On Tuesday night the final seconds of 2019 will tick away and East Boston residents will join the world community and look to a new year with optimism and hope.
In this small community the year was filled with stories of triumph, victory, success, tragedy and adversity.
This year marked a significant period of progress in East Boston from important construction developments to long-awaited projects to enhance the quality of life for residents to the recognition of long standing institutions that make Eastie one of Boston’s more sought-after neighborhoods.
Some familiar faces and neighborhood businesses left the community in 2019 but were replaced by new faces and businesses dedicated to making Eastie a better place in which to live, work and play. The East Boston Times has compiled the stories that show why Eastie continues to be Boston’s neighborhood on the rise.
Dough East Boston Shutting Its Doors Friday
When Kevin Curley and Michael Sanchez opened Dough East Boston 13 years ago, they were aiming to do something different. With a focus on gourmet pizzas like the Layla (pesto with artichoke hearts, goat cheese, red peppers and olives) or the R2 (ranch dressing, grilled chicken, bacon and spinach) Dough quickly became known for its sandwiches.
However, last week fans of Dough, known as ‘Dough Nation,’ were shocked by a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“Dough Nation we have some bittersweet news to announce,” wrote Curley. “Mike and I have decided to close Dough East Boston. In the past 13 years we have had a lot of fun, made very good friends and served a lot of good food. Mike and I both lived in Eastie for a few years and toiled for over a decade, so we feel like we have a piece of Eastie in our hearts. We would like to thank you, the customers for coming in excited everyday to try our food. That energy has driven us for 13 years. We truly appreciate the love that you’ve given us throughout the years, which makes this decision so tough.”
‘I am Grateful’: Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley Holds Local Swearing-in Ceremony
After being officially sworn in to the 116th Congress by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Washington D.C., Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley held a local swearing in ceremony Saturday at Roxbury Community College.
Pressley, who represents the 7th Congressional District that includes East Boston, unseated incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano during the Democratic Primary in September, and became the first African-American woman to serve the district.
After being sworn in by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Pressley addressed the crowd.
“You are a glorious, glorious sight to behold,” Pressley began. “The manifestation of millions of steps, and a million more prayers. I am so grateful to be here with all of you today. To my family, to my fellow elected officials, to my dedicated A-Team, and most importantly to the residents of the 7th Congressional District – thank you for making this moment, today possible.”
Karina Hicks Named New Chamber Executive Assistant
The East Boston Chamber of Commerce announced that Karina Hicks has been hired as the Chamber’s new Executive Assistant.
Hicks, a native of Mexico City, Mexico, began her career working as an executive assistant for the Ministry of Interior in Mexico during the Chiapas Conflict. The conflict led to the Zapatista Uprising, as well as tensions between the indigenous peoples and subsistence farmers in the Mexican state of Chiapas beginning in the 1990s.
She moved to Kentucky in 2005 to attend the University of Kentucky and work as an interpreter. She, her husband and their two children then moved to Brazil because her husband’s accounting firm relocated the family to the South American country.
“I like East Boston a lot and I’m just starting to meet all these wonderful people,” said Hicks. “I would like to contribute to achieving the goals of the Chamber and keep the businesses and people here in East Boston informed about the events and opportunities that can help economic growth in the neighborhood. There a lot of opportunities for growth and I would like to see some of those larger corporations get involved,” she said. “I’d also like to get more information out there about how the Chamber can help your small business through networking.”
Jim Kearney Elected as New Chamber President
The East Boston Chamber of Commerce held its elections and members elected Jim Kearney as the group’s new president. Following the election, Kearney laid his vision for the Chamber going forward.
“We are going to try and reinvent the Chamber,” said Kearney. “We want to get back into the business community and create a vibrant atmosphere were the residents of East Boston can wholly support our businesses–both in the restaurant and service industry.”
Former JPNA Co-Chair Renee Scalfani Honored
Longtime JPNA Co-Chair Renee Scalfani was honored by Mayor Martin Walsh, City Councilor Lydia Edwards, Rep. Adrian Madaro and the JPNA board.
Walsh, along with JPNA Chair Mary Cole, presented Scalfani, one of the longest continuously serving members of any East Boston community group board, with a golden gavel.
