Guest Op-Ed: We Can Enjoy Outdoor Events Without Them Becoming Quality of Life Concerns

By Councillor Naomi Zabot

The music coming from the car wash during the times where people gather socially has been an ongoing issue.  As a city councillor and a neighbor directly impacted by the excessively loud music that lasts for hours, I felt that it was my responsibility to help mitigate the situation as I am not the only neighbor affected by the noise.  For some perspective on the context of what I referred to as “loud music,” the noise almost sounds like a stadium-sized concert was happening at the car wash.  A secondary concern is the car wash licensed for the types of gatherings held there?
The wording I used in my post alerting my constituents and the city at large was insensitive.  I understand and respect that while an event that, for some, can be perceived as one on par with a noise complaint, the same event could possibly be a social or cultural gathering.
And while the topic concerning the Licensing Board meeting wasn’t the focal point of my post, I believe it is imperative that we hear the voices from all members of our community. Part of my goal in mentioning the Licensing Board meeting was to bring awareness to the event, so that residents were aware ahead of time. In some past instances, some residents only heard about these types of meetings after they took place.
Our city is changing in amazing ways and the community is becoming more inclusive and diverse, strengthening our community with culture, achievement, and families of all backgrounds. This past year has been difficult for so many of us, and being in a public office, I understand that I may be on the receiving end of public discourse. And, while some of the language directed at me in Facebook posts were hurtful (including sexist and anti-Semitic comments), I remain committed to representing all of the residents in my district and advocating for everyone’s quality of life. This is a wonderful city and so are its residents. There are many changes and developments that have been taking place here in Chelsea over the past few years and with change, often comes growth, both inwardly and externally, as a community. I embrace the opportunity to grow with the city of Chelsea, the district I represent, and to advocate for the quality of life that families hope for. I want Chelsea residents to know that I hear them and respect them. I believe we can continue to voice our thoughts with understanding and respect for one another, as this is what will help us to continue to make important progress.
I chose to remove the post from the “Chelsea MA What’s Happening” group page on Facebook because much of the conversation devolved into commentary that was not appropriate for the community page.  I did keep the post up on my city councilor page for anyone who wanted to share their thoughts and I am aware that there were additional threads on the pages of other groups and individuals where the conversation continued. The reality is that my post might have been confusing to some constituents who read it, and I sincerely hope to clarify my earlier comments. My main purpose in writing the original post was to advocate for the quality of life for my constituents and also for public safety. I want everyone to love where they live and be compassionate neighbors.
Over the last few days, I have met with people who have shared insight and given me the tools to course-correct as I move forward. I hope that we can find a resolution for the noise issues at the car wash. We don’t want the car wash closed down; to the contrary, we want people to have the space to enjoy themselves. I certainly do not want cultural activities to become “quality of life” concerns and bring further division to our diverse city. I believe we can enjoy outdoor events, be it local, cultural, family-oriented, large or small, without it becoming a quality of life concern. Our community is diverse, beautiful, and we care for one another. I will do my part to be more mindful of how my statements and the intention behind it may be misconstrued and will continue to emphasize my commitment to a more diverse and inclusive city.
I love this city and its culture, which is expressed in a variety of ways. People care very deeply about what happens here and that energy is invigorating. I know that many people were planning on attending the meeting or writing letters to be read at the meeting. This kind of participation is key to the success of the city and I do hope people show up and participate in the process so that we have an inclusive conversation.

Naomi Zabot is a Chelsea City Councillor and represents District 3 in Chelsea.

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