Neighbors Growing Restless over New Possibilities on Winnisimmet Street

-By Joshua Resnek

The small factory complex shown above was the subject of sometimes bitter debate at the Planning Board Tuesday evening. A proposal to allow a manufacturing interest to produce tortillas will be discussed at a public hearing before the Zoning Board on May 10.

The property at the right of the above photograph has been a warehouse/office/factory since shortly after the Great Chelsea Fire of 1908.

Located on Winnisimmet Street, it is owned by the Kayem Company, and has been continuously used by that company for nearly 100 years.

There’s no manufacturing going on there any longer but the thought that it might resume under a new owner has at least a half-dozen Pembroke Street property owners ready to fight.

And they came out and spoke against the proposed project during a long meeting of the Planning Board Tuesday evening at city hall.

The Planning Board subsequently voted 4-1 to give the Zoning Board of Appeals a non-binding recommendation concerning the project.

On May 10, the Zoning Board will hold a public hearing on the matter at city hall.

Among those who came out to speak adamantly against the sale of the property and its future use as a tortilla factory with two shifts – and possibly a third if needed – included influential lower Broadway resident Richard Smigielski, who ridiculed the proposal and Arnold Jarmak, a longtime resident of Pembroke Street.

Cinco de Mayo, the well known Chelsea restaurant operation is apparently planning to purchase the property and to produce tortillas there.

A few years back the factory was leased to a company that made potato salad.

“When they were steaming the potatoes, the entire street and the backs of our homes were engulfed by steam and the smell of potatoes,” said Jarmak.

“The thought of the neighborhood being taken over by the odor of tortillas being cooked is too much to bear. This neighborhood will stand against such a development plan,” he added.

Smigielski said the proposal would never pass muster at the Zoning Board and that plans for two shifts at the site which would remain operating and manufacturing until 10:00 p.m. in the evening was an outrage that neither he nor the neighborhood would tolerate.

A total of five residents spoke vehemently against the project.

Two people spoke in favor of it while two others asked general questions.

Efforts to reach Cinco de Mayo’s attorney John Dodge were unsuccessful.


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