By Seth Daniel
While wholesale infrastructure changes aren’t expected for another couple of years on Broadway, momentum is already building for major change to the downtown Broadway Business District this summer.
On Wednesday, June 28, the musician Kali gave a sneak peak on Chelsea City Hall Lawn just what will come with the new Chelsea Lunch initiative, which starts next Weds., July 12.
According to Downtown Coordinator Mimi Graney, Chelsea Lunch Marketplace will take place every Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m. on City Hall Lawn through the end of September. The event is presented by Chelsea Prospers in partnership with Healthy Chelsea and will have musicians and community information tables.
The effort is meant to enliven the district during the day, but there will also be action in the evenings in Chelsea Square. Graney envisions having daytime activities in Bellingham Square throughout the summer and evening activities in Chelsea Square.
To kick off that effort, Summer Nights in Chelsea Square will kick off in one month on Aug. 3 with music and dancing by Los Sugar Kings.
Other concerts include:
- August 10, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in Smell-O-Vision
- August 17, Tarbox Ramblers backwoods blues music
- Aug. 24 will be a unique experience where concert-goers can be the star. the live Karaoke band, The Cover Story will play and audience members are invited to sing.
Additionally, late last week Graney announced small placemaking grants available for the district. The mini-grants are between $200 and $750 for small projects like parklets, pop up events or temporary art installations – or whatever creative idea one may have for the district. An info session has been scheduled for Tuesday, July 11, at 6 p.m. in the Chelsea Public Library. The deadline for applications is Aug. 18.
To enhance the mini-grants, Chelsea will be celebrating National Parking Day on Sept. 15. All across America, cities, towns and organizations transform parking spaces in downtown districts into small parks for the day. That was done last year for the first time by GreenRoots on Broadway – an effort that was a smash hit and likely will become even more intriguing this year, Graney said.
On the infrastructure and design front, the Re-Imagining Broadway effort will present its findings after many months of study on July 13, 6 p.m., in the Chelsea Senior Center, 10 Riley Way. The consultant Nelson Nygaard has been studying everything from sidewalks and streetlights to making Broadway a two-way street again. The findings will be suggestions for implementation to the City, which contracted the consultants late last year and has conducted several public meetings since then.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he is encouraged by the work of the Downtown Task Force over the past few months – an effort that include four Chelsea Police Officers dedicated to patrolling the Broadway Business Corridor and meeting in a roundtable on a weekly basis.
He said that between that effort, the Human Service Navigators, good deal is getting done on the Corridor.
However, he said that spending the large sum of money approved by the City Council for infrastructure repairs and improvements would likely not take place for a little while. Right now, he said about $500,000 of that sum has been on design and planning. The bulk of the monies, some $5 million, will be allocated in a few years, he said.
“There’s still a lot of planning to do,” he said. “We We probably won’t start the infrastructure work for another year or more, but we are looking at what we want to do now. Most likely, all of that work will start in calendar year 2019, maybe 2018. We’re at least one year away from that work…This is a marathon and not a spring. It’s a five to 10 year effort to re-invent this downtown.”
Other efforts under way or already planned include:
- Retail Best Practices Program presented by City of Chelsea’s Chelsea Prospers with the Chamber of Commerce – July 18 at 8:30 a.m. at the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce. Half-day workshop for all downtown businesses on issues like effective displays, marketing, customer service. Businesses can then apply to be one of the six businesses that will receive a half day of one-on-one consulting on their specific needs and to receive a mini-grant to implement one of the recommendations. http://www.chelseachamber.org/
- FDA Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards – Chelsea Prospers in partnership with the Board of Health to increase food safety, build business and workforce expertise, and boost consumer confidence. The first activity under this multiyear effort is a training and certification food safety program for Chelsea businesses. Through the Chelsea Community Schools we’re presenting on July 27 a full day of training in English and Spanish, plus the certification exam at a deeply discounted rate. The program is exclusively for Chelsea businesses and workers. Registration required at https://register.communitypass.net/Chelsea
- MassSave Business Grants – In August, at the behest of Chelsea Prospers and the Chelsea’s Energy Manager to increase environmental sustainability, a team from EverSource is coming to the downtown the week of August 7 to conduct free energy assessments for area businesses. Through the assessments they’ll be able to determine eligibility for a variety of new equipment like lighting, thermostats, refrigerator motors, etc. Discounts for the installed equipment start at 70 percent and 0 percent financing is available for the co-pay. Many businesses are eligible for thousands of dollars in new equipment and able to dramatically reduce their utility bills. All Massachusetts utility customers pay into the fund that supports this program – take advantage of these significant savings. https://www.masssave.com/en/saving/business-rebates/facility-assessments/
- Chelsea’s First Paw-Raid – Walk and celebration for dogs and their friends on September 9 to check out the dog park under construction at Mystic Overlook Park. Starting at City Hall Lawn at 11 a.m. and finishing up at Mystic Overlook Park.
- Interise is the “Street-wise MBA”, a training program for established businesses. For the first time ever they’ll be hosting their training program in East Boston and focusing on the needs of businesses in Chelsea, Everett, East Boston and Winthrop. Get your business to the next level or be prepared to steer it ably through a time of transition. https://www.interise.org/
- Cultural Assets Survey in partnership with the Cultural Council and The Neighborhood Developers – This fall we’re gathering information on Chelsea’s creative assets — both the people and the infrastructure – who make related to the cultural economy of the City. The first part of this effort is the Artist Survey, open now at https://tinyurl.com/chelseaartistsurvey and at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/S7TRRLK.