The Rose Rush is On: Valentine’s Day at New Regional Flower Exchange in Chelsea is a Better Experience for Buyers

The Rose Rush is On: Valentine’s Day at New Regional Flower Exchange in Chelsea is a Better Experience for Buyers

Anyone in Greater Boston who got a rose yesterday on Valentine’s Day likely had that rose pass through the New England Flower Exchange in Chelsea.

Chelsea Florist Valerie LaCount of Washington Park Florists said having the New England Flower Exchange in Chelsea has made life much easier for her business, especially this week on Valentine’s Day. The Exchange moved to Chelsea last March from Boston’s South End after 50 years in that location. It was the first Valentine’s Day rush at the new facility for the wholesalers and their many customers from all over New England.

Chelsea Florist Valerie LaCount of Washington Park Florists said having the New England Flower Exchange in Chelsea has made life much easier for her business, especially this week on Valentine’s Day. The Exchange moved to Chelsea last March from Boston’s South End after 50 years in that location. It was the first Valentine’s Day rush at the new facility for the wholesalers and their many customers from all over New England.

In a formerly vacant warehouse on Second Street, the hub of Valentine’s Day – and every other flowery occasion – has been established.

The New England Flower Exchange on Second Street virtually handles about every rose that ended up in the hands of lovers on Valentine’s Day.

This past Monday, the Exchange was brimming with activity, as it was the last possible day for the nine wholesalers in the Exchange to get their product out the door to local florists, who in turn provide the necessary flowers, vases and accompaniments to customers for the big day.

It was the first Valentine’s Day holiday for the Exchange in its new location, after having moved from Boston’s South End (where it was next to I-93 and called the Boston Flower Exchange) after 50 years last March.

“Valentine’s Day is stressful,” said Jerry Cupp, of Cupp & Cupp Corp. – one of the long-time Exchange wholesalers. “I think that it’s one of the busiest times here at the Flower Exchange. So many things can go wrong. We’ve been going from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. If they had eight days, it would be eight days a week. Today is the big day though.”

For local florists who have been long-time customers of the Exchange in its former South End location – such as Valerie LaCount of Washington Park Florist on Eastern Avenue – having the Exchange in Chelsea is a relief.

That was particularly true this week as it was the first Valentine’s Day where she didn’t have to wade through traffic on the Tobin Bridge and downtown Boston to get to her flowers and supplies.

“I absolutely love it being here now because it’s in Chelsea,” she said. “I love not having to go over the Bridge. I’m here two or three times a day. It’s so much easier. I came over here today and looked at the traffic backed up on the Tobin and said, ‘Thank God that’s not me anymore.’”

Paula Parziale, a long-time general manager of Berkeley Floral Supply – and an Everett native, said Valentine’s Day can be a challenge  for a wholesaler.

“We do call it hell week around here,” she joked. “It’s actually more clean and organized than it’s ever been. Valentine’s Day is all about roses. There are so many varieties of roses now, you have to get your orders in to the growers early so you don’t get bumped. For us, family and friends know not to call us or text us until Feb. 15 – unless it’s an emergency.”

The New England Flower Exchange is a wholesaler, much like many of the fruit and vegetable dealers in the neighboring New England Produce Center. That means the general public cannot waltz into the facility and buy directly from any of the business there. However, anyone with the proper floral credentials can establish an account, and most every florist in the area does their shopping at the new Exchange – which sources most of its flowers from Ecuador, the United States, Colombia and Holland.

Many of those growers begin growing to supply wholesalers at the Exchange right before Christmas – meaning that the flower’s journey begins long before February.

LaCount said many consumers think that the flower industry engages in price gouging at Valentine’s Day, but it’s not the case. Instead, she said the growers have to sacrifice two or three crops to provide the volume needed for the American Valentine’s Day. That special circumstance comes at a premium cost, she said, for the wholesalers.

