HarborWalk Coming Together this Summer with a Finished Look

HarborWalk Coming Together this Summer with a Finished Look

When most landscaping plans come into shape at a new building, it takes a few years for them to mature.

The HarborWalk along the Mystic River at Encore Boston Harbor is taking shape this summer with about 25 percent of it complete
now. Remarkably, more than half of the trees are already mature at planting, with 55 percent of them 20 feet or taller.

It’s not the case at Encore Boston Harbor, where the new HarborWalk is about 25 percent complete, and the first views reveal trees that are already 20- and 30-feet tall.

“It’s going to look spectacular,” said Greg John of Encore. “This is going to be when you walk on the HarborWalk for the first time, it will look like it’s been there decades and it’s going to be amazing.”

Trees in the new HarborWalk come from all over the country, with many of them coming from upstate New York.

John said there will 800 trees on the site, with many of them up to 30-feet tall already. Some 55 percent will be 20 feet or taller when planted. There will be more than 47,000 shrubs and more than 50,000 flowers when all is said and done.

Four Ficus trees have been hand-picked in California, John said, and they will flank the Popeye sculpture when the casino opens. Those trees will be delivered later this summer.

The Encore HarborWalk is approximately one half-mile long and takes up six acres of the development.

John said it is also noteworthy that the landscaping plan will continue on to the entrance of the site, and then out onto Lower Broadway.

Another interesting piece of the HarborWalk is that John said many are noticing the wildlife return to the shore – an area described as a biological desert by consultants just two years ago.

With the clean-up done on the site, and in the river bottom, life is returning to that “desert.”

“One of the workers took a video of birds diving for fish,” said John. “That happens a lot now and it’s definitely turned things around. Prior to our clean up and remediation, every day contamination leaked into the water. When we cleaned it up, we reversed 100 years of neglect and brought things back to their original conditions. There aren’t too many opportunities to do that – to reverse 100 years of neglect.”

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City’s Façade and Signage Program to Kick Off on July 12

City’s Façade and Signage Program to Kick Off on July 12

The City of Chelsea will begin a downtown façade and signage improvement program in a kick-off meeting on July 12.

Business and property owners in the downtown, as well as other interested parties, are invited to this meeting to learn about the rollout of the program and to meet Nathalia Hermida.

Hermida will be available throughout the summer to provide free design services for signage and façade improvements of downtown properties. During this meeting, Hermida will detail the design process, what assistance she’ll be able to provide and how to engage her services.

Along with responding to inquiries solicited through this meeting, Hermida will also be approaching specific identified properties. Those interested in the program who cannot attend this meeting should contact Mimi Graney, Downtown Coordinator at mgraney@chelseama.gov.

Design consultation with Hermida will be available both in English and in Spanish.

The City of Chelsea Façade and Signage Program meeting will take place on Thursday, July 12, at 8:30 a.m. at Chelsea City Hall, third-floor Committee Room.

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Library Renovations Highlighted by Historic Rotunda Skylight

Library Renovations Highlighted by Historic Rotunda Skylight

The historic rotunda skylight above the circulation desk at the Chelsea Public Library has served for decades as a nice ceiling, but few knew that the elegant egg-shaped ceiling was designed to provide beautiful natural lighting to the striking entrance of the historic library.

Now everyone knows.

The rotunda above the foyer of the library was completed last Friday, June 15, and made a bright showing for patrons when the library opened on a sunny Monday.

Library Director Sarah Jackson said the rotunda is one part of several small, but effective, renovations that have occurred in the last three years at the library – which had been showing its age severely when she took over three years ago.

“The rotunda is original to the 1910 building, so that means it was 108 years old,” she said. “It certainly got its use, but it was time to replace it. The skylight is new and they re-built the entire structure off-site and moved it back on. It was one of the most extensive renovations that company has done. It was structurally deficient and leaked badly. There has been a tarp over it since I’ve been here. It lasted over 100 years and we decided to make it as historically accurate as possible, but with a modern look.

“It is beautiful and they did a beautiful job,” she continued. “It’s nice to have it open with so much natural light coming in, and we might even be able to see the stars in the winter.”

The rotunda was part of a five-year strategic plan for the building that Jackson wrote with her staff and the Library Trustees three years ago.

Two years ago they began putting new carpeting in the areas most heavily traveled.

Last year, they added more carpet and painted the reference and reading rooms, as well as putting in new lighting there.

“It’s really looking like a brand new building at this point, but with the beautiful details and woodwork still included and not touched,” she said. “It was very dim in the reading rooms, but now that’s changed too.”

Additionally, by getting rid of some of the obsolete books, mostly in the reference section, they were able to create new space at the front of the library to make a Teen Section. There, they have included games, magazines and an area with new furniture for teens to hang out and read.

Jackson said it all came together with very little money and was a way to make the old library new again.

“Every time someone walks in the door, there’s something new that we’ve done that they see,” she said. “I don’t like hearing people come in and say it looks exactly like it did when they were a kid. We’ve tried to change that and the skylight is the bright spot certainly. It didn’t take a lot of money, but really the will and desire to get it done.”

