Drug Court Graduation Brings Tears of Joy, Celebration of Change

Drug Court Graduation Brings Tears of Joy, Celebration of Change

On Tuesday, April 10, at Chelsea District Court, the courtroom was filled with people who had arrest records as long as the Declaration of Independence. They sat at the tables where defendants usually sit.

They’d all been there before numerous times due to their addiction, drug use and petty crimes. This time, though, they were there to graduate – to acknowledge that they’d completed a program at least 18 months long with the courts that helped them turn their lives around.

The program is Drug Court, and it was innovated in Chelsea in 2000 and continues strong through the support of judges, probation officers, recovery coaches and other resources. It is a last stop, last chance for many people who have been in and out of jail for their entire lives.

“It saved my life,” said Erin Eckert, cradling her young toddler girl and noting that she was at the lowest one can get while on the streets of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass in Boston’s South End – known as Methadone Mile. “It took me a long time to do this and make the decision. When I did, it literally saved my life.”

On Tuesday, seven people graduated from the program. Most had been in jail several times, had years or decades of court involvement. This time, though, they changed that trajectory. Most had been clean for more than a year, and most were employed. Families and supporters came to celebrate.

SJC Justice David Lowy was the keynote speaker, sharing how he had lost a cousin last year to opiate overdose. Almost all of the big players in the state’s judiciary were in attendance.

Everyone cried, but they were tears of celebration and relief.

Chelsea started and innovated the program years ago, and now there are drug courts in many of the urban District Courts that are built on that same model. It is a strike against the opiate epidemic, and one that works for many people.

“This last time I was up and down with it,” said Kristen Barnett, who entered the Drug Court in February 2015. “All I know is I changed my life this time. I don’t know what to say why I did it this time, but I did. I’m happy to be here today.”

Those graduating included:

  • Joseph Barbarisi
  • Kristen Barnett
  • Meredith Downing
  • Erin Eckert
  • Heritier Kindoki
  • William Paskell
  • Mynor Velasquez

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DA Conley’s Juvenile Diversion Program on Track to Double Capacity

DA Conley’s Juvenile Diversion Program on Track to Double Capacity

Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley this week welcomed new community partners to an ambitious diversion project, hoping to double the capacity of a program that allows juveniles charged with some serious offenses to get their lives back on track without incurring additional entries on their records.

Conley’s office launched the Juvenile Alternative Resolution pilot project in February 2017 with half a dozen community-based agencies that provide individualized services to Boston’s youth. In May, the partner agencies began accepting juveniles who faced delinquency charges in the Boston Juvenile Court and showed a moderate to high risk of re-offending. And yesterday, Conley welcomed a new batch of agencies to the team.

“Historically, juvenile diversion in Massachusetts has been geared toward first-time and low-level offenders, and it’s been limited in the services available to promote post-diversion success,” Conley said. “We envisioned something more ambitious – something that would re-direct the lives of young people charged with more serious offenses, even high-risk teens.  We sought out partners who could offer individualized services for a wide range of needs.  And our shared goal across agencies was to divert young adults outward, away from the criminal justice system, instead of upward and deeper into it.”

By March of this year, 45 juveniles had entered the JAR program and received supervision, support, and services through one or more community partner agencies. Of that number, 12 successfully completed the program and 31 are on track to do so.

Together, the 45 participants accounted for 100 offenses. Almost two-thirds of those offenses were classified as “crimes against the person,” including assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and unarmed robbery. Some were as young as 11, but about half were 16 or 17 years old. About 60% of the juveniles were from Dorchester or Roxbury, about two-thirds were male, and almost all were youth of color.

Participants are also showing significant drops in the risk and need factors they had when they entered, Conley said, reflecting a course correction in the trajectory of their lives. Because JAR-eligible delinquency complaints are placed on hold upon entry to the program and dismissed upon completion six to nine months later, the cases never appear on the participants’ juvenile records.

By expanding the available partners, Conley hopes to double the program’s capacity in the year to come – and continue to accept even juveniles who have prior system involvement and face moderate- to high-level charges. The goal, he said, was to juvenile involvement in the criminal justice system in Suffolk County – and the barriers to social, academic, and employment success that can follow.