“People don’t understand the growers have to forgo an entire harvest or two to get the kind of production needed for Valentine’s Day,” she said. “People think it’s gouging, but it isn’t. The volume is there, but the wholesale costs are so high that you don’t make a lot of money on Valentine’s Day. Normally, I would charge around $60 for a dozen roses, but that goes up to $90 on Valentine’s Day because the wholesale costs are twice as high. Believe me, I’d close the store on Valentine’s Day if I could, but I can’t because I haven’t won the lottery yet.”

Meanwhile, the major story besides Valentine’s Day at the new Exchange is the move that they made last year.

“It has been such a smooth transition; it was wonderful,” said Janina Cupp, market manager. “They actually did business in the South End up to closing on Feb. 28, and on March 1 came over here and opened the next day. It’s been really great. It’s been better for some florists than others. Those from the North Shore and Maine love it. Those on the South Shore aren’t so happy, but they’re making the transition. The Tobin Bridge is the issue, but everyone has grown accustomed to it. The last market was worn. This market has a lot more open energy to it. There’s one aisle and you can see everything, plus the new lighting is much better.”

The Exchange began its build out in mid-December 2016 after their old location in the South End sold to the Abbey Group to be developed into about 1.5 million sq. ft. of premium high-rise office space. The former Exchange had been in that location for 50 years, but the development push on what had become prime property was too strong.

On March 1, 2017, nine of the wholesalers made the move, with one staying in the South End area and another closing. Several, such as Carbone, moved over their operations, but also significantly expanded their offerings of vases and other accessories.

A new wholesaler of vases from New York has also been added.

But the major message is that they’ve found success, and stayed together.

“It’s worked out a lot better than anticipated,” said Jerry Cupp. “We anticipated something like a 10 or 15 percent reduction in sales when we moved. It has turned out just the opposite. The way this building is designed is a lot better. It’s more open and you get a great visual of everything. There are coolers and refrigerators. You can get the product from the cooler trailer to the floor and the coolers much quicker. That matters.”

Parziale said one of the best parts for her has been keeping the wholesalers together. The floral business, she said, is one that doesn’t change much, and many of those in the wholesale and retail markets tend to become like family over the years. There had been a threat that everyone would split up, but the new Exchange has prevented that, she said.

“I don’t think there are too many complaints at all,” she said. “We’re just really lucky we all got to stay together because it’s very unique to see a Flower Market stay together under one roof. We could have all split up. That would have been sad. Many of us have been working side by side and together for 30 or 40 years…For the customers, it’s important because you walk in and have everything you need all in one place. You only have to get out of your car one time.”

Bob Hall of Kelley Wholesale Florists said they were also concerned in leaving the South End, but as it turned out, the concerns weren’t warranted.

“We were concerned, extremely worried really, about what would happen if things went the wrong way,” he said. “We had a few bumps, but in all, it’s been positive.”

Janina Cupp added that the City of Chelsea has been wonderful in the transition and the build out. Had it not been for the cooperation, she said, it would have been much more difficult.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he was glad to have the Exchange in Chelsea.

“We always try to be accommodating,” he said. “We are certainly happy to have them there. We certainly didn’t want that building to remain vacant.”

Cutlines –

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Chelsea Florist Valerie LaCount of Washington Park Florists said having the New England Flower Exchange in Chelsea has made life much easier for her business, especially this week on Valentine’s Day. The Exchange moved to Chelsea last March from Boston’s South End after 50 years in that location. It was the first Valentine’s Day rush at the new facility for the wholesalers and their many customers from all over New England.

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Chelsea Florist Valerie LaCount talks over her order while Chris Birch of Cupp & Cupp Corp. wraps up a Valentine order.

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On Valentine’s Day in the New England Flower Exchange, Everett native Paula Parziale of Berkeley Floral Supply said it’s one week of chaos and careful preparation. The new Exchange celebrated its first Valentine’s Day in its new location on Second Street. The Exchange moved last year from its long-time headquarters in Boston’s South End.

