2018: A Year in Review


Walsh Sworn in to    Second Term

Mayor Martin Walsh takes the Oath of Office from state Supreme Judicial Court Justice Kimberly Budd on Jan. 1, at Cutler Majestic Theatre. Looking on are former Vice President Joe Biden, Mary Walsh (the mayor’s mother) and Lorrie Higgins.

In front of a packed audience at the Cutler Majestic Theater in Boston, Mayor Martin Walsh took the Oath of Office for the second time as Mayor of Boston and vowed to expand the city’s school lunch pilot program that began in East Boston to all Boston Public Schools. Walsh was administered the oath for his second term by Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Kimberly Budd with former Vice President Joseph Biden presiding over the ceremony.

One program Walsh touched upon in his speech is the widely successful school lunch pilot program that began in Eastie last year. The program aims to bring freshly prepared school lunches to students instead of the current program that is mostly frozen prepackaged processed lunches that are simply heated up by school cafeteria staff.

“We’re also going to scale up our new food pilot program that’s working at East Boston High School (EBNHS) , the Kennedy School, the Bradley School, and East Boston Early Education Center, until every student gets at least two fresh, nutritious meals, every day, all across the district,” said Walsh.

For thousands of low-income students, school lunch is the lion’s share of nutrition students get during the day.

City Councilor Lydia Edwards sworn in for   first term

Lydia Edwards stepped up on Jan. 1, to be inaugurated with the Council and Mayor Martin Walsh in a grand ceremony at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in downtown Boston New Year’s Day morning.

“I am honored and excited to serve with humility and compassion,” she said following the ceremony. “We have the best opportunity to lead the city in how to get big things done while not forgetting our history or character of our neighborhoods. “

“It’s still very surreal,” she said following the Council meeting at noon, which followed the inauguration on Monday. “It was amazing how it all happened and it’s so easy to get caught up in the pomp and circumstance. However, afterward, when we were here at City Hall before the meeting, I met a woman who was serving coffee in the Green Room. She said hello to me and told me that she had voted for me. It turns out she is a Latina woman from East Boston and she was at work on New Year’s Day. It made me see that here was a hard-working woman who came out to work on a cold day, on New Year’s Day, when most aren’t working. It said something about hard-working people who show up on a day like this. I’m here to work for them.”

Bomb Cyclone’ Floods Parts of Eastie

East Bostonians can take the snow, wind, frigid cold and space savers, but a new element has been added into the wintery mix that may be something residents here might have to get used to as the sea level rises.

January’s ‘Bomb Cyclone’ that brought heavy snow and wind to the Northeast also brought flooding to Eastie’s waterfront.

Portside at Pier I, the Shipyard and Marina, Clippership Wharf and Liberty Plaza all experienced a good amount of flooding as the Boston Harbor spilled over into the neighborhood, and made waterfront developments like Portside look like a floating cruise ship.

For the very first time in Boston since record-keeping began in 1921, the water level reached 15.16 feet on Jan 4, 2018. This is above flood stage, the level at which flooding occurred, and caused significant tidal flooding in many waterfront parts of Boston-including Eastie.

“I waded into more than 18 inches of cold Atlantic water (on the street) near Portside at East Pier and about a foot of water at the marina,” said Kennan Thiruvengadam, who has been working with East Boston Neighborhood of Affordable Housing on climate change issues and strategies. “There was also more than a foot of water at the intersection of Marginal and South Bremen streets.”

Michael Triant Named Salesian Boys & Girls Club Executive Director

East Boston native and Savio Prep graduate Michael Triant was named the new Executive Director of the Salesian Boys & Girls Club at the board’s December meeting. Triant, who worked for the past 17 years for the Boston Center for Youth and Families as an administrator, started Monday at the Club, taking over the reigns from Father John Nazzaro.

“Once I heard of this opportunity,  as a kid who grew up in East Boston, as a kid who graduated Savio, as a kid that went to the Boys & Girls Club, I wondered if it could become a reality,” said Triant, a husband and father of three who now lives in Winthrop with his family. “Once the ball started rolling and it became more and more of a possibility it wasn’t even a choice at that point I had to do it.”

Triant, 38, who grew up on Faywood Avenue was raised like many other kids of his generation in Eastie.

“I was played basketball at the Marty Pino Center every afternoon, I got involved in the house leagues through Johnny Forbes at the Boys & Girls Club where I made friends that are still my friends today,” said Triant.

What always impressed Triant about the Salesians was the level of commitment the staff had to the kids.

“You had guys like (the late) Wally Bowe that were so influential on the lives of kids I grew up with and kids that were older than me,” said Triant. “I was fortunate that I grew up in a stable home with two parents, but there were so many kids at the Salesians what didn’t have that.”


NU Chapter:Katz is Closing His Tire and Auto Repair Business

Bob Katz, owner of Nu-Tread Tire and Auto Service in East Boston, is closing up his store today,  concluding his distinguished 46-year career in the industry.

Bob Katz, owner of Nu-Tread Tire and Auto Service, is pictured at his store that is closing today after 85 years of continuous service in East Boston.

Katz, a 2017 inductee in New England Tire and Service Association (NETSA) Hall of Fame, said he is in the process of selling his property located at 1 Boardman St.

“I would like to thank all my customers, vendors, and everybody with whom I’ve done business for the 36 years that I’ve been running this place,” said the 70-year-old Katz, a Winthrop resident.

The store, which was originally owned by Bob’s father, the late Irving Katz, opened in 1933 in Day Square, East Boston, before moving to Bennington Street. Nu-Tread has been in its present location since 1954. Interestingly, Irving Katz will be inducted posthumously in to the NETSA Hall of Fame in April.

Bob Katz started at Nu-Tread Tire in 1960 as a youth working after school at his father’s store. At the suggestion of his father to learn more about the automotive end of the business, he took a position at Goodyear Tire. He became the owner of Nu-Tread Tire in 1982.

