Police Briefs 05-17-2018

Police Briefs 05-17-2018

BOULDER BASH UP

On April 30, at 10:40 p.m., officers were dispatched to the area of 99 Willow St. for a report of an accident. Upon the officer’s arrival, they came upon the operator of a  Ford Escape with its front end on top of a 4X4 boulder. The boulder was used to stop vehicles from driving onto the grass. The operator of the car was later determined to operating under the influence and placed under arrest.

Antonio Timas, 62, of 95 Highland St., was charged with operating under the influence of liquor.

TAGGING THE TEACHER

On May 4, at 8:30 a.m., a CPD responded to the Browne Middle School for a report of a vehicle tagged with paint. Upon arrival, the officer met with the principal who stated that a student tagged a teacher’s car in red paint. The mother of the Juvenile was notified, and the student was placed under arrest.

The 14-year-old juvenile was charged with tagging property.

DRUG ARREST

On May 4, at 10:20 a.m., officers responded to a Cottage Street address to conduct a well-being check on the occupants. While on scene officers uncovered what was believed to be drugs. The drugs were consistent in its packaging for distribution. The male subject was taken into custody.

Ezequiel Aranda, 27, of 179 Winnisimmet St., was charged with possession to distribute a Class A drug, and possession to distribute a Class B drug.

CRAZY DRIVER FLIED UP BROADWAY

On  May 6, officers heard a loud crash at 2:18 a.m. in the area of Broadway at Library Street.

They observed a vehicle that struck a car flee the scene onto Broadway at a high rate of speed toward Revere. They eventually stopped the car and after conducting field sobriety tests placed the operator under arrest for OUI.

Jose Laboy Cruz, 29, of Roxbury, was charged with operating under the influence of liquor, leaving the scene of personal injury, failing to stop for police, speeding at an unreasonable speed, reckless operation, marked lanes violation, red light violation, stop sign violation, operating with a suspended licensed, and possession of an open container of alcohol.

MS-13 MEMBER PLEADS GUILTY TO RACKETEERING INVOLVING MURDER

An MS-13 member pleaded guilty May 9 in federal court in Boston to racketeering conspiracy involving the murder of a 16-year-old boy in East Boston.

Edwin Diaz, a/k/a “Demente,” 20, a Salvadoran national, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO or racketeering conspiracy. U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled sentencing for Aug. 20, 2018.

At today’s hearing, the Court accepted the defendant’s guilty plea but deferred acceptance of the plea agreement until the sentencing. Under the terms of the proposed plea agreement, Diaz will be sentenced to 35 years in prison and be subject to deportation upon completion of his sentence.

After a multi-year investigation, Diaz was one of dozens of alleged leaders, members, and associates of MS-13 named in a superseding indictment unsealed in January 2016 that targeted MS-13’s criminal activities in Massachusetts. Diaz is the 45th defendant to be convicted as part of that ongoing prosecution.

Diaz was a “homeboy,” or full member, of MS-13’s “Westers” clique. On Jan. 10, 2016, Diaz and other MS-13 members murdered a 16-year-old boy whom they believed to be a member of the rival 18th Street gang. The victim was stabbed and shot multiple times. A few days after the murder, Diaz was caught on tape admitting to stabbing the victim multiple times, and he was arrested soon thereafter.

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Councilors Look at Keeping Chelsea Affordable for Residents

Councilors Look at Keeping Chelsea Affordable for Residents

Monday night at the City Council meeting, the main item on the agenda was the new five-year Capital Improvement Program, detailing the maintenance and improvement of roadways, water, sewer and drainage systems, sidewalks, transportation, public buildings and facilities, parks and open space, public safety projects and general equipment.  However, Councilor Robert Bishop did not sign the resolution that would have brought the order before the councilors since he had several questions about some of the proposed work outlined in the document.  The matter was moved to unfinished business.

The Council still has until the end of the month to approve the recommendations and is expected to take the matter up at its next meeting.

