The City Council approved a $600,000 grant on Dec. 21 at its last regular meeting of the year that will help establish a regional North Suffolk Resilience and Sustainability Office at Chelsea City Hall. The program provides $600,000 to the City over three years, and would be in collaboration with Winthrop and Revere – overseeing environmental sustainability, climate resiliency and energy policy within the three communities.
The Council voted 8-0 to approve the grant, and to also commit to funding the office beyond the three-year grant. “I hope to hire the first two employees for the office in the spring,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “That will be in conjunction with Revere and Winthrop, but the office will be in Chelsea City Hall.”
The office will be governed by a board made up of members from all three communities and it will be funded fully by the grant in the first three years. An extensive presentation on the new collaboration was given by Ambrosino to the Council in November.
•STREET LIGHT UPGRADES It was some years ago that Councillor Giovanni Recupero asked that the streetlights be turned up to the brightest setting, as he believed they were too dim. As it turned out, he was right, but even the brightest setting wasn’t enough to illuminate the City’s neighborhoods properly. City Manager Tom Ambrosino told the Council on Dec. 21 that streetlights on Library, Bellingham, Highland, Cottage and others were turned up to the brightest setting shortly after he arrived. However, even the brightest setting on the old lamps wasn’t bright enough to fully illuminate the streets. So, in 2018, he said they began a program to replace the old lamps with new, better-quality street lamps. They invested $50,000 in 2018, and $180,000 in 2019, and they are still working on a $400,000 investment voted in by the Council this year. Ambrosino said they should be done with the program by spring 2021, and there is still room for councillors to request the brighter lighting.
•WELCOME TO… City Manager Ambrosino reported that they are in the process of moving forward on a Welcome to Chelsea sign for near the McArdle Bridge at the intersection of Pearl Street and Marginal. Councillor Giovanni Recupero had requested earlier this fall that the location get a sign like other entry-points to the city, and many agreed with the request. Ambrosino said he also agreed, and they had a plan for that corner, but it had been delayed. Eastern Minerals was going to include the sign on their property when they renovated that corner, but unfortunately the renovations were delayed – and with them the sign. Now, Ambrosino said he’s working to get a sign on that corner even without the improvements from Eastern.
•CENTRAL AVE PROJECT The City Council took the first step in transferring surplus funds from an old project on Admiral’s Hill to close the gap in funding for design of the infrastructure at the Innes Apartments Re-Development project. Ambrosino identified $126,000 in surplus funds from a pump station project that was undertaken in 2014 on Admiral’s Hill, and proposed to the Council it be used to fund the remaining portion of infrastructure upgrades at Innes. The massive Chelsea Housing Authority public-private mixed income development is in the process of final design, and the City is responsible for designing street and utility improvements there. The surplus monies would close a gap in the funding and set that project moving forward.
•MUNICIPAL HARBOR PLAN The City has submitted its Municipal Harbor Plan to the state for departmental review and for an upcoming public hearing process in the new year. The Secretary of Environmental Affairs for the state is expected to set a public hearing, followed by a comment period on the Plan. He is expected to render a decision on the plan within six month. The Municipal Harbor Plan has been ongoing since 2018, and will help the City get more use out of its waterfront, Ambrosino said. He said that zoning changes to the area will allow more uses of the waterfront and development in the areas that are not part of the Designated Port Area (DPA). Meanwhile, he said with a Harbor Plan, there is more flexibility for the City to do things in the DPA that it cannot do without a Plan – such as open spaces or a HarborWalk.
•CONDOLENCES TO COUNCILLOR RECUPERO Members of the Council paused on Dec. 21 to offer condolences to Councillor Recupero, who was absent due to the sudden and tragic loss of his daughter, Liz (Recupero) Giron – of Revere. She passed unexpectedly on Dec. 19, and left three children. All councillors wished him their deepest condolences and encouraged others to send him cards and well-wishes.