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At the New England Flower Exchange on Second Street, MaryEllen Crowley of Berkeley Floral Supply wraps up an order from a customer. The Exchange was operating seven days a week for the past several days to keep up with wholesale flower orders for Valentine’s Day.

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A wall of red roses lined just about every stall at the market on Monday. It was the last big wholesale buying day for florists all around New England.

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Some nine wholesalers at the New England Flower Exchange on the Chelsea/Everett line celebrated their first Valentine’s Day in the new location this week.

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Janina Cupp, market manager, said they move from Boston’s South End to the Chelsea/Everett line has been very positive, despite initial concerns from many wholesalers.

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Elgreen Orchids owner Jeff Kim said as a specialist, the move has been hard on his business, but things are starting to turnaround. The new facility is much easier for keeping his colorful orchids though.

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Bicycle Laundry Looking to Locate on Willow Street

Bicycle Laundry Looking to Locate on Willow Street

A commercial laundry that uses bicycles to pick up and deliver linens is looking to locate in the commercial/industrial property on Willow and Congress Streets.

Wash Cycle Laundry, a company founded in Philadelphia that has delivered millions of pounds of laundry and pioneered the bicycle laundry, wants to locate its Boston area operations in Chelsea. They were before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on Tuesday night, and will go before the Planning Board later in the month. In April, the City changed the zoning regulations in the Willow Street area to allow them to consider the property.

Gabriel Mandujano, the founder of the company, said they are coming right now to service the hotels exclusively in Chelsea, and would be using a new, advanced style of tricycle to pick up and deliver laundry throughout the city.

“We leased a portion of the building and are concentrating our efforts on the hotel market,” he said. “Colwen Hotels signed an agreement to bring us to Chelsea. We’re going to be their laundry contractor. The idea is they have a lot of properties in Chelsea, but they have a large portfolio all over Boston too. This will bring those jobs to Chelsea.”

He said they hope to run two shifts seven days a week, and would employ a total of 75 people.

“We are a sustainable company,” he said. “We do  a lot of environmental and energy savings in the plant. We are founded in Philadelphia and pioneered bicycle delivery laundry. We delivered millions and millions of pounds of laundry in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. We are though practically sustainable and not religiously sustainable, so the chiefly concerned about safety.”

He said that would mean that they would deliver by bike in the Chelsea area, but use vans and trucks to get to Boston and other far off areas.

He said after they get their feet under them, if approved to come, they hoped to begin doing work for other businesses in Chelsea that have a need for a commercial laundry.

He said they would be using a special tricycle cargo bike in Chelsea that has been piloted by the UPS delivery company in Portland. He said they took a trip recently to Portland to test it out and liked what they saw.

“We’re fairly confident that would be the vehicle we would use if we come to Chelsea,” he said. “Philadelphia is completely flat, so we need something here with a little more power.”

He added they are a second chance company, and hope to partner with non-profits in the area to employ at-risk and court-involved residents who need a break. Many of their current employees have a history of homelessness or incarceration, he said.

“That’s one of the main reasons I founded the company,” he said.

If allowed to locate on Willow Street, Mandujano said they could have the build out done in about 30 days.

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Police Briefs 02-15-2018

Police Briefs 02-15-2018

OPERATING UNDER THE INFLUENCE

On Jan. 31, at 4:43 a.m., officers were dispatched to the area of Bellingham Square for an erratic operator. The caller stated that it was a black Lexus swerving on Hawthorne Street heading towards Bellingham Square. Officers noticed a black Lexus operating on Broadway without the lights on. The vehicle took a left turn into Cross Street where it was stopped. Officers performed a field sobriety test and based on that exam placed the party under arrest for OUI.

Helen Correa, 47, of Ashland, was charged with OUI Liquor, motor vehicle lights violation and possession of an open container of alcohol.

