Rather than spending top dollar to open a new community center in Chelsea, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino said the City should look to use existing avenues to bring more programs to residents of all ages.
Earlier this month, District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero asked Ambrosino to explore the possibility of the City building a community center and a homeless shelter to better serve Chelsea residents.
“With respect to the Community Center, I know this has been an aspiration for the City Council for quite some time,” stated Ambrosino. “The constraint truly is funding. If the City wishes to create a Community Center, it will need to make two significant financial commitments.”
Those commitments are the acquisition of a site and the long-term financial commitment to staff and equipment.
“The alternative to creating a brand new community center is to continue expanding programming within our existing Recreating & Cultural Affairs Department, utilizing school space that we currently have available,” according to Ambrosino. “I do believe that with the new space provided by the Clark Avenue Middle School, this may be a more cost effective means for accomplishing the Council’s goals.”
District 7 Councillor Yamir Rodriguez agreed with Ambrosino’s assessment.
“The community center has been a big topic for a lot of us here, but it does come down to money,” said Rodriguez. “As Tom said, we can use a lot of the resources we have now.”
The city building and operating its own homeless shelter would also require a substantial financial output, according to Ambrosino.
“The city would have to acquire the site, by lease or purchase, and then engage in what would likely be an extremely costly build out given the strict regulatory requirements applicable to shelters,” he said.
Ambrosino added that his lack of enthusiasm for a shelter should not be taken as a lack of empathy for the plight of the city’s homeless. He said Chelsea currently spends considerable resources for this population, through its direct service contracts with CAPIC and North Suffolk, as well as through weekly HUB roundtables and support for the daily resource center that operates from Iglesia La Luz De Cristo.
“I feel these efforts are both significant and, at the moment, adequate to handle the relatively small number of truly homeless individuals present in our city.”
•In other business, Ambrosino updated the Council on increased police patrols in Sector 4 of the city, as requested by Recupero and District 4 Councillor Enio Lopez.
He presented the Council with a memorandum from Police Chief Brian Kyes highlighting “impact patrols” conducted in Sector 4 during the last quarter of 2019.
“A total of 579 such patrols occurred in Sector 4 during that period,” Ambrosino stated. “According to Chief Kyes, ‘impact patrols’ are short term patrols of anywhere from 15-30 minutes, on foot, intended to have a visible impact on the area.”
The summary prepared by Kyes showed a drop in robberies and motor vehicle breaking and entering from the third to the fourth quarter of 2019 in Sector 4, and a small increase of breaking and entering to buildings (from nine to 10) in that quarter.
Lopez said there is still an issue with crime in the area and there is a need for more patrols along areas such as Marlboro and Essex Streets.
•New District 1 Councillor Todd Taylor introduced several orders regarding traffic congestion in the Prattville section of the city.
One order asks the Traffic and Parking Commission to look into resolving the extreme traffic backups on Washington Avenue and Route 16, whether by changing the lane configuration or adding more time at the set of lights. He also wants the Commission to look into placing a sign at the intersection of Garfield and Sagamore that reads “No Blocking the Intersection. $150 Fine.”
•New District 3 Councillor Naomi Zabot introduced an order asking the City Manager to look into the purchase of tables, cases, keyboards, and styluses for each of the City Councillors. Lopez moved the order to a second reading, cutting off any debate on the issue on Monday night.