous cases involving children.

Ryan has also been assigned as a member of the Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Recovery Committee, and as a member of the Transportation Committee.

•Just across the North Washington Street Bridge, State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz came away with one of the biggest scores for the Boston delegation in getting assigned as chair of the powerful Ways & Means Committee.

Rep. Ryan said that having such an important chair nearby will be very good for Charlestown as well as the North End. That will particularly be apparent with projects like the North Washington Street Bridge, which affects the North End as much as Charlestown.

Michlewitz told the Patriot-Bridge that he is humbled by the appointment, and that while he has to build consensus across the state, he will keep his district and Boston in the forefront.

“I am honored that Speaker DeLeo believes I can do the job,” he said. “The first order of business is creating and debating a $42.7 billion budget. A lot of work has been done in committee, but we have a short timeframe to get a lot done. The thing I was to stress is my district is my number one priority.”

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