Downtown Flower Program continues beautification efforts

Devra Sari Zabot of Chelsea City Studio had an idea to try and bring flowers to the downtown business district on Broadway.

Zabot brought her idea – the Downtown Flower Program – to city official Mimi Graney who suggested consulting with DPW Commssioner Fidel Maltez about the project. Graney also developed the idea of re-purposing the food distribution containers into planters.

Maltez brought Chelsea Police Department Community Engagement Specialist Dan Cortez on board, and bolstered by Cortez’s excellent community outreach efforts to local storeowners and residents, the project began to gain momentum.

“The idea was originally to plant flowers and bring some cheer into downtown during the pandemic,” said Zabot.

Zabot, sister of City Councillor Naomi Zabot, thanked the city for supporting the Downtown Flower Program since mid-July. She is hoping to secure grants and sustainability for the program in the coming year.

Following are some of the remarks of the key community leaders and volunteers in the Downtown Flower Program:

Celeste Williams

Chestnut Street, Chelsea, MA

“The plants bring life to the city and with proper care they will thrive for months . Plus a planting program brings the community together.  It was great seeing everyone excited about the Beautification of the downtown area.”

David Therrien

High Street, Chelsea, MA 

“I found a passion for landscaping when I purchased my home in Chelsea back in 2015. I saw how flowers and shrubs changed the appearance of the house. I find planting to be therapeutic. Also, this year my neighbor and I grew a large vegetable garden together so when I saw Devra was looking for help planting around downtown, I didn’t think twice.

“Having a downtown full of flowers shows others that the community/local businesses really care about the appearance of the downtown. We hope that an improved look will drive more foot traffic to locations.”

Lisa Santagate

Shurtleff Street, 

“In 2010, I saw a notice in the Chelsea Record announcing a project sponsored by the City of Chelsea titled “Beauty and the Bus”.  Small beautification grants were being offered for those properties with a bus stop in front or adjacent. My home at 221 Shurtleff St. met the criteria and so I applied and was awarded some funds. (As a matter of fact, I was the only person who applied that year and for many years following!)

I got some plants for our window boxes and also decided to cultivate a flower berm in the tree pit directly in front of the house.  

Ten years later, the project is still going strong! I get tons of compliments and people always stop to say hello or beep their horns when I’m out front gardening.  It’s a busy intersection (where Shurtleff meets Broadway and Marlborough St.) with lots of pedestrian traffic and it looks so pretty now!”

Fidel Maltez

Commissioner of DPW

“The Department of Public Works has partnered with Chelsea leaders Devra Zabot and Celeste Williams and Dave Therrien to install beautiful planters throughout Broadway. We hope that this beautification project inspires store owners and residents to keep trash off the sidewalks and for them to take own their efforts. We know that keeping Chelsea clean requires that all pitch in and do our part, store owners, residents and visitors alike. This project will continue through the end of the year and we hope to do it again next year.”

Dan Cortez

Community Engagement Specialist

Chelsea Police Department

“The Chelsea Police Department through our Community Engagement is happy to support this great initiative. Driving the flower boxes on the back of my truck slowly down Broadway to drop them off at their locations is one of the best things I’ve done here.

“It’s amazing that these “pandemic pallets” that were used to bring emergency food to the city are now being re-purposed as these wonderful flower boxes. Devra took something that could’ve very well stayed an idea but made it happen. We are proud to be part of this effort to beautify Chelsea.”

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