Craft Table and Bar Opens at the Former Ecco

After a week of promoting the restaurant that has replaced Ecco, which closed last year, owner of Craft Table & Bar on Porter Street couldn’t have been more happy with the turnout during the new restaurant’s grand opening.

Frank Peace, CEO of New England Craft Restaurant Concepts, who owns several restaurants and coffee houses between Boston and Worcester was busy Friday night greeting the hundreds of customers that turned out for the restaurant’s launch.

Craft Table & Bar is a nod to the Porter Street location’s past successful restaurants. The inside remains sleek like Ecco, but has been made brighter and roomier and the legendary wall signed by Boston sports legends like Bobby Orr and Larry Bird that was a piece of local history that dates back to the location’s Sablone’s days has been preserved.

Massport Sends Out RFP for Piers Park Phase III

The dilapidated pier adjacent to Piers Park, and also the future Piers Park II is being eyed by Massport as the future site of a third waterfront park.

In February Massport announced it has sent out a Request for Proposals (RFP) hoping that developers will come forward to turn the aging pier into a 3.6 acre greenspace dubbed ‘Piers Park III’. According to Massport’s RFP the Port Authority is asking that proposals include resiliency features to help protect the neighborhood from flooding and sea level rise.

“Today’s announcement is the first step in creating another vibrant public space for our neighbors in East Boston; one that we hope will be as popular as Piers Park has been and that will also include protections against flooding and sea level rise,” said Massport CEO Thomas Glynn. “The activation of East Boston’s waterfront for its residents has been a long time coming and Massport is proud to play a part in this exciting new era for the neighborhood.”

Anthony “Tony the Kid” Barrasso Honored on his 100th Birthday

Those who know 100-year-old Anthony “Tony the Kid” Barrasso will tell you the tough World War II veteran still has a lot of fire in his belly as he reached a special birthday milestone at the Don Orione Nursing Home in East Boston.

Barrasso, a WWII veteran who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and in General George Patton’s Army, was all smiles last week as elected officials and veterans representatives turned out wish him a happy birthday during a special celebration at the nursing home.

Citations, an American flag that once flew over the White House, veterans pins and other gifts were presented to Barrasso from the likes of Rep. Adrian Madaro, City Councilor Lydia Edwards, VA Boston Healthcare System Director Vincent Ng, Chief of Geriatrics and Extended Care Service Line of VA Boston Healthcare System Dr. Steven Simon, Mass Secretary of Veterans Services Francisco A. Urena, and the Don Orione Executive Director Tom Lynch.

The adult daycare room was filled to capacity with Barrasso’s friends and family as well as Don Orione staff and residents to watch Barrasso, dressed in patriotic red, white and blue receive the 100th birthday celebration he deserved.

Buddy’ Mangini Sworn in for Second Term as EBCC President

In front of a packed crowd at the Hilton Garden Inn,  Albert ‘Buddy’ Mangini took the oath of office for the second time as the East Boston Chamber of Commerce president.

Albert ‘Buddy’ Mangini is sworn in to his second term as Chamber President by Councilor Lydia Edwards.

Mangini, a longtime neighborhood business and civic leader, was administered the oath by Councilor Lydia Edwards to kick off his second term as Chamber president.

After taking the oath Mangini addressed Chamber members and business leaders present at the dinner.

“Our neighborhood will always be connected with the rest of the the city in a meaningful way,” Mangini began. “Perseverance, pride and strength are firmly planted in our genes. The mission of the East Boston Chamber of Commerce has been to inspire economic growth in East Boston by strengthening our neighborhood’s competitive position and facilitating investments that build capacity, generate prosperity and catalyze the economic vibrancy of the city as a whole.”

BPDA Approves Suffolk Downs Phase I Plans

 The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) approved HYM Investment Group, LLC’s Suffolk Downs Phase I proposal at its February meeting.

Phase I of the Suffolk Downs project involves building on a one million square foot portion of the 161-acre site that would house Amazon offices close to the Suffolk Downs MBTA Blue Line station.

According to the BPDA, Suffolk Downs Phase I includes 520,000 sq. ft. of office space within two 260,000 sq. ft. buildings with supporting corporate space on the ground floor. Both buildings will be approximately 124 feet tall and will include terraced outdoor spaces with a landscaped, open-air walkway between the two buildings. The two buildings will share approximately 500 parking spaces.

HYM Managing Partner Thomas O’Brien said at last week’s BPDA meeting that about 12-acres of existing open space that is part of the Phase I portion of the project would be untouched while about an acre and a half of new open space would be created as part of the proposal. This would include pedestrian access to the MBTA Blue Line station.

East Boston Social Centers Celebrates 100 Years in the Community

  In 1918 the East Boston Social Centers was founded during the Settlement House movement. The Settlement House movement was a reformist social movement that tried to bridge the gap between the upper and middle class and poor immigrants living in urban areas.

“The Social Centers was born during that era,” said EBSC’s Executive Director Justin Pasquariello. “The most famous Settlement House was founded in Chicago by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr in the late 1880s. The idea was to bring upper and middle-class social workers into urban areas to live while providing social service needs and public health to the poor living in the city.”

In 2018 EBSC celebrated 100 years in the community.

“Settlement houses were founded to do many things for many people,” said historian Kyle Ingrid Johnson. “Most nonprofits are started with a single goal in mind–think American Cancer Society or the MSPCA–but settlement houses, although defining their population within a small geographic area, always performed – and continue to perform – many different kinds of programs and services. These changed with the coming and going of local residents and their specific needs and interests.”

For six months Johnson has been immersed in the archives of EBSC playing first “Nancy Drew” and then “Sherlock Holmes” as she tries to track down what happened where – and when – between 1918 and now.

“I love history, “ said Johnson, “And I love East Boston more and more with each document I read, every person I talk with, and each new revelation I uncover.”

The goal of her project is to complete a short written history of EBSC, as well as to compile a timeline with dates corresponding to major agency changes and events.

