Night Market Plans are on Fire…Quite Literally

The Chelsea Night Market plans is smoking, and that’s because the first installment on June 8 will have fire jugglers, amongst musicians, comedians and a full slate of food and craft vendors.

Unveiled earlier this year, the Night Market is part of the City’s Chelsea Prospers campaign and looks to add activity to the downtown area on summer evenings with a creative and exciting market in the Luther Place municipal parking lot once a month.

As the plans come together for the first Market, Downtown Coordinator Mimi Graney said she couldn’t be happier with the way things have come together.

“It’s going amazingly,” she said. “We’ve got this really cool Turkish band that’s playing on the first day. We will also have the Boston Circus Guild coming and they will have two performances. There will be folks on stilts, jugglers, people juggling fire and close interactive magicians. They will have a 20-minute fire performance during the evening. Think juggling things on fire with incredible music behind it.”

Graney said she couldn’t yet reveal the vendors, but they have 13 signed up so far that will be a great mix of exciting items and food.

“I’m really excited so many local businesses and food businesses are looking to take part,” she said. “We’re not doing food trucks because we want an intimate atmosphere with open BBQs and food service.”

All of that will be flanked with creative lighting that is meant to ‘wow’ visitors as they come via the newly-refurbished Chelsea Walk.

“Our plan is to encourage people to come into the Market using the Chelsea Walk and it will be like ‘kapow,’” she said. “They’ll be hit with the lights and music and circus acts and vendors.”

There will also be community entries into the Market, with a group of comedians participating and the Chelsea Pride Committee having a booth.

“The Pride Committee will be having their flag raising the day afterward, but they will have a booth at the Market too,” she said. “They plan to use grease body paint to have people write things on themselves that they are proud of. I love a lot of the community vendors are trying to do new and different things instead of just standing behind a table.”

The first Night Market will be on June 8 from 7-10 p.m. with a rain date of June 15.

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Boulder Rededication Ceremony

Boulder Rededication Ceremony

Vietnam veterans unveiling the boulder and a plaque during the Vietnam Veterans boulder rededication ceremony. The boulder has been moved from Malone Park to a new location between the Williams House and Vinnie’s Place due to construction on the campus. During the ceremony, Vietnam veteran Larry Clarke salutes as the names of those from Chelsea who died in Vietnam were read aloud.

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Chelsea’s Real Estate Resurgence Continues Bowen, Castillo Set to Unveil Parker Place Condos

Chelsea’s Real Estate  Resurgence Continues Bowen, Castillo Set to Unveil Parker Place Condos

Chelsea real estate agent Jeffrey Bowen said all the hard work by city officials over the past 20 years is paying off.

“Chelsea is booming,” says Bowen. “City Managers Jay Ash and Tom Ambroino, the city councilors, and the community have brought it back to where we are now. Chelsea is the No. 1 gateway city in America with the lowest price-per-foot next to a major metropolitan city (Boston).”

Bowen knows much the city’s resurgence and the booming real estate scene. He is currently marketing his third major project, Parker Place, 12 new luxury condominiums at the corner of Parker Street and Spencer Avenue. The developer for the three projects has been Jason Roback of Roback Real Estate.

“Jason prides himself in bringing value and quality to the future residents of Chelsea,” credited Bowen.

Bowen and his partner, Sandra Castillo, of ERA Russell Realty Group, will host an open house each Saturday and Sunday (12-2 p.m.) at Parker Place, which is already drawing significant interest among prospective buyers.

Bowen’s previous successes span the city, notably the Beacon Condominiums (81 Broadway) and the Thomas Martin Lofts (204 Spencer Ave.)

Parker Place, located at 87 Parker St, is a seven-story building featuring 12 units: 11 two-bed, two-bath, one two-bed, one-bath. Five of the units have garage parking, seven have outdoor spots. Out of the 11 two-bed, two-bath units, one is an affordable unit for medium-income residents (price to be determined by the City of Chelsea).

According to Bowen and Castillo, the prices at Parker Place range from $449,000 to $539,000.

“Each condo has air-conditioning, maple hardwood flooring, custom kitchens, and stainless-steel appliances,” said Bowen. “This in an elevator building. Four of the units have roof decks. Eight of the units have balconies.”

Bowen said the area has become one of the hottest in the greater Boston real estate market.

“You have the DaVinci Lofts (960 Broadway), the Industrie Lofts (950 Broadway), the Spencer Lofts (60 Dudley St.), the Keen Lofts (220 Spencer Ave.), and the Thomas Martin Lofts (204 Spencer Ave.),’ said Bowen.