With this main part of the agenda being put on hold, councilors started to address issues ranging from the new tax rate that could see a budget increase of 5 percent to providing more affordable housing in the city for residents.

While it may seem that both issues were not related, the councilors came to the same bottom line, which was having Chelsea families being able to afford to continue to reside in Chelsea.

Bishop questioned the proposed new fiscal 2019 tax rate that will go into effect on July 1.  “I would like to see a zero tax rate increase,” he said pointing out that the new tax rate could increase as much as 5 percent.  He pointed out that many Chelsea homeowners are struggling to pay their real estate bills.

In a similar vein, Councilor at-Large Leo Robinson introduced a motion to schedule a meeting  with the Planning Board and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to look into the possibility of purchasing homes that are foreclosed and keeping the affordable rental units for residents.

Council President Damali Vidot gave up the chair to speak on her motion on amending the existing Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance.  “We need to look out for the community,” she said.  “Developers have the discretion on whom to provide affordable housing units since we are put into the Boston average median income,” she added.

Vidot also noted the toll of decreasing affordable housing is taking on the most vulnerable in Chelsea, namely the young.  She noted that many students in the local schools know of the strain that their parents are having of being able to afford to stay in Chelsea or are in fact homeless and as a result, these students are struggling in school. “We must be mindful of renters,” she reminded her colleagues.

In another measure, Vidot is seeking to have an attendance record started for all appointed members to city boards and commissions. “I have received complaints from residents about people not showing up to meetings.  We appoint these people, we should know if they are there,” she said.  Vidot also added that an attendance record for councilors would be in order.

Councilor Joe Perlatonda introduced an order to install temporary speed bumps on Clinton Street, one located at Washburn Ave. and the other at  Lisa Lane off of Clinton Street   .  He noted that with the summer approaching and neighborhood children outdoors that these speed bumps would slow down drivers speeding.

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City Ready to Complete Last Phase of Everett Avenue, Focus on Downtown Now

City Ready to Complete Last Phase of Everett Avenue, Focus on Downtown Now

The City is preparing to begin construction on the final leg of a five-phase infrastructure redevelopment of Everett Avenue – focusing this construction season on the stretch between Carter Street and Route 16.

The $2 million state-funded project will represent the last of five areas that have been completely rebuilt with sidewalks, road reconstruction, lighting and other amenities.

“We’ve finished all of the environmental studies and design and engineering and we’ve hired GTA Company of Everett as the contractor,” said Planner Alex Train. “We’ll be commencing construction sometime in May.”

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said it is exciting to be able to finish something that has been going on for so long.

“We’ve excited to finally complete the final part of the Everett Avenue Urban Renewal Area,” he said. “It should tie in with the development of the Fairfield apartment buildings where the Chelsea Clock building was at. We’re looking forward to this proceeding to construction.”

The Everett Avenue infrastructure project began some years ago when the new Market Basket opened, and proceeded through the area one step at a time using the MassWorks state grants.

“We’ve had five total years and five grants,” said Train. “It’s exciting and it’s exciting that it’s spurring the economic development in the area like the FBI and One North. It’s a dramatic improvement and we’re excited to see it come to a finished point…We still want to rehabilitate Spruce Street between Everett Avenue and Williams Street, but I think we’ll be looking to the downtown Broadway next.”

The current project this year will involve putting in new water mains, new fire hydrants, new sidewalks, ornamental lighting, a full-depth reconstruction of the roadway and improvements to the Carter Street/Everett Avenue intersection at Chelsea High School.

“We’re also coordinating with DCR, who controls the light at the Parkway, to make sure they are synchronized and work in tandem,” he said.

The construction schedule will run for one year and will continue until October of this year, picking up in the spring of 2019 with the final paving.

Beyond that, Ambrosino said they would apply for another MassWorks grant for 2019 that would focus on downtown Broadway.

