Looking back at Chelsea happenings in 2022
The city faced a number of major changes and departures during 2022, with the City Council president, the police chief, the public works director,and the city manager all leaving their positions this year.
Toward the end of the year, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino announced he was stepping down to take a position as the next Court Administrator of the Trial Court in Massachusetts.
“Tom did an outstanding job for our city,” said City Councilor Leo Robinson. “He will surely be missed when he leaves. He kept us on course to achieve the improvement of the city and (moved) the city forward.
Police Chief Brian Kyes likewise moved onto another position in 2022, being named the next U.S. Marshal for Massachusetts.
Citing several excellent choices within the department, Ambrosino promoted long-time Captain Keith Houghton to take over from Kyes as the city’s new police chief.
“I am a son of this community, I was raised here, educated here, played here, worshiped here, and for 36 years I have worked here as a proud officer of the Chelsea Police Department,” said Houghton at his official swearing in ceremony in early December. “I learned quite a bit here in Chelsea, it is true what they say, it really does take a village of extraordinary individuals, and I have been blessed with their guidance and kindness over the years as it has exposed me to opportunities leading me right here to stand before you as chief.”
Council President Roy Avellaneda stepped down from the council in early October, stating that he could not serve as president while also handling expanding business responsibilities.
“Throughout the last few years, we’ve worked terrifically together and worked tirelessly in support of bringing this city together,” said Precinct 8 Councilor Calvin Brown, who took over as council president following Avellaneda’s resignation.
In December, the council selected former Councilor Brian Hatleberg to fill the remainder of Avellaneda’s term as an at-large councilor. Hatleberg said he has no intention to run for a full term when Avellaneda’s term expires.
At the beginning of the year, Chelsea lost its public works commissioner, Fidel Maltez. Maltez was hired as Reading’s Town Manager.
“Many of you know how highly I regard Fidel,” said Ambrosino. “I look at him as someone who is just an incredible administrator and an incredible public servant. He has made my life so much easier here, and a lot of the tremendous progress that we’ve made in the last five years has come because of his hard work and dedication.”
In July, deputy public works commissioner Lou Mammolette was promoted to the top public works job.
Thanks to the 2020 census and redistricting, Chelsea finally got a state representative who represents the entire city in 2022.
In the Democratic primary, City Councilor Judith Garcia topped fellow councilor Robinson and School Committee member Roberto Jimenez Rivera.
In the general election, she defeated another city councilor, Republican Todd Taylor.
“I am honored to be the first Chelsea native to represent my city in this capacity, the first woman or Latina in this position and the first Central American elected to the (Massachusetts) legislature,” Garcia stated following the election. “I have spent the last seven years fighting for Chelsea on the City Council, and am more than ready to advocate for Chelsea and Everett on Beacon Hill.”
While there was much turnover in city government, school leadership was as stable as it has been since before the Covid-19 pandemic.
The School Committee extended a new five-year contract to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Almi Abeyta.
“I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to continue the work in Chelsea Public Schools,” said Abeyta. “We have an amazing team in place, and I look forward to working with our community to ensure we deliver a high-quality education to every student in every classroom.”
As has been the case in many past years, Chelsea students were able to affect change in the school system.
This year, it was with the district’s e-policy, which states a student who has three or more unexcused absences during a quarter receive a grade of 60, regardless of how they do on their work.
Several students noted that the policy is unfair to students with mental health issues, those who have to work to help support their families, and can be confusing and seemingly arbitrary to try to appeal.
One Chelsea High senior noted that she received an E last year because she had to work two jobs, and wasn’t able to get up for early classes after getting home at three in the morning.
Abeyta said a new policy was in the works for approval by the School Committee, and that the e-policy was suspended for the first two quarters of the school year.
Early in the year, Chelsea voters went to the polls for a question on the funding of a new Northeast Metropolitan Technical Vocational High School on Tuesday.
The 12 member communities of the vocational school district were asked to weigh in on the proposed $317 million project. The vote was triggered by the Chelsea City Council’s vote not to support the funding of the project, stating it would place an unfair financial burden on the city.
While the project passed by an overwhelming margin across the 12 communities of the district, the majority of Chelsea voters who went to the polls said they did not support the cost of the project.
Over 2022, the city continued to focus on infrastructure and improvement projects in the downtown corridor.
The city is moving forward with a partnership to redevelop the former Salvation Army building on Broadway with a mix of affordable housing and retail space.
Local nonprofit GreenRoots, along with the city and several other local and state nonprofits, began the process of attempting to purchase the former Forbes site to develop that 17.7-acre waterfront site to create affordable housing and a public, environmentally resilient waterfront area for residents.