License Commission Approves License for Carnival at Chelsea Commons

The carnival is coming to Chelsea.

On Wednesday, April 3, the Licensing Commission approved a four-day license for New Hampshire-based Fiesta Shows to hold a four-day carnival on the Chelsea Commons this spring.

During the short public hearing to approve the license, Chelsea Police Captain Keith Houghton said the City’s public safety agencies have never had an issue with Fiesta Shows. The company also runs events nearby in Revere and Lynn, among other communities.

At-Large City Councillor Roy Avellaneda said he’s had experience with Fiesta Shows owner John Flynn in the past, and that Flynn has always run a tight and secure ship with his shows. In addition, Avellaneda noted that Fiesta Shows will make a donation to the City’s summer jobs program.

Licensing Commissioner Roseann Bongiovanni said she did have some concerns about the carnival operating until 11 p.m., especially on Thursday night.

Flynn said while the license has the closing time at 11 p.m., festivities and rides typically wind down around 10 p.m., giving police time to sweep the area by 11 p.m. Music and amplification is usually shut down at 9 p.m., he added.

•In other business, the Commission denied a permit that would have allowed for Friday night social events at the Rincon Hondureno Function Hall at 194 Broadway. Commission members and City officials expressed concern that the social night would effectively turn the function hall into a nightclub.

•The Licensing Commission also approved a liquor license transfer for La Esquina Mariachi Restaurant at 170 Washington Ave., the former site of the Plaza Mexico restaurant.

The pastor and parishioners from the neighboring church expressed concerns about the new restaurant, given their experience in the past.

While the Commission approved the license, members asked that the owners are mindful of the past history at 170 Washington Ave.

“You need to be very conscious of the environment you are stepping into,” said Licensing Commission Chair Mark Rossi. “Please don’t disappoint us.”

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Boston to Install Dedicated Bus Lane on North Washington Street, Helps 111 Riders

Boston to Install Dedicated Bus Lane on North Washington Street, Helps 111 Riders

In a move that could dramatically reduce the commute times for Chelsea 111 bus riders, the City of Boston announced they are planning on installing a dedicated bus lane on North Washington Street from Causeway to Haymarket – a key clogging point for riders heading into Haymarket from Chelsea.

It would be a move that would accommodate the 111 bus routes and two Charlestown bus routes, and Boston officials said the new lane could reduce travel times by as much as 25 percent.

“We are planning on building an exclusive bus lane on North Washington Street from the intersection at Causeway Street after the bridge to Haymarket,” said Vineet Gupta, director of planning at the Boston Transportation Department (BTD). “It would be a dedicated bus lane 24/7 on the inbound side. Right now, we’re working with the MBTA to install that bus lane.”

BTD Director Gina Fiandaca said they have been working closely with Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and the MBTA on the North Washington Street bus lane, and hope that they can get it done as early in 2019 as possible. She said that stretch of the bus route is often the most congested, and riders often find themselves waiting longer on the bus for the last leg than it would take them to walk.

“This inbound bus lane will have the opportunity to move along at a quicker pace than the rest of the traffic,” she said. “Another good part of this is in the future when the North Washington Street Bridge is completed, it will have a bus lane as well. That will provide a connection with this new lane to have one unbroken exclusive bus lane from Charlestown when the Bridge is done.”

In order to accomplish the new lane, the City will have to remove some metered parking spaces and a commercial parking space, but a large chunk of the stretch is a large bus stop and ‘no parking’ zones.

Gupta said they have no clear data yet on the time it could save commuters going inbound – though they will begin keeping that data very soon. However, in Roslindale where they installed a bus lane last year, commutes were shortened by 25 percent. The same data also presented itself in Everett two years ago when they put a dedicated bus lane on Broadway Everett.

The announcement was one of several made by Boston Mayor Walsh at the Greater Boston Municipal Research Bureau meeting on March 7. The North Washington Street bus lane would be the first one in effect 24 hours a day in Boston.

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Accountability and Closure in Fatal Shooting of Pablo Villeda

Accountability and Closure in Fatal Shooting of Pablo Villeda

A Lynn teen, who was originally from Chelsea, pleaded guilty March 7 as his trial was set to begin on charges that he opened fire during a party three years ago, killing 19-year-old Pablo Villeda and injuring six others.

Emanuel Marrero, 19, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with Pablo Villeda’s March 6, 2016, shooting death, as well as six counts of armed assault with intent to murder and related charges for injuries suffered by six other young people.

