Memoire Nightclub at Encore Attracts Celebrity Djs At Huge Opening

The opening of the Mémoire Nightclub in Encore Boston Harbor bought in a star-studded lineup of DJs, and hundreds of guests, last week – punctuated by former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal (DJ Diesel) on June 27.

Mémoire opened its doors last week, and quickly showed that it would attract the top talent when it comes to club DJs – bringing in Shaq, Fadil El Ghoul (R3HAB), and Steve Aoki.

All three are some of the top DJs in the world and attract thousands when they play shows in large arenas.

“What an exciting first week at Mémoire,” said Randy Greenstein, principal at Big Night Entertainment Group, which operates the club within Encore. “We kicked off opening night with Dutch-Moroccan DJ R3HAB followed by Steve Aoki on Monday – two of the top DJs in the world right now. We also had an electric night with Shaq on Thursday and look forward to continuing to bring top talent from all over the world to Encore Boston Harbor. Our guests have been really excited by the state-of-the-art technology at Mémoire, like the Funktion One sound system, the custom LED ceiling, and the 450-inch LED wall, which creates a really high-energy and exciting experience.”

Big Night will also be operating the flagship Mystique Asian-fusion restaurant within the resort casino as well, and together, both venues are an exciting addition for Encore.

“The restaurants, lounges and amenities at Encore Boston Harbor offer some of the best and most enjoyable dining and nightlife experiences in the nation, which makes Mystique and Mémoire a perfect fit,” said Bob DeSalvio, president of Encore Boston Harbor. “Big Night Entertainment Group owns and operates several of the most popular and award-winning restaurants and luxury nightclubs in the region and is very well respected in this marketplace. They know how to amaze people in every way and will help mark Encore Boston Harbor as the premier dining and nightlife destination for all who visit, live or work in the region.”

Mémoire accommodates up to 650 guests, and the 8,000 square-foot luxury nightlife destination flaunts lustrous gold surfaces, plush accents, sensuous leather contours, custom marble tables, glistening chandeliers, and state-of-the-art technology. With a firm emphasis on cultivating a VIP atmosphere, Mémoire is outfitted with 20 luxurious VIP tables, multiple bars, and alluring private areas that set the scene for a memorable night.

On Thursday, prior to the show featuring Shaq, the NBA legend and former Boston Celtic walked the Encore gaming floor – greeting guests and taking hundreds of photographs with fans.

Hundreds crowded the dance floor to listen to DJ Diesel, and it’s a scene that is a rarity in Boston, and one that Big Night Entertainment and Encore hopes will establish a high-profile nightlife on the banks of the Mystic River.

In July, the venue will welcome renowned artists such as Lucky Lou (July 6), Elephante (July 7), Vinny Vibe (July 20), Ikon (July 26) and Chantel Jefferies (July 28).

Memoire is open Friday – Sunday 9 p.m. – 2 a.m.

•Mystique Opens to large crowds

Mystique Asian Restaurant & Lounge is another Big Night partnership with Encore, and expects to bring elevated Pan-Asian dining to the property.

“Mystique and Mémoire are destined to be flagship destinations at Encore Boston Harbor,” said Principal Ed Kane of Big Night Entertainment Group. “We are thrilled to be able to deliver the premier, first-class experience that guests will expect at the resort.”

Kane told reporters working on the design and execution of Mystique had reinvigorated him.

“This one I’ve been so excited about,” he said, noting that the last time he was this excited was with the opening of Tosca. “I love it. To see it reaching completion is extremely exciting. It was two years in the making and it’s open and it’s been a lot of work.”

Named for both its alluring design and waterfront location, guests will be transported on a mystical journey through Asia upon entering Mystique Asian Restaurant & Lounge. Mystique features a 16,400 square foot dining room and lounge with panoramic windows and a beautiful 40-seat terrace that looks out onto the Mystic River. Designed by award-winning designer Peter Niemitz, Mystique features luxurious finishes and rich textures throughout the open dining room with seating for more than 450 guests. The space boasts an expansive stone bar with seating for 28, plush lounge seating, a sushi counter, and a glamourous open kitchen with a captivating robata grill. Throughout the restaurant and lounge are one-of-a-kind Asian-inspired décor curated from around the world. A picturesque seasonal patio with seating for 36 overlooks the Mystic River under the lights of the Encore Boston Harbor sign.

Executive Chef Anthony Micari, an alumnus of Makoto in Miami, offers a carefully crafted selection of Pan-Asian delicacies, with highlights including an extensive robata program, artful sushi creations, and an array of traditional dishes with a modern spin. Micari offers fresh and bold flavors, using the freshest ingredients possible and presented beautifully with artistic details. Guests can anticipate seasonally inspired menu items that highlight the bounty of New England while celebrating modern interpretations of Pan-Asian cuisine as well as show-stopping large format.

