That’s the message from Encore Boston Harbor
President Bob DeSalvio when it comes to the preparations for the opening of the
resort casino on June 23. DeSalvio said that hiring a majority of the workers
to train for three weeks, as compared to the one-week average in the industry,
will be worth every penny.
“In general we are in a very good position
right now,” he said on Tuesday. “I feel like the construction, the hiring and
the trainings are all coming together extremely well. Right now the number one
item is about working on training and role playing on our own people in
preparation for the arrival of our first guests. It was good to get the team in
early and have the mass orientation on June 3. The access to the building was
critical to making sure we had the necessary time to prepare.”
DeSalvio said many in the industry will
bring on most employees about a week ahead of opening. Some might stretch that
to two weeks. However, a three week, 20-day solid training period is unique.
“We have a full 20 days to completely
fine-tine and have five-star service levels and standards,” he said. “That’s a
big part of what we do. It’s an expanded preparation time, but that’s important
to us…Literally having three weeks is pretty unique, but it’s worth every penny
because we’ll get to thoroughly train our team members to that we can expect to
deliver a flawless opening.”
Right now, workers are busy role playing,
helping one another, and collaborating with helpers from the Las Vegas resorts
– who are initiating the new workers from the Boston area into the company
“The next couple days we start very
intensive role playing preparations with our team – we’ll eat at the
restaurants and walk all of the corridors,” he said. “We plan to occupy every
single guest room before guests arrive…We want to make sure we’ve got
everything covered. By occupying the rooms, it gives us a chance to see everything
to make sure it’s working – the air conditioners, the lighting and the TV. It’s
a great way to get it done instead of waiting for guests to come in and have to
bring something like that to our attention.”
That also goes for the kitchens – cooking
meals for practice to make sure everything is working correctly and all of the
materials are in place for when the first guests arrive.
DeSalvio said a good deal of what is
happening now on the construction front is interior work and bringing in food
and retail supplies.
The construction phase, he said, is done for
the most part – meaning that the largest single-phase construction project in
the state’s history came in on time.
“Construction is winding down,” he said.
“They’re doing minor landscaping and doing some interior finish work. But for
the most part, the construction has been completed.”
One of the more stunning aspects of the
building, DeSalvio said, was the sunset views of the Mystic River Valley facing
west. While the Boston skyline views are tremendous, DeSalvio said the views of
the Mystic are special because they have never been seen before.
“One of the unique aspects of the building
is the views from various angles, especially the higher up to you go – are
unlike anything we’ve ever seen because there has never been a building that
big in Everett,” he said. “Looking west from the tower up the Mystic River,
there’s a sense of the real beauty of that area.”
said the team has done outstanding work on all aspects of the resort, and he
said they are very much ready for their opening in less than two weeks.
This week, in one of the first mergers of
its kind in Massachusetts, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) and
South End Community Health Center (SECHC) announced their intent to merge after
signing a definitive merger agreement.
Pending federal and state regulatory
approvals, SECHC will become a part of EBNHC with Manny Lopes remaining as
president and CEO. The merger will add SECHC’s 180-plus employees and 19,000
patients to the largest community health center in Massachusetts and one of the
largest in the country. SECHC will continue to provide comprehensive health
care services in the South End.
“As SECHC celebrates 50 years of service to
the South End, we also look to the future. Our number one goal is to strengthen
high-quality care for this community in an increasingly complex and volatile
health care system that favors economies of scale,” said Bill Walczak, CEO and
president of SECHC. “We have strategically considered many pathways to
achieving this goal over the past several years and are delighted to have
reached an agreement with EBNHC that positions community-based care to thrive.”
Manny Lopes, president and CEO of EBNHC,
added, “Our organizations have shared a common mission for decades and there is
a lot we can learn from one another. As health centers, it is our duty to
innovate and grow in financially sustainable ways to ensure we are preserving
and advancing affordable, accessible, high-quality care in communities that
need it most. We believe that welcoming SECHC into our organization will benefit
patients, staff, and our communities.”
Post-merger, EBNHC will support
approximately 1,200 employees and more than 100,000 patients per year with an
operating budget of $165 million, providing high-quality services and programs
in neighborhoods on both sides of Boston Harbor.