“EBSC was incorporated 100 years ago in 1918, its beginnings growing from the Goodwill House located then at 177-179 Webster Street,” said Johnson. “The Goodwill House (alternately known as the House of Good Will) was originally funded by the Massachusetts Home Missionary Society, an organization founded in 1807 showing us a longtime historical trend of people helping others in Massachusetts.”

ISD’s New Housing Program Launches in East Boston

Last year,  Boston Inspectional Service Department (ISD) Commissioner William Christopher made the rounds at East Boston community meetings to drum up support for a new pilot program his department was proposing. Christopher told residents that Eastie was picked as one of three neighborhoods to take part in the city’s Additional Dwelling Unit (ADU) pilot program.

Christopher said the proposed program was ISD’s way to respond to all the high-end condos going up across the neighborhood. The city found that a lot of larger older building in Eastie could accommodate an additional unit without coming outside the building’s footprint. This means no additions, no raised roofs, no structural changes of any kind but the opportunity for owner occupied homeowners, like empty nesters, to make a little extra cash and remain in the neighborhood.

At a community meeting, ISD’s Omar Khoshafa said the department is ready to launch the pilot program in Eastie. Khoshafa said the department is currently engaged in a reach-out campaign in the neighborhood to get homeowners interested in the program and see whether they qualify.

“We believe East Boston residents will be prime beneficiaries of this program,” said Khoshafa. “This program will allow certain homeowners here add another unit to their homes without going through the lengthy variance process thereby allowing them to increase their rental income while aging in place.”


Conley Not to Seek Re-Election as DA

On what was his 16th anniversary in the office of District Attorney, Dan Conley surprised many by announcing he would not run for the office again.

Simply put, the former prosecutor turned City Councilor turned DA, said he believed it was time to let others have a chance to run the county-wide office – an office that covers East Boston, Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop.

“I love the job, the office, its staff, and the people and communities we serve,” said Conley in a statement. “But I have long believed that those of us fortunate enough to lead as elected officials must also be willing to give others the same opportunity. For this reason, I will not be seeking re-election this fall.”

NOAH Picked to Develop Condor Street DND Site

The Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) announced that it has picked the East Boston Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) as the designated developer of a city-owned parcel on Condor Street across from the Hess Site.

Following a series of community meetings with the Eagle Hill Civic Association (EHCA) where DND officials got feedback from residents on what type of project the community would like to see at the site DND sent out an RFP. In it, the city asked interested parties to come up with plans that included affordable housing that includes a substantial amount of units for artists living and workspace.

“NOAH is very excited to learn that our team has been selected as the designated developer by the City for the three Condor Street parcels,” said NOAH’s Executive Director Phil Giffee. “We worked hard to listen to the community about their needs and desires for this artist preferred housing. Our architects, East Boston’s own Joy Street Design, created a very attractive, accessible yet practical layout, which will accommodate the needs of artists and non-artists alike. There will be both privacy and hospitable community spaces for the residents and visitors.”

Giffee said NOAH will partner with the East Boston Community Development Corporation (CDC) to create a 41-unit project that includes a mixed-use, mixed-income, ownership/rental housing and gallery spaces for Eastie artist community and community at­ large.

Mayor Walsh Adds Second Ambulance to East Boston

A bone of contention for decades in East Boston is the fact that the neighborhood has had only one dedicated ambulance stationed. With Eastie geographic isolation from the rest of Boston, coupled with the fact that the only dedicated Boston EMS ambulance is routinely called to serve Logan International Airport, residents have clamored for quite some time for a second ambulance.

The chorus of demands for a second ambulance here has gotten louder in the community over the past year after Eastie residents Steve Holt waited nearly 20 minutes for a Boston EMS ambulance while his daughter suffered a seizure at their Jeffries Point home.

Mayor Martin Walsh said he has heard enough of long wait times some Eastie residents, especially the sick and elderly, are reporting when it comes to Boston EMS and ordered a second dedicated ambulance to be stationed in the neighborhood.

Walsh said he will use overtime funds to pay for the second ambulance in Eastie for the remainder of this Fiscal Year. The ambulance began service in Eastie on March 12.

Then, as part of the City’s Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget that will be formally submitted in April, Walsh has earmarked funds to have the second ambulance permanently stationed in the neighborhood through a deal with Massport.

As operators of Logan Airport, which utilizes ambulance services in East Boston, Massport has committed to providing a second bay for ambulance in Eastie to further the shared goal of reducing ambulance response times.


Project Bread Kicks Off 50th Celebration with a Walk for Hunger May 6

East Boston-based Project Bread, a leading statewide organization committed to preventing and ending hunger for Massachusetts residents of all ages, kicked off its 50th celebration at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul. Mayor Marty Walsh and Congressman Jim McGovern spoke out against hunger in partnership with Project Bread, and announced the 50th Walk for Hunger and 5K Run, which will take place on Sunday, May 6, on Boston Common.

The Walk for Hunger is the oldest pledge walk in the nation. It began in 1969 as a grassroots movement organized by a small group from The Paulist Center who saw the negative effects of hunger on their community and took action to raise money for local anti-hunger organizations. The Walk will raise funds for community programs that help the one in 10 Massachusetts residents who are food-insecure, including food pantries, meal programs, community health center programs, farm and garden initiatives, food rescue programs, and child nutrition programs. The walk has since become a staple of the area, with thousands participating each year.

“Food is the most basic of human rights and we work in partnership with community organizations to provide access to food, through funds raised by the walk support our community partners that provide access,” said Project Bread President Erin McAleer.

Mayor to Expand East Boston School Lunch Pilot Program

Mayor Martin Walsh called the school lunch pilot program that began last year in East Boston, where fresh food is cooked onsite on a daily basis using healthy ingredients, a ‘game changer’.

Through a partnership with the Shah Family Foundation, four Boston Public Schools (BPS) in Eastie have been enjoying freshly prepared lunches like Baja fish tacos, BBQ chicken, freshly cooked veggies and salads throughout the school year with the help of renowned Chef Ken Oringer.