GESTURES IN COURT

On Feb. 1, at 9:45 a.m., officers responded to Chelsea District Court for a report of Witness Intimidation. Officers were met by the reporting party who stated while awaiting a hearing for an ongoing case, the subject of that case made gestures and remarks while awaiting the proceeding to begin. The subject was placed under arrest.

Wayne Giangregorio, 55, of East Boston, was charged with intimidation of a witness.

ASLEEP BEHIND THE WHEEL

On Feb. 2 at 5:48 p.m., Chelsea Police responded to a report of motor vehicles being struck by a white box truck traveling down Washington Avenue towards Fay Square. The white box truck was observed by officers parked in the area of 63 Washington Ave. The operator was observed asleep behind the wheel. After further investigation, the male was placed into custody for OUI. During the booking process, five baggies of Heroin were located on his person.

John Williamson, 59, of Malden, was charged with operating under the influence of drugs, leaving the scene of property damage, failing to wear a seatbelt and possession of a Class A drug.

UNDER THE INFLUENCE

On Feb. 5, at 2:16 a.m., a Chelsea Police officer observed an oncoming vehicle without his headlights on. The officer tried to get the operator’s attention and proceeded to follow the vehicle. The officer observed erratic operation and pulled the vehicle over. After a conversation with the operator, the officer formed the opinion that the driver was operating under the influence of alcohol and placed him under arrest.

It was the driver’s fifth offense for drunk driving.

Manrique Martinez, 47, of 250 Clark Ave., was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol (5th offense) and reckless endangerment to children.

Police Log

Monday, 1/29

Jose Rivera, 32, 11 Congress Ave., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.

Alberto Garcia, 50, 303 Carter St., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.

Wednesday, 1/31

Helen Correa, 47, 280 Main ST., Ashland, MA, was arrested for lights violation, possessing open container in motor vehicle.

Thursday, 2/1

Wayne Giangregorio, 55, 12 A Seaver St., East Boston, was arrested for witness intimidation.

Glenn Kerivan, 58, 171 Old Cambridge Rd., Woburn, was arrested for shoplifting.

Lawrence Polidor, 20, 41 Woodville St., Everett, was arrested for unlicensed operation of motor vehicle.

Friday, 2/2

John Williamson, 59, 33 Maple St., Malden, was arrested for operating under the influence of drugs, leaving scene of property damage, failure to wear seat belt and Possessing Class A drug.

Santos Ventura, 47, 24 Malden ST.,  Everett, was arrested for incapacitated person and on a warrant.

Saturday, 2/3

Manuel Escobar, 20, 45 Addision St., Chelsea, was arrested on warrants and not in possession of license after accident.

Sunday, 2/4

Manrique Martinez, 47, 250 Clark Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for operating under the influence of liquor (5th offense) and Reckless endangerment to Children.

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Viaduct Project Reconsidering Elimination of 5th Street On-Ramp

Viaduct Project Reconsidering Elimination of 5th Street On-Ramp

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.

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CAPIC – Celebrating 50 Years of Community Service – 2017 Highlights

CAPIC – Celebrating 50 Years of Community Service – 2017 Highlights

During 2017, CAPIC celebrated its 50th year as a community action agency.  Since 1967, CAPIC has served as the federal and state designated Community Action Agency for the communities of Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop although in 1965 the City of Chelsea received its first grant from the Office of Economic Opportunity to establish the Chelsea Community Action Council and Community Action Programs Revere Initiative.

Throughout five decades, CAPIC has been both the first stop for people in need, as well as the last stop when other resources have failed. We are problem solvers, always going beyond what is ordinarily expected and achieving the not so possible. As a multi-service community-based organization, CAPIC has provided comprehensive, one-stop anti-poverty services to thousands of individuals and families who seek help. The unique composition of the Board of Directors representing public, private and low-income sectors of the three communities has been our mainstay that ensures consistency and oversight; safeguarding that the basic mission of the organization was always preserved.