The East Boston Neighborhood Health Center
(EBNHC) has been a vital part of its community for more than 40 years,
providing easily accessible, high-quality health care to all who live and work
in East Boston and the surrounding communities of Chelsea, Revere, Everett, and
Winthrop. EBNHC supports more than 1,000 employees and handles 300,000 visits
per year – more than any other ambulatory care center in New England.
Community Health Center (SECHC) is a comprehensive health care organization for
all residents of the South End and surrounding communities. Founded in
1969, SECHC is committed to providing the highest quality,
coordinated health care that is both culturally and linguistically sensitive to
every patient, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender
identity, physical ability, and/or income. SECHC’s multi-cultural and highly
trained staff of 180-plus serves more than 19,000 patients with an operating
budget of $16.5 million.
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
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
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
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.
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:
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
Boston Calling Music Festival (Harvard Athletic Complex): May 24 –
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
“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
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.
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
It’s a general consensus among City
officials that parking and traffic are among the greatest challenges facing
But the best way to help ease clogged
streets and ensure residents aren’t endlessly circling their block to find an
open parking spot are open to debate.
The latest proposal is an ordinance
introduced by City Council President DamaliVidot and District 1 Councillor
Robert Bishop seeking a change in the City’s off-street parking requirements.
Under the proposal, the residents of any
development or housing that is granted relief by the Zoning Board of Appeals
(ZBA) from the City’s parking requirements won’t be eligible to participate in
the residential permit parking sticker program. Already, in Everett, City
officials at their ZBA have been requiring new developments or expanded housing
units in triple deckers to not participate in their parking sticker program.
That tool has proven quite successful over past several months.
The Chelsea proposal will head to the
Planning Board for a recommendation before coming back for a public hearing
before the City Council.
“This will require any developer that comes
into the city to put their money where their mouth is by asking tenants not to
participate in the City parking program,” said Vidot.
Bishop said it is unfair that larger
developments come into the city and ask for and are granted well below the 1.5
parking spaces per unit required by the City.
“There are too many units and not enough
parking,” said Bishop. “Where do you think all those cars go? They go all over
the streets, that’s where they go.
“There is very little parking even in areas
where there was once parking. This is something we should have done years ago.”
District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero said
that while developers promote the use of Ubers, Lyfts, and public
transportation, the fact is that more development brings more cars into the
“There are more cars being registered in our
city, our streets can’t support all the cars,” Recupero said.
If developers want to build in Chelsea,
Recupero said they should do like they do in Boston and provide parking
underneath the units.
Several councillors said there are still
some questions about the proposal made by Vidot and Bishop.
Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda asked
what would happen with condominiums, where there are owners as opposed to
tenants. He also questioned what would happen if developers did provide
“If they meet the conditions and there are
15 spots for 10 units, would we still allow the parking sticker?” he asked.
Avellaneda said he is supportive of working
out more details for a parking plan, and also noted that many of the biggest
parking issues come not from the larger developments, but from smaller
conversions where parking relief is granted for buildings increasing from one
to two or two to three families.
District 3 Councillor Joe Perlatonda said
there needs to be a closer look at the overall parking program for the city.
He said the current program, which limits
resident sticker parking to 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. is unfair to residents.
“Unless we change the parking program to
24/7, these people are still going to be parking in our streets, and I’m sick
of it,” said Perlatonda.
Suffolk County District Attorney announces community meeting in Chelsea on June 19
Rachael Rollins, the dynamic district attorney who became the first female elected to the esteemed Suffolk County position last November, was the guest speaker at the Chamber of Commerce Luncheon Wednesday at the Holiday Inn/Boston Logan Airport Chelsea.
Rollins proved to be as dynamic a speaker as
she is a public official.
“The people that are most impacted
negatively by the criminal justice system – it has nothing to do with race and
almost everything to do with poverty,” Rollins told the luncheon audience. “If
you can’t afford somebody who can navigate fluently through the criminal
justice system – you are at a significant disadvantage.
“I don’t care what hue your skin is – if you
have no money, the system does not work well for you, period, end of story,”
In well-received remarks, Rollins spoke about
the DA’s mission as the chief law enforcement office of Suffolk County. She
addressed serious issues such as the opioid crisis. She talked about the
marijuana industry and law enforcement’s efforts in the field since
recreational marijuana became legal in the state.
