The owners of the old Forbes Lithograph property on Chelsea Creek have completed an initial meeting with the Conservation Commission that signals the beginning of a new process on the property.
City Planner John DePriest said the owners, Yihe of China, came before the Con Com at the end of last month for a very technical determination of the property.
“It is the beginning of a process there,” he said.
The Con Com hearing regarded a determination of where environmental areas exist, such as coastal flooding areas, tidal flats and salt marshes. Knowing that, he said, gives them a better idea of where they can construct and what they would possibly have to mitigate.
There were no development plans included in the package filed with the Con Com, and that’s something that everyone is waiting to see.
A few years ago, Yihe filed a gargantuan development project that included skyscrapers, hundreds of residential units, hotels, restaurants, retail facilities, public open space – and all with one entrance and exit into the Mill Hill neighborhood.
It was quickly dispatched despite some of the best architects, engineers and lawyers working on the project.
Since then, nothing has come forward, but it seems like the process is now starting again.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino has said he expects Yihe to file a residential project that is much smaller than the previous project. He said he expects that in the summer.
The Wynn Boston Harbor tower hasn’t even reached the top floor, and already the name on the top is under serious reconsideration following the exit of the company’s founder Steve Wynn regarding sexual misconduct allegations.
Responding to comments from Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey, Wynn Boston Harbor president Bob DeSalvio said they are seriously considering changing the name to not include ‘Wynn.’
“We are at this time considering a re-brand of the project and we’ll have an announcement on that at a later date,” said DeSalvio following the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) meeting on March 29.
He said he didn’t have a time frame, though, and it isn’t expected to be announced this week.
“It’s something we are actively considering right now,” he said.
The name change has seemingly been coming for several weeks, but the local Wynn team and the Las Vegas team had all been silent on the issue.
In comments to the Boston Globe in February following his ascension to CEO of the company, Matt Maddox indicated that a sudden re-brand of the company worldwide would be very difficult. He said that while most American customers associate the company with Steve Wynn, many of the Asian customers associate the brand simply with five-star luxury. Changing a well-known name, he said, cannot happen overnight.
The local thinking has been quite different, though, as the project has not been completed. Though the name has contained ‘Wynn’ for the last two years, nothing has yet been affixed to the building – making a change much easier here than elsewhere in the company’s existing portfolio of properties.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) Chair Steve Crosby said he didn’t have a strong opinion on the matter, but said Wynn would do what it best for its business.
“For the record, I’m agnostic on that,” he said. “It’s the first I’ve heard they’re doing that. At the moment, it’s a decision for them to make.”
A major decision will be laid out for residents to discuss one last time in two weeks, that being whether the Broadway business district should be one-way or two-way.
The City of Chelsea will be holding its fourth and final community workshop on the Re-imagining Broadway project on Wednesday, March 14 from 6-8 p.m. The workshop will be held at the Williams School (Music Room) at 180 Walnut Street, Chelsea. (The entrance is on Arlington Street.)
At this meeting, the City of Chelsea will present recommendations for improving downtown circulation and enhancing the public space, including redesigned squares, bus hubs, and potential changes in street direction. Public input on the project has helped to shape the concepts that will be presented. The public is encouraged to attend the workshop to provide additional feedback on the proposed concepts.
Re-imagining Broadway is a planning effort, led by the City of Chelsea, to develop strategies to improve access and mobility for all users of downtown. As in many densely-populated urban areas in the region, Chelsea faces persistent traffic and pedestrian circulation challenges, compounded by the fact that the region is served by a 19th Century street network unaccommodating to modern needs.
The plan is focusing not just on a redesign of downtown circulation, but also how that redesign will support businesses, residents, shoppers, workers, students, and all other travelers. The goals of this effort are to: enhance how public space is used and accessed downtown; support existing businesses and encourage new growth; beautify the area and create a consistent, vibrant look; improve overall safety for all users; and establish a circulation pattern that works for people driving, walking, riding bikes, and taking transit.