Locally, CAPIC has been the front line of defense for persons in need, especially during times of family crises, and natural disaster as first seen in October 1973 when CAPIC was commissioned by FEMA to relocate 200 displaced families from housing after the great conflagration that devastated over a 20 block area of Chelsea and again in February 1978, when during the blizzard, CAPIC provided housing, clothing, food and emergency oil to hundreds of Revere families displaced by flood waters and those who were snow bound. Most recently, on July 28, 2014, CAPIC placed Revere families who were displaced by a tornado in emergency housing and again on June 13, 2017 when a four alarm fire on Taft Street, Revere caused many to be without shelter. Resources were immediately mobilized and together with Revere officials, families were placed in temporary shelters.

Here we are today, a vibrant organization that provides a myriad of life sustaining services to over 15,000 area residents annually. During 2017, CAPIC provided nearly 2,000 at-risk, low-income individuals and families with access to food and basic needs; prevented 33 families from becoming homeless through the utilization of United Way EFSP funds; prevented an additional 23 families from becoming homeless through EOHHS Flex funds for rental assistance; distributed 1,500 winter coats to needy adults and children through a partnership with Anton’s Cleaners Coats for Kids program; distributed donated Christmas/holiday toys to 450 low-income children; provided 50 victims of domestic violence with comprehensive case management, advocacy, and counseling services; and provided 100 street-involved individuals in Chelsea with substance/alcohol related issues with direct comprehensive support service. In addition, CAPIC’s Mobile Outreach Team conducted intensive street outreach in Chelsea to identify and refer street-involved homeless individuals experiencing alcohol/opioid addiction for services which included 50 sober living placements and 40 medical interventions with a volunteer licensed physician.

CAPIC also partnered with MGH on the Merck Foundation: Alliance to Advance Patient-Centered Cancer Care Grant. This is a two-year grant program that works to improve equity by advancing cancer patient-centered care for underserved populations.  In May 2017, CAPIC was designated by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) as the official Continuum of Care -Balance of State Homeless Provider for Chelsea and Revere.  Given this official designation, CAPIC is commissioned to assume responsibility to coordinate homelessness prevention activities for Chelsea and Revere and also coordinate the Annual Point-In-Time Count (in conjunction with DHCD), and organize volunteer efforts for counting unsheltered persons in Chelsea and Revere.  CAPIC also received an FY’17 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the City of Chelsea to enhance access to health care for low-income populations in Chelsea.

In addition, CAPIC helped 3,431 low-income households keep warm during the winter months through the Fuel Assistance Program, as well as provided weatherization and heating efficiency services to 80 households, and replaced and/or repaired a total of 435 inefficient heating systems; provided 400 individuals referred by the Social Security Administration with responsible payee support services; filed tax returns for 192 individuals; and provided over 500 low-income children 0-13 years with Head Start/educational support, child care, after school, and summer camp programming, as well as over 400 families with parenting skills and healthy family development through the Chelsea/Revere Family Network program.  CAPIC Real Estate, Inc. in partnership with CAPIC purchased a 13-unit lodging house at 72 Dehon Street, Revere, in an effort to preserve tenancies through affordable housing.

Our ability to accomplish this work, past and present, is a direct result of those people who have chosen public service as a career and the dedicated members of the Board of Directors and Policy Council. They strive to have a better community, with employment opportunity, safe housing, education, food, clothing and healthcare for everyone. We express our gratitude to our elected and appointed delegation that without their support we could not succeed. There are also the compassionate partners at DHCD and HHS that understand the plight of the poor; there are those in sister organizations whose collaboration and cooperation make our work more effective. Perhaps the greatest asset that we have and sometimes overlook, is our clergy, whose spiritual guidance and prayers have given us the courage and motivation to persevere in an environment where it isn’t popular to be poor.

