City Manager Working on Local Regulations for AirBNB

City Manager Working on Local Regulations for AirBNB

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said this week he is preparing new City regulations that would govern the short-term rental market (known as AirBNB) in Chelsea.

That comes after Gov. Charlie Baker and the State Legislature worked out a sudden compromise at the end of the year to a bill that had been stalled since the summer. That bill was signed into law and went into effect statewide on Jan. 1. While it governs the practice, it also leaves a lot of room for cities to come up with their own regulations and to tax such entities.

Ambrosino said he hoped to have something to the Council in March.

“I’m working on them now,” he said. “I hope to have a proposal up to the Council with new regulations and requirements about the local options taxes that we want to collect. I’ve been working on some drafts and we’ll circulate those internally. We’ll have a proposal to submit in early March.”

Both houses of the state legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker found a sudden compromise at the end of December in their two-year session to push through the stalled short-term rental bill – which Gov. Baker signed into law on Friday, Dec. 28.

The bill has been a long time in the making and has been shepherded through the legislature for years by State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz of the North End, who was happy to see the compromise reached.

Short-term rentals are not a major issue at the moment in Chelsea, but there are more than a few out there. More are expected due to the proximity of the city to the airport and the Encore Boston Harbor casino.

One of the keys of the state law is that it will be obvious who operates them and where, something that is kind of a mystery now.

The new law requires a statewide registry of operators, something the governor had opposed for some time until late in the year.

It also levies a 5.7 percent state tax on all short-term rental units, and allows cities and towns to levy their own local taxes as well. In Boston, it is proposed to put an additional 6 percent on each short-term rental unit.

The trade-off with the registry for the governor seems to be a provision that allows for anyone renting out a unit for 14 days or less to avoid the taxation portion of the law. It was uncertain, but it initially did appear that those units would have to participate in the statewide registry.

Ambrosino said they would undoubtedly push to go for the maximum 6 percent local option taxes.

“We’ll definitely go for the maximum option,” he said. “We’ll look at the Boston ordinance as a model. It was well-crafted. We’ll make sure rentals are adequately inspected and safety is addressed.”

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Keeping Money in the Mystic:Advocates Make a Successful Pitch for Oil Spill Dollars

Keeping Money in the Mystic:Advocates Make a Successful Pitch for Oil Spill Dollars

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA), and their partner GreenRoots successfully made the case in

MyRWA Director Patrick Herron and GreenRoots Director Roseann Bongiovanni celebrating their successful argument in Washington, D.C., to return funds to the area.

front of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Council to give Mystic communities a chance at $1.3 million in restoration funds.

“This is an opportunity to repair part of the Mystic River watershed by directing funds that resulted from the spill back to the area where the spill occurred,” said Patrick Herron, executive director. “We are excited that our Mystic communities have another shot at this funding.”

In January of 2006, approximately 15,200 gallons of petroleum product was spilled into the Lower Mystic River through an ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. terminal located in Everett. Accordingly, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) charged ExxonMobil with violating the Clean Water Act through negligence at the facility. ExxonMobil signed a plea agreement in 2009 that included a fine, the cost of cleanup, and a community service payment (CSP) that ultimately totaled $1 million to the Massachusetts Environmental Trust and $4.6 million to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) fund. This plea agreement states that the funds should be used exclusively for qualified coastal wetland restoration projects in Massachusetts, with preference to projects within the Mystic River Watershed. During plea proceedings, the NAWCA Council and U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff assured the U.S. Attorney’s office and Judge Saris that a process would be put in place to ensure the CSP funds would be awarded in a manner consistent to the intent of the plea agreement.

All funds managed by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) were immediately put to work on stewardship and water quality improvements in the Mystic River Watershed.

In contrast, no NAWCA funds have come to the Mystic River Watershed. To date, $3 million of the ExxonMobil CSP given to NAWCA have been spent on other projects in the Commonwealth. The NAWCA Council was considering spending the remainder of the money ($1.36 million) on yet another project not in the Mystic. This would bring the amount spent on the Mystic to zero.