And the boon is continuing, with the Chelsea Zoning Board’s approval Tuesday night of the Forbes Development that will consist of 590 units.

A good time to buy

There is no time like the present to invest in Chelsea, according to Bowen.

“Condominium prices are 25-50 percent higher a mile or two away in East Boston and Charlestown,” said Bowen. “Downtown Boston and the Seaport District (South Boston) is double and triple. Chelsea is still very affordable. It’s a good time to buy. You get more bang for your buck. There is room to grow here.”

Other advantages for buyers are access to Route 1, the Silver Line, five bus routes, and a commuter rail. Five new hotels in Chelsea also underline the fact that the city is flourishing. The new Encore Casino opens in Everett in June.

Bowen takes personal pride in Chelsea’s resurgence. A resident of the city, he was featured in a recent segment on Channel 5’s “Chronicle,” showcasing all the good things that are happening here.

“Sandra and I are our team and we work well together helping people find the residence of their dreams,” said Bowen, who has been No. 1 in the luxury condominium segment of real estate in Chelsea. “I have a relationship with a lender that has a program with rates as low as 3.69 percent on a 30-year fixed mortgage that also includes $7,000-lender-paid closing costs (for qualified buyers).”

Said Castillo, “Whenever we go in to a building, we actually get the highest price for the seller. We also get calls from previous buyers and we’ve been able to double their investment. Our condos don’t last very long on the market because they are such a great value and they have everything people are looking for.”

(For more information about Parker Place Condominums, please email

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Chelsea Man Arrested for Defacing Newly Painted Chelsea Walk Mural

Chelsea Man Arrested for Defacing Newly Painted Chelsea Walk Mural

One bad apple hasn’t spoiled a whole bunch at the Chelsea Walk, where a man was arrested last week for defacing the newly painted mural on the reclaimed Walk.

On Aug. 20, at 2:52 p.m., a CPD officer was flagged down in the area of Luther Place by a male party who stated someone destroyed their property and defaced City property.

The reporting party was a painter hired by the City to paint a mural on the Chelsea Walk. The Walk has been a no-go area for decades, and community members and GreenRoots have staked a claim to the Walk this summer in an effort to make it more inviting.

That has included painting a mural and hosting events there, and some people who have frequented the Walk for nefarious reasons haven’t appreciated the effort.

The officer reviewed a city camera in the area and was able to identify the male subject who committed the vandalism.

The male was located and placed under arrest.

Winston Brown, 51, of 4 Washington Ave., was charged with vandalizing property.


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Three Sisters to be at Apollinaire

Three Sisters to be at Apollinaire

Apollinaire Theatre presents Chekhov’s masterwork ‘Three Sisters’ in an intimate production staged in three locations in the theater for what will be a 30-person limited performance at each show.

Chekhov’s dark human comedy of longing for a better life is presented in an adaption by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts. Stuck in a provincial outpost after the death of their army general father, the Prozorov sisters dream of returning to the cosmopolitan Moscow of their childhood. Desire battles reality as they struggle to find their place in a society on the brink of upheaval. Three Sisters is a story of yearning and denial, and finding love, beauty, and meaning even in the darkest hour.

Performances of Three Sisters are Dec. 22, 2017-Jan. 14, 2018 on

Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m. A special performance will be on Thursday, Dec. 28 and Jan. 11 at 8 p.m. and on Sun., Jan. 7 and 14, at 3 p.m.

Performances are at the Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea.

Tickets are $35, $15 student rush.

Tickets can be purchased by calling (617) 887-2336 or on-line at

Information and directions at

The production will feature: Paul Benford-Bruce, Barbara Bourgeois, Siobhan Carrol, Michael John Ciszewski, Olivia Dumaine, Demetrius Fuller, Deniz Khateri, Becca A. Lewis, Robert Orzalli, Juan Carlos Pinedo, Zaida Ramos, Brooks Reeves, Evan Turissini, Jon Vellante, Arthur Waldstein

It is directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques.

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Crazy Armed Robbery at Rosev Dairy Results in Chase Through Chelsea, Revere

Crazy Armed Robbery at Rosev Dairy Results in Chase Through Chelsea, Revere

A man who falsely claimed to be a basketball player for Texas A&M University has been charged with an armed robbery of the Rosev Dairy on Monday, a violent robbery where more than $40,000 in cash was stolen from two men heading to the bank with the day’s proceeds.