We have also forged strong alliances with the local police and fire departments and greatly appreciate the support and assistance we receive from the city and town Community Development and Health Departments. Over the years we have relied on our historic alliance with local school departments that have provided us with space for Head Start and After School/Summer Camp programming. Special thanks to former State Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, Representatives RoseLee Vincent and Dan Ryan; and Senators Sal DiDomenico and Joe Boncore for their untiring support for CAPIC throughout the years.

A quote from CAPIC’s third Executive Director: “Progress has not been easy- there have been crises, cutbacks, quarrels, opposition. Yet, when it was most important, we have always closed ranks and worked together, and so accomplished much. Perhaps even more important are our less tangible accomplishments. Because of CAPIC, thousands of Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop residents, especially low-income people, have become aware of their rights and responsibilities, and the value of working together to improve opportunities for all.”

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High Water:Recent Blizzard Storm Surge Forces Tidal Flooding to the Forefront

High Water:Recent Blizzard Storm Surge Forces Tidal Flooding to the Forefront

By Seth Daniel

When the Jan. 4 blizzard hit Chelsea and Greater Boston, it was a lot of snow – which was par for the course in January – but the eye-opener was the 14.99 foot high tide that accompanied a storm surge.

Suddenly, blizzard conditions were matched with heavy flooding on Marginal Street, Congress Avenue and Beacham Street – where the Island End River actually went over its banks and threatened the New England Produce Center, which is a key cog in the region’s food supply.

To top it all off, the Chelsea Street Bridge was actually closed because the Creek was too high to keep it open.

“It really puts a lot of things into perspective,” said Roseann Bongiovanni of GreenRoots. “It’s predicted that all the way up to the Market Basket will be under water by 2030 and beyond, but you see something like the storm on Jan. 4 and it seems like it could be 2025 or 2020, maybe sooner…There are a lot of people who think they don’t have to worry about this now because the predictions are way off in the future. Well, the Chelsea Street Bridge closed down because the Creek overflowed. Nobody would believe that would happen in 2018, but it did. It’s real. That’s what I think we should take from this.”

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said there was some significant flooding in the Island End River area, coming up by Signature Breads, the marina and to the DPW Yard. However, the Produce Center didn’t have significant flooding. At the same time, it put into perspective that such a critical facility for the food supply in New England, some mid-Atlantic states and southern Canada could be in a very risky location.

“That was a scary situation,” he said. “I know it came up very close to our DPW yard.”

There are already several grants in hand to do some infrastructure work to shore up the Island End River (about $1.5 million in one grant), but Ambrosino and Bongiovanni said the storm on Jan. 4 puts an exclamation point on getting it done faster.

“That’s been one of our focuses at GreenRoots for quite some time because it is a very key facility for the region,” said Bongiovanni. “We have been working with the Produce Center and they say the bays are high enough that the produce won’t be compromised. We know they keep about three day worth of produce on hand, but what if the trucks can’t get there for three days or more. That Center provides all the produce for a large area, and that food supply would be cut off for as long as the flooding there persists.”

Bongiovanni said they have been working with the City on some ideas.

City Planners have suggested salt marsh restoration that could naturally prevent flooding, as well as new sea walls and green infrastructure.

A more ambitious project, Bongiovanni said, is a study to create a Micro-Grid in Chelsea that would be able to power places like the Produce Center and Beth Israel Medical on Broadway if the electrical supply were cut off.

“Besides sea level rise and flooding, we want to think about what would happen if the electrical grid were down and they couldn’t power their refrigeration units to keep the produce cold,” she said.

Partners in that upcoming study include the Produce Center, the City, Chelsea Public Schools, Chelsea Housing Authority and Beth Israel. They would all host renewable energy generators that could be used just for Chelsea in an emergency.

“It’s the first stages of making the City completely energy independent,” said Bongiovanni. “That’s the kind of thing we really need to start thinking about when we see water coming up as high as it did.”

