Fresh off of a new contract, City Manager Tom Ambrosino gave an enthusiastic opening to Monday’s Council meeting during his State of the City Address, where he talked about Chelsea’s accomplishments in 2018 as well as its goals for 2019.
“I feel confident in saying that the state of our City of Chelsea is very good indeed,” he started.
Among the achievements of the past year, Ambrosino noted that the City ended 2018 with an excess of $28 million in its coffers.
“There’s not another city our size in the entire Commonwealth with that level of reserve,” he said. “That is a testament to the shrewd financial planning of City Council.”
In 2018, Chelsea was also one of only 35 cities in the country to be awarded a Bloomberg Challenge grant for its vision to reduce crime with preventative care.
“Because of that award, our model of predicting harm and then engaging in cross-sector collaboration to address the harm got national attention,” said Ambrosino. “It’s gaining interest and it has people seeking to replicate that, not just in Massachusetts, but outside as well.”
Ambrosino cited the City’s increased development in 2018, such as the construction of two new hotels and the multi-million dollar expansion of a pharmaceutical company. He also mentioned the $10 million grant by the state to reconstruct Broadway from City Hall to the Revere Line, as well as a $3 million federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to renovate Chelsea’s waterfront, one of the largest grants given by the EDA to any municipality in the country in 2018, and one of the only grants issued in Massachusetts.
“We kept our promises to our residents in 2018 by doing good services,” Ambrosino reflected. “I think we can achieve the same level of success in 2019 if we have the same level of collaboration from City Council.”
In terms of goals for 2019, Ambrosino highlighted the effort to renovate the downtown Chelsea area, building on the foundational work done in 2018.
“We added police, social services, more lighting, decorative banners, public art,” he said. “We’ve created an atmosphere and foundation for success, so what we need to do now is finalize the work that remains.”
Ambrosino outlined four areas of improvement for downtown Chelsea: finalizing the design for the infrastructure improvements for one-way schemes, adopting the necessary zoning permissions to improve the facade of the corridor, offering a rich array of cultural and artistic activities, and submitting a request for proposal (RFP) for the redevelopment of the former Salvation Army site.
The City Manager threw his support behind the Forbes Proposal, which is up before the City Board of Appeals next month for the redevelopment of the Chelsea waterfront, claiming that it will include affordable condominiums for Chelsea residents looking to become homeowners.
Ambrosino also mentioned the planned infrastructure and capital improvements for 2019, including work to the Chelsea Greenway, the Chelsea Garden Cemetery and Veterans’ Field. This would all be in the context of a master plan, the first of its kind in Chelsea since the 1970s.
The City Manager emphasized the importance of investing in affordable housing as well as in education, specifically for grants to allow high-achieving, low-income high school students in Chelsea to attend Bunker Hill Community College free of charge.
“This idea of public funding for education beyond just high school is gaining momentum in this nation,” he said. “We can feel a sense a pride that Chelsea is in the forefront of that movement.”
The City Manager’s State of the City address can be viewed on the Chelsea Community Cable’s YouTube channel here: youtu.be/lRVWajXR44w.