New City Position Would Help Assist Youth Sports League and Boost Athletic Partnerships

A new municipal position will oversee athletic programs in Chelsea, as well as work to create partnerships with regional sports teams, and explore possible public-private partnerships that could lead to a new community center. The new position would initially be funded through ARPA federal Covid relief funds and the position, titled Director of Special Projects – Public Private Partnerships, Athletic Infrastructure, and Sports Tourism, will report directly to City Manager Fidel Maltez. The impetus for the new position stems from the new city council youth sports subcommittee and the request from the council for the city to look into funding for a city-wide athletic director position. “Our Deputy City Manager of Operations and HHS Director have explored this master, have met with several Councilors, and have met with staff of our Recreation team,” stated Maltez. In addition, city staff have met with local communities to see how their recreation staff is arranged and have also met with various community groups to hear their concerns on the matter. “Through these conversations, we have learned of the huge impact that the Covid pandemic had on our athletic infrastructure,” stated Maltez. “Before the pandemic, Chelsea had thriving sports leagues with significant success in multiple sports.” The mandatory shutdown in 2020 took many of the city’s leagues out of commission, Maltez said, and decreased leadership in sports, making it harder for the leagues to return. “Several of our leagues are just starting to emerge,” Maltez stated. “Everyone we spoke to believes that leagues should run as stand-alone entities, separate from the city. However, the city has to play a role in getting the leagues instituted and transitioned to independent leaders.” Maltez said the city needs to provide some start-up funding, support with registration, professional advice, training for coaches, support for parents, and other critical needs for the leagues to stand on their own. A second recurring theme in the conversations was the lack of open space in Chelsea, putting a heavy burden on city staff to distribute available space strategically. “We recently explored the possibility of building a dome over Highland Park, and were shocked that it would cost $10 million to do so,” stated Maltez. “While this particular solution did not work, it is an example of the creative thinking we must undertake to solve this open space problem.” One potential solution Maltez mentioned was to leverage all available spaces in the city, noting that it has a partnership with the Salvation Army on Chestnut Street to use its basketball courts for events. Councilors have also shared a desire for the community to establish closer relationships with regional sports teams such as the Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox, and Bruins, Maltez added. “A community group in Chelsea recently established a relationship with the New England Revolution, a team that might be located close to Chelsea in the near future,” said Maltez. “Our community has the dream of building a community center. We need a dedicated staff member that can drive this process, and explore public-private partnerships that might reduce construction or operating costs.” The new Director of Special Projects position will need to have a close relationship with the school system, and Maltez said that will be a priority in the hiring and onboarding process. All staff in the current recreation department, including the director, will report to the new hire. “We expect this position to be posted in June,” said Maltez. “We will create a hiring committee for this position and will select the most qualified person to fill this exciting and transformative role.”

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