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Coming to a TV Near You:Hollywood Hits Revere Beach for a New Pilot Program

Coming to a TV Near You:Hollywood Hits Revere Beach for a New Pilot Program

by Sue Woodcock

Film crews descended on Revere Beach Boulevard and Bill Ash’s Lounge at the end of last week. Crews were filming a television pilot for Showtime called, “City on the Hill” and a scene called “The Approval.”

Crews have also been filming in Malden. Star actor Kevin Bacon (Footloose) is tagged to be a part of the show although he was not in Revere.

The scenes are set in the late 1980s or early 90s and the show is supposed to be a “cop-type” drama.

The Department of Recreation and Conservation (DCR) closed down Revere Beach Boulevard from just before Shirley Avenue to Revere Street. One scene being shot was along the boulevard starting at the Bandstand and traveling down to the State Police Barracks. The shot, captured from a camera mounted to the top of a blacked out Porsche Cayenne (rented out for two days at $40,000, according to a crew member.) The scene being filmed showed an armored car truck being followed by a minivan.

All the vehicles being used are late 1980s and 90s models. There was an old Lincoln Continental, a Jeep Grand Wagoner with wood paneling and an old Volvo.

The outside of Bill Ash’s Lounge was transformed to the “Ebb-Tide” a restaurant/bar type of place. Last Wednesday afternoon about 20 electricians and crew members were inside the dive redoing all the lighting.

The crew was very tight-lipped about what they were working on and unknowing members of the public who just wanted to go for a walk, were redirected away from the filming areas.

No word on when the show will air.

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Standish Steps Down,Collaborative’s Gladys Vega to Planning Board

Standish Steps Down,Collaborative’s Gladys Vega to Planning Board

By Seth Daniel

In the last meeting of the year for the City Council, members voted in several new appointments and re-appointments to City boards – including the approval of long-time activist Gladys Vega to sit on the Planning Board.

Vega received a 10-0 vote with Councillor Giovanni Recupero being absent for all the appointment votes.

Vega said she was looking to get more active in the City’s committees, especially since there has been a call for more people to fill the volunteer – yet critical – roles. She said she planned to become increasingly active in City matters in the coming years if all goes well on the Planning Board.

Meanwhile, Chelsea Housing Chair Tom Standish stepped down from the Board after a monumental and tremendous job in his role as chair for the past several years.

Former CHA Board member Bert Taverna was voted in 10-0 to replace Standish.

Standish was one of the first members of the new Board appointed by the state and former City Manager Jay Ash when the CHA went into receivership following the Michael McLaughlin scandal.

Standish was a solid presence on the Board in the years following the scandal, helping to  put the once-troubled CHA back onto solid footing after the fleecing done by McLaughlin to virtually every part of the organization.

Standish led the Board throughout the difficult process, and helped to take it from a troubled agency to a top performer.

After those two appointments, there was Council politics that entered the room, with Councillor Damali Vidot clashing with Councillor Roy Avellaneda on the nine re-appointments.

Vidot has been a staunch advocate for getting new and different people on the City’s boards and said she discovered in the Charter that the City is required to advertise open Board and Commission seats. However, due to an oversight, that hasn’t been done in some time.

Avellaneda disputed that such a thing was in the Charter, and read Section 4 that did not include any such language.

However, after some tussling between members, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said it is in Section 9 of the Charter and it was an oversight. He said he will begin to advertise quarterly any openings in the English and Spanish-language newspapers.

To make a point, Vidot voted against all nine re-appointments, which were mostly non-controversial and resulted in 9-1 votes of approval.

Planning Board member Todd Taylor did elicit some controversy, as he was approved by a vote of 7-3, with Councillors Judith Garcia, Vidot and Avellaneda voting against him.