“We were warned that there was a risk in taking this older, more experienced cohort into the program,” Conley said, “but what we’ve seen thus far convinces me that the rewards outweigh that risk.”

In addition to formal diversion through the JAR program, first-time and low-level juvenile offenses are informally diverted every day by Suffolk prosecutors. Throughout the year, almost 60% of the county’s delinquency complaints were diverted, with diversions outnumbering youthful offender indictments by more than 10 to one.

“That’s as it should be,” Conley said. “Some crimes are extremely serious and some offenders pose a danger to the community.  But most kids and teens come to us with minimal records for minor offenses – better suited to the justice of an angry parent than the Juvenile Court. The JAR program is for youth in between, whose actions are more serious but don’t include gun violence, sexual assault, or serious bodily injury.”

The first group of community partner agencies included Action for Boston Community Development’s Changing Tracks Initiative, the Justice Resource Institute SMART Team, MissionSAFE, the Salvation Army’s Bridging the Gap program, the RFK Children’s Action Corps Detention Diversion Advocacy Program, and UMass Boston. Yesterday, Conley welcomed new partners to the fold – including a collection of youth service programs offered through Action for Boston Community Development, the Charlestown Coalition’s Turn It Around program, More Than Words, and YouthConnect.

“Every life is a journey, and as youth service providers you’re the map and compass these kids need,” Conley told the assembled group. “We’re changing those young lives today, but we’re changing outcomes tomorrow that will strengthen families and communities for years to come.  We’re making Boston a safer, fairer place.  And that’s a legacy we can all be very proud of.”

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Ruiz Camp Ready to Move Forward with Positivity, Awaiting RFP

Ruiz Camp Ready to Move Forward with Positivity, Awaiting RFP

Two weeks after a controversial meeting that was only supposed to be an introduction, members of John Ruiz’s team said they want to be positive  and move forward with everyone – despite any conflicts that arose after the meeting on Feb. 6.

“We want to keep it all positive,” said Mark Giblin, Ruiz’s business manager and a partner in the proposed youth center venture at the old CCC. “Negativity can be contagious and so can positivity, so we want to concentrate on the positive now…Where we’re at now is moving forward with the City and waiting for them to put out the RFP. Once that happens, we will pursue it. We already have a letter of intent from the owner, Mr. D’Amico, to operate in the building.”

The Feb. 6 Conference on Committee was called for by Councilor Leo Robinson, and it was meant to be an introduction. However, some in the Ruiz camp were offended by the questions and much of their presentation didn’t get shown due to questions about money.

Giblin said the questioning in what was supposed to be a preliminary introduction disappointed them, but they still want to try to work with everyone.

“We made it really clear what we intended the meeting to be was an introduction,” he said. “We wanted to take off the table talk about finances and costs. We didn’t want to talk about money yet because it’s about the youth and community now. We were a bit put off because a lot of the questions then ended up being about money…We didn’t want that at all because we wanted to talk about the program with Explorers Post 109. They’ve been in the mix the whole time. We spoke with them before the meeting…We had the support of the police chief too, but we didn’t even get to that part in the meeting because it did become somewhat of an attack in a sense…I can’t speak for John, but I’ve been to Chelsea several times in the last year. I’ve begun to have a place for it in my heart. I think now us, the City Manger and the City Council just need to work together to figure this out and push everything else aside.”

The plan for the old CCC Center is to create a youth center there with a boxing club sponsored by former heavyweight Champ John Ruiz (a Chelsea native) as well as other sports and academic programs. The key part of the program is that it is in the downtown area of Chelsea, and that is something the City is very supportive of.

He said that Ruiz and the team did apologize to Post 109 for not giving them the plan beforehand on paper, but they had been talking about it before the meeting verbally. He said there was never any intention to do anything to displace the historic club.

“The Post has been in this plan the whole time,” he said. “They’ve always been in the proposal and always fit in the proposal. It’s part of the program. We don’t’ want to change anything that’s already there and working.”

In the end, Giblin said he hopes that Council President Damali Vidot will be able to work with them, and be able to help Ruiz give back to the community he loves. He said they are ready to move in a positive direction.