Chamber President Joseph Mahoney noted
Rollins’ achievements as a Division 1 college athlete at UMass/Amherst. While
at UMass, she challenged school leaders to increase the number of athletic
scholarships given to female students.
Rollins also used the forum to make a major
announcement: she will hold a community meeting on June 19 at 6 p.m. at the
Chelsea Senior Center.
It is the second such quarterly meeting in
the county following the inaugural session in Roxbury. It will be in the style of
a state of the union/state of the city, followed by a question-and-answer
Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson and Chelsea
Police Community Engagement Specialist Dan Cortez praised Rollins’ initiative
to host a community meeting in the city.
“A community meeting on a regular basis is a
great idea,” said Robinson, an early supporter of Rollins in her campaign for
office. “It follows through on her pledge to be accessible and accountable to
our residents. I expect to see a tremendous turnout of people welcoming her to
Chelsea on June 19 and learning about the important role the DA’s Office has in
Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes was a guest at
the luncheon while Roca Assistant Director Jason Owens, who provided an
overview of Roca’s efforts during brief remarks, led a delegation from the
Rollins called on Kyes to elaborate on the
challenges facing police officers in regard to the new marijuana laws.
“We have individuals in the state, police
officers in the state who are known as drug recognition experts (DREs),” said
Kyes. “There are only about 200 DREs out of 17,000 police officers, including
the State Police. At the end of the day, when an officer sees somebody and
they’re unsteady on their feet, bloodshot eyes – they could potentially get
probable cause to make an arrest, but then without that DRE to do an added
evaluation, when it goes to court, these individuals aren’t getting convicted.
“Right now, some judges will allow the
testimony pf a DRE and some will not,” concluded Kyes.
Rollins’ remarks were videotaped by Chelsea
Community Cable Television. Executive Director Robert Bradley said the luncheon
will begin airing on the cable television station.
A 38-unit affordable housing project at the
former Midas site on Broadway can move forward after the Zoning Board of
Appeals (ZBA) unanimously granted a special permit for the project Tuesday
The $15 million project is a partnership
between the Traggorth Companies and The Neighborhood Developers (TND). The
developers initially came before City officials last year with plans for a
42-unit housing development with some market rate units included.
In addition to cutting the project down to
38 units and making all the units affordable, a planned fifth floor of a
building along the Broadway side was eliminated.
“This project cannot do everything for
everyone, but it can achieve many things for Chelsea by creating 38 units of
affordable housing,” said Dave Traggorth of the Traggorth Companies. “This
blighted site pays very little in taxes. This will change that and bring
revenue to the city.”
In addition to providing affordable housing,
Traggorth said there will be public access to Mill Creek for all Chelsea
As has been the case during past public
hearings on the project, a number of community members touted the need for
affordable housing in Chelsea and TND’s past successes in bringing affordable
units to the city.
City Council President Damali Vidot said she
has never supported a TND project in the city until this one.
“There is a huge problem with affordability
in this city and we are displacing residents at a rapid rate,” said Vidot.
Resident Sandy Maynard supported the
creation of affordable units and the improvement of a blighted site in the
“I can’t think of a better project than this
one to meet that (affordable housing) need and to beautify Chelsea,” said
Maynard. “That lot is an ugly, ugly place.”
Several residents who have been homeless
also spoke in favor of the project and of the need of affordable housing.”
A letter from District 3 City Councillor Joe
Perlatonda cited his objections to the project, including the welfare of
neighboring residents due to traffic and parking concerns.
City Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda, who
has spoken against approval of the 1001-1005 Broadway project in the past, said
his overreaching concern has been TND’s lack of a vision to bring affordable
home ownership, as opposed to rental units, to the city.
“Teachers and city employees are not able to
bid on homes (in Chelsea) and they are pushed out,” said Avellaneda. “I
understand the need for affordable housing, but there is no balance here …
There is a broader discussion that is needed in this community.”