“I just want to honor Renee (Scalfani) who served as co-chair of the JPNA for the past 10 years,” said Walsh. “It is with great appreciation that we honor someone with her heart and soul who was truly the “Mayor” of Jeffries Point.”
As the neighborhood’s notable community groups like JPNA and Orient Heights have been taken over by new blood and newer community groups like Harbor View have emerged, Scalfani remained a fixture in Eastie’s community process for as long as anyone can remember.
However, Scalfani announced she would be stepping down from the board she served with passion, distinction and dedication for many years.
“It is with great sadness that I share with everyone that I decided to resign from Co Chair of the JPNA board,” said Scalfani. “I was on the board many years and truly love our neighborhood. I feel that since I can’t give 100 percent of myself that it is best to leave and have my seat filled by someone with the same heart, dedication and love…someone who can give what I couldn’t.”
Rep. Madaro is Appointed Vice-Chair of Transportation
With a major international airport, highway, toll plaza and the MBTA Blue Line in his district, it made sense for Speaker Robert DeLeo to appoint Rep. Adrian Madaro as the new House Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation.
Madaro now serves alongside the Committee’s Chair Rep. William Straus (D-Mattapoisett) on the House side. Madaro and Straus works closely with their colleagues and the Committee’s counterparts on the Senate side, Chair Joseph Boncore (D-WInthrop) and Vice Chair Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow).
Since being elected in 2015, Madaro has taken the lead on issues related to Logan Airport impacts and mitigation, MBTA late night service and the Red Line/Blue LIne Connector, as well as issues facing his East Boston constituents like traffic and regional congestion.
Madaro’s work on transportation is rooted in a commitment to the priorities of the Commonwealth, including his transit-heavy First Suffolk district, which encompasses stretches of both Interstate 90 and Route 1, five MBTA subway lines, Logan Airport, and the Boston Harbor.
Since being elected Madaro has advocated for a ferry in Eastie, improvements to the Sumner Tunnel toll plaza project, increase in Massport mitigation to surrounding communities, late night MBTA service as well as addressing other transportation needs and improvements in the district.
Joe Gaeta Named Executive Director of the East Boston YMCA
A familiar face returned to East Boston to lead the East Boston YMCA. Joe Gaeta, who served as the East Boston Y’s Director of Teen Programs for several years before leaving to become Director of Operations for the Huntington Avenue YMCA, was named new East Boston Y’s Executive Director.
Gaeta, a lifelong Eastie resident, replaced Ann Margaret Gutierrez, who led the East Boston Y since 2015.
“Working with the YMCA of Greater Boston has always been a rewarding experience for me,” said Gaeta. “Making sure community needs are met no matter what the circumstance is part of the core of our mission. Being able to serve the community of East Boston has always been a passion of mine. Coming home and leading this extraordinary organization and team has always been a dream. I look forward to continuing the longstanding tradition of serving the community of East Boston as its next Executive Director.”
Gaeta is a 13-year YMCA veteran with a decade of service at the East Boston Y under his belt. Gaeta started as a part-time camp counselor during which he created and implemented education curriculum for youth, ages 5 through 13. In 2010 he advanced within his career to the association-wide Director of Teen Programs for which he supervised the teen fitness center and family programming and assisted in fundraising efforts for youth scholarships to camp.
Mt. Carmel and NOAH Projects Approved by BPDA
The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) board approved the slightly contentious project to transform the former Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and surrounding properties, which include the church, rectory, convent and a large vacant parcel, into housing.
At the BPDA hearing the board approved developers Timothy White and Richard Egan plan to transform the four Mount Carmel Church parcels on Gove and Frankfort streets in 112 residential units that include 12 income-restricted units.
In total the project will include 112 units and 84 parking spaces, 71 of which are located in a below-grade garage. The developer eliminated the development of the recorty and decided to raze that building to house 13 of the 84 parking spaces, as well as to create a new landscaped greenspace. 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.
Tramelli Named as New East Boston Liaison
Mayor Martin Walsh appointed of Lina Tramelli as the East Boston Neighborhood Liaison within the Mayor’s Civic Engagement Cabinet. Tramelli replaced Jesús García-Mota who became Mayor Walsh’s Citywide liaison to the Latino community.