Shortly before 4:30 p.m. on Monday,  Chelsea Police responded to an armed robbery outside Rosev Dairy on Griffin Way, during which a suspect brandishing a firearm robbed two employees of that business who were leaving the premises with cash proceeds.

The suspect forcibly took two bags containing in excess of $40,000, entered a nearby parked vehicle occupied by a female driver and a male passenger. The suspect vehicle, a white Volkswagen Jetta, fled down Eastern Avenue, and one of the victims followed it in his own car. The Jetta continued onto Clinton Street to the dead end portion of Lisa Lane. At that point, the suspect who committed the armed robbery fired at least two shots at the victim’s car that was following him. At that point, the victim backed up, fled the area, and called 911.

The 911 call was received at the State Police Barracks in Revere, and a Be On the Lookout Alert (BOLO) was put out for the suspect vehicle. State Police Sergeant Edward Troy heard the broadcast alert and went to Mahoney Circle in Revere, where he monitored traffic looking for the Jetta. A short time later, Sgt. Troy saw the suspect vehicle coming through the rotary. As the suspect vehicle turned onto Shirley Avenue in Revere, Sgt. Troy pulled behind it and activated his marked cruiser’s lights and siren in an attempt to conduct a motor vehicle stop. The Jetta did not stop and turned right onto Walnut Avenue, where it pulled to the right and stopped next to a playground. At that time, a male passenger got out of the Jetta; Sgt. Troy got out of his cruiser and ordered the passenger back into the Jetta. Instead of complying, the passenger leaned back into the Jetta and began to retrieve something while continuing to glance back at the sergeant and ignoring his orders to cease.

Even when Sgt. Troy then drew his service pistol and ordered the suspect to the ground, the suspect ignored his orders, grabbed a large bag from the Jetta, and ran toward Shirley Avenue. Sgt. Troy ran after him and advised the Revere Barracks that he was in a foot pursuit with a possibly armed suspect. The running suspect took a left turn onto Sumner Street, and tried unsuccessfully to open the passenger door of a parked van. When he couldn’t get into the van he kept running up Sumner to a pickup truck, where he stopped, ducked down, put the bag down, and was trying to remove something from inside his sweatpants while looking directly at Sgt. Troy, who was running toward him. The sergeant again drew his pistol, pointed it at the suspect, and ordered him to show his hands and get on the ground. With his free hand, the sergeant also drew his Taser electronic control weapon and continued to order the suspect to surrender.

Instead, the suspect again grabbed the bag and began running again. He crossed Sumner Street onto Walnut Place with Sgt. Troy again in foot pursuit, continuing to yell commands at him to surrender. On the sidewalk of Walnut Place, Sgt. Troy deployed his Taser again and struck the suspect with the weapon’s probes. The suspect was momentarily immobilized and fell to the ground, but after a few seconds tried to get up and flee again. The sergeant reactivated the Taser. After a few seconds, the suspect again regained mobility and tried to pull the probes out. The suspect began violently resisting Sgt. Troy’s attempts to wrestle him to the ground. After fighting the violent and aggressive suspect for several more moments, Sgt. Troy was able to put back onto the ground on Walnut Place. He held the suspect down while two other troopers reached the scene and took the suspect into custody, as he continued to resist the entire time.

Sgt. Troy recovered from the suspect’s sweatpants pocket a Springfield Armory .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol with a laser sight. The gun was loaded with one round in the chamber and two more in the magazine. The suspect was given his Miranda Rights and he identified himself as Xavier P. Harbert, adding that he had never been arrested in his life. Troopers recovered the bag the suspect had fled with and determined it to be a large women’s handbag containing multiple stacks of US currency inside plastic deposit bags.

Meanwhile, Troopers returned to the site where the Jetta had been stopped and found the car gone. It was located a short distance on Walnut Avenue. More plastic bank deposit bags containing US currency were inside the vehicle. The armed robbery victims positively identified the suspect as the man who had robbed and shot at them.

All evidence pertaining to the armed robbery was turned over to Chelsea Police.

The suspect was brought to the State Police Barracks in Revere to be booked.

He had in his possession a driver’s license identifying him as Xavier Paul Harbert, and he said he was a basketball player at Texas A&M University. However, after Troopers took his fingerprints and submitted them to a national fingerprint database, Troopers learned that the suspects true identity is Joshua Kountze Andrews, 31, with a lengthy criminal history and an open warrant out of Middlesex County for firearm and drug offenses. The shirt that Andrews was wearing was turned over to the State Police Crime Scene Services Section for processing for evidence related to gunshot residue.