The special permit granted by the ZBA was
required because the project did not meet minimum zoning requirements for rear
yard setbacks, number of off-street parking spaces, and maximum lot coverage
A housing lottery will be held for all of
those units, with 30 offered at 60 percent of the Average Median Income (AMI)
for the area (about $64,000 for a family of four) and eight at 30 percent AMI
(about $32,000 for a family of four). The maximum preference allowable under
state law will be given to Chelsea residents for the units.
There will be 42 parking spaces for the 38
units (the majority of which will be two-bedroom apartments). And because of
state law regulating public access to public waterways, 31 of those parking
spaces will be available as public parking from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to provide
access to Mill Creek for everyone.
•In other business, the ZBA held a public
hearing for a retail marijuana shop at the site of the former King Arthur’s
strip club at 200 Beacham St. GreenStar Herbals, Inc. is seeking to tear down
the existing two-story building and replace it with a one-story retail
Representatives from GreenStar said the
building will feature state-of-the-art security and 34 parking spots on site.
Representatives of several of the neighboring local produce businesses came to
express concerns about traffic and parking affecting their businesses.
The GreenStar proposal still needs to go
before the Planning Board later this month before coming back to the ZBA for
special permit and variance approvals.
•The ZBA also
denied a special permit for a church to operate out of the second and third
floors of 307 Broadway because the plan did not include any parking spaces.
Current and former
municipal employees crowded into Monday night’s City Council meeting as the
council took up a vote to allow City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to negotiate
changes to the city’s group health insurance policies.
Most of those employees
did not leave happily or quietly as the council voted 8-2 to grant Ambrosino
that authority to negotiate the changes. Councillors Roy Avellaneda and Yamir
Rodriguez voted against the order, while Councillor Calvin T. Brown was not
present at the meeting.
The city’s current group
health plan is governed by a three-year agreement with the Public Employee
Committee (PEC) that expires on June 30 of this year.
“During the months of
November through March, I did attempt to negotiate with the PEC a new
multi-year agreement that would provide some cost savings to the group health
plan,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the council. “Unfortunately, I have not
been able to reach agreement with the unions.”
General Laws, Ambrosino stated, in the absence of a new agreement, the old PEC
agreement will remain in effect indefinitely. Without City Council action,
Ambrosino said he cannot put any health care cost savings in place.
The action approved by the
City Council allows the city to take advantage of recent state legislation that
allows municipalities to implement cost saving plan design changes on its own
if no agreement can be reached with the PEC as long as the city agrees to share
a percentage of its first year cost savings with the unions.
With the newly granted
authority by the council, the City Manager said he will negotiate reasonable
design changes to the city’s group health policies, likely by imposing
deductibles in line with deductibles paid for health insurance by state
Ambrosino said even with
any changes, Chelsea will always have health insurance at least as good as that
provided to Massachusetts public employees.
However, a letter to the
City Council submitted by the Chelsea Public Employees Committee outlined over
two dozen reasons why members believe the adoption of the changes to the group
health insurance should not be adopted.
“The PEC strongly believes
that the adoption of Sections 21-23 is inappropriate and premature for multiple
reasons: the Self-Insurance Trust Fund is running about a $2 million surplus;
the PEC has agreed to apply any surplus to reduce future health insurance
costs; City Manager Thomas Ambrosino wants the sickest families among City
employees and retirees to pay $1 million more on an annual basis currently paid
by the City; the PEC and City Manager Thomas Ambrosino agree that no changes to
employee/retiree health insurance are needed until FY2022; Ambrosino has failed
to bargain in good faith for a successor PEC agreement; a grievance, including
an alleged unfair labor practice, are pending at this time; and Sections 21-23
will effectively disable bargaining on health insurance,” the letter summarizes.
City Council President
Damali Vidot noted that her husband works for the Department of Public Works
and that any changes in health insurance would directly affect her. However,
she said the changes are necessary to allow Ambrosino to negotiate with city
“We hire the Town Manager
to negotiate with the unions, and I’m not comfortable when he does not have all
the tools needed for the negotiations,” said Vidot.
Vidot she said she hopes
Ambrosino can go back to the unions with the new negotiating tools and find
common ground with the unions. In addition to wanting the best for city
employees, Vidot said the council has a fiscal responsibility for the entire
The council president also
said that there has been some miscommunication on the issue, especially when it
comes to retirees. Vidot said changes to group health insurance plans would
only affect a very few retirees who do not qualify for Medicare.