“A Chelsea united is much more  effective than a Chelsea divided,” he said.  “That’s where we’re at now.”

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Chelsea-Based Roca will Launch New Public-Private Partnership with Baltimore

Chelsea-Based Roca will Launch New Public-Private Partnership with Baltimore

Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh announced this month a $17 million public-private partnership with Roca, anchor business institutions and philanthropic organizations to help Baltimore’s highest risk young people disrupt cycles of poverty and incarceration.

Roca is a Massachusetts-based group that has earned national recognition for providing some of the most innovative and effective interventions for young adults most at risk for committing or becoming a victim of violence.

The program currently operates in four sites in Massachusetts (Boston, Chelsea, Lynn, Springfield) and will replicate its model in Baltimore City.

“This is a very special announcement for me because we believe the approach to violence reduction is holistic, and we want to be inclusive in our approach to reducing the violence that exists in our city,” said Mayor Pugh. “Roca is not just a program that focuses in on individuals between the ages of 17-24, it is an intense focus that helps young people move beyond violence and into the types of job training, and personal development that leads them to become more productive members of our community.”

The significant new partnership will join other efforts to proactively engage high-risk youth in the City of Baltimore, and to reduce recidivism for those who have already encountered the criminal justice system. It will be funded by a combination of private and public dollars raised by Roca and the City of Baltimore, with a request for State funding still pending.

“We are humbled by the incredible efforts in the city to bring about change,” said Roca founder and CEO, Molly Baldwin. “At Roca, we are painfully aware that we can neither arrest nor program our way out of the violence devastating this city and that we need a different approach. We are so grateful for the invitation to help and we know we have a lot to learn as we initiate our work in Baltimore.”

Currently, Roca serves over 1,000 high-risk young people in 21 communities in Massachusetts and has been preparing to work in Baltimore for the past five years. Roca plans to serve 75 young people in Baltimore during its first year and gradually increase its services to 300 young people annually over the next three years.

Roca will begin operations in Baltimore during Summer 2018. An intensive planning process already is underway.

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Housing Program Helps Families Survive Crisis Without Turning to Shelters

Housing Program Helps Families Survive Crisis Without Turning to Shelters

By Seth Daniel

The Metro Housing Boston organization reported this month that their transition assistance program for families in crisis helped 70 families in Chelsea with a total expenditure of $190,623 locally.

Outside of Boston, Chelsea was the one community where RAFT was utilized more than others. The next closest community was Malden with 47 families helped.

The Rental Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program provides families with a small amount of cash assistance and provides an option to having to enter emergency shelter. Metro Housing Boston administers RAFT in Boston and 28 surrounding communities. With RAFT, eligible families can apply for up to $4,000 that can be used to help retain housing, get new housing, keep utilities on and to avoid homelessness. To qualify, a family cannot make more than 50 percent of the area median income, which in the 2017 Boston region was $46,550 for a family of three.

“Many families are living paycheck to paycheck,” red the report. “An unplanned expense can put their housing in jeopardy. RAFT provides a safety net for families to have something to fall back on when they are in crisis and need support.”

It is the fourth year that Metro Housing Boston has shared the data about the program, which is funded by the state Department of Housing and Community Development. Stating that Boston is one of the top five most expensive cities to live within in the United States, officials from Metro Housing Boston said such funding is extremely important for families with very low incomes to handle things like fires or other catastrophes that they cannot afford to plan for.

“For four years running, our reports continue to show the positive impacts of the RAFT program,” said Metro Housing Executive Director Christopher Norris. “For a relatively small investment, families in our region are able to stay in their communities near their children’s schools, their health providers, and their social networks. This is crucial to helping families maintain stability and achieve economic security.”

Overall, including Chelsea, the program likely saved 1,000 families from turning to a shelter – which also is estimated to have saved the state $31 million in emergency shelter funds. For the $3.8 million RAFT funding, 1,474 families were able to resolve housing crises.

With the continued commitment to funding by the state for RAFT, the program has been able to assist 60 percent more families than it did four years ago. However, this year the average benefit decreased by 3 percent to an average of $2,614 per client.

Also, a pilot program during FY17 expanded RAFT eligibility to include families of all sizes and configurations. Under this program, Metro Housing served 60 households, 31 of whom were individuals and 27 of whose head of household had a disability.