Herron and Roseann Bongiovanni, executive director of GreenRoots, made the trip to Washington, D.C., on Dec. 12, to argue that money should be given to the Mystic. Prior to the meeting, David Barlow, Gene Benson and friends at GreenRoots and Conservation Law Foundation developed and submitted formal comment letters to the Council that outlined the history of these funds and the context for preference for the Mystic.

“It was our communities and our waterbodies that were impacted by the spill on that cold January morning and now almost 10 years later, our communities are deserving of the penalty dollars to restore our ecological habitat and bring about environmental justice” said Bongiovanni.

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City Manager Extends Fire Chief Contract Through 2022

City Manager Extends Fire Chief Contract Through 2022

Fire Chief Len Albanese had his contract renewed for another three years by City Manager Tom Ambrosino.

Albanese came to the City in 2016 from North Providence after a search committee chose several finalists, including some internal candidates. His contract was set to expire in June 2019, and Ambrosino said he is very pleased with the Chief’s work over the past two years.

“The chief and I began discussions about an extension, and we recently agreed on this new three-year term,” wrote Ambrosino. “I have been extremely satisfied with Chief Albanese’s leadership and management of the Fire Department since his arrival in 2016. I believe this extension is fully justified.”

Albanese, a resident of Charlestown, will get a pay increase of 3 percent in the first year of his contract. In the following two year, upon a review by Ambrosino, he is entitled to up to 3 percent each year as well.

The Chief will get 25 days of vacation per year, and can carry over five weeks of unused vacation time from one year to another. He may not, however, carry more than 10 week maximum of vacation time.

He also gets 15 sick days per the contract, as well as an automobile.

The new contract will begin on July 1, 2019.

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I’ve Just Started:City Manager Ambrosino Would Like to Continue Work in Chelsea

I’ve Just Started:City Manager Ambrosino Would Like to Continue Work in Chelsea

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he would love to have a new contract and return to Chelsea so he can continue the work he started more than three years ago.

The announcement came on the eve of the beginning of his annual evaluation by a committee of the City Council – a process that will start Aug. 27.

Ambrosino is under contract for four years, and his contract runs out in July 2019, but the Council is required to notify him by January if they want him to return.

He’s hoping they do.

“I do hope they ask me to come back,” he said. “I have a great interest in continuing my work here. I love this city and love being City Manager here…The people here are wonderful. The challenges are interesting and it’s a vibrant and dynamic city with an exciting future ahead of it. I can’t think of a better place to be City Manager or CEO.”

Ambrosino signed his contract on July 20, 2015 in a four-year deal. Upon coming into the position, one of his first goals was to begin revamping the downtown business district, which was something that former City Manager Jay Ash had defined as a next focal point before he left.

Ambrosino said he feels like he only just started that work, and while a lot of planning and groundwork is complete, he’d like to see things completed.

“I feel like I’ve just started here, particularly with the downtown and our waterfront,” he said. “There’s a lot I’d like to see through to completion. When I was mayor in Revere, most of what I did there didn’t come to be until my last term in office and my last year there. It takes a long time to put your mark on a city.”

He is particularly impressed with the collaboration between the community and stakeholders like MGH, North Suffolk, Roca, the Collaborative, GreenRoots and so many more.

“I really feel that’s unique here and the City is lucky to have organizations like it does,” he said. “These are really tremendous community-based groups.”

All of that comes right alongside the upcoming City Manager evaluation process.

That has run a little slowly this time around. Though it is supposed to start in April, the Council appointed a committee but hasn’t had meetings yet. They will kick that off on Aug. 27, Council President Damali Vidot said.

The Committee is made up of Councillors Vidot, Judith Garcia, Bob Bishop, Leo Robinson, and Calvin Brown. They will evaluate Ambrosino on at least 11 points of his performance over the last year.

“It’s been tricky with our summer recess, but I’m confident we’ll have it wrapped up by October,” said Vidot.

She said a sticking point for her in any upcoming contract talks with Ambrosino – and in his evaluation – will be his residency.

Ambrosino said he cannot relocate to Chelsea due to personal circumstances that existed before he took the City Manager job.

Vidot said she feels strongly that the City Manager should live in Chelsea, but she also said that the previous Council didn’t require him to live here, so it wouldn’t be right to enforce it now.

“However, that shouldn’t be the norm moving forward,” she said.