  • In addition to the great renovations, the library announced that it will be extending its hours to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays through the summer. Previously, they were only open late on Tuesdays.

“We re-arranged the schedule and made it work,” said Jackson. “We were pretty packed on Tuesday nights, so this opens up another evening for programming in the summer.”

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Chelsea Ready for Complete Stadium Renovation

Chelsea Ready for Complete Stadium Renovation

The City and the School Department are preparing to begin construction on a full renovation project of the Chelsea Memorial Stadium, putting down a new turf field and a new track.

Gerry McCue of the School Department said they will begin replacement of the field and track at the end of May.

“We have a synthetic turf field at the high school and it’s at the end of it useful life,” he said. “It was installed 17 years ago. They don’t last forever and it’s time to think about a new field. We’ve been working with the City because the cost was so high and we need to have it in the Capital Improvement Plan. We found at the same time the track was in desperate need of repair as well.”

After meeting with the Planning Department and stakeholders, such as the Pop Warner and Chelsea High coaches, they began designing the field and track.

As part of the project, they will push the track slightly up towards the Parkway to accommodate lighting in a better fashion. They will also prepare for a Phase 2 to the project, which will be built out later in the summer after being bid in July.

“That Phase 2 will provide new lights outside of the track and a new restroom facility,” he said. “We’re also going to create a Master Plan for our remaining baseball fields and the high school and the Burke Complex.”

That second phase is estimated to cost $900,000, with the lights accounting for $800,000 of that.

Phase 1 has already hit a kink in the chain, though, as bids came in at $2 million for a project with a $1.7 million budget. McCue said they would look at cost-cutting measures.

One of those measures is the addition of a large Chelsea ‘C’ in the middle of the new turf field. That might have to be cut out of the project due to the higher bid. Another possible cut is re-doing the scoreboard, which could be taken up at another time.

A second sand pit for pole vault and long jump is also a possibility.

By next fall, the Stadium should have a whole new look.

“We will probably start the project the day after Memorial Day, but it looks like that could slide into mid-June,” he said. “We were hoping to have everything buttoned up by mid-September, but it could end up being late September. It will be an exciting project to see completed next fall.”

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Council Approves Transfers for Rainy Day Funds

Council Approves Transfers for Rainy Day Funds

The Chelsea City Council approved a request from City Manager Tom Ambrosino to clean up and make a big-time deposit into the City’s savings accounts.

The Council approved a $15 million transfer into the Stabilization Fund on Monday night, and also approved a $5 million transfer into a new School Stabilization Fund. At the same time, three old savings accounts were closed out with about $300,000 going into the Stabilization Fund.

The requests came at the behest of Councillor Bob Bishop, who made the requests last month and presided over a committee meeting two weeks ago discussing the matters.

Bishop had indicated that he would like the money in the Stabilization Fund because he believes the City needs to save more money in case of a downturn in the economy. On the background, having the money in the Stabilization Fund gives the Council more control over any spending due to the fact that it requires a two-thirds vote of the Council.

Ambrosino said he supported both transfers and believed that the School Fund was a wise idea given that there are several projects coming up on the City’s schools.

All of them, he said, are in the Capital Improvement Plan.

In the same financial vein, the Council approved the final $3 million payment on the Clark Avenue Middle School project. The City has been paying cash wherever it can on the project – which is still under construction until this summer – to save money on interest payments accrued from having to borrow.

Part of the project is also funded by state reimbursements.

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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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St Rose Piazza Christmas Décor Turns Heads on Broadway

St Rose Piazza Christmas Décor Turns Heads on Broadway

By Seth Daniel

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.

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.

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Enjoy A Safe Labor Day Weekend

Enjoy A Safe Labor Day Weekend

It may be hard to believe, but the summer of 2017 is entering its final week as we approach the traditional Labor Day weekend.

“Time and tide wait for no man,” said the poet. The calendar never lies and soon the summer of ‘17 will be just a memory. The college kids already have returned and many of our public schools already have opened this week.

Although it would be nice if the temperatures were just a bit warmer, none of us really can complain about the gorgeous weather we have been enjoying these past two weeks, with abundant sunshine and temperatures in the 70s and low 80s. And with ocean water temperatures locally in the 65-degree range, conditions have been ideal for a swim or a quick dip after work.

With the summer season winding down to just a few precious days, we fully understand the sentiments of those who might express the refrain, “If this is the last, let’s make it a blast.”

We certainly do not wish to rain on anyone’s parade, so to speak, but we would be remiss if we did not urge our readers that if they intend to have a good time, they should do so safely, both for themselves and their loved ones.

Excessive drinking does not mix with anything — whether it be boating, driving, water sports, hiking, bicycling, or just about any activity that requires some degree of coordination and observance of the rules of safety.

The newspapers and news reports will be full of tragic stories over the weekend of those who died or were seriously injured in accidents that could have been avoided had excessive drinking not been involved. We must do our part to ensure that none of our loved ones — let alone ourselves — are among those inevitable sad statistics.

We wish all of our readers a happy — and safe — Labor Day weekend.

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