Those voted in on a 9-1 vote were:

  • Olivier del Melle, Dudley Street, Planning Board
  • Emmanuel Tellez, Broadway, Board of Health
  • Robert Pereira, Gerrish Avenue, Historical Commission (replacing Ilana Ascher)
  • George Pazos, Union Street, Traffic & Parking Commission
  • Marlene Jennings, Breakwater Drive, Cultural Council
  • Mark Rossi, Clark Avenue, License Commission
  • Robert Lynch, Shawmut Street, Conservation Commission
  • Frances Mascolo, Breakwater Drive, Historical Commission.

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MS-13 Member Pleads Guilty to Murder of 15-Year-Old Chelsea Boy

MS-13 Member Pleads Guilty to Murder of 15-Year-Old Chelsea Boy

Describing it as a “wonderful thing” on FBI surveillance tapes, the cold-blooded murderer of Irvin Depazm, 15, of Chelsea, has now been brought to justice.

An MS-13 member pleaded guilty on Thursday, Dec. 14, in federal court in Boston to racketeering conspiracy involving the murder of a 15-year-old boy in East Boston.

Joel Martinez, a/k/a “Animal,” 23, a Salvadoran national formerly residing in East Boston, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy. U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for March 22, 2018.

Martinez was identified as a member of MS-13’s Eastside Loco Salvatrucha (ESLS) clique, which operated in Chelsea, Everett, and elsewhere in greater Boston.

Martinez admitted that on Sept. 20, 2015, he murdered a Depazm, 15, on Trenton Street in East Boston.

In recorded conversations between Martinez and a cooperating witness, Martinez acknowledged being a member of MS-13 and admitted that he stabbed the victim to death. Specifically, Martinez said, “I stabbed the (expletive deleted) three times, and it was a beautiful thing! Just beautiful!”

As a result of the murder, Martinez was “jumped in” and made a “homeboy,” or full member of MS-13, during a ceremony that was surreptitiously recorded by federal agents. When a prospective member is “jumped in,” members of the MS-13 clique beat the new member with their hands and feet while one of the leaders of the clique counts aloud slowly to 13.

After a three-year investigation, Martinez was one of 61 individuals named in a superseding indictment targeting the criminal activities of alleged leaders, members, and associates of MS-13 in Massachusetts. Martinez is the 27th defendant to plead guilty in this case.

Martinez faces up to life in prison, five years of supervised release, and will be subject to deportation upon the completion of his sentence.

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Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony Set for Sunday in Chelsea Square

Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony Set for Sunday in Chelsea Square

By Cary Shuman

The Tobin Bridge Chabad of Everett, Temple Emmanuel and the Walnut Street Synagogue will host a Hanukkah menorah lighting ceremony Sunday in Chelsea Square.

Hanukkah, also known as the Jewish Festival of Lights, began Tuesday night and continues for eight days.

Rabbi Yisroel “Sruli” Baron said the City of Chelsea was very welcoming to holding the event in the city.

“We reached out to City Manager Tom Ambrosino and he was very helpful and encouraging in setting up this ceremony,” said Rabbi Baron, who is the spiritual leader of the new Tobin Bridge Chabad that is housed in the former Congregration Tifereth Israel on Malden Street in Everett, just over the Chelsea border. Tobin Bridge Chabad is an affiliate of Chabad of the North Shore.

Ambrosino will deliver the city greetings at the event that was an initiative of Tobin Bridge Chabad. The city manager and former Revere mayor will also have the honor of lighting the shamash candle, which is the ninth branch of the menorah.

Rabbi Oksana Chapman of Temple Emmanuel and Rabbi Lila Kagedan of Congegration Agudas Shalom (Walnut Street) will join Rabbi Baron in leading the ceremony. The two local congregations are co-hosting the holiday gathering.

City Council President Leo Robinson will lead a delegation of Chelsea officials expected to be in attendance.

Rabbi Baron invites Chelsea residents to attend the candle lighting ceremony that will begin at 5:30 p.m.

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