“I think the focus is now going to move to the downtown for this grant,” he said. “I think our construction costs for what we want to do downtown are going to exceed the $5 million the City has thus far authorized.”

He said the City could potentially get $2 million to $3 million in MassWorks funding to add to the City money already set aside for Broadway rehabilitation. Those two resources should give the City a huge jump on funding improvements to Broadway corridor next spring and summer.

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Mystic/Tobin’s Everett Avenue Onramp to Close May 7 for One Month

Mystic/Tobin’s Everett Avenue Onramp to Close May 7 for One Month

The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced several changes to the Mystic/Tobin Bridge repair project, including the one-month closure of the Everett Avenue on-ramp May 7.

MassDOT announced that since several projects in the area are coming underway – including the Alford Street Bridge, the North Washington Street Bridge, and Commonwealth Avenue Bridge in Boston – they have adjusted the Tobin work to not close a lane permanently on the lower deck northbound.

This schedule adjustment means that MassDOT will no longer be implementing a permanent lane closure on the lower deck (Route 1 northbound) from April 22 through November of this year but will instead be adjusting the width of the travel lanes in this area and utilizing off-peak lane closures. Three full lanes of travel will be in place on the bridge this year during peak commute hours.

The full list of impacts this construction season is now as follows:

  • Temporary off-peak lane closures on the lower deck (Route 1 northbound) from now through November 2018.
  • Temporary off-peak lane closures on the upper deck (Route 1 southbound) from now through November 2018.
  • Everett Avenue on-ramp closed at all times for one-month period beginning on May 7.
  • Beacon Street off-ramp closed at all times for a two-month period beginning in summer 2018.
  • Fourth Street off-ramp closed for a one-month period in 2019.

No more than one ramp will be closed at any given time throughout the duration of the project.

“We are investing historic levels of funding into our highway transportation system and we are seeking to do so in ways that minimize impacts on the travel public and our local communities,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “Our construction teams have worked hard to optimize the schedule of operations to better accommodate travel throughout this area. We continue to encourage members of the public to learn about upcoming traffic impacts and use the appropriate tools to make the best decisions on traveling in order to reach their destinations in an efficient manner.”

This $41.6 million maintenance project involves repairing a section of the deck of the Tobin Bridge which carries traffic between the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston and Chelsea. Work is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2020 with lane closures and traffic impacts occurring during each of the 2018, 2019, and 2020 construction seasons.

Work will include steel repairs to the upper and lower decks, concrete deck work on the lower deck, followed by waterproofing, resurfacing, and installing pavement markings. Operations will also consist of utility installation, installing curbing, paving, constructing a new parking lot under the bridge between Williams Street and Third Street.

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Cottage Street Project First Silver Line-Based, Affordable Housing

Cottage Street Project First Silver Line-Based, Affordable Housing

A 66-unit apartment building looking to be constructed on what is now a vacant, derelict property looks to achieve a lot of firsts – the first Silver Line-based development and the first project to include affordable housing under the City’s new ordinance.

Greg Antonelli is proposing to build the building at 170 Cottage St., and the project has gone through the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) one time, and will head to the Planning Board soon.

The property has long been forgotten, but with the development of the Silver Line, which opens this Saturday, April 21, the property has seen a new luster. While it is has been full of trash in the past and a constant code violator, Antonelli said he hopes to make it something Chelsea can be proud of.

“I think it’s a project that will really be an improvement to that area,” he said. “It’s been vacant 40 years. It attracts litter and illegal dumping. There is a record of code enforcement violations for 10 or 15 years for illegal dumping there.”

The Silver Line, as well, played no small part in his decision.

“That was huge,” he said. “It was very important to the project. It played a big role in my decision because public transportation is very popular now…We believe the Silver Line is going to help with parking, traffic and congestion problems we’re experiencing. We believe the residents of this development will use the Silver Line to get to work and to Boston.”