Pablo Villeda was killed in an early morning teen party on March 6, 2016 held at a vacant apartment on Washington Avenue. On Thursday, March 7, Emanuel Marrero pleaded guilty in court to his murder.

Judge Linda Giles imposed the mandatory sentence of life in prison, ordering that he be eligible for parole after 15 years and that his sentences on the non-fatal shootings be served concurrently. Had he chosen to go to trial, the defendant – who was 16 at the time of the homicide – would have faced a first-degree murder charge.

“We accepted this plea because it delivers a significant measure of accountability for the defendant’s actions, which took Pablo’s life just as it was ready to begin,” District Attorney Rachael Rollins said. “It also considers all the potential outcomes at trial and on appeal, as well as the defendant’s age at the time of the homicide. Nothing we do can bring Pablo Villeda back to his loving family, but I hope this final result can at least provide them with closure to this tragic event.”

Chief Brian Kyes said he hopes the prison sentence will bring closure to the family on what was a tragic night in Chelsea three years ago.

“This was certainly a tragic night for everyone involved and one that none of us will soon forget,” said Kyes. “We truly hope that the imposition of this prison sentence by the Suffolk County Superior Court will bring some sense of solace to the family of Pablo Villeda that they absolutely deserve. Senseless acts of violence like this have no place in our neighborhoods and we will continue to work with our community partners to prevent tragedies like this from ever occurring again.”

Chelsea Police responded to 120 Washington Ave. in the early morning hours of March 6, 2016, for multiple calls reporting a disturbance at a party held inside a vacant apartment. They arrived to find seven people, ranging in age from 15 to 22, suffering gunshot wounds. Pablo was rushed to the hospital but succumbed to his injuries; the surviving victims were treated at Whidden Memorial Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Assistant District Attorney Julie Higgins of the DA’s Homicide Unit was prepared to introduce evidence and testimony showing that the defendant brought a .40 caliber handgun to the party, flaunting it to several other attendees. At some point, the evidence would have shown, the defendant confronted the victim and opened fire. Pablo was mortally wounded and six other people were struck, and fortunately survived their injuries. The defendant fled the scene but was identified in the course of an exhaustive investigation by Chelsea Police detectives and the Suffolk County State Police Detective Unit. The defendant was represented by attorney Richard Chambers

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Chelsea Chamber Joins in Tribute to Joanne Tarason

Chelsea  Chamber Joins in Tribute to  Joanne Tarason

Members of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce joined local residents in paying tribute to well-known local businesswoman and Chamber board member Joanne Tarason at observances this week.

Mrs. Tarason Washington Ave., died unexpectedly on Feb. 19. She was the owner of Coprico Printing, 40 Washington Ave., for many years.

Susan Gallant, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, said the local business organization could always count on Mrs. Tarason to help out at events.

“Whether it was making a donation or helping the Chamber with the great work they do at the printing business, she was always really accommodating and very generous with her support,” said Gallant. “She was a great, hard-working lady. We will all greatly miss her.”

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Rep. Ryan Pleased with Assignments

Rep. Ryan Pleased with  Assignments

State Rep. Dan Ryan said this week he is pleased in what is considered a step up in becoming the vice chair of the Post Audit Oversight Committee – a powerful committee that runs investigations of government operations and actually has subpoena powers.

“I want to thank Speaker DeLeo for this appointment, and my House colleagues for voting to affirm his trust in me,” said Ryan. “I look forward to working with Chairman Linsky and other committee members in continuing to bring solid, cost-effective government programs to the electorate.”

Ryan said Post-Audit Oversight certainly isn’t a household name for most people in the Town, but said it has a unique mission and is a sought-after committee on Beacon Hill.
“The Post-Audit Oversight Committee is a select House committee that has a unique mission,” he said. “Members of the committee are tasked with ensuring that State agencies are abiding by legislative intent and the program initiatives put forth, by the legislature, through the budget process. When necessary, the committee will work with administrative agencies to propose corrective actions to best serve citizens of the Commonwealth.”

One of the most visible investigations conducted by the Committee came several years ago in the previous administration when the Department of Children and Families (DCF) came under fire for its handling and management of numerous cases involving children.

Ryan has also been assigned as a member of the Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Recovery Committee, and as a member of the Transportation Committee.

•Just across the North Washington Street Bridge, State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz came away with one of the biggest scores for the Boston delegation in getting assigned as chair of the powerful Ways & Means Committee.

Rep. Ryan said that having such an important chair nearby will be very good for Charlestown as well as the North End. That will particularly be apparent with projects like the North Washington Street Bridge, which affects the North End as much as Charlestown.