District 1 Councillor
Robert Bishop said he agreed that the City Manager should have all the tools
available as he negotiates with the city’s union.
As the vote took place, many in the audience shouted and voiced their
displeasure, with several people stating the council should be ashamed of their
vote. The meeting came to a brief halt as the crowd noisily filed out of the
council meeting, with several audience members individually appealing to
Dr. Deborah Wayne’s optometry shop has been
on Broadway in one way or another since 1936, but in 2019 she’s hoping that new
City guidelines and a store improvement program will help her shop – and others
around it – catapult into the new century.
“You want to see quality businesses and you
want them to look like quality businesses,” she said. “I think it’s a fabulous
idea. It’s an old storefront. I have a storefront that doesn’t have any grates.
We’ve been operating in one location or another on Broadway since 1936 and
we’ve never had a grate. I’d do anything to get the grates off the businesses
on Broadway. I think they’re ugly. I’m hoping that these regulations go through
so I can take advantage of the program. I don’t want to take action and build
something that isn’t in compliance. I’m ready to rip the front off my store. I
She shares the enthusiasm of most of the
business community on Broadway, who wholeheartedly support a set of design
guidelines for the corridor, as well as a storefront improvement assistance
Downtown Coordinator Mimi Graney has
proposed the regulations this spring to the Planning Board, and had a hearing
on April 1. They will have a stop at the City Council again with a ruling promised
“The goal is to be attractive and be
maintained and lit well,” she said. “It’s also transparency of the windows.
We’re telling folks not to have the big frosted glass and we would like the
business to take down the big metal grates. In a lot of cases, they aren’t
necessary because it can done other ways. We can meet the goal of safety and
meet the goal of feeling safe and having an attractive façade.”
One of the problems, she said, is that the
regulations for signage and façade improvements are woefully outdated – in some
cases not allowing simple things like a blade sign. A blade sign is a suspended
sign that faces those walking on the sidewalk. Because of the outdated
regulations, she said, many store owners are hesitant to make upgrades that
could be a code violation.
“The downtown has always been a bunch of
things, but the rules never changed so it means the businesses can’t update or
maintain their facades,” she added.
Alberto Calvo of Stop & Compare
Supermarket said they improved their façade and sign a few years ago, and it
made a huge difference. He’s excited to see that happen throughout the business
“We’re absolutely excited to see movement
toward the revamping of sign ordinances,” offered Calvo, also executive vice
president of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce.
“A few years ago, we at Stop & Compare in Chelsea invested
significantly to improve our building’s façade and to install updated, modern
signage. It has made a marked, positive
difference in our foot traffic and sales at that location, and I very much want
to see other businesses in the Downtown corridor benefit from these kinds of
Chelsea Chamber President Joseph W. Mahoney
added, “We do get member businesses, and non-members, too, asking whether there
are programs to assist business owners to fund signage and façade
improvements. For façades, we know that
there is a small program to be made available, but the roll-out of the façade
program has been at least a couple of years in the making. Our understanding is
that there may also be a cost-sharing program for signage as well. The new
signage ordinances still need to be passed by the City Council, so we’ve been
telling businesses to sit tight, but be ready. We’ve been saying the same thing
to our member and non-member businesses in the signage business. We suggested to Craig Murphy, owner of our
member Cambridge Reprographics, start talking to people now.”
“I think businesses are most excited about
the potential return of blade signs,” Mahoney elaborated, “those that are
perpendicular to the building.”
Newburyport’s shopping district is full of those signs.
When one drives down its streets, one can
see the businesses’ signs before accidentally passing them. Pedestrians also
can spot their destination from a half-block away.
•Another piece of the regulations addresses
outdoor or sidewalk dining – which was pioneered by the Ciao! Market on
Broadway two summers ago. It was a success, by most accounts, and Graney said
they would like to encourage others to try it.
First, however, they wanted to put some
standards in place.
The regulations would only allow such dining
on sidewalks and they would have to be immediately in front of the business.
The furniture would have to be matching and of a high quality. There would have
to be a safety plan, and businesses would be responsible for the area. No
alcohol service would be allowed for the time being.