A vast majority of those receiving RAFT (48 percent) use it to pay rent that is in arrears. Some 20 percent use it to pay security deposits for a new apartment, and 11 percent use it for first/last months rent payments on a new apartment.

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Chelsea Fire to Begin Collecting Toys for Tots, Requests Due by Nov 20

Chelsea Fire to Begin Collecting Toys for Tots, Requests Due by Nov 20

The Chelsea Fire Department (CFD) has begun collecting new, unwrapped, non-violent toys at our Central Station located at

307 Chestnut St., from now until December 15.

Anyone who would like to drop off a toy may come by the station between the hours of 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Last year the CFD collected three large pickup trucks of toys for the Toys for Tots program. After doing some research, CFD organizers found that there are 750 families and more than 1,300 children in the City of Chelsea who are provided Christmas gifts through the Toys for Tots/Globe Santa program.

Sadly this number has nearly doubled since the first year the CFD started up their drive.

“This program is a great opportunity for all of us to help bring a little happiness into the hearts of so many local families that have so little,” said Phil Rogers.

For those who are needy and looking for donations, time is of the essence as the deadline for requests is Nov. 20.

If an individual family needs toys, they should make contact with their social worker, their Pastor, local city or town hall or The Globe Santa for possible help. The cut-off date for toy requests in 2017 is November 20, Midnight. This is due to the high volume of requests.

Globe Santa- toy request info

https://globesanta.org/aboutreq.aspx#request or

contact the Department of Transitional Services at (877) 382-2363.

The Toys for Tots program has been in existence since 1947 when Major Bill Hendricks, USMCR founded Toys for Tots in Los Angeles. Some 5,000 toys were collected during that campaign before Christmas of 1947.

The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, non-violent, unwrapped toys each year and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the Greater Boston community. Toys for Tots also wants to assure the less fortunate families throughout the Greater Boston area of Massachusetts that their children will be taken care of throughout the holiday season. There is no better satisfaction than seeing the smile of a child during the holiday season.

“On behalf of all the children made happy and the members of the Chelsea Fire Department, thank you so very much for all of your help,” said Rogers.

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Councilor Vidot Endorsed for At-Large City Council Seat by Mass Alliance

Councilor Vidot Endorsed for At-Large City Council Seat by Mass Alliance

Mass Alliance, a coalition of political organizations dedicated to making Massachusetts more progressive is proud to announce their endorsement for their Rising Stars Program of Damali Vidot for Chelsea City Council.

“We are proud to endorse for our Rising Stars Program, Damali Vidot for Chelsea City Council,” says Mass Alliance Executive Director Jordan Berg Powers.  “We know that Damali is going to continue to put the community first, focusing on what it will take to move Chelsea forward. We are excited to join Chelsea voters in supporting Damali.”

Damali Vidot, current City Council Vice President shared her message of One Chelsea, a vision of a more inclusive and participatory government. Committed to reinvigorating residents in local issues such as development without displacement, supporting Chelsea Youth and maintaining an authentic voice for all residents on the Council.

Councilor Vidot, ran a spirited campaign in the last Municipal Elections. She topped the ticket in the Preliminary and finished in the General with an impressive show of support in one of the highest voter turnouts in a municipal electoral race the city of Chelsea had seen in years.

“I am thankful to Mass Alliance and their members for their continued support. Mass Alliance has an endorsement process that holds candidates and elected officials to a high standard. Their renewed support for me in this second term means a lot, given that I am always working hard to learn more about local and state issues and they have been a rich resource for me and my leadership”. Vidot shared.

From re-establishing the Chelsea Youth Commission, kicking off The Movement with other Chelsea Leaders, as well as advocating against development that does not put residents first, she continues to be an emboldened and fierce advocate that is bringing many disengaged residents back into the many conversations that continue in building a city that is representative of all.

Although Damali is running unopposed, she did open a headquarters where she is making phone calls to voters, along with door knocking with supporters; continuing that same spirited campaign that she insists is essential in continuing to build community and engage with all residents as the general election nears on Tuesday, November 7th.