Kane said they do take reservations, but they will pride themselves on offering space – including large groups – to walk-in guests.

“We’re going to hold 50 percent of our capacity for walk-ins and large parties,” he said. “We think that mix will work for us. We’ll make the effort to move things around and get you in. If you are looking for a place at the last minute, we want you to call us or come in.”

Mystique’s signature robata grill is a focal point, offering a visual culinary experience where guests can watch items from land, air, and sea grilled to perfection. Cooked over white binchotan charcoal, the robata dishes are designed for sharing. From steaks such as a Japanese New York Strip to a large Tomahawk and inventive dishes like the Avocado Bomb with sudachi aioli, toasted sesame and ponzu, the robata offers guests freshly grilled items that span local seafood, beef, poultry and vegetables with a Japanese-inspired flare. Mystique’s sushi program, led by Head Sushi Chef and Makoto alum Tony Mai, features a selection of wild caught fish flown fresh daily from Japan. Guests can anticipate classic sushi and sashimi offerings, as well as inventive interpretations that feature unique and rare fish, designed to intrigue diners and introduce them to new flavors. Chef Micari and Chef Mai are sourcing a variety of iki jime fish from top fisherman around the world, offering the best quality sushi possible with daily omakase specials.

Mystique is open daily for lunch and dinner starting at 11:30 a.m.

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Fire Officials Urge the Public to Leave the Fireworks to the Professionals

“Last year, several people lost fingers and suffered serious burns lighting off illegal fireworks in Massachusetts,” said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. “Thirty-four firefighters were injured when an errant firework ignited a six-family building. Have a fun but safe Fourth of July and leave the fireworks to the professionals,” he added.

Fourth of July No Holiday for Firefighters

Needham Fire Chief Dennis Condon, president of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of Massachusetts, said, “The Fourth of July holiday is a busy time for firefighters. We are supervising the professional displays so that they are safe for spectators and licensed operators; we are busy responding to all types of fires and medical emergencies. In fact, the week of July Fourth is one of the busiest times of the year for fires.”

State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said, “This year, set a good example for your children. Just as children know where you keep the matches and lighters, they know where you stash your illegal fireworks.” He added, “Children imitate adults. If you use fireworks, children will copy you, not realizing how very dangerous fireworks are.”

Fireworks Cause Many Dangerous Fires

Last summer, there were many fires, amputations and burn injuries from illegal fireworks in Massachusetts. In the past decade (2009-2018), there have been 800 major fires and explosions involving illegal fireworks in Massachusetts[1]. These incidents resulted in 12 civilian injuries, 39 fire service injuries and an estimated dollar loss of $2.5 million.

· On June 25, 2018, people shooting fireworks in the street started a fire in a six-unit Lynn apartment building. One ricocheted to the second floor porch and ignited several items. The fire spread to the rest of the second floor and to the third. Thirty-four firefighters were injured at this fire.

· On July 2, 2018, the Worcester Fire Department was called to a fire in a three-unit apartment building. The fire was started by fireworks igniting trash in a first floor doorway.

· On July 3, 2018, Dartmouth District #1 responded to a pier fire at Anthony’s Beach. Crews discovered remains of many fireworks on and around the pier after the fire was extinguished.

· On July 4, 2018, the Agawam Fire Department responded to a brush fire started by three juveniles who were using illegal fireworks.

· On July 5, 2018, the Lynn Fire Department put out a car fire started by fireworks.

Fireworks Injuries

In the past decade (2009-2018), 38 people were treated at Massachusetts emergency rooms for severe burn injuries from fireworks (burns covering 5 percent of more of the body) according to the Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System (M-BIRS). Fifty-five percent of the victims were under age 25. Eighteen percent (18 percent) were between the ages of 15 and 24; 8 percent were between the ages of 10 and 14; 18 percent were between five and nine; and 11 percent were children under five. The youngest victim was a six-month old boy. These victims are scarred for life. In the past year:

· A 22-year-old man was seriously injured when roman candles were set off inside an Amherst apartment.

· A 22-year-old was injured in Gloucester playing with sparklers.

· A 10-year-old boy was injured by illegal fireworks at a Marshfield beach on July 3, 2018. He was an innocent by-stander.

· A man lost part of his hand when a firework he was holding exploded. The explosion occurred in a Mansfield MBTA parking lot.

· The Tewksbury Fire Department provided emergency medical care to a man who lost a part of every finger on his right hand when a firework he was holding exploded.

· A 25-year-old Brockton man suffered injuries to his left hand when a “cherry bomb” exploded.

· A 22-year-old Kingston man suffered injuries to his hands, face and stomach from a firework.