Antonelli is providing 90 on-site parking spaces as well, and the development has 52 two-bedroom units and 14 one-bedrooms.

One key piece, and another new piece, is it will include 20 percent affordable housing for the 80 percent median income.

It is the first time that a project has come in under the new inclusionary zoning ordinance. That means that 13 or 14 units will be reserved for those who qualify under the affordable housing statutes.

“That’s me giving back to the City,” he said. “I’m not in it for the quick money, but rather a long-term partnership with the City.”

Council President Damali Vidot has gone on record already supporting the project, saying it will develop a problem property.

“There are constant complaints about this lot as a dumping site for construction materials, mattresses and all sorts of trash,” she said. “I’d like to see something developed there, especially something that activates both Cottage and Bellingham Street. Being that this is my neighborhood, I can attest to the huge parking issue in this area. However, this project will only be nine parking spots short and the developer’s proposal to increase the required amount of affordable units from 15 percent to 20 percent is a show of good faith and investment in the community.”

Councilor Enio Lopez has also shown support for the project, and the City has been working with Antonelli on it as well.

Already, they have agreed on a design that will activate both sides of the street, that being Cottage and Bellingham.

After the project makes a stop at the Planning Board, it will go back to the Zoning Board for a vote.

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Chelsea’s Dockside Restaurant to Close, Will Reopen as a Mexican Concept

Chelsea’s Dockside Restaurant to Close, Will Reopen as a Mexican Concept

After six years of hosting diners from Chelsea and the surrounding areas, the Dockside location in the Mystic Mall announced this week that it would close as of this Saturday, April 7.

Jack Urbaczewski and his daughter, Lisa Urbaczewski McKenna, made the announcement on Wednesday.

“I think we are very grateful to have had the opportunity,” said Lisa. “It’s bittersweet in a sense. We’ve had some really great employees and customers there. The business can be very demanding. Where we are a family business, it makes sense to consolidate. As this chapter is closing, my dad is just really enjoying more family time and being a grandfather…Chelsea is very special to our family.”

Jack had operated a restaurant in the old Mystic Mall many years ago, and he also served on the Chelsea Police Department for 20 years. When he created Dockside Restaurants in Malden and Wakefield, then City Manager Jay Ash recruited Jack to be part of the new Mystic Mall shortly after the new Market Basket opened.

“Having grown up across the street from this spot and serving 20 years on the police force, our time here in Chelsea will always have special meaning to me,” said Jack. “I, along with our entire Dockside family would like to sincerely thank our regular guests for their patronage, our hardworking staff for their dedication and the entire Chelsea community for their loyalty and support over the years. We are very grateful to Market Basket and former City Manager Jay Ash for this opportunity.”
The business will not become vacant, though, as Lisa said they have sold it to a Mexican restaurant from Malden that they are familiar with.

The El Potro Mexican Grille will open in the spot soon after Dockside leaves.

Lisa said they will continue to support efforts in Chelsea like the Boys & Girls Club road race, and the Salvation Army on Chestnut Street.

A farewell get-together for the Dockside location is planned for Saturday, April 7, from 1-3 p.m.

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Tobin Bridge Project Starting Next Month, Meeting March 27

Tobin Bridge Project Starting Next Month, Meeting March 27

The Tobin Bridge rehabilitation project will begin next month, and state transportation officials will come to Chelsea to explain the impacts on March 27.

A map of the area of focus for the Tobin Bridge maintenance project that will begin next month. A public meeting on the project has been scheduled for March 27 in Chelsea.

A map of the area of focus for the Tobin Bridge maintenance project that will begin next month. A public meeting on the project has been scheduled for March 27 in Chelsea.

The Tobin Bridge project is separate and distinct from the Chelsea Viaducts project, which has a different timeline and a different area of focus. The Viaduct project will start later next year.