Mass Alliance is a coalition of political and advocacy groups that fights for a more progressive Massachusetts.  Their member organizations advocate on a wide variety of issues, including civic participation, civil rights, economic justice, education, environmental issues, healthcare, reproductive rights, and worker’s rights.

Mass Alliance provides clear leadership for the progressive community, cultivates and empowers progressive leaders, and assists them in ultimately winning their elections.

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City Considering New Bike Sharing Program with ‘oFo’

City Considering New Bike Sharing Program with ‘oFo’

By Seth Daniel

The City and several community partners are working with Councillor Roy Avellaneda and the bike sharing company oFo to possibly launch the service to Chelsea residents in the coming months – if all goes well.

Bike sharing services have become increasingly popular, and in the Boston area the market is dominated by HubWay. However, the company requires extensive funding from municipalities to build out stations – stations that take up valuable parking spaces in key downtown areas.

Councillor Roy Avellaneda said he has realized that bicycle ridership in Chelsea has really begun to boom. So, promoting it has become one of his platforms on the Council. For some time, he said he and City Manager Tom Ambrosino tried to get HubWay into Chelsea, but that kind of fell apart recently – and might not have been the best fit for Chelsea anyhow.

Then, out of the blue, a former co-worker introduced him to the bike sharing company oFo – which is launching its service in Revere next week and already operates in Worcester – along with 16 other countries in the world.

The oFo system seemed to be the perfect fit, he said.

“While there has been an attempt to bring HubWay to Chelsea, they haven’t been overly excited to come,” he said. “This just made perfect sense. To find an alternative to HubWay was very appealing.”

oFo – which is not so much a name as a picture (the name is to resemble a picture of someone riding a bike 🙂 – has been in and around Chelsea for the last few weeks now.

At the annual Ride for REACH, they provided several signature yellow bikes for participants to ride. They have been doing other promotions as well.

The service is unique because it doesn’t require any stations. Bikes are simply locked up to racks or other legal spots and left when a user is done. Using a phone app, those signed up for oFo can locate a bike via a GPS map. Once they locate a nearby bike, they can scan the QR code on the bike with a cell phone, and then go on their way. Every bike is GPS monitored by the company, and the rates are far better than HubWay.

A typical HubWay is $5 per hour, while an oFo rental is $1 per hour.

“The biggest plus for me is we can get this off the ground fast,” said Avellaneda. “We have high ridership of bikes now and we can offer a product like this to the residents that is easy and very affordable. It looks like a no-brainer.”

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they are meeting with the company today, and he said it does seem interesting on its face.

GreenRoots has also had meetings with them, and Director Roseann Bongiovanni said it’s an intriguing idea.

“oFo came to meet with GreenRoots a few weeks back,” she said. “The members were all impressed and pleased with the company. Generally we’re supportive of a greater bicycle presence in the community, but what made this program more attractive was the affordable pricing and the lack of a docking station which could impacting parking in a city that struggles with that challenge.”

She said they do see some holes in the program, but things GreenRoots thinks can be overcome.

“We’d like to work with the City and oFo to overcome two obstacles: bike access for youth and those who don’t have credit cards,” she said, noting that payment is through an app connected to a credit card.

The program is made that much more attractive due to Revere launching the program next week. With that neighboring City on board, it would allow Chelsea riders an even greater network of bicycles to find and use.

The company does provide a physical presence in the area, and said they quickly respond to any issues such as broken bikes or improperly stored bikes.

“People don’t realize how many people are now riding bikes in Chelsea,” said Avellaneda. “If you get up at 5 a.m. in the morning, you will see so many people riding bikes to Market Basket or the Produce Center.”

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CAPIC to Celebrate 50th Year at Gala Celebration Sept 26

CAPIC to Celebrate 50th Year at Gala Celebration Sept 26

By Seth Daniel

There’s no better preparation for the future than one’s history.

And there’s no better thing to celebrate than a 50th Anniversary.

The CAPIC human services organization will accomplish both things at it’s 50th anniversary celebration of the corporation on Sept. 26 at the Homewood Suites in Chelsea on Beech Street.

CAPIC provides a range of anti-poverty human services for Revere, Chelsea and Winthrop – from Head Start to Fuel Assistance to Wrap Around Services for the Opiate Epidemic.