Seasonal heaters for outdoor dining are also
“Realistically, there’s not a lot of space,”
she said. “Downtown, where this works, it’s two or three tables or six people.
It’s similar to what Ciao! Did on their pilot.”
Addressing the proposed sidewalk dining
ordinance, Chamber Executive Director Rich Cuthie was slightly more
“Edson and Marvin from Ciao Pizza definitely
have been the market movers on this and need to be applauded,” he said. “They
put in the work and time with the City to test it out. But let’s say it’s a nice summer evening and
you and I wanted to have a beer and split a plate of nachos al fresco at a
local restaurant on Broadway; maybe an
after work meeting or just something social. We sit down at the table and
chairs on the sidewalk and then are told, ‘No, sorry. No alcohol is allowed
outside.’ Like many people, we’re just
going to get up, apologize, and either go to the inside of that restaurant, or
another restaurant, or worse, decide to move our meeting or dinner to another
Cuthie said there is no compelling argument
for a business owner to make the investment in tables, chairs, and staffing
while also having to insure against additional outdoor liabilities if the
potential revenues to offset those costs are not there.
“No mistake,” Cuthie continued, “we’re happy
and appreciative that the City is moving to try to formally create a path to
outdoor dining, but without beer, wine, and cocktails—which by the way are a
restaurant’s highest margin offerings and offset food costs, we’re missing the
mark and I have to reserve judgment on the initiative’s ultimate success. I don’t want Chelsea to always be 10 years
behind other communities. We need proper updating now so that people will say,
‘It’s a beautiful evening, let’s have some margaritas and good Latin food in
Chelsea tonight. We’ll decide where we
want to eat when we get there, because there are so many outdoor dining
Carlos Fuentes is a flourishing social media
star and mentor who is helping inspire others on their own health and fitness
And when we say star, well, Fuentes has more
than 56,000 followers, a number that is growing every day.
Chelsea residents, classmates, and childhood
friends will remember him well as the personable and multi-talented member of
the Jordan Boys and Girls Club (JBGC), the hard-working and helpful student at
CHS (Class of 2009), or the diligent staff member at the Chelsea Collaborative
where he worked with administrators Gladys Vega and Roseann Bongiovanni.
Fuentes credited former JGBC Executive
Director Josh Kraft for making his visits there a positive and productive
“Josh is definitely a person who helped me,” said Fuentest. “Patricia Manalo was the performing arts director and she was the first one to say to me, ‘it’s okay to put yourself out there and do something different’ “I did ballet, tap, singing, and dancing. She helped me get out my comfort zone and that’s what my current journey has been about.”
Chelsea resident Carlos Fuentes, teen program director at the East Boston YMCA and social media star, is pictured outside the youth development and community sports facility.
Reflecting on his job at the Collaborative,
Fuentes said, “Gladys and Rosie are awesome. They gave me my first job. I
worked at the Collaborative for five years as an environmental Chelsea
One of his childhood highlights was singing
at the Zakim Bridge opening ceremonies with superstar Bruce Springsteen.
Fuentes graduated from Wheelock College with
a degree in Social Work. While a college junior, he began working at the East
Today he is the Teen Program Director at the
East Boston YMCA where he oversees relationships with the surrounding middle
and high schools and manages the academic credit recovery programs as well as Y
In 2016, Fuentes began posting photos of his
workouts, attendance at musicals, and his various travels on social media.
“I was doing cardio workouts and then I
signed up for personal training at the YMCA,” said Fuentes, who has lost 40
pounds on a three-year fitness program.
Fuentes said one of his transformation
photos became an overnight viral sensation, with no less than 800,000 likes
One of his fans praised his healthy
lifestyle and positive attitude, writing, “I believe in you, Carlos.”
Fuentes now posts videos every other day and
the demand for more interaction on social media is growing.
“I just recently learned how to swim, so a
lot of it is my swimming videos and my working out videos,” said Fuentes, whose
father, Jorge Pleitez, is from El Salvador and mother, Suyapa Fuentes, is from
Honduras. He has two older brothers, Miguel and Jorge.