Michlewitz told the Patriot-Bridge that he is humbled by the appointment, and that while he has to build consensus across the state, he will keep his district and Boston in the forefront.

“I am honored that Speaker DeLeo believes I can do the job,” he said. “The first order of business is creating and debating a $42.7 billion budget. A lot of work has been done in committee, but we have a short timeframe to get a lot done. The thing I was to stress is my district is my number one priority.”

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Appreciation – Remembering Joanne Tarason

Appreciation – Remembering Joanne Tarason

The city is mourning the loss of Joanne Tarason, a popular local business owner and highly respected community leader who touched the lives of many residents with her kindness and generosity.

Mrs. Tarason died on Tuesday. She was 77.

Joanne Tarason owned Coprico Printing (formerly Sir Speedy) at 40 Washington Ave., located across the street from Chelsea City Hall. She was also a long-time member of the Rotary Club and the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce.

Mrs. Tarason donated her services to many local organizations. Though she received numerous awards in appreciation of her generous contributions and volunteer services, she always deflected the praise to others and tried to stay out of the spotlight.

“Joanne helped out so many groups in a quiet and unassuming way,” said Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson. “She never sought recognition for her many kind deeds and generous assistance. Chelsea has a lot a great woman, community leader and friend.”

Councillor-at-Large Calvin Brown said Mrs. Tarason was “one of Chelsea’s unsung heroes.”

“Joanne did so much for so many and was admired by all,” said Brown. “It was always a pleasure to see her at local social events. We have lost a great friend to Chelsea.”

Mrs. Tarason was a goodwill ambassador for the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club, always lending her support at installation of officers dinners, community fundraisers, and the Chamber’s $10,000 Pot-O-Gold Dinners.

But her reign of kindness and premier platform of helpfulness was at her local business where residents would often stop in just to say hello. She was meticulous in her work and customers came from far and wide to have their printing jobs, large and small, done at her business.

Mrs. Tarason stayed ahead of the technological advances in the printing business, acquiring new skills and equipment to meet the requests of her large clientele.

The Chelsea City Council will pay tribute to Mrs. Tarason with a moment of silence at its Feb. 25 meeting.

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Dealing with Details: License Commission Works out the Logistics of Marijuana Shops

Dealing with Details: License Commission Works out the Logistics of Marijuana Shops

The Licensing Commission has continued a hearing on special additional rules for marijuana establishments to its March meeting.

The commission opened the public hearing at its meeting on Thursday, Jan. 17.

While the hearing did not generate much controversy, commissioners did agree that they wanted more time to consider several issues, including language limiting where retail marijuana shops can be concentrated, and the amount the city will charge for application fees.

“I’d like to see more research and see what nearby cities have done and what their challenges are,” said commission member Roseann Bongiovanni.

Currently, there are three applications in the works for retail marijuana shops in the city. The city will allow a maximum of four retail licenses.

According to the proposed regulation, the Licensing Commission will not issue a license to anyone who has violated Licensing Commission rules and regulations in the past five years. All licenses are subject to zoning approval and state Cannabis Control Commission approval.

The operating hours for retail shops will be limited to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and all signage will have to be approved by the city, according to City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher.

“We are trying to be a little more restrictive now so we don’t have to clean up after the fact, like with liquor licenses,” said Fisher.

The section of the proposed regulations that garnered the most discussion among commission members was one which would limit the concentration of where retail marijuana shops can be located.

Fisher noted that the language included in the draft regulations, limiting retail shops to one per voting district and not within 500 feet of another retail marijuana store, was not included by the legal department. She said it was included because it was a request made during a past public hearing on marijuana regulations.

“We already have a very small area in Chelsea, and retail shops are already restricted to three zones and can’t be within 500 feet of schools,” said Fisher. “It is already quite restrictive of where you can put a facility.”

The city will allow marijuana establishments in the Industrial, Shopping Center, and Business Highway zone.

Licensing Commission Chairman Mark Rossi said he’d like the commission to have more discretion over where facilities can be located.

“Our job is to factor in the input from the community and the licensees,” said Rossi.

Much like it does with liquor licenses, Rossi said the Licensing Commission will be getting input from the community, police and fire departments, and other city officials when it comes to making a final determination on issuing a marijuana license.

“This committee is uniquely situated to make that determination,” he said.

Commission member James Guido said he would like more information on limiting concentration in voting districts before making a final decision on the proposed regulation.

Rossi also said he had questions about the $5,000 application and annual renewal fee for marijuana establishments, stating he would like to see a higher number.