In 2018 Walsh toured the Bradley School’s ‘My Way Cafe’ and announced that he will be expanding the pilot program to 30 additional BPS schools in the city.

The pilot program used what Walsh called the ‘Hub and Spoke’ model. This model utilized East Boston High School’s already-constructed in-service kitchens to prep food for nearby schools in Eastie that did not have such kitchens.

Through a grant from the Shah Family Foundation, EBHS replaced its older warming ovens used to heat plastic-wrapped food with Welbilt ‘combi-ovens’ that can not only reheat, but cook and steam foods. The school also received freezers, a refrigerator, and three basin sinks.

This new kitchen allowed EBHS to cook freshly prepared foods not only for students there, also but for the East Boston Early Education Center, Bradley Elementary, and Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary. The three other Eastie schools were retrofitted with hybrid-model kitchens to cook and serve food on-site for students.

Chef Oringer, whose restaurants include Toro, Coppa, and Little Donkey, worked with EBHS  Food and Nutrition staff and students to come up with recipes that students would enjoy.

MBTA to Fund Red Line Blue Line Connector Study

Linking the only two MBTA train lines that have no connection has been something residents in East Boston and surrounding communities have been asking and waiting for since the 1970s. The Red Line/Blue Line Connector has long been a bone of contention between the neighborhood and the state ever since the Commonwealth reneged on its commitment to build the connector as part of Big Dig mitigation.

While advocacy from residents and local elected officials to get the connector built has fallen on deaf ears ever since the project was promised as part of the Big Dig, it seems now the interest of a multibillion company in Boston has lit a fire under the MBTA to get the job done.

MBTA Spokesman Joe Pesaturo announced that the T has paid $50,000 to hire engineering from VHB to begin a three-month study on the feasibility of the Red Line/Blue Line Connector.

The T has cited significant development in Eastie and Revere as reasons to reexamine the stalled connector project. While there is no commitment from Gov. Charlie Baker on funding the long awaited connector the possibility of Amazon landing at Suffolk Downs, as well as hundreds of new housing units being built and proposed in Eastie and Revere has led to renewed interest in the project by the MBTA.

The project would extend the Blue Line approximately 1,500 feet to make a connection with the Charles/MGH Station on the Red Line.

Boston East Opens

The highly anticipated East Boston waterfront development project has officially opened in 2018

The lobby at Boston East designed by Cortney and Robert Novogratz– a Los Angeles-based husband and wife design team who have conceived some of the most unique living spaces across the country.

Following several delays and the economic downturn in 2008 there was a level of uncertainty in the community for several years for the East Boston Community Development Corporation (CDC) owned the development that was permitted back in the mid-2000s.

However,  financing finally came through for the $71 million boutique luxury residential project at the Boston East Site, a former 19th century ship building yard on Border Street. .

Managed by Trinity Financial Boston East is now following in the footsteps of other successful waterfront development projects in the neighborhood. With projects like Clippership Wharf selling out prior to the actual opening of the development, it was no surprise Boston East was 25 percent leased before opening this month.

Located directly on Boston Harbor and in close proximity to Downtown Boston and the MBTA, Boston East is a boutique, mid-rise residential community that features 200 units, including six artist live-work-sell units and a community art gallery.

The interiors of Boston East’s common spaces and residential units were created by Cortney and Robert Novogratz – a Los Angeles-based husband-and-wife design team who have conceived some of the most unique living spaces across the country. The Novogratzes, who are known for their unique taste and style, have been showcased several times on HGTV.

Liana LaMattina Leaves Post as Rep Madaro’s Legislative Aid

After three years serving as State Rep. Adrian Madaro’s Legislative Aide and running his successful campaign for state rep in 2015 Liana LaMattina announced she would be leaving Madaro’s office to focus on her last year of law school.

LaMattina and Madaro have been close friends since childhood and both attended Boston Latin School together.

In 2015 former Rep. Carlo Basile announced he was leaving office to work in Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration and a special election was scheduled for March of that year.

Only 23 years old at the time, LaMattina was tapped by Madaro to run his campaign for the state rep seat. Just one year removed from her graduation from Boston University where she received a degree in Business Management with a concentration in Organizational Behavior, LaMattina became an organizational dynamo for the campaign.

“Both Adrian and I went all in,” she told the East Boston Times in 2015 after Madaro’s win. “And especially with Adrian being a close, personal friend of mine, I really wanted to give it my all.”

LaMattina assumed command of many responsibilities including organizing Madaro’s daily schedule and volunteers, and coordinating efforts with Sage Systems on such important aspects as the graphics for campaign signs, newspaper advertisement, campaign literature, political canvassing, and events.


Piers Park Sailing Center Kicks off 20th Sailing Season

In May a crowd had gathered at Piers Park to celebrate the opening of Piers Park Sailing Center’s 20th sailing season.

For two decades the non-profit community sailing facility on Eastie’s waterfront that offers free programs to neighborhood youth has been taking kids off the streets and into productive programming. The center has built a population of confident youth with social and leadership skills that connect them to their natural environment, their community and to each other. Throughout the sailing season kids work closely with instructors, and learn everything from sailing basics to advanced racing, boat maintenance, and navigation. Besides learning to sail, kids learn how to work as a team, build self-confidence, gain leadership and character skills, and develop a deeper appreciation for the sea and its natural surroundings.

“Sailing is fun,” said PPSC Executive Director Alex DeFronzo Saturday. “It makes us brave, it makes us fearful, it makes us respect mother nature.  It makes us take control, sometimes it takes away our control, and it makes us respect each other. To the instructors that taught me, and to the students that I taught, and to the students that they now are teaching, never forget what a great thing we have here. To all of the brave souls who’ve taken the helm over the years and sailed the waters of our beautiful harbor, thank you for helping keep us afloat.”

Chief of Probation Thomas Tassinari Honored at East Boston Law Day

East Boston District Court Chief of Probation Thomas Tassinari, who retired this year after a stellar career, was honored at Eastie’s Law Day celebration at the courthouse.