Further investigation by Troopers revealed that a man named Xavier Paul Harbert, the false identity that Andews used, holds a driver’s license in Texas. Troopers formed the opinion that Andrews falsely procured a Massachusetts drivers license using the stolen identity of that person.

State Police charged Andrews with Armed Robbery; Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon; Assault and Battery on a Police Officer; Carrying a Firearm Without a License; Carrying a Firearm With Ammunition; Resisting Arrest; Giving a False Name to Police; and Identity Fraud.

He was also arrested on the outstanding Middlesex County warrant.

Investigation into the armed robbery incident and Andrews’ accomplices is ongoing.

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Housing for Young Parents to Open in Chelsea

The Neighborhood Developers (TND) and Roca announced on Tuesday afternoon the completion of Lewis Latimer Place in Chelsea – a four-unit supportive housing development on the Shawmut Street site of the birthplace of Lewis Latimer.

With the support of the City of Chelsea, and other funding partners, The Neighborhood Developers has redeveloped the formerly vacant site into four, two-bedroom homes. The newly constructed apartments at Lewis Latimer Place will soon provide homes for at-risk, or high-risk young pregnant or parenting families. The new apartments will provide affordable, energy efficient and healthy living located not far from the many amenities in downtown Chelsea.

“We wanted to think of solutions for high-risk people with children who don’t have housing,” said TND Director Ann Houston. “It’s hard enough to change risky behaviors and then to be a parent when you don’t have a home makes it so much harder. We thought about what we needed and looked at what would work and the Lewis Latimer home was born. This is four units and that’s a small drop in the bucket, but please see this as the first of many locations providing these types of housing and supports.”

The new building is named after Lewis Latimer, who was born in 1848 in a building that formerly occupied this site. The son of a runaway slave, Latimer executed the drawings for Alexander Graham Bell’s patent for the telephone and invented a carbon filament to make electric lights longer lasting and more affordable. The ribbon cutting will include the unveiling of a plaque in Latimer’s honor. The plaque is a collaboration with Chelsea’s Lewis H. Latimer Society – headed up by City Councillor Leo Robinson and his brother, Ron Robinson.

“This is a big day for us,” said Ron. “We’ve been at it 18 years now to try to get something in Chelsea named for Lewis Latimer. We wanted to build a legacy and it’s forming now. Hopefully, three blocks up the street will be the Lewis Latimer Park…When we first started, there wasn’t a lot of information about him – a paragraph here or a museum there. We are now part of an organization united all along the eastern seaboard. We found this organization to use Latimer as a role model for young people to show that you can accomplish anything and overcome any obstacle with education.”

Lewis Latimer Place represents a new collaborative effort between TND and Roca pairing affordable homes with supportive services tailored to family needs. Roca is an experienced and nationally-recognized service provider that has helped more than 20,000 young people change their behaviors and transform their lives. Roca has partnered with TND to provide supportive services to residents, addressing interpersonal relationships, stage-based education, life skills and parenting supports, and employment programming.

“This is an exciting day. We are honored to collaborate with TND, the City of Chelsea and the funders on this great project, said Molly Baldwin, Founder and CEO of Roca. “Supporting young people, one cluster of apartments at a time, will promise that our community helps young parents and families move towards stable and happy lives.”

The Lewis Latimer project team included Timberline Construction Corporation and Horne + Johnson / StepONE architects.

The project was also made possible with the support of the City of Chelsea, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation, Boston Private Bank, Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation, North Suburban Consortium, MassDevelopment, MassHousing, and Charlesbank Homes.

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Leave Fireworks to the Professionals on This Fourth of July

What would the 4th of July be without fireworks? A little less busy in hospital emergency rooms. The nation’s emergency physicians urge you to celebrate the country’s birthday by using common sense when it comes to the potential dangers of fireworks.

We see many injuries in the ER due to fireworks around the 4th of July,” said Dr. Michael Gerardi, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “Many of those ER visits are initiated with the line ‘hey watch this!’”

In 2013, eight people died and more than 11,000 people were injured in the United States because of fireworks, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC). It’s a significant increase from the year before. Additionally, 65 percent of those injuries occurred in the days surrounding July 4th.