Rossi said the application fees and concentration of locations will be discussed when the hearing is continued at its March 7 meeting.

“This is a big issue that affects everyone,” he said.

•In other business, the Licensing Commission adjusted its penalty for Rincon Latinos restaurant at 373 Washington Ave. In December, the commission suspended the restaurant’s liquor license for eight days spread over four weekends for repeated instances of exceeding its capacity.

Last week, the commission agreed to suspend the license for two weekends in January, as well as for a five-day stretch during the week when a new handicap bathroom will be installed by the restaurant owners.

The new bathroom will allow Rincons Latinos to increase its capacity from 17 to 28 people, according to John Dodge, the attorney representing the owners.

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Keeping Money in the Mystic:Advocates Make a Successful Pitch for Oil Spill Dollars

Keeping Money in the Mystic:Advocates Make a Successful Pitch for Oil Spill Dollars

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA), and their partner GreenRoots successfully made the case in

MyRWA Director Patrick Herron and GreenRoots Director Roseann Bongiovanni celebrating their successful argument in Washington, D.C., to return funds to the area.

front of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Council to give Mystic communities a chance at $1.3 million in restoration funds.

“This is an opportunity to repair part of the Mystic River watershed by directing funds that resulted from the spill back to the area where the spill occurred,” said Patrick Herron, executive director. “We are excited that our Mystic communities have another shot at this funding.”

In January of 2006, approximately 15,200 gallons of petroleum product was spilled into the Lower Mystic River through an ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. terminal located in Everett. Accordingly, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) charged ExxonMobil with violating the Clean Water Act through negligence at the facility. ExxonMobil signed a plea agreement in 2009 that included a fine, the cost of cleanup, and a community service payment (CSP) that ultimately totaled $1 million to the Massachusetts Environmental Trust and $4.6 million to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) fund. This plea agreement states that the funds should be used exclusively for qualified coastal wetland restoration projects in Massachusetts, with preference to projects within the Mystic River Watershed. During plea proceedings, the NAWCA Council and U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff assured the U.S. Attorney’s office and Judge Saris that a process would be put in place to ensure the CSP funds would be awarded in a manner consistent to the intent of the plea agreement.

All funds managed by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) were immediately put to work on stewardship and water quality improvements in the Mystic River Watershed.

In contrast, no NAWCA funds have come to the Mystic River Watershed. To date, $3 million of the ExxonMobil CSP given to NAWCA have been spent on other projects in the Commonwealth. The NAWCA Council was considering spending the remainder of the money ($1.36 million) on yet another project not in the Mystic. This would bring the amount spent on the Mystic to zero.

Herron and Roseann Bongiovanni, executive director of GreenRoots, made the trip to Washington, D.C., on Dec. 12, to argue that money should be given to the Mystic. Prior to the meeting, David Barlow, Gene Benson and friends at GreenRoots and Conservation Law Foundation developed and submitted formal comment letters to the Council that outlined the history of these funds and the context for preference for the Mystic.

“It was our communities and our waterbodies that were impacted by the spill on that cold January morning and now almost 10 years later, our communities are deserving of the penalty dollars to restore our ecological habitat and bring about environmental justice” said Bongiovanni.

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Liquor License Suspension Handed to Rincons Latinos

Liquor License Suspension Handed to Rincons Latinos

Rincons Latinos Restaurant on Washington Avenue has been no stranger to appearing before the Licensing Commission over the past several months.

At the Thursday, Dec. 6 meeting, it was a case of enough was enough for the licensing commissioners, as they voted to suspend the 373 Washington Ave. restaurant’s liquor license for eight days. The suspension, largely leveled for repeated instances of exceeding the posted capacity of the establishment, will be served during four weekends over December and January.

A police inspection in October found 42 people in the restaurant, well above the posted occupancy limit of 17. Police officials also claimed there was missing signage and insufficient lighting in the restaurant.

Attorney John Dodge, representing Orlando Pineda of Rincons Latinos, argued that his client is planning to install a second handicap accessible bathroom in the restaurant. That move would double the occupancy limit of Rincons Latinos from 17 to 34, he said.

“That is the only thing that has been reducing the occupancy level in the restaurant,” said Dodge. “It isn’t a safety concern in regard to (the number of people) in the restaurant.”

“It’s just breaking the law and not following rules,” countered Mark Rossi, the Licensing Commission chairman.

Dodge said Pineda is doing his best to run a business and will spend upwards of $7,500 to install the new bathroom to comply with regulations.