This week, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is reminding members of the public that work-related activities and traffic impacts as part of the Tobin Bridge Rehabilitation Project are currently expected to begin in April after MassDOT conducts an outreach process to inform the public of project impacts.

A public meeting on this project is currently scheduled for Tuesday, March 27, at the Chelsea Senior Center, 10 Riley Way.

To allow crews and contractors to safely and effectively conduct operations, one lane on the lower deck (Route 1 northbound) will be closed at all times in this area beginning in April and lasting through the end of the 2018 construction season. Overnight off-peak lane closures will be implemented on the upper deck (Route 1 southbound) as operations require during this time.

The Everett Avenue on-ramp will be also closed at all times for all vehicles beginning in late April, and this closure will last approximately one month. Following the re-opening of the Everett Avenue on-ramp, the Beacon Street off-ramp will then be closed for approximately two months. The Fourth Street off-ramp will also be closed for a one-month period, and this closure is currently expected to occur in November 2018. No more than one ramp will be closed at any given time throughout the duration of the project.

This $41.6 million maintenance project involves repairing a section of the deck of the Tobin Bridge which carries traffic between the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston and Chelsea. Work is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2020 with lane closures and traffic impacts occurring during each of the 2018, 2019, and 2020 construction seasons.

Work will include steel repairs to the upper and lower decks, concrete deck work on the lower deck, followed by waterproofing, resurfacing, and installing pavement markings. Operations will also consist of utility installation, installing curbing, paving, constructing a new parking lot under the bridge between Williams Street and Third Street.

The Tobin Memorial Bridge was erected in 1948-1949 and opened to traffic in 1950. It carries Route 1 with three travel lanes northbound on its lower level and three lanes southbound on the upper level. The 36-foot-wide roadway is bounded on both sides by safety walks (2’7″ wide) with steel-pipe railings on each side.

The main structure over the Mystic River is a three-span, cantilevered truss 1,525′ in length. Its center span is 800′ and the maximum truss height is 115′. It provides a navigable waterway opening 700′ wide by 135′ high. A smaller, simply supported warren truss spans the Little Mystic. It reaches a maximum truss height of 65′ and is 439′ long. Its navigable waterway opening measures 340′ wide by 100′ high.

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Irish Club Sold to Tibetan Social Club, Council Looking for Answers

Irish Club Sold to Tibetan Social Club, Council Looking for Answers

A Tibetan social organization has purchased the former Irish Club on Clinton Street, and several City officials would like to know more about what the new club would like to do with the property.

The matter was first breeched by Councillor Leo Robinson last month at a Council meeting, when he said he had heard there was a new owner and they had an extensive membership.

Robinson was worried, in particular, about the nature of the Club’s activities and their parking plan – as the former Irish Club hadn’t seen a large membership in many years.

On Monday night, City Manager Tom Ambrosino reported that the Tibetan Association of Boston had recently purchased the Irish Club property. He said the club has a permit for the use of the first floor only as a social club.

“That use will be allowed as a matter of right by the new owner,” he said. “I understand the new owner is currently working with ISD to secure the required occupancy permit for that permitted use.”

He said ISD recently conducted an inspection of the property and identified some violations that need to be corrected.

That said, the new owner has expressed to the City a desire to permit the basement for a social club as well. That could only be done by a Special Permit, requiring the new club to make a date with the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for expanding a non-conforming use.

It might also require some parking relief too, Ambrosino said.

“Thus far, the owner has started the Special Permit application process, but it has not yet supplied ISD with all the necessary documentation for a full review,” he said.

Ambrosino told the Record that his understanding is the new club has a membership of around 200.

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MBTA to Implement New Software System to Avert Chelsea Street Bridge

MBTA to Implement New Software System to Avert Chelsea Street Bridge

the potential to be spoiled – like many Chelsea commutes – by the often untimely lifting of the Chelsea Street Bridge.