“Most people think about CAPIC, and they think of fuel assistance and HEAD Start, but there are other things that go on here,” said Executive Director Bob Repucci. “So many people participated in building up things like CAPIC that exist today and they get forgotten. I consider it part of my job to resurrect them and give them a second life here.

“These are the people that really, really did the work that bore the fruit,” he continued. “My job here has become in the last few years to piece together the history and let it be known to the people doing the work today who it was that came before them…This is a very, very, important part of history. We want to not only honor the hard work, but also see the problems before they happen and be pro-active from knowing our history.”

The keynote speaker will be Speaker Bob DeLeo, and Repucci said they will honor long-time Board President Richelle Cromwell and Chelsea Council President Leo Robinson (a former employee of CAPIC).

“Leo worked here from 1972 to 1988 and Leo goes by the book,” he said. “I don’t think a lot of people know that. Leo knows there’s a process for change to occur and he’s good at that. He does his research and he knows how government works.”

Other guests include Housing Secretary Jay Ash, as possibly Gov. Charlie Baker or Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.

CAPIC got its start under late President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. As part of that effort, his Legislation included the Office of Economic Opportunity and that federal office offered grants to municipalities.

Chelsea and Revere banded together and got a $150,000 grant to share in 1965, with the group banding together in 1967 to form CAPIC. Winthrop was always part of partnership, but wasn’t confirmed until 1992 by the state.

Dick Incerto was the first director, and offices were in Chelsea and another was in Revere on Revere Street.

“The emphasis from 1967 was alcohol and drug us, housing, and tenants rights,” he said. “They focused on breaking barriers people had from achieving self-sufficiency.”

The Board was a unique format as well, he said. It was and still is comprised of a business leader, a low-income person and an elected official from each community. There are 21 board members.

“The integration of these three sectors onto one Board ensured that the agency would receive proper information,” he said. “That’s been the glue all these years – that tripartite glue of people on the Board.”

After Incerto, other directors included Walter Brown, Bob Mahoney and Pete Tata. Repucci came on board in 1972 to work on health care access and issues – something CAPIC still focuses on heavily.

Many of the programs in the area have been spin offs from CAPIC, including the model Upward Bound program that became Choice Through Education, or the Alcohol Outreach Program, which became Chelsea ASAP.

“If I were not here, the history of this organization I’m afraid would not be communicated,” he said. “So, I want to bring the people who started here back to meet the new generation. That’s what we’re hoping to do.”

The event is invitation only and guests of an invited person are $25. It is not a fundraiser, but donations are welcome. The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the program starts at 6 p.m.

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Momentum Starting in Remaking Downtown District, Chelsea Lunch to Kick off July 12

Momentum Starting in Remaking Downtown District, Chelsea Lunch to Kick off July 12

By Seth Daniel

While wholesale infrastructure changes aren’t expected for another couple of years on Broadway, momentum is already building for major change to the downtown Broadway Business District this summer.

On Wednesday, June 28, the musician Kali gave a sneak peak on Chelsea City Hall Lawn just what will come with the new Chelsea Lunch initiative, which starts next Weds., July 12.

According to Downtown Coordinator Mimi Graney, Chelsea Lunch Marketplace will take place every Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m. on City Hall Lawn through the end of September. The event is presented by Chelsea Prospers in partnership with Healthy Chelsea and will have musicians and community information tables.

The effort is meant to enliven the district during the day, but there will also be action in the evenings in Chelsea Square. Graney envisions having daytime activities in Bellingham Square throughout the summer and evening activities in Chelsea Square.

To kick off that effort, Summer Nights in Chelsea Square will kick off in one month on Aug. 3 with music and dancing by Los Sugar Kings.

Other concerts include:

  • August 10, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in Smell-O-Vision
  • August 17, Tarbox Ramblers backwoods blues music
  • Aug. 24 will be a unique experience where concert-goers can be the star. the live Karaoke band, The Cover Story will play and audience members are invited to sing.

Additionally, late last week Graney announced small placemaking grants available for the district. The mini-grants are between $200 and $750 for small projects like parklets, pop up events or temporary art installations – or whatever creative idea one may have for the district. An info session has been scheduled for Tuesday, July 11, at 6 p.m. in the Chelsea Public Library. The deadline for applications is Aug. 18.