The current challenge is capturing this energy and harnessing it to benefit residents now and establish Broadway as the center for future generations in our community. Broadway is the place where Chelsea comes together, but its design, look, function, and operation have not kept pace with the rest of Chelsea’s evolution. This is an opportunity to thoughtfully re-create the most visible and locally used part of Chelsea to become a more desirable, navigable, and welcoming destination for residents and visitors alike.
For more information, the public is encouraged to visit the project website: HYPERLINK “http://www.ReimaginingBroadway.net” www.ReimaginingBroadway.net.
After a packed meeting last Wednesday, Jan. 24, project managers for the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) said they are reconsidering a recommendation to eliminate the 5th Street onramp as part of the overall three-year Chelsea Viaduct Rehabilitation project.
Joseph Pavao, project manager, said a consultant for MassDOT told them it was believed the onramp could be eliminated. It was believed that the Everett Street ramp and Cottage Street ramp could absorb the traffic.
However, Pavao said they have heard loud and clear from the community that it might not be popular.
“As of right now, it’s still under consideration,” he said. “We have certainly heard the concerns of the local community. We certainly heard it loud and clear at the meeting last week…After an internal study, we thought we could handle any traffic from the closure with the ramps at Cottage Street and Everett Avenue. However, based on community feedback and elected officials, we are reconsidering that and seeing if it’s a prudent thing to do on this project.”
He did say they would definitely be closing the 5th Street onramp at least temporarily for about three or four months in 2020 during the repairs to the superstructure of the Viaduct. Beyond that, though, they are reconsidering the original plan to fully discontinue it.
That reconsideration came chiefly from Councilor Roy Avellaneda and other elected officials and business leaders that sounded off late last year when it was first reported that the ramp might close.
Concerns about traffic coming down Broadway and further clogging Everett Avenue were chief among the comments.
Pavao said they have met with City Manager Tom Ambrosino recently about a mitigation package that was presented to MassDOT late last year. He also said that he hopes to be on the agenda of the next Chelsea City Council meeting to present an official mitigation plan for the project.
The project is now at 25 percent design, and they are hoping to advance it to a final design very soon. He said they hope to have it advertised to bidders this spring.
“We want to advertise this for bids in late March or early April,” he said.
The project includes fixing about 260,000 sq. ft. of structurally deficient decking and superstructure. It doesn’t mean those portions of the viaduct are unsafe, but they certainly need to be repaired.
The project also includes work on the structure below the bridge, improving lighting, improving drainage and making parking lot improvements under the bridge.
They hope to have a contractor on board soon and potentially start in October 2018. The majority of the work will begin in 2019, and that will be on the underneath of the bridge and won’t impact Rt. 1 traffic.
In 2020, that’s when the superstructure work will begin and that will be very cumbersome for traffic.
“That’s when we’ll have permanent lane reductions to two lanes in both directions,” he said.
He said they will use accelerated bridge repair techniques, and they will work 12 weekends (55 hours each weekend) during the project.
It is slated to end in early 2021 with paving and small items.
Parishioners at the St. Rose Church on Broadway have returned to put up their spectacular Christmas light display this year on the new piazza. The volunteers spent most of 2016 building out the new structure, and this year is the first year they have been able to fully decorate it for Christmas – a tradition that goes back about six years.
An electrified Nativity scene outfitted with a blazingly bright star is just one of the many spectacular light displays on the new piazza to the north of St. Rose Church – a light display that started humbly a few years ago and now has grown to great proportions.
Father Hilario Sanez said the annual display is back this year courtesy of many dedicated parishioners from the Vietnamese-speaking contingent of the Parish.
The 20 or so men dedicate their time year in and year out to build out the bright display for the community and to honor the Christmas holiday.
The effort is now made all the more special due to the piazza patio that is in place to the north of the church – a patio that supports the colorful light display even more than the previous lights.
Cuong Pham led the Vietnamese parishioners in installing the piazza in the summer and fall of 2016. Working late into the night on weekdays and weekends, parishioners built out on a volunteer basis the new structure so that the church could host better get-togethers outside.
Their dedication to the project was unmatched, as many of those working came to volunteer late into the night after working full-day shifts in the construction industry.