All Fireworks Are Illegal in Massachusetts

The possession and use of all fireworks by private citizens is illegal in Massachusetts. This includes Class C fireworks, which are sometimes falsely called “safe and sane” fireworks. Class C fireworks include sparklers, party poppers, snappers, firecrackers, spinners, cherry bombs and more. Sparklers burn at 1,800ºF or higher. It is illegal to transport fireworks into Massachusetts, even if they were purchased legally elsewhere. Illegal fireworks can be confiscated on the spot.

For more information on the dangers of fireworks, go to the Department of Fire Services webpage Leave the Fireworks to the Professionals.

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A Prestigious Honor

Juan Gallego Receives Harry S.Truman Scholarship

Juan Gallego came to the United States from Colombia in 2004. He could not speak English.

He enrolled in the second grade and was an English Language Learner (ELL) at a Boston public school for two years.

In 2007, his family moved to Chelsea and he began attending the St. Rose School. He graduated from Matignon High School in 2015 where he was a football captain and star quarterback and involved in several school and community service projects.

The son of Maria Barrientos, Gallego attended Bridgewater State University for a year.

“During my freshman year in college, I had a realization that I needed to try and succeed academically in order for me to help my community,” said Gallego.

At that time, he had begun coaching high school football at Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River and continued on as the head freshman coach at Randolph High School.

“The coaching was the motivation for me to really get my act together and try to do more, not only for myself, but to give back to these communities that are being disenfranchised to a large extent,” said Gallego.

On to Northeastern and a Call From the College President

Coinciding with his desire, in his words, “get my act together,” Gallego decided to transfer to Northeastern University, Boston. He was drawn to the school’s outstanding co-operative education program and interested in the Northeastern law school.

“When I first came to the United States, I lived in my aunt’s house which was a two-minute walk to Northeastern,” recalled Gallego. “My mom said I should strive to go to law school there and ever since then, I’ve wanted to go to law school at Northeastern.”

Everything has clicked well for Gallego at Northeastern where he is studying Political Science with a minor in Urban Studies. One of his favorite instructors at NU was former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis.

Gallego is a Dean’s List student with a 3.7 grade point average. He was recently notified that he has received a Harry S. Truman Scholarship in recognition of his community service and his aspiration to continue in public service. He was the recipient of a $30,000 scholarship to be used toward his graduate degree.

“I was really excited to receive the Truman Scholarship,” said Gallego. “The opportunity that I will have through this scholarship is going to open a lot of doors for me personally and help me give back to the many communities that I have been a part of.”

Gallego received notification of the prestigious award from Joseph A. Oun, president of Northeastern University.

“I was studying abroad and I was in Athens, Greece, the foundation of democracy, and I got a call from the president of Northeastern,” he said with a smile. “What a thrill. It was amazing.”

Offers praise for Sen. Edward Markey

Gallego had served as an intern in the Washington, D.C. office of U.S. Sen Edward J. Markey. He had the opportunity to travel to Korea to participate in an academic exchange program.

“It was a great experience to be exposed to foreign policy and expand my horizon at what else is out there in the world,” said Gallego. “I owe a large extent to where I am today to Sen. Markey and his staff. They’ve been great mentors, supporters, and friends.”

Gallego said he admires U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “for her grassroots efforts and the shock that she has brought to national politics overall.”

“She’s been able to galvanize support from all over the country,” said Gallego. “She’s been able to really be the star of the Democratic Party.”

He also cited State Rep. Andy Vargas of Haverhill as “a force of nature and a voice for the Latino community in Massachusetts.”

Gallego hopes to return to Washington following his academic career.

“Being in Washington was an amazing experience in all aspects and if I do aspire to be a public servant one day, I think that experience is much needed in order to be able to understand the many different opinions and the gridlock that can happen in politics and government,” he said.

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Encore Opening Procedures, Training Running Smoothly Ahead of Opening

Three weeks makes a difference.

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 service standards.

“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.”

Overall, DeSalvio 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.

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East Boston Neighborhood Health Center and South End Community Health Center Announce Intent to Merge

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.

South End 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.

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

Traffic Impacts

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

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

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

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

Work Hours

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

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

Summary of Work Completed

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

Description of Work

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

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

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

Travel Tips

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

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

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

Stanley Cup Playoffs (TD Garden): To be scheduled

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

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

BHCC Honors Class of 2019 at 45th Commencement Ceremony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Council Looking to Limit Resident Parking for New Developments

It’s a general consensus among City officials that parking and traffic are among the greatest challenges facing Chelsea.

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 city.

“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 required parking.

“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.

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Rollins Speaks at Chamber of Commerce Luncheon

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,” said Rollins.

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 session.

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 our lives.”

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 agency.

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.

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TND, Traggorth Finally get the Green Light on Midas Site

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 night.

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 residents.

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 city.

“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 percentage.

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 facility.

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.

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In Contentious Vote, Council Votes to Allow Change to Insurance

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.”

Under Massachusetts 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 employees.

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 unions.

“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 community.

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 councillors.

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