To enhance the mini-grants, Chelsea will be celebrating National Parking Day on Sept. 15. All across America, cities, towns and organizations transform parking spaces in downtown districts into small parks for the day. That was done last year for the first time by GreenRoots on Broadway – an effort that was a smash hit and likely will become even more intriguing this year, Graney said.

On the infrastructure and design front, the Re-Imagining Broadway effort will present its findings after many months of study on July 13, 6 p.m., in the Chelsea Senior Center, 10 Riley Way. The consultant Nelson Nygaard has been studying everything from sidewalks and streetlights to making Broadway a two-way street again. The findings will be suggestions for implementation to the City, which contracted the consultants late last year and has conducted several public meetings since then.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he is encouraged by the work of the Downtown Task Force over the past few months – an effort that include four Chelsea Police Officers dedicated to patrolling the Broadway Business Corridor and meeting in a roundtable on a weekly basis.

He said that between that effort, the Human Service Navigators, good deal is getting done on the Corridor.

However, he said that spending the large sum of money approved by the City Council for infrastructure repairs and improvements would likely not take place for a little while. Right now, he said about $500,000 of that sum has been on design and planning. The bulk of the monies, some $5 million, will be allocated in a few years, he said.

“There’s still a lot of planning to do,” he said. “We We probably won’t start the infrastructure work for another year or more, but we are looking at what we want to do now. Most likely, all of that work will start in calendar year 2019, maybe 2018. We’re at least one year away from that work…This is a marathon and not a spring. It’s a five to 10 year effort to re-invent this downtown.”

Other efforts under way or already planned include:

  • Retail Best Practices Program presented by City of Chelsea’s Chelsea Prospers with the Chamber of Commerce – July 18 at 8:30 a.m. at the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce. Half-day workshop for all downtown businesses on issues like effective displays, marketing, customer service. Businesses can then apply to be one of the six businesses that will receive a half day of one-on-one consulting on their specific needs and to receive a mini-grant to implement one of the recommendations. http://www.chelseachamber.org/
  • FDA Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards – Chelsea Prospers in partnership with the Board of Health to increase food safety, build business and workforce expertise, and boost consumer confidence. The first activity under this multiyear effort is a training and certification food safety program for Chelsea businesses. Through the Chelsea Community Schools we’re presenting on July 27 a full day of training in English and Spanish, plus the certification exam at a deeply discounted rate. The program is exclusively for Chelsea businesses and workers. Registration required at https://register.communitypass.net/Chelsea
  • MassSave Business Grants – In August, at the behest of Chelsea Prospers and the Chelsea’s Energy Manager to increase environmental sustainability, a team from EverSource is coming to the downtown the week of August 7 to conduct free energy assessments for area businesses. Through the assessments they’ll be able to determine eligibility for a variety of new equipment like lighting, thermostats, refrigerator motors, etc. Discounts for the installed equipment start at 70 percent and 0 percent financing is available for the co-pay. Many businesses are eligible for thousands of dollars in new equipment and able to dramatically reduce their utility bills. All Massachusetts utility customers pay into the fund that supports this program – take advantage of these significant savings. https://www.masssave.com/en/saving/business-rebates/facility-assessments/
  • Chelsea’s First Paw-Raid – Walk and celebration for dogs and their friends on September 9 to check out the dog park under construction at Mystic Overlook Park. Starting at City Hall Lawn at 11 a.m. and finishing up at Mystic Overlook Park.
  • Interise is the “Street-wise MBA”, a training program for established businesses. For the first time ever they’ll be hosting their training program in East Boston and focusing on the needs of businesses in Chelsea, Everett, East Boston and Winthrop. Get your business to the next level or be prepared to steer it ably through a time of transition. https://www.interise.org/
  • Cultural Assets Survey in partnership with the Cultural Council and The Neighborhood Developers – This fall we’re gathering information on Chelsea’s creative assets — both the people and the infrastructure – who make related to the cultural economy of the City. The first part of this effort is the Artist Survey, open now at https://tinyurl.com/chelseaartistsurvey and at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/S7TRRLK.

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