Now, after a year break from the Christmas lights, this month the crew of Vietnamese parishioners were back to work putting up the light spectacular.
Within the community, many have commented on the display, and noted that the City’s new Christmas lights compliment the St. Rose display perfectly – making the downtown area much more festive.
The Chelsea Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved a new apartment building project at 25 Eleanor St. on what is currently an industrial building with parking lot.
The approval came during the Nov. 14 meeting and the project is championed by Eleanor Street Associates LLC – headed up by Michael Massamino.
Currently the building houses 12 offices and two conference rooms and a parking lot. The new project will be a three-story building with 20 units and 28 ground floor parking spaces – 14 of them covered spaces. The building will house 10 units on the second floor and 10 units on the third floor. There will be no open space.
It was approved with standard conditions.
In other matters before the board.
24 Tudor Street: A neighbor spoke in opposition to the conversion into three units. The Board will continue the hearing on December 12.
145 Cottage Street: continued discussion on December 12.
67 Jefferson Ave: Approved.
73 Broadway: The owner wants to keep it two units and maximize the space. A neighbor from 62 Beacon St. spoke in favor of the work as good for the neighborhood.
94 Fourth Street: Patricia Simboli spoke on the project, calling it “highly challenged” because it’s a direct abutter of Dunkin Donuts. She referenced parking issues, and suggested renting spaces elsewhere. It was continued.
After hundreds of athletic banquets, wedding receptions and a whose who list of Chelsea political functions, that history all came tumbling down last Friday when the French Naturalization Club on Spencer Avenue was demolished for affordable housing.
Crews secured the area last Thursday, and began the demo on Friday – taking down the old Function Hall that many had known from the old days of political times or youth sports banquets. By the end of it’s stretch, though, it had seen better times, as a man was murdered in the Club during a party a few years ago.
That led to the Club’s end, and it became vacant until The Neighborhood Developers (TND) purchased the property for an affordable housing development.
That development was controversial when Mill Hill neighbors learned late in the game of TND’s plans to put up the housing.
That sparked a vigorous debate throughout the community two years ago, and led to a scaling back of the project and a return of the Spencer Avenue Extension to the City so cars could continue using it.
Now, the project will include 34 units of affordable rental housing in a brand new building that will feature a community space on the bottom floor and the activation of the sidewalks with front porches on ground-floor units.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said TND has its permits and its financing in place. They are ready to commence the construction phase now.
This week, almost a month into work, the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) is pleased to report that the critical Runway 4R-22L Resurfacing and Approach Light Pier Replacement Safety Project is progressing on schedule and will result in the rehabilitation of one of Logan Airport’s key runways and the replacement of a light pier used in operations.
The runway is expected to reopen for use by June 23.
This project is necessary to maintain the high standards of safety at Logan, MassPort said.
The runway reconstruction project began in mid-May with the closure of Runway 4R-22L and is expected to continue through June 23 as critical work is done to maintain and repair one of Logan’s major runways. The paving in the majority of the phases has been completed, with pavement markings, landscaping and lighting work remaining.
Additional work not requiring the extended closure of 4R-22L will continue through November.
The continuous work schedule and closure was agreed upon in consultation and coordination with the airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration enhances safety and will reduce the overall construction timeline, bringing normal operations back faster. This important project is running on schedule and Massport expects Runway 4R-22L to be open again for use at the end of the day on June 23.
“Safety is Massport’s top priority,” said Massport CEO Thomas P. Glynn. “While routine, this project will repair one of our critical runways ensuring the safest environment for the traveling public, our employees and communities. We appreciate the patience of our neighboring communities and the traveling public as flight patterns have changed and apologize for any inconvenience this work may have caused.”
This work is part of routine, but essential, safety maintenance projects that occur annually throughout airport property. The main goal of this project will be to replace the asphalt pavement that has deteriorated. The pavements were last rehabilitated in the years 2005, 2006 and 2008.