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Residence Inn Petitions to Expand Property by 68 Rooms

Residence Inn Petitions to Expand Property by 68 Rooms

The Residence Inn by Marriott on Maple Street has petitioned the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to expand their 128-room hotel by another 68 rooms.

The expansion would take place in the existing surface lot to the north of the hotel. The idea would be to create a 200-room dual branded hotel, which is a current direction in the lodging industry.

The expansion would add 28,234 sq. ft. to the existing structure. The majority of the hotel is extended stay rooms now, but there would be 12 non-extended stay rooms created during the expansion, if approved.

A special permit is required for parking because 118 spaces are required, and only 86 are provided. A Site Plan Review process is also required.

The matter has been in front of the ZBA already for a preliminary hearing, and a vote on the the project is expected at this month’s meeting.

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Well Done:CHS Track Star Stephanie Simons Makes Good Showing at Nationals

Well Done:CHS Track Star Stephanie Simons Makes Good Showing at Nationals

Chelsea High track star Stephanie Simons became the first female athlete to participate in the National High School championship meet last weekend in North Carolina, doing the city proud as she took 15th in the high jump and 27th

CHS Sophomore track star Stephanie Simon in a promotional photo from the New Balance High School National Championships last weekend at North Carolina A&T University.Simon was the first female athlete in CHS history to go to the nationals, and she competed in two events. She placed 15th out of 54 in the high jump.

in the triple jump.

Simon, only a sophomore, has starred for the track team over the past year, along with her sister, Martine, who is a senior. Stephanie distanced herself from the pack in qualifying earlier this year to compete at the New Balance High School National Championships last weekend at North Carolina A&T University.

In the high jump, the talented sophomore finished 15th out of 54 competitors from all over the United States.

Meanwhile, in the triple jump, she placed 27th out of 44 competitors.

“The sky is the future for this talented student athlete – who is just a sophomore,” said Coach Mark Martineau. “She is already looking forward to next year and even better performances.”

Simon has already set several school records and placed high at the Division 1 State Meet earlier this year.

She is also a very talented hurdler as well.

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Erin Barker Recognized by Care Dimensions

Erin Barker Recognized by Care Dimensions

Care Dimensions, the largest provider of hospice and palliative care services in Massachusetts, celebrated National Nurses Week, May 6 -12 by honoring its nurses, many of whom are board certified in hospice and palliative care

. Care Dimensions’ new President & CEO, Patricia Ahern, a 41-year veteran in the field of nursing, said, “The capacity to explain complicated medical information is something that everyone values about nurses and the confidence that people have in the technical skills of nurses is remarkable. More importantly, nurses are gifted with the ability to discern the worry and apprehension that folks can’t quite get into words when they are feeling vulnerable and isolated.”

Erin Barker, RN., a Care Dimensions nurse from Chelsea was recognized for her professionalism, leadership and commitment to excellence in patient care at Care Dimensions:

Since the founding in 1978, nurses have helped to make the time of advanced illness dignified and meaningful for patients and their families. We welcome new members to our team of caring, compassionate nurses. Visit www.CareDimensions.org/careers to learn more.
About Care Dimensions

Making a Difference in Countless Lives for 40 years

Care Dimensions is the largest hospice and palliative care provider to adults and children in Massachusetts. As a non-profit, community-based leader in advanced illness care, Care Dimensions provides comprehensive hospice, palliative care, grief support and teaching programs in more than 90 communities in Eastern Massachusetts. Celebrating 40 years of service, Care Dimensions was founded in 1978 as Hospice of the North Shore, and cares for patients wherever they live – in their homes, in skilled nursing facilities and assisted living communities, in hospitals, or at our two inpatient hospice facilities (the new Care Dimension Hospice House in Lincoln, and the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers). To learn more about Care Dimensions or to view a tour of our hospice houses, please visit www.CareDimensions.org.

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Mystic/Tobin’s Everett Avenue Onramp to Close May 7 for One Month

Mystic/Tobin’s Everett Avenue Onramp to Close May 7 for One Month

The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced several changes to the Mystic/Tobin Bridge repair project, including the one-month closure of the Everett Avenue on-ramp May 7.