Last year, sparklers and rockets accounted for nearly half of all estimated injuries. Almost half (46 percent) of fireworks injuries are to a person’s hands or fingers. One-third (34 percent) of them are to a person’s eyes, head, face and ears (CPSC).

If fireworks are legal in your community, ACEP strongly suggests that you do not use fireworks at your home. If you do use them, however, these do’s and don’ts will help make it a safer experience.

DO — Have knowledgeable supervision by an experienced adult if you choose to use fireworks.

DO — Buy fireworks from reputable dealers

DO — Read warning labels and follow all instructions

DO — Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher on hand

DO — Light fireworks one at a time

DO — Dispose of all fireworks properly

DON’T — Give any fireworks, including sparklers, to small children; older children should be supervised by a responsible adult

DON’T — Light fireworks indoors or near other objects

DON’T — Place your body over a fireworks device when trying to light the fuse and immediately back up to a safe distance after you light it.

DON’T — Point or throw fireworks at another person, ever

DON’T — Try to re-light or pick up fireworks have not ignited fully

DON’T — Wear loose clothing while using any fireworks

DON’T — Set off fireworks in glass or metal containers — the fragments can cause severe injury.

DON’T — Carry fireworks in a pocket.

DON’T — Try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks

You should only watch a professional fireworks display managed by experts who have proper training and experience handling these explosives,” said Dr. Gerardi. “Have fun and enjoy this great American holiday. As always, we’ll be ready to treat you, but we don’t want to have to see you in the ER.”

ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.

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Back to the Basket

Back to the Basket

For the past six weeks or more, I’ve had no coffee in the house.

For years, I’ve relied on swinging by the Chelsea Market Basket after work to grab a bag or two of the store brand coffee beans. I’ve never run out, but during the Market Basket saga of this summer, the cupboard was bare.

Things got so desperate that our family resorted to digging into our camping supplies and pulling out year-old Folger’s Instant Crystals for that all-important morning cup o’ joe.

A pretty big deal for people who are used to freshly ground beans and brewed coffee every day.

Yet it wasn’t just coffee; it was everything – and everyone seemed to be in the same boat.

There was nowhere acceptable to grab a full cart of groceries as our family has done for years upon years at the Chelsea store.

In other places, prices were simply too high or they didn’t have the same stuff.

The nightly routine in the kitchen sort of went like this.

“What’s for dinner?”

“I don’t know; what do we have to cook?”

“Hmmmm. Nothing.”

That’s why early Saturday morning – before the store even truly opened, when the die-hard Basket shoppers really come out – was such a monumental, and somewhat sentimental, return.

Long-time Manager Kevin Feoli – morning coffee in hand (likely made with those coffee beans I missed so much) – was more or less greeted with applause from the customers who knew him.

“Kevin, good to see you!” customers yelled.

“Glad to have everyone back,” he yelled in return, before buckling down and getting down to the business of selling groceries in one of the busiest stores in the United States.

Some were embracing several of the long-time butchers at the meat counter, as if it were a family reunion.

Sure, the shelves were still a bit bare, some stealthy “facing” techniques were used to trick the eye into making the place looked as it normal does and, maybe, the bananas were a little green. But, it was good to be back at the supermarket that has been part of our family since before the new store. Remember the cramped old store where the frozen food was tucked in the front (separated by a protruding shelf of raisins and dates); where two carts couldn’t fit down an aisle and where learning to stop a heavy cart on a dime was paramount if one didn’t want to steamroll an escaped child?

And that’s where the sentimentality comes in, which is kind of surprising because – after all – it is a grocery store.

The thing that sets it apart are the familiar faces of the checkers, baggers, stockmen and managers. Many I have seen working for decades. Some I already knew from Chelsea and others you get to know over the years as you visit the store week in and week out.

Those are the same people who rallied in Tewksbury to bring back their old boss and the old business plan.

They put up signs during the “dark days” in the store that read, “Bring back our Market Basket Family.”

When it was gone, something really was missing from nearly everyone’s life around here. It’s not to say there is no other supermarkets around (Compare SuperMarket in Chelsea is a nice store run by a nice family), but there is no other large supermarket where a person on a limited budget can retain their dignity and buy quality food at a reasonable price from people they know.

And perhaps that’s why it was so good to be back in the store Saturday morning with everyone back in place – from David McLean, William Marsden and Arthur T. Demoulas at headquarters to the full- and part-time workers that do everything with a smile at the Chelsea store.