Tassinari, who came over to Eastie’s courthouse from Chelsea’s probation department following the retirement of former Chief of Probation Dave Arinella in 2012, was presented with the Judge Joseph Ferrino Community Service Award.

Judge John McDonald surprised Tassinari as he called in the longtime chief of probation’s friends and family and announced the award.

After the announcement the courtroom erupted in thunderous applause.

McDonald said that Tassinari had become one of his closest confidants in the courthouse.

“He has become my best friend, someone that I go to not only for personal but professional advice, someone that I look up to with regard to his commitment and his passion for this community,” said McDonald. “I just want to thank him personally for everything he has done for me, the court and this community.”

For his part Tassinari said he was honored and overwhelmed by the honor.

“I want to thank everyone here, but I want to give a special thanks to Judge Joseph Ferrino who told me when I was 14 years old that I had to help the community and that is when I started to do things to help the community,” he said. “I can’t really explain what an honor this is for me tonight. I knew something was up because I ordered the plaque for Katie (O’Leary) and the Judge kept telling me it hadn’t arrived yet.”

Eastie’s Tania Del Rio Tapped to Head Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement

East Boston resident Tania Del Rio, known for her work locally with the Veronica Robles Cultural Center and Excel Academy Charter School, was appointed by Mayor Martin Walsh to head the Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement.

As the office’s new executive director, Del Rio will oversee and coordinate initiatives to promote equal rights and equal economic, social, political and educational opportunities for all women and girls throughout Boston.

The Office of Women’s Advancement was established by Mayor Walsh in 2014 to take a leadership position on issues impacting women, both on a local and national scale. The office is best known for its first-in-the-nation, multi-pronged approach to measuring and closing the gender wage gaps in Boston.

Del Rio, who currently serves as the Diversity Outreach Officer in the City’s Office of Diversity, is the first Latina to lead the office and began her new job in June.


City launches planning initiative in East Boston

In June Mayor Martin Walsh announced East Boston was chosen as one of five neighborhoods that will be part of Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) planning initiative. Eastie will join Mattapan, Newmarket, Allston-Brighton and Downtown in an Imagine Boston 2030-guided effort to ‘preserve, enhance and grow’ the neighborhood.

According to Walsh,  city officials will work closely with Eastie community groups, community leaders and other stakeholders to ensure decisions made by the city are following the guiding principles of “preserves wisely, enhances equitably, and grows inclusively”. 

“Over the last four years, we have set strong foundations in our planning efforts that will guide our growth as a city in a way that is responsible and inclusive, for many years into the future,” said Walsh. “These four new planning processes represent a continuation of our commitment to fulfill the individual needs of each neighborhood that both preserve the distinct historic character, and allow for us as a community to plan together for our bright future ahead.”

As part of the initiative in Eastie a comprehensive planning will include a focus on balancing contextually-sensitive development alongside preservation. There will also be a focus on supporting existing residents and businesses through increased access to opportunity, affordability strategies, and anti-displacement policies.

Walsh said one of the highlights in Eastie will be improving the public realm and access to open space and neighborhood-serving amenities, addressing mobility challenges, and supporting neighborhood resiliency and preparing for climate change.  

John Nucci receives life saving kidney transplant

Life has come full circle for East Boston’s John Nucci and Kerri Abrams, who owns Kinship Florist in Revere.

Thirty-five years ago Abrams’ parents, Kim and Al, were political supporters and friends of Nucci. At the time neither Nucci nor the Abrams could have ever guessed nearly four decades later that Kim and Al’s daughter would donate her kidney to help save Nucci’s life.

Nucci announced Sunday to the East Boston Times that Abrams was a kidney donor match. Nucci, 66, suffers from Polycystic Kidney Disease, the same kidney disease that killed his dad at the age of 64. He and Abrams underwent the lifesaving kidney transplant surgery Tuesday.

“My kidneys went from 12 percent down to two percent since February,” said an emotional Nucci on the eve of his surgery Monday evening. “Kerri is just an amazing and brave woman. To read about my story, step up and undergo all the testing and agreeing to go through with donating her kidney to me after she found out she was a match is something that is so moving to me and my family.”

In fact, when Nucci first met Abrams’ parents decades ago he was well aware that someday he would need a kidney transplant to save his life.

“Everything was finalized about a month ago,” said Nucci. “Testing continued right up until last week. We are both in good shape, we are both healthy but I still ask for everyone’s prayers.”

Nucci, Suffolk University’s Vice President of Governmental Affairs that also sits on the Massport board of directors, joked that if it wasn’t for a delayed flight at Logan Airport Abrams may have never come forward.

Mayor Walsh, Trinity, East Boston CDC and BHA cut ribbon on Phase I of the Orient Heights Public Housing Development

The first phase of the massive overhaul to replace the aging Orient Heights Public Housing Development with 331 modern units was completed in the spring.

Mayor Martin Walsh joined Boston Housing Authority (BHA) Administrator Bill McGonagle, representatives from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), MassHousing and the development team of Trinity Financial and East Boston Community Development Corporation to officially cut the ribbon and open the first 120 public housing units at Orient Heights.

“It’s great to be able to celebrate this important milestone reached at the redevelopment of Orient Heights, which when completed, will make 331 units of housing available to residents and families in East Boston,” said Walsh. “This project will significantly improve the facility for current and future tenants, and contributes to the City of Boston’s committed to creating more affordable housing for all. I thank everyone involved for their partnership as we work together to see this redevelopment through completion.”

Phase I included tearing down the old brick housing development and replacing the 90 units with 120 units of rental housing. The units are spread across four townhouse-style buildings and one mid-rise building.


Boys & Girls Club’s Fr. John Nazzaro to leave Eastie, receives new assignment from Salesian Provincial

Fr. John Nazzaro, who has been the face of the Salesian Boys & Girls Club in East Boston throughout his tenure, announced he would be leaving East Boston for a new assignment in New Jersey.