MassDOT announced that since several projects in the area are coming underway – including the Alford Street Bridge, the North Washington Street Bridge, and Commonwealth Avenue Bridge in Boston – they have adjusted the Tobin work to not close a lane permanently on the lower deck northbound.

This schedule adjustment means that MassDOT will no longer be implementing a permanent lane closure on the lower deck (Route 1 northbound) from April 22 through November of this year but will instead be adjusting the width of the travel lanes in this area and utilizing off-peak lane closures. Three full lanes of travel will be in place on the bridge this year during peak commute hours.

The full list of impacts this construction season is now as follows:

  • Temporary off-peak lane closures on the lower deck (Route 1 northbound) from now through November 2018.
  • Temporary off-peak lane closures on the upper deck (Route 1 southbound) from now through November 2018.
  • Everett Avenue on-ramp closed at all times for one-month period beginning on May 7.
  • Beacon Street off-ramp closed at all times for a two-month period beginning in summer 2018.
  • Fourth Street off-ramp closed for a one-month period in 2019.

No more than one ramp will be closed at any given time throughout the duration of the project.

“We are investing historic levels of funding into our highway transportation system and we are seeking to do so in ways that minimize impacts on the travel public and our local communities,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “Our construction teams have worked hard to optimize the schedule of operations to better accommodate travel throughout this area. We continue to encourage members of the public to learn about upcoming traffic impacts and use the appropriate tools to make the best decisions on traveling in order to reach their destinations in an efficient manner.”

This $41.6 million maintenance project involves repairing a section of the deck of the Tobin Bridge which carries traffic between the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston and Chelsea. Work is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2020 with lane closures and traffic impacts occurring during each of the 2018, 2019, and 2020 construction seasons.

Work will include steel repairs to the upper and lower decks, concrete deck work on the lower deck, followed by waterproofing, resurfacing, and installing pavement markings. Operations will also consist of utility installation, installing curbing, paving, constructing a new parking lot under the bridge between Williams Street and Third Street.

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Chelsea Public Library – Wingmasters Bird Exhibit

Chelsea Public Library – Wingmasters Bird Exhibit

Six birds of prey that are native to Chelsea were presented during the Chelsea Public Library’s Wingmasters Bird Exhibit on April 7. Jim Parks and his partner, Julie Collier, rescue, rehabilitate, and release raptors such as eagles and osprey. The falcons, owls, and hawk displayed were born in the wild, but due to permanent injury are non-releasable; and so Parks and Collier care for them permanently.

“Ninety percent of the time the birds we rescue are releasable. They’re resilient,” said Parks. “Sometimes they are injured in such a way that their injuries can’t be fixed by any doctor.”

Parks and Collier visit 200 schools, museums, and libraries each year to educate the public about these remarkable animals. They work closely with Tufts Wildlife Clinic in North Grafton where veterinarians help Parks and Collier free most birds back into the wild.

“One of the biggest problems these birds deal with is their reputation. They’re often thought of as being dangerous,” explained Parks. “It’s good that we have birds of prey. These birds do us a huge favor by controlling the populations we want nothing to do with.”

Parks presented a four-ounce male, and a six-ounce female American kestrel falcon with cataracts. The female’s larger build is excellent for protecting her young; and her brown-shaded feathers keep her camouflaged.

“Falcons are built for speed because they hunt other birds. This is an incredibly difficult lifestyle,” Parks said. “They get high above the earth, close their wings and drop. They accelerate and capture a bird below. They can outfly every other bird in the world.”

The male falcon was picked up off the ground at three-weeks-old and hand fed. He bonded with a human and will never understand what it is like to be a wild falcon. Male falcons, built for hunting, are considered the most colorful bird of prey in North America.

“Unfortunately, this is a bird about to be added to the government’s endangered species list,” said Parks. “This is a bird running out of a place to live.”

Seven species of hawks live in Massachusetts, with the most common being the red-tailed hawk. The female red-tailed hawk that Parks exhibited was once a mile-high flyer. At 32-years-old, the six and a half-pound bird is the oldest bird that Parks and Collier have ever rescued. Her wing was shattered when she was hit by a car while hunting a rodent on the grassy median of Rt. 128 on Thanksgiving Day 13 years ago.

