Though Chelsea hasn’t experienced the rioting, violence or peaceful protesting that has occurred in Boston and throughout the nation in response to the murder of George Floyd at the hands of some Minneapolis police officer, City officials addressed the matter in a letter on Tuesday, June 2.
In a joint statement from City Manager Tom Ambrosino, Police Chief Brian Kyes and Supt. Almi Abeyta, the trio addressed the frustrations by those who have seen what happened, and also called for peaceful protest if it was to occur.
“This horrific tragedy has laid bare the inequities and injustices long-endured by those who have suffered from the racism and bias, both conscious and unconscious, that pervades our society,” read the letter. “The anger and frustration is real and justified. And, protests against a history of violence, intimidation and oppression have a right to be loud and uncomfortable.”
The group urged everyone in the community to take the time to listen and empathize – and also to be prepared to act to bring about lasting change. They said they hoped it would be a moment of growth and transformation for Chelsea and the nation.
They did call on those who call for change – if they do so in the public realm – to do it peacefully and not to harm any business owners.
“We also urge those who desperately seek change and transformation to do so by peaceful means,” read the letter. “Acts of violence, destruction of property and harm to the economic interests of struggling business owners have no place among legitimate protests and serve only to undermine the moral message and dishonor the purpose.”
The letter concluded by stating that Chelsea has long been a shining example of unity, and they hoped that could be an example for the entire nation.
“In Chelsea, all of our residents, native born, immigrants and people of color, have long stood as a shining example of tolerance and civility for the rest of the nation,” they wrote. “We hope that, in this era of discord, our bonds of unity tighten and we can walk together toward a future of justice and racial equality.”
• COVID-19 Cases Continue to Decline
Chelsea was once the hot spot of all hot spots for the COVID-19 infections, but that has now begun to be less and less the case as new cases continue to decline day-to-day.
This week, as of Tuesday, there was only a single digit increase in new cases – a bit of a milestone for a community that was topping 70 to 80 new cases a day at one time.
“Our numbers continue to go down,” said Ambrosino. “We had a single digit increase last night. That’s positive, great news on the COVID-19 front. That’s a continuation of such good news for two weeks now. We will continue to watch that.”
There were only four new cases reported on June 2.
There are a total of 2,641 positive cases and 1,341 people have recovered. There have been 148 deaths of Chelsea residents, and most of those have been in long-term care facilities.
• New Zoning Regulations for Restaurants
City Manager Tom Ambrosino will propose new zoning regulations to try to help businesses, particularly restaurants, at the June 15 City Council meeting.
“They are still in the works,” he said. “We are trying to see if we can eliminate the harm. We particularly want to do this so restaurants can make money.”
Some of the changes could be using parking spaces downtown for restaurant capacity, as restaurants will only be able to likely use 25 percent of their indoor space when they return after June 8.
Other changes will also be on the table, too, and that could potentially include altering parking restrictions downtown.
Finally, he said they are going to work hard to eliminate the delays from City Hall. He said once the green-light is given to restaurants to open, they want to be ready to get things started and not have any bureaucratic delays.
•Rental Assistance Lottery
The Rental Assistance Program lottery held by the City took place Wednesday night, June 3, after Record deadlines.
The lottery is meant to help residents affected by COVID-19 get help with rent payments, and applications have been out since early May. The lottery took place at 6 p.m.
“The goal is to get money out the door to people in need really quickly,” he said.
The program is funded through using the Community Preservation Act (CPA) money and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Those funding sources were approved in April for the use.