“Mr. Pineda has put his life and soul into the place, and he lives right upstairs,” Dodge said.

Dodge also noted that the police withdrew a previous charge against the restaurant from the fall that people were illegally bringing cases of beer into and out of the restaurant.

“Mr. Pineda and his brother Ricardo are trying to do the right thing,” Dodge said. “They are doing their best to increase the occupancy. I question the fundamental fairness (of the charges).”

Commission member James Guido took exception to Dodge’s accusation of unfairness.

“They have had plenty of chances,” he said. “The biggest complaint now is the occupancy and we are going to try to deal with that.”

Commission member and Inspectional Services Director Mike McAteer said he has been dealing with the occupancy issue and plans for an additional bathroom since July with no movement on the issue from the Pinedas.

Rossi said Dodge was basically taking a “no harm, no foul” approach to the occupancy violations and that the Pinedas have not made enough effort to address them over the past six months.

“The explanation has been, ehhhhh, it’s a big enough place and nobody got hurt,” Rossi said. “They have not taken the proper steps to alleviate the matter. Now, you are saying give me more time so I can try to make this right.”

The commission members batted around several possible punishments, from a 30-day license suspension to outright revocation, before deciding on the eight-day suspension meted out over four weekends.

Rossi said if the establishment violates the 17-person occupancy limit before approval for expanding to 34 people, it will be subject to license revocation proceedings.

In other business, the commission took its annual vote to allow extended New Year’s Eve hours to 2 a.m.

The commission also approved giving a six-month extension to Samir, Inc. to find a new location to use a wine and malt beverage license.

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Bishop Proposes City Council Pay Cut

Bishop Proposes City Council Pay Cut

If District 1 City Councillor Robert Bishop gets his way, he’ll be taking $6,000 per year out of his own pockets, and those of his fellow city councillors.

Monday night, Bishop introduced an ordinance asking that the Council salary be cut from $14,000 to $8,000 per year beginning in 2020. The councillor said he was unhappy when the salary increased from $8,000 to $14,000 several years ago, and wants to see it cut back.

The ordinance was moved to a second reading at a future council meeting before there was any discussion on the proposal, but Council President DamaliVidot said there will be an opportunity for debate and discussion during the second reading.

The council voted for the pay raise to $14,000 in 2013 and it went into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

  • In other business, the council heard a legal opinion from City Solicitor Cheryl Watson Fisher that stated that the Council’s subcommittee on finance violated the open meeting law when it discussed a $20,000 appropriation for legal services that was not properly placed on the subcommittee’s agenda. Bishop, who heads the finance subcommittee, countered that the matter was properly posted and fell under the heading of financial requests.

“I felt it would be appropriate to discuss,” Bishop said. “I see nothing in Rule 26 that says we could not speak about it. … To me, this is kind of petty and picayune.”

But Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson said he didn’t understand how the matter had gotten to the finance subcommittee without coming before the full Council first.

Vidot said there will be a subcommittee discussion about how to best move forward with financial matters on the Council.

  • Bishop also asked for a meeting to discuss traffic flow issues at Revere Beach Parkway and Washington Avenue, Revere Beach Parkway and Webster Avenue, and Spruce Street and Everett Avenue. The councillor noted that motorists are faced with an especially dangerous intersection at Revere Beach Parkway and Washington.

“It’s a wonder that there are not more accidents than there already are,” Bishop said.

  • The District 1 Councillor is also requesting a subcommittee meeting to discuss issues with the city and the Chelsea Housing Authority’s rodent baiting programs. Bishop said he has concerns that the programs are ineffective and dangerous for the workers implementing them.
  • District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero introduced an order asking the public works director provide the Council with an accurate account of how the City sets water and sewer rates and how those rates could be stabilized.

In contrast to the past several meetings, when discussion over water and sewer rates brought a steady stream of residents to the microphone, it was a more subdued public speaking session at Monday’s meeting.

Chelsea High School senior Manuel Teshe advocated for fundraising efforts that would allow the senior class to graduate outside at the school’s football field. Teshe estimated the total cost of covering the field to keep it safe for a graduation ceremony would be about $30,000.

“We are passionate about this and want to graduate from the school in the best way possible,” said Teshe.

Teshe’s classmate, senior class president Jocelyn Poste, was also on hand at the meeting to promote the Red Devil Turkey Trot race on Saturday, Nov. 17 to benefit the school’s track and cross country programs.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the race can visit  HYPERLINK “http://chelseahightrack.com” t “_blank” chelseahightrack.com. The event begins at 10 a.m. at Admiral’s Hill.

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