Provincial of the Salesians of St. John Bosco Fr. Tim Zak informed Fr. Nazzaro last that he will be transferred officially to Don Bosco Prep High in Ramsey, N.J. in August. 

Before assuming his new responsibilities, he will be attending classes at the Chicago Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois.

Fr. Nazzaro has been associated in a variety of responsibilities at the Salesian Boys & Girls Club in the past 35 years–as Executive Director for the past 11 years, and more recently as Director of Mission for the club.

Fr. Nazzaro expressed his deep gratitude for the young people and the business community who have supported the club. 

“I have received much more than I have given to the community of East Boston and its surrounding areas,” said Fr. Nazzaro, who grew up in Eastie and graduated from St. Dominic Savio.  “I love this community and I truly love being a priest. If I was not a Salesian I would never have had the opportunity to work with young people over these past 35 years.  East Boston is my home and I will miss a lot of the wonderful people I have worked with as well as a lot of my old friends.”


The hot streak at Lanzilli’s continues

The hot streak of customers playing the lottery at Lanzilli’s Groceria and Gas Station in East Boston continues. Last Tuesday a Winthrop resident went into Lanzilli’s to play Mega Millions and later that night became a millionaire.

James Griffin, who chose his lucky numbers based on birthdays of family members, purchased his winning ticket at Lanzilli’s Grocery.

Griffin’s win is the sixth prize of $1 million or more won on a ticket sold at Lanzilli’s since 2013.

“Before 2013 we sold three maybe four $1 million tickets in the 13 years we owned the store,” said owner Sonny Patel.

Patel said then in 2015 luck began to strike the location time and again.

“In 2014 we sold two $1 million tickets in one week,” said Patel. “Then we sold a $10 million ticket that the following year.”

Commissioner Gross makes first public appearance in Eastie

At the annual National Night Out celebration at LoPresti Park Boston Police Commissioner William Gross made his first public appearance in East Boston since being sworn in by Mayor Martin Walsh.

Walsh, who introduced Gross last Tuesday in Eastie, said the new Commissioner is no stranger to the neighborhood and has ‘hit the ground running’.

Gross, who began his career at Eastie’s District A-7 station after graduating from the police academy in 1985, became a regular fixture as he rose through the ranks.

“It’s great to be here during National Night Out but this is something this community does everyday,” said Gross of his fondness of the tight knit Eastie community. “I love the East Boston Peace Walks and all the fine citizens that make that happen each week. Everyone is dedicated and always talking about how to make East Boston better and better. I took a trip to El Salvador a couple of months ago with Chief Brian Kyes of Chelsea and we are committed to making sure that anyone who comes here are not going to be forced into gangs. We are going to try and deter the youth in our community from that life.”

Gross said that the trip to El Salvador was aimed at starting a new period of cooperation between the two countries to try and change the way of life so no child has to be pressured to join a gang.

“When they come here this is going to be a safe haven for their families,” said Gross. “There are no walls for the City of Boston and East Boston, everyone is welcome.”

Eastie Pride Day organizers celebrate 30th Anniversary on August 18 at Piers Park

In 1988 Sal LaMattina was a staffer for former Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn. Flynn had an idea–summer block parties and community celebrations in every Boston neighborhood to bring residents close together.

LaMattina was tasked with coming up with community-wide celebration in East Boston.

“My wife Lisa and I just got married the year before,” said LaMattina. “At the time a lot of the friends that we grew up with were moving to Saugus, Peabody, and Revere. One night Lisa and I were talking about the future and whether or not we should move but Lisa said we should stay and take care of East Boston. I’ll never forget that conversation because it was at that moment we made a commitment to the neighborhood and would work to improve the neighborhood.”

So LaMattina had an idea after that conversation.

“It really started with Mayor Flynn wanting to do events throughout the summer to bring communities closer together and kids off the streets,” said LaMattina. “There were pockets of East Boston that were run down, absentee landlordism was at an all time high, some of our parks were a mess, there were empty storefronts. But it was like this all over Boston. A lot of the residents that moved complained that the neighborhood wasn’t the same and I found that really insulting because I loved Eastie.”

LaMattina said between his wife’s encouragement to stay in Eastie and the fact the neighborhood still had a lot to offer he banned together a like minded group of friends, community activists and longtime residents that had no intention of leaving their beloved neighborhood.

“It was sort of a ‘we’ll show them’ attitude towards the people that left the neighborhood,” said LaMattina. “I believed then and still believe today that we live in the best neighborhood in Boston and I wanted to showcase all the talent and love people had for Eastie.”

So, on a hot summers night in 1988 at East Boston Memorial Stadium the first Eastie Pride Day was held.

“We had donkey rides, food, local musicians like The Stompers, dunk tanks, rides,” said LaMattina. “That first a lot of people that moved came back to the neighborhood and were surprised by the spirit.”

So for the past 30 years LaMattina and company have been keeping something going that he holds very dear to his heart.

“It’s become a piece of me,” said LaMattina. “I started this when I worked for Mayor Flynn then under Mayor Menino, and now Mayor Walsh and throughout my time as a City Councilor. I’m almost 60 so I’ve been doing this for half my life. My daughter Liana wasn’t even born yet and now she’s one of the organizers. That’s the thing that really puts a smile on my face every year. When I see the residents that use to come when they were kids are now coming down with their own kids it’s special.”

Massport CEO Thomas Glynn steps down

After six years as head of Massport, CEO Thomas Glynn announced that he would step down from the post in November, a year earlier than his contract.

Glynn said his last days at Massport will be in November even though his contract expires in 2019.

“This is a great job, but after six years and at the age of 72, I feel it is a good time to pass the baton to the next leader who will have the chance to lead a great team,” said Glynn.

Glynn took over the reigns at Massport in September 2012 and was picked from a field of over 40 candidates. The Board confirmed him unanimously that year, noting his vast senior leadership experience and his commitment to public service.

According to state leaders Glynn’s tenure as Executive Director and CEO at Massport will be remembered for the growth of international flights at Logan Airport; revitalization of the Working Port of Boston and Worcester Regional Airport; and the Omni Hotel diversity initiative.