“A circling hawk is showing off his red tail in the sky as a way of telling other birds to go away,” described Parks. “When they’re hunting they stand in trees, keep their bodies still, and dart out feet first after their prey. Eagles and hawks have the best eyesight.”

Parks also showed an eastern screech owl, the most common owl living around us, a barred own, New England’s second largest owl, and the great horned owl, New England’s largest owl. Owls are one of the slowest and most silent flying birds in the world. They hide during the day, and hunt and nap at night; but because of their incredible camouflage often go unseen. Owls can also see eight times better at night than humans can, and use their acute hearing to locate prey.

“They are masters of deception. They know how to blend in,” said Parks. “No other bird looks like this. We stand upright, have round faces, and have eyes on the front, and so do owls.”

Parks explained that most birds are injured in their first year of life while they are still learning. He has been working with birds for 24 years; and prior to that worked at an engineering firm in Boston.

“As a photographer, I was always interested in the natural world,” explained Parks, who grew up in Lynn. “I liked all aspects of nature growing up.”

With decreasing habitats and an increasing human population, Parks hopes that more corporations will develop properties to accommodate wildlife.

“Impact injuries are sad because there are many man-made obstacles now in the world that cause them. Julie and I do what we do to give birds a second chance to live,” said Parks. “If you want to help, donate to an organization that buys land. If you don’t have a place to release a species, they won’t know where to go. Many animals cannot adapt, and that’s when you see animals fall off the map.”

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North Suffolk Mental Health Association Partnering With CHA to Fight Opioid Epidemic in Local Cities

North Suffolk Mental Health Association Partnering With CHA to Fight Opioid Epidemic in Local Cities

Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), an academic community health-system serving Everett and Boston’s metro-north region, is teaming up with the North Suffolk Mental Health Association (NSMHA) to help get individuals struggling with addiction connected to treatment by piloting a new recovery-coach program at CHA Everett Hospital. Two coaches from NSMHA are now available to patients who struggle with addiction or present with mental health issues in the Emergency Department, inpatient psychiatry and CHA’s med-surg units.

The total number of estimated and confirmed opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts, through the first nine months of 2017, was over 1,400 – a 10-percent reduction from the same period in 2016. At the same time, from 2012 – 2016, over 70 people in Everett died from opioid misuse.

The pilot program places recovery coaches in direct contact with patients, on a voluntary basis, following an overdose reversal with naloxone, the lifesaving anti-opioid medication. The aim is to link individuals to treatment and recovery services locally. Other patients may present with medical conditions related to substance use and the recovery coach can use this opportunity to engage the patient in treatment.

“A recovery coach is a person who helps remove personal and environmental obstacles to recovery, noted Kim Hanton, director of addiction services at the North Suffolk Mental Health Association.”

“Coaches serve as personal guides and mentors supporting individual and family recovery where support networks are limited.  NSMHA has incorporated this model throughout the addiction division since 2013.  We are thrilled to partner with CHA sharing each of our expertise to build a continuum of support which begins at the most vulnerable time – entrance into the emergency department”

CHA’s chief of emergency medicine, Benjamin Milligan, MD, and a group of providers in the Emergency Department, including Josh Mularella, DO, Emily Adams, PA, and Christine Trotta, PA, ran the Boston Marathon last year and dollars raised through their efforts helped to fund the pilot initiative.

NSMHA’s recovery coaches are trained and certified professionals who guide or mentor patients seeking recovery support from alcohol and other drug addictions. Recovery coaches do not provide clinical services, instead they offer the critical support or link to the services and resources that a person needs to achieve and sustain recovery.

“We are excited to have recovery coaches embedded at CHA Everett Hospital and believe they will strengthen the hospital’s role as a link in patient’s long-term ‘chain of recovery,’” commented Melisa Lai- Becker, MD, site chief of emergency medicine at CHA Everett Hospital. “The ability to partner a patient immediately with a peer who is able to help them navigate to the next link in the chain is invaluable. We are optimistic that the program will have a lasting impact and we may expand the initiative in the future providing a model for a potential statewide network of peer recovery coaches.”

Immediate support when a crisis occurs is vital for effective engagement in recovery and treatment. When a patient arrives at the CHA Everett Hospital Emergency Department he/she is offered a NSMHA recovery coach during peak hours (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

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