By Seth Daniel
More than 600 supporters have signed an online petition at Change.org in less than a week that is aimed at saving the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home water tower.
The petition was started last Saturday by Chelsea resident Stephanie McCusker after she read the story in the Chelsea Record about the state planning to demolish the Soldiers’ Home water tower as part of its plan to build a new Living Center to better serve the veterans in the current Quigley Memorial Hospital.
“I started the petition to save the tower because just like the Citgo sign, Dorchester tank, the Orange Dinosaur (on Rt. 1), it has meaning,” she told the Record. “The meaning is ‘home’ or ‘almost home’ because I can see the Soldiers’ Home tower… We build everything else up high, would it hurt to add another floor to the design of the new facility instead of taking down a landmark? Nothing is sacred in this city anymore. Chelsea Clock is gone. Box District is all lofts, flats and condos. All the old schools are condos and lofts. The tower makes our city what it is today. It’s a way for people to find us. I mean if people think its ugly then we can paint it.”
Apparently many from Chelsea, and those who once lived in Chelsea agree with her, enthusiastically signing the petition.
“The Chelsea water tower has been a landmark of Chelsea all my life and I think it should remain there despite all the changes in Chelsea,” said Kenneth Lewis of Chelsea on the petition. “It’s as Chelsea as Katz Bagels, City Hall and Highland Park.”
Added former Chelsea resident Juan DeJesus, now of Port Richey, FL, “The Chelsea water tower is more then just a water tower. Its a symbol to everybody that comes from that city, and I’m one of them.”
Many others chimed in as well, and by Wednesday evening, there were 640 signees to the petition. The goal for the petition is to get 1,000 signatures.
McCusker said she heard from a friend about the news of the tower coming down. The friend suggested that someone start a petition. Being a bit bummed out by the news, McCusker said she took it upon herself to start the petition.
“I just felt the need to let everyone know that I wasn’t the only one saddened by this,” she said. “I was shocked as to how many people signed the petition just the first day alone. People left comments about how they used to live here and would hate to see it go – that they still have that ‘home feeling’ when seeing it on visits. Why not try and keep some of Chelsea preserved? Chelsea is an up and coming city, but why not keep a little ‘Old Chelsea’ as we do it?”
McCusker said her personal opinion is that it would be too expensive to preserve the old tower and move it to another location on the site. She said she would prefer to see it left as it, perhaps refurbished, and become part of the new plan.
Last week, the state’s Department of Capital Assets, Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) confirmed that as part of the major Community Living Center project – which demolishes the Quigley Memorial Hospital and constructs a brand new, modern veterans living facility – the old water tower would have to come down.
The news has been viewed as a tough decision, as no one wants the tower to come down, and no one wants the veterans project to be delayed or stymied.
DCAMM officials have said, as have City officials, that they are looking at alternatives to keep some part of the tower alive.