“Throughout his tenure leading Massport, Tom Glynn has been a tireless advocate for furthering the Commonwealth’s reputation as an international destination,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Tom’s hard work to expand service at Logan and the Commonwealth’s other transportation hubs has driven economic activity across Massachusetts, and I thank him for his years of dedication and service.”

However, that expansion had not always sat well with East Boston’s community activists.

“Tom Glynn has guided Massport through an historic era of airport expansion, continuing the unfortunate trends of previous Massport CEO’s,” said AirInc. in a statement, the neighborhood’s Massport environmental mitigation watchdog group. “Since 2012, when Mr. Glynn accepted the appointment to lead the Massachusetts Port Authority, airport passenger activity at Boston’s landlocked airport has increased 37 percent according to their own reports.  Along with this growth, has come additional beneficial economic activity, which the Port Authority is quick to point out.”

O’Donnell School welcomes Emily Berman as new principals

Outside the Hugh Roe O’Donnell School the school’s new principal Emily Berman stands outside greeting her students in the morning. The first time principal officially started work last as Boston Public Schools began the first day of the 2018/2019 school year.

In the schoolyard on Lexington Street she greeted the students by name and brushed up on her Spanish with some of the parents.

“I want to learn all my students names by the end of September,” said Berman. “I’m up to 50 names after three days. I want my students to know I know them, not just their name, but what their interests are, what’s challenging for them.”

With 282 students at the O’Donnell the New York native is confident she’ll get there.

“But kindergarten hasn’t started,” she joked. “But I’ll get there.”

Berman grew up in the suburbs of New York City but moved to Boston to attend Boston University and never left.

“I was really excited to interview here because the O’Donnell was one of the schools that was on my personal radar…I was really interested in coming here to East Boston,” she said.

Berman said off right off the bat she wants to celebrate the school through numerous community engagement events. “I want to do lots of events throughout the year instead of one big event,” she said. “If you noticed at drop off in the morning most of the parents were here. We only have one bus at drop off and pick up so most of the parents are here in the community so I want to figure out better ways to engage them.”


YMCA partners with Umana Academy to reopen pool

For several years, budget restraints and lack of staffing left the Umana Academy pool idle for several years. In a community surrounded by water many felt it was a shame that one of Eastie’s only two pools had zero programming and had been closed for almost five years. 

“I started here four years ago and seeing this pool empty was just a shame,” said Umana Principal Dr. Claudia Gutierrez. “But there was no way I could open it up and staff it.”

Unbeknownst to Guiterrez the East Boston YMCA board was diligently working to find a way to bring its swimming programs and lessons that are part of the Y’s ‘Strong Swimmers. Safe Kids’ initiative to Eastie.

The board had zeroed in on the unused Umana pool as a possible partnership. Gutierrez decided to joined forces with the Eastie Y and its Executive Director Ann-Margaret Gutierrez to finally bring the Umana pool back to its original glory.

“Several years ago Dr. Gutierrez and I sat down and had a conversation,” said Ann-Margaret Gutierrez. “She showed me how beautiful the pool was and how it has sat idle for years. We decided that it is important for children to feel comfortable around water because you hear about all these drowning accidents every summer so we agreed we needed to do something.”

The result, which came to fruition Saturday during an official ribbon cutting, is a partnership between the Y and the Umana. The partnership will have the Y staff and run programming at the pool for the community at large while the Umana students will benefit from a reopened pool.

“We will provide programming during the school day for Umana students from kindergarten to second grade,” said Ann-Margaret Gutierrez. “This will include YMCA swim lessons and water safety. Then the pool will be opened for lessons and swimming in the evening through the Y.”

Dr. Gutierrez said Saturday that she was ‘so excited’ that this partnership is finally happening.

“I’m excited to have my students come and swim, learn to swim and learn about water safety as part of their school day,” said Dr. Gutierrez. “I really hope this pool again becomes a community tool and resource.”

NOAH celebrates 30 years in the community

At the Hyatt Harborside Hotel, the East Boston Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) celebrated 30 years in the neighborhood.

This important nonprofit agency began in the basement of Our Savior’s American Lutheran Church on Paris Street in 1988 fighting slumlords in Eastie at a time when there was an influx of Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrants.

At times these families wouldn’t have heat and when buildings burnt down because the families were forced to use space heaters the landlords unfairly blamed the residents. Rumors began that these immigrants cooked on the floors of the apartments or in bathtubs.

So with a goal of helping these residents in Eastie because they had no one else to turn to NOAH was born. At the time the community needed two things. East Boston needed an active enterprise that helped low income residents and a voice to resolve the housing crisis here.

In the mid to late 1980s there were far too many absentee landlords taking advantage of the poor and having them live in substandard conditions. NOAH was there to take these immigrants complaints to the attorney general’s office and although it was hard at times it was these fights that helped NOAH emerged as a vital  neighborhood organization.

While NOAH began as a way to improve housing conditions here it has blossomed into a respected organization that lends its name to community building, social and environmental justice and entrepreneurship for thousands of residents.

In the early days NOAH ran on inspiration and spirit and today works on partnerships with local and area non-profits as well as community leaders and elected officials.

The misconception that NOAH somehow contributes to the demise of urban neighborhoods because it provides affordable housing has been disproven over the years as NOAH emerged as a stabilizing force in Eastie. Over the years NOAH has helped to drive out slumlords for the community, improved countless dilapidated buildings, improved Eastie’s housing stock, jumped on most environmental projects that added more green space to the neighborhood and more recently began to tackle the issue of climate change and sea level rise and its impacts on the neighborhood.

“Let me say a word or two about NOAH,” said longtime Executive Director Phil Giffee last Thursday. ‘It is an honor to do this work. It is my privilege to work in East Boston alongside so many heroic people, diverse residents, non-profits, small businesses, elected officials and government entities.  For the 30 years I have been with NOAH, I have been touched and amazed by the depth, wisdom, suffering, character, resolve, imagination and strength of the people.”