On Saturday morning, those familiar faces were at the door greeting customers that they recognized.

“Welcome back,” they said, knowing we hadn’t been there. “Thank you.”

Signs on the window read like decrees, saying, “We will never forget your loyalty when we needed it most.”

Of course, we’ll all go back to the normal shopping routines, and the verdict is still out on whether or not prices will increase and things will be like they were before the vaunted company collapsed.

My bet is things will shake out to eventually be better than anyone could ever expect.

I believe that because Market Basket proved it is a company of people, not of numbers and profits on an accountant’s ledger. Anything built so strongly on human compassion, fairness and warmth – even if it’s just a grocery store – will endure.


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Collaborative Effort in Cary Square Will Restore Green Space, Enlarge Garden for Somalis

Collaborative Effort in Cary Square Will Restore Green Space, Enlarge Garden for Somalis

Some 15 years ago, Brandon Menjares and Frank Souza spent most days in the wide-open field off of Temple Emanuel in Cary Square.

It was one of the few open green spaces in the neighborhood where they could play baseball, throw the football around or play capture.

It was a getaway, both said last week.

“That bush right there, that’s the place where I first got the wind knocked out of me big time when I got tackled playing football here,” said Menjares. “We played here every day, all the time. Everybody came here almost every day.”

Both, however, said they were surprised to come back a little over a week ago and found the lot unused and severely overgrown with weeds.

It didn’t stay that way very long.

That’s because both young men, now 20 and 22, had come back with about 20 other AmeriCorps YouthBuild members – under the blessing of the Temple – to turn the lot back into a neighborhood gem, including a passive park, more neighborhood garden space for Somalian refugees and a manicured open field.

“I grew up on Bloomingdale Street and this was such an important place for us to play, but when I came back the other day it was overgrown and no one was using it anymore,” Menjares said. “This is good for us to come back because we can bring it back and then maybe that will bring back the young people – give them a place like we had, but even better. Even though there are a lot of parks now, there are no wide open spaces like this.”

Added Souza, “This place was totally overgrown and we’re going to transform it into something you can use again. I grew up across the street from here. It was the only wide-open green space we had. If a lot of the guys weren’t here all the time playing sports, they would have probably gotten into drugs or worse.”

Members of YouthBuild – a division of Just-A-Start – are almost 80 percent Chelsea residents, said coordinators Sal Mancini and Robbie Sanders, and are in a program that allows them to get their high school diploma and earn money to use for high education. The non-profit has been striving to get more involved in Chelsea over the last couple of years, and seems to have struck gold in coming together with the Chelsea Collaborative on community service projects.

Roseann Bongiovanni of the Chelsea Collaborative said the project grew out of an outreach effort from the Temple, specifically Ellen Rovner and Marlene Demko.

“I am a member of the Temple and I just saw how underutilized this lot beside the Temple was and thought it should be used for something,” she said. “So, about five or six years ago I asked Roseann if we could put a community garden here. She wasn’t sure if it would fly and if it would be able to be maintained. However, she did tell us that the Somali Bantu refugees in Chelsea needed a place to meet and to garden.”

Said Bongiovanni, “The Bantu refugees needed a place to meet for Madrasa (an educational meeting in the Islamic faith) and because the Temple was unfortunately underutilized, we thought they could meet there. In the end, the decision was to have them start with a community garden and go from there.”

So, some two years ago, three garden plots were carved out of the open lot and began to be used for the Bantu garden project.

That was a modest success, but this summer that project and the entire open lot renovation really took off with the addition of Youth Build.

Now, the Bantu refugees will have three additional beds to plant in, which organizers said it a tremendous help.

“It’s very important for these refugees to be able to grow their own food because they’ve always been farmers and they have a problem here getting access to fresh foods,” said Aweis Hussein, a community organizer with the Collaborative. “Many of them depend upon food stamps and it’s not enough to support a family. To have them be able to grow their own food, that’s been great for them. They already knew how to farm, they just needed a place. Now, they will have double the space.”

Rovner said the Temple sees the project in its side yard as one group of older immigrants reaching out to those who are newer immigrants.

“This Temple is an older immigrant community and has been here 80 or 90 years,” she said. “It’s isolated in a way because most of the people around are newer immigrants. Those in the Temple are the children of immigrants who came here years ago. We felt that maybe we can bring them together. There’s a Hebrew saying of ‘Tikkum Olam,’ which means to repair the world. One way to do that is to build bridges, and we believe we’re doing that here this week.”


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