This project will include work both on the runway and at the runway’s end to replace the light pier. The existing wooden pier will be replaced with a concrete pier designed to last 75 years; the current pier was originally constructed in 1955, with repairs last made in 2016. Work on the approach light pier replacement is progressing according to schedule.
Massport Community Relations can be reached at 617-568-3711.
It was even earlier than the early shift as dozens of volunteers, City officials and state officials filed into the Chelsea Police Station on Thursday morning – some time just after 3:30 a.m.
The goal was to complete the first-ever Chelsea Homelessness Count – an effort championed by Rev. Sandra Whitley of the People’s AME Church and the Project Opening Doors in Chelsea volunteers. It was officially sanctioned by the state and by City Manager Tom Ambrosino.
In the end, some 14 men were found and counted – all of which were offered services and help if they wanted it.
For Ambrosino, the first count was inspirational.
“I know we had expected to find between 15 and 20 and we found 14 throughout the city, though there are some we could have missed,” he said. “We are trying now to provide services to these folks, but frankly some don’t want any services. In that case, we make sure we can help them with blankets and gear to survive the cold weather. I was very surprised in a happy way at the numbers of volunteers there who went in the middle of the night to help us. It’s another example of the great spirit of this community that continues to amaze me. I am so impressed with the amount of people here who want to come out and try to do good.”
Whitley said she was grateful for the volunteers as well and deemed the first effort a success – noting that the numbers found were reported to the state agency, as were other similar efforts in Boston and other locales last week. The annual homelessness survey is carried out annually in the last week of January all over the nation.
“I thank the Lord for 25 volunteers showing up and getting engaged,” she said. “I was in my zone with others of like-mindedness — people helping others with a good spirit about it all. I had a wonderful time with Chelsea family coming together around what we can do to help somebody, in this case the homeless. Of course, the City Manager and city leadership support and presence made it all the more worthwhile because they are in the position of making decisions on how to genuinely put faces to and find ways to help the less fortunate…Chelsea cares about those less fortunate than ourselves.”
Before filing out onto the streets to find the homeless individuals living out in the elements in places such as under the Tobin Bridge or on the waterfront or in certain alleyways, volunteers took a training course. They were also instructed to let the homeless they encounter know that there are services available.
Not only does the state offer services and shelter from the cold, but also the City is now getting into providing such services to help folks who want to get off the streets.
In the community room of the police station, 25 volunteers divided up into groups of six, named Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, and Foxtrot. They practiced asking the pertinent questions and also how to make sure they were safe above all things.
From around 5 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., the teams searched the areas that the homeless within the city are known to congregate and to sleep.
Two men were observed and counted, while 12 men were interviewed for the official survey.
Volunteers and coordinators plan to schedule a meeting afterward to discuss the methods used and organize for next year’s effort.
In Sunday’s Globe, there was a highly negative article about the quality of life in Chelsea. While the article did point out many positive construction projects in place or being built, the gist of the article was negative about our City citing household incomes, poverty rates, low education levels and the number of newly arrived immigrants into our City.
The issues that were mentioned are apparent in the everyday fabric of the City.
However, these issues are not solely in Chelsea, but also exist in many other communities in the Commonwealth and throughout the nation. For example one only has to drive 15 minutes to Harvard Square in Cambridge where homeless people and drug addicts walk the same streets as well heeled college students and professors. However, these problems are not acknowledged or addressed by these local government officials.
Chelsea has always been a Gateway Community (before that catch phrase came into being) and has always had its share of problems that come with any new wave of immigrants whether those immigrants came in the early 1890’s from Eastern Europe or Ireland or whether the immigrants have arrived from Central America in the last two decades.
Chelsea City officials and local organizations have acknowledged the problems and are implementing solutions to address them. Some of the problems are beyond the financial scope of any municipality to address such as the methadone clinic that draws more than 700 patients a day who come from many of the surrounding communities. But problems like the homeless are being addressed. Project Opening Doors will be doing a count/outreach on Tuesday. City Manager Tom Ambrosino will be offering free services in Bellingham Square along with CAPIC and Bay Cove to residents who need help.
No one can deny that we have problems, but we are not ignoring these problems either.