Developer files PNF for Mount Carmel Project

Developers Timothy White and Richard Egan officially filed an expanded Project Notification Form (PNF) with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) for the Mount Carmel Church project.

According to the developer’s PNF filing, White and Egan plan to take the shuttered former Catholic Church, the adjoining rectory, the convent across from the church and the large vacant lot on Frankfort Street that was once owned by the Boston Archdiocese and create approximately 120,430 sq. ft. of residential space and about 22,140 sq. ft. of open space.

In total the project will include 112 units and 84 parking spaces, 71 of which are located in a below-grade garage. Thirteen of the 84 parking spaces will be located off Lubec Street in a new landscaped lot as part of the project.

The renovated Mount Carmel Church building will include 14 residential units.

The existing rectory and convent buildings will be razed and the vacant Frankfort Street parcel

will include the construction of a new building that includes 98 condominium units. The rectory building located at 128-134 Gove Street, and the convent are both compromised structurally and are not suitable for human habitation according to current Boston building codes.


Social Centers to honor Robert Lewis Jr. with inaugural award tonight

Robert Lewis Jr.. a former Eastie resident, East Boston High School graduate knows first hand of the impacts the East Boston Social Centers has on the lives of youth and families.

Growing up in the Maverick projects Lewis had a support network in Eastie, like Debbie White, Marty Pino, Thomas Tassinari and Johnny Forbes who taught him that if he would dream big, good things would happen.

“I didn’t get to where I am in life by myself,” he said. “They say it takes a village to raise a child and that is true. I was just a kid growing up in the projects in Maverick, but I went on to do great things, travel the world, meet people like Nelson Mandela because of the people that were involved in the Social Centers and believed in me.”

The Social Centers presented the inaugural Community Activist award to Lewis, founder and President of The BASE at its 100th Anniversary Gala at Suffolk Downs.

“We are thrilled to recognize our outstanding alumnus Robert Lewis, Jr. as we celebrate this milestone anniversary,” said EBSC Executive Director Justin Pasquariello. “We look forward to announcing a vision for a future where all children in East Boston enter Kindergarten ready to learn and in which community members are joyful and thriving.  This event embodies the East Boston Social Centers motto “when all give, all gain” because we could not have done this without the support of countless community members, stakeholders and leaders.” 

In his adult life Lewis became a nationally recognized thought leader, public speaker and passionate advocate for urban youth. He has become well known as a bridge-builder and catalyst for collaboration between diverse business, civic and public sectors throughout the country.


EBNHC President and CEO Manny Lopes tapped to Chair Boston’s Board of Health

Anyone involved in the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center knows that Manny Lopes is a dedicated leader and one of the most recognizable figures in and around East Boston.

So it came as no surprise when Lopes took over the helm as President and CEO of EBNHC after his mentor Jack Cradock retired.

Lopes’ ascension is a story that embodies EBNHC’s mission and commitment to the community.

More than two decades ago, Lopes joined the health center as an 18-year-old researcher, working with Dr. Jim Taylor on a blood pressure study. In the ensuing years, Lopes went on to hold positions in the Human Resource and Operations Departments. Lopes later served as the Health Center’s Vice President and Chief Information Officer, providing organizational vision and leadership with an eye for technology and collaborative innovation. 

Lopes added another career milestone to his resume when Mayor Martin Walsh announced the appointment of Lopes as the Chair of Boston’s Board of Health. The Board of Health is the seven-member governing body that oversees the work of the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC). Lopes succeeds Francis Doyle, who stepped down in October from the Board to assume a leadership role within the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

“I’m truly humbled by this appointment,” said Lopes. “I hope to carry out Mayor Walsh’s vision for a healthy city and healthy neighborhoods while addressing some of the challenges like the impacts of substance abuse, mental health and health equity. I am ready to serve and drive forward the public health priorities and goals outlined by the Mayor and being executed daily through the vast programming offered by the Commission and its public health and community partners.”

Friends of the East Boston Greenway announce new coordinator

Last week the Friends of the East Boston Greenway announced the appointment of Michelle Moon as the neighborhood’s new Greenway Coordinator.

Moon is an urban planner who works on greenways, parks, placemaking, and active transit projects in collaboration with community-led groups, nonprofits, and local governments. 

Moon is currently the project manager for the Fairmount Greenway in Boston, and has worked on the Watertown Community Path, at the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, The Esplanade Association, and The Trust for Public Land. 

Moon said all of her work centers around connecting to people with places and nature, as well helping to improve access to a healthy lifestyle.

“I’m very excited to join the Friends of the East Boston Greenway,” said Moon. “It’s great to work with a group that has a long history of committed members combined with new energy to the group to continue to maintain and improve the East Boston Greenway.”

Longtime Friends of the East Boston Greenway board member Karen Maddalena said Moon is a wonderful pick.

Developer Lendlease donated $100,000 to replace Salesian Boys & Girls Club windows

When  Lendlease began their ambitious project to develop Clippership Wharf on East Boston’s waterfront four years ago they began looking for local non-profits in the neighborhood to help.

With the help of former City Councilors Paul Scapicchio and Sal LaMattina, as well as Rep. Adrian Madaro and Sen. Joseph Boncore, Lendlease found the Salesian Boys & Girls Club on Byron Street.

General Manager of Development at Lendlease Nick Iselin immediately did a couple of things to help the Boys & Girls Club, an agency that services hundreds of neighborhood kids a year through afterschool and summer programs. Lendlease sponsored beautification projects at the club as well as other contributions through the Salesian’s fundraising campaigns.

However, Iselin wanted to do more.

Iselin joined Salesian Boys & Girls Club staff and kids, East Boston elected officials and Salesian board members to make a special presentation.

At the press conference Lendlease presented a $100,000 donation to Salesian Boys & Girls Club to replace the club’s windows that will save the Salesian thousands in energy costs. These savings can be put back to suring up the Boys & Girls Club’s vital youth programs.

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