Fuentes is part of the LGBT community and he
is often sought out for advice by people who consider him an inspiration and a
source of support.
James Morton, YMCA of Greater Boston
president and CEO lauded Fuentes who is part of a caring, dedicated staff that
has made the ‘Y’ a true community resource in East Boston.
“Carlos’ story is truly an inspiration to
all,” said Morton, who is an avid runner and fitness advocate himself. “When
people join the Y, they are seeking to improve themselves, but in actuality
they are also part of creating a better community. The Y helps teens with job
training, academic support, and college prep help.”
Ashley Genrich, aquatics director at the
East Boston YMCA, taught Fuentes how to swim.
“Carlos is one of hardest workers I’ve ever
met in my life,” said Genrich. “He figured it out pretty quickly and was hungry
to learn all the different strokes. Now he assists with our swim classes. The
kids love him. East Boston is such a family here and Carlos models what it is
to be a huge member of the this community and the family. He’s an awesome guy.”
Added Kate Martinez, 17, who works part time
in the teen program, “Being at the Y has always felt like a second home because
of Carlos. He helps me balance my schoolwork and sports. He’s also given me the
opportunity to support other youths with their homework and taking part in ‘Y’
Meanwhile, Fuentes is becoming so popular
and uplifting across many age groups and lifestyles that he is being approached
by clothing companies to promote their products. A local film maker has also
reached out to Fuentes for a project.
“I’m trying to see what endorsements are
available,” said Fuentes. “The response has been overwhelming. A lot of people
on Instagram say they appreciate me being vulnerable. Because of this platform
that I have, I am looking to expand my outreach.”
Fuentes said he’s pleased that the East
Boston ‘Y’ is attracting members from Chelsea. “It’s great that some of our
participants are from Chelsea. I’ve tried to make it known that Chelsea
residents are welcomed. My heart has always been Chelsea.”
And Fuentes is happily putting his hometown
and the East Boston YMCA on the map through his tremendous following on social
With his ability to lead and inspire others,
is an entry in to the political arena in his immediate future?
about it,” he admits. “But not right now.”
In a sudden move, District 5 School
Committee member Julio Hernandez has resigned – one of the City’s up-and-coming
political figures that many thought had a big future on the Committee.
Hernandez, a Chelsea High graduate, told the
Record this week that it was with a heavy heart that he resigned, and he felt
it was necessary as he had to work more hours and attend college at the same
“When I ran for office, I had more support
from my family,” he said. “As rent started getting higher, I knew that I needed
more income, and while still being in college, I decided to look at other jobs.
“I loved working in the School Committee,
but it also made me angry to see some members not show up to meetings, not ask
questions, and not have thorough discussions regarding our students’
education,” he continued. “Student advocacy has always been my platform, to
serve all students the right way. From starting the policy of an outdoor
graduation, to having the opportunity to work with many teachers who really
care about this community. I now believe School Committee Members should be
appointed, because our student’s education is no joke.”
Hernandez, 20, said college, family and
financial constraints hit all at once this year, and he couldn’t in good
conscience serve on the Committee while not being able to show up.
“I know once I’m done with college, I’ll be
back to serve the community I love and cherish,” he said. “I want to thank all
the people who supported me, and are still supporting me in my time of sorrow.”
At Monday night’s City Council meeting,
Council President Damali Vidot said Hernandez had given notice to the City
Clerk that he would be stepping down as of April.
Because his resignation is more than 180
days from a City Election, Vidot said the City Charter calls for a joint
meeting of the Council and the School Committee within 30 days to appoint a
replacement. That replacement would serve through the city election in
November, when the position will be on the ballot.
“Julio was an incredible leader during his
tenure,” said District 5 City Councillor Judith Garcia. “He did an incredible
job while on the School Committee and was a great representative for District
Garcia encouraged anyone from District 5 who
is interested to apply for the open seat.
However, Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda
said the Council and the School Committee may want to leave the position open
until the municipal election.
“I may have some reservations about filling
the post,” said Avellaneda. “There’s only one more month until (candidates can)
pull papers, and then the election is in November. I feel it may be best to
leave the seat unfilled.”
someone to a short-term on the School Committee would give that person a leg up
on other candidates who run for the seat in the general election, Avellaneda