The Bridge is a key pinch point on the new SL-3 route as it heads to and from Chelsea to East Boston and the Seaport. As great as the projected 30-minute ride to South Station sounds, it could easily be thwarted by the Bridge being in the “up” position.

The Chelsea Street Bridge goes up multiple times a day, and from start to finish lasts more than 20 minutes. Such delays could drastically impair the service of the Silver Line.

That was identified as early as last summer as a looming problem for operations of the SL-3 by the MBTA Board.

On Monday, in a presentation to the Board, the MBTA revealed a new software system that will help in trying to mitigate what could totally ruin the reliability of the new service.

The new software will be used by the Chelsea Street Bridge operator, who will notify the MBTA bus dispatch center when the bridge is going up.

The software will provide bus dispatch with estimated duration and projected travel time for each of two possible detours around the Bridge. The dispatch will then use that information to determine the best response for each bus.

MBTA officials said that the Bus Operations Division is in the process of developing a Standard Operating Procedure to divert the SL-3 service in response to the Bridge going up. An alternative roué has been identified and will be tested during various times of the day to project run times and reliability.

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Flooding Issues Must Be Solved with Regional Efforts

Flooding Issues Must Be Solved with Regional Efforts

Two of the highest tides ever recorded on Boston Harbor have happened in the last three  months, with one of those being last Friday, March 2, around 11:15 a.m.

Last Friday’s storm caused some severe flooding in Chelsea, particularly on Marginal Street where the Chelsea Creek breached its banks. However, the storm also packed a punch with heavy winds, which blew Chelsea’s official Christmas tree Down.

Last Friday’s storm caused some severe flooding in Chelsea, particularly
on Marginal Street where the Chelsea Creek breached its banks. However, the storm also packed a punch with heavy winds, which blew Chelsea’s official Christmas tree Down.

And on Friday, and on Jan. 4 before that, the tides and coastal storm surge combined to inundate areas of Chelsea that normally stay dry – particularly on Marginal Street and its tributaries up the hill.

This past Friday, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said floodwaters breached the banks of the Chelsea Creek once again – just as they did during the blizzard and coastal surge on Jan. 4.

He said there isn’t much the City can do short-term to alleviate that kind of powerful force.

“There just wasn’t a whole lot we could do about that situation when the Creek comes over its banks, onto the roadway and floods the entire road,” he said. “We may have to be thinking about – like other cities and towns – very long, long-term solutions because I think these types of storms are going to continue more and more. I think like everyone else we’re going to have to start thinking about Coastal Climate Resiliency. I don’t know what that would mean for Marginal Street, but it would have to mean something because we can’t keep having this kind of flooding.”

Ambrosino said the tidal action on Marginal Street is also what caused the closure of several streets on the hill, including Congress, Willow, Highland and others. Fixing that would mean years of planning and millions and millions of dollars, but perhaps that is something, he said, that needs to happen.

Beyond that, flooding issues on Eastern Avenue on Friday near the Burke School Complex may have a solution. He said there is some infrastructure work they intend to do in the coming years that should make a difference in that flooding situation.

On Friday, high tides inundated the area near the Burke and caused some disruptions in school activities.

The same is true for flooding on the Island End River, which exceeded its banks on Friday too. That type of flooding issue threatens the food supply at the New England Produce Center, but like Eastern Avenue, Ambrosino said there are solutions that have been planned.

“There are long-term solutions there, but they are expensive,” he said. “However, there are ideas that can make a difference with that situation.”

Beyond the flooding, the storm packed a punch with wind gusts that often went above 80 mph. That wreaked havoc with many trees in the city, and particularly with the City’s official Christmas tree in Chelsea Square.

That tree was knocked down in the winds, and had to be removed from its long-time home.

“The Christmas tree did get  knocked over,” said Ambrosino. “As I understand, it was transplanted some years ago and didn’t have very deep roots. The Tree Board will look at that and try to figure out what we’ll do about a new Christmas tree. Luckily, we have plenty of time to think about it.”

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