Voke Park Playground Construction Set to Begin

When Paul Nowicki would regularly launch home runs over the secondary fence in left field and on to the tennis and basketball courts at Voke Park, there was no large, playground area beyond the centerfield fence.

There is a playground there now and it will soon be replaced by a beautiful, brand-new, safe, ADA-compliant facility.

Ben Cares, planner and project manager for the Chelsea Department of Housing and Community Development, announced during a public meeting on Zoom Monday night that demolition of the playground’s existing play structures would begin on Monday (Nov. 23) and that the new playground would open in June, 2021. And the grand opening is certainly something grand for the neighborhood to look forward to for next summer.

Cares moderated Monday’s public forum that was also attended by Director of Housing and Community Development Alexander Train, Kaila Bachman, landscape architect for CBA Landscape Architects and contractor for the city on the project, and Bea Cravatta, director of Chelsea Recreation and Cultural Affairs.

Cares told the audience in his opening remarks that “we’re going to talk about the construction of the Voke Park Playground Renovation Project.”

“Every year the City of Chelsea applies for PARC grant funding which is administered by the [state] Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs,” explained Cares.

The City was successful in obtaining a PARC  grant of $400,000 for the renovation “of a section of Voke Park.” The city is investing $350,000 in the project.

Cares continued, “For those of you unfamiliar with it, Voke Park is a relatively large park in the City of Chelsea. There are basketball and tennis courts. There is a playground area. There is another smaller tot lot playground and a baseball field as well as a pedestrian pathway. Basically, we’ll be focusing on the playground area itself.”

 What are the new installations that residents can expect to see at the playground?

“We will be putting in a splash pad water feature,” said Cares. “We’ll put in a pergola shade structure (similar to a trellis) and placing benches beneath it, which will be situated in the pedestrian plaza area.”

Also slated to be part of the playground is a three-bay swing set with an ADA-compliant swing option.

People who enjoy relaxing on a summer day or evening will find ten backless benches situated on the pedestrian pathway that bisects the park and leads to Springvale Avenue to the east and Annese Road to the west.

The new playground is reflective of City Manager Thomas Ambrosino’s commitment to improving recreational spaces citywide, which was a trademark of Ambrosino’s successful 12-year record as mayor of Revere.

Councilor-at-Large Leo Robinson, who spent much time in his childhood working on his basketball skills at parks such as Polonia, Cary, and Quigley, said “it’s all good” about the Voke Park renovation project.

“Any time we, as a city, can provide wide open and safe recreational areas for our children, it’s a positive development for all members of our community,” said Robinson. “I look forward to being at Voke Park in June when they cut the ribbon and welcome in the neighborhood’s parents and children to enjoy the playground for many years to come.”

School Updates

District Updates

•Chelsea Public Schools wants our students to have a way to give back and thank educators.  We are looking for students and families to submit Thank Yous in whichever medium they choose over the next 12 days.  We will then share these Thank Yous each day leading up to the December break.  Educators (can be teachers, paras, support staff) who are mentioned in these Thank Yous will be entered in a Holiday Raffle.  Winners will be announced in the Superintendent’s Holiday/Vacation Message before we go out for

December break.

Hooks School Updates

•In Ms. Johnsons’s first grade class, we have been learning about communities during our comprehension block. We have been using PebbleGo, GetEpic, and other resources to research important jobs in our community. In honor of Veteran’s Day and our community unit coming to an end, we experienced a Zoom Field Trip with a visit from (S)Sgt Trites from the United States Airforce. We asked and answered questions about the military and learned how people in the military are important members in our community. Thank you for visiting our class (S)Sgt Trites!

Kelly School Updates

•Students at the Kelly School have been growing their language skills by using Imagine Learning — and Caminos scholars are also using Imagine Español to grow their Spanish skills too! We’re excited to see that kids’ time and effort is already paying off with measurable progress!  Special shout-out to our 2nd grade students and teachers for their consistency and growth!

•Last Friday, Kelly the Dolphin visited Sra. Cusick’s 1st grade Caminos class to celebrate kids’ Imagine Learning and Imagine Español usage and to answer students’ questions about what dolphins like to eat, how they like to play, and whether dolphins have to wear masks like people do. 

Sokolowski Updates

The 1st Grade is finishing up their Community Unit. In order to bring learning to life, they invited Firefighter Omar for a live fire safety presentation and quick tour around the fire station. The first graders were so excited, we could feel the heat through the screen!

Chelsea Opportunity Academy Updates

•Shout out to teachers Jillian Jacobs and Alvin Rivera who adopted and modified new courses for math and social studies, “You Auto Know” and “Voting Rights”.

These courses were developed by COA partner SpringPoint with support from the Barr Foundation.  The courses form part of a series of Transformative Learning Experiences (TLE) that focus on rigor and relevance. Last year teacher Christian Kelly successfully kicked off the first TLE, “Gentrification in Chelsea.”

•COA alumni are applying to a new position supported by the DESE MassGrad grant as Dropout Prevention Specialists.  We are super excited to bring these opportunities to our graduates.

Chelsea High School Updates

•Every year, the CHS Concert Band and Cantare perform for our hometown heroes, the veterans of the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, in observance of Veterans’ Day.  The highlight of this annual ceremony is the playing of “American Heroes,” which is a piece that features both the Concert Band and Cantare performing all of the hymns from each branch of our armed forces.  Upon hearing their hymn played, the veterans, many of whom are in wheelchairs or hospital beds, rise to attention.  Although our ensembles were unable to directly perform for our veterans this year, they created a virtual concert for the brave men and women of the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home.  The concert can be viewed here:

•Our Video Production students held a premiere today of highway safety public service announcements (PSAs) that they scripted, storyboarded, shot, and edited. The PSAs are designed to inform residents of Massachusetts about “hands free” driving in our state, and the potential consequences for failing to obey this law.

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