“Lina has a fantastic background in public service and I couldn’t be more excited for her to become the East Boston liaison,” said Walsh. “East Boston is a neighborhood full of tradition, growth and diversity and I know she will continue to be an advocate for the residents and businesses in East Boston.”
As the East Boston liaison, Tramelli will serve as the primary contact for constituents and businesses looking to connect with the Mayor’s Office, and will facilitate the delivery of services in collaboration with City departments.
Born in Colombia, Tramelli received her bachelor’s degree from the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá. She graduated from Harvard University with a master’s in Liberal Arts last year.
Historic New England Casket Co. Burns Down
The 75-year-old East Boston business that Louis Tobia Jr.’s Italian grandfather founded may not return to the neighborhood.
The New England Casket Company, which has won numerous awards in the industry for its innovation and casket designs, suffered a devastating that completely destroyed the company’s manufacturing warehouse on Bennington Street just past Orient Heights MBTA station.
On Friday, March 15 a nine-alarm fire ripped through the widely successful business that manufactures handmade caskets for sale to distributors that in turn sell them to funerals and families.
After the Boston Fire Dept. spent hours battling the fire all that was left of the longstanding local family-owned company that employed over 100 people was rubble.
Tobia is looking at locations like the former Malden Mills site in Lawrence, as well as a site in Chelsea.
The New England Casket Company was known as the inventor of the ‘Concord Casket’ designed by Tobia’s grandfather. Retailing for around $25,000 it became the casket of choice for the rich and famous and the likes of Muhammad Ali, Heath Ledger, Walter Cronkite, Joan Rivers and Tip O’Neill all were all reportedly interred in the Concord.
Two Eastie Teachers Named BPS Educator of the Year
Two East Boston teachers were honored by Boston Public Schools and the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) as an Educator of the Year. The two local teachers and nine teachers from other BPS schools in the city were invited to watch players warm up before the final home game of the Boston Celtics’ regular season on Sunday, April 7. The 2019 winners were also honored at center court during halftime of the game.
In Eastie both Jillian Archer and Tanya Boone received this year’s honors.
EBCCS’s Kathy Carbine Receives Excellence in Education Award
The Archdiocese of Boston Catholic Schools Office honored East Boston Central Catholic School (EBCCS) preschool teacher, Kathy Carbine as a 2018 Archdiocese of Boston Excellence in Education Award recipient.
Carbine was nominated for the award by administrators, staff, pastors, parents and students from the EBCCS community. The Excellence in Education Award Selection Committee then reviewed over 100 nominations and after an exhaustive process chose Carbine as one of ten finalists that will be honored at a luncheon in May hosted by Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Superintendent of the Archdiocese of Boston Catholic Schools Kathy Mears.
“East Boston Central Catholic School is very excited to announce that Kathy Carbine has been selected to receive the Archdiocese of Boston: Excellence in Education Award supported by the Catholic Schools Foundation,” said EBCCS Principal Robert Casaletto. “Kathy’s commitment to her students, her faith, her family, and our school are not only what made her an excellent candidate for the award but a deserving recipient as well. We are truly blessed to have her as part of the faculty at EBCCS.”
Dr. Brenda Cassellius Named New BPS Superintendent
The Boston School Committee voted 5-2 to offer the position of Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools (BPS) to Dr. Brenda Cassellius, who most recently stepped down as Commissioner of Education for the state of Minnesota.
Cassellius, who served as Education Commissioner for Minnesota from 2011, succeed Laura Perille, the current Interim Superintendent and former CEO of the education improvement organization EdVestors. Perille became the Interim Superintendent last summer following the resignation of Dr. Tommy Chang, who held the Superintendent role for three years.
“With the selection of Dr. Cassellius, we’re investing in a proven leader who knows what’s right for kids and understands the value of community voice,” said Mayor Martin Walsh. “The role of Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools is one of the most important and difficult jobs in the city. I’m pleased that the Boston School Committee selected someone with deep experience improving educational outcomes for students, and I congratulate Dr. Cassellius for her selection. All of the candidates were fully qualified and I would like to thank them for their time. I thank the Boston School Committee and the Superintendent Search Committee for conducting a thorough, transparent search process to make sure the right leader was selected for the Boston Public Schools.”
Dedicated Leader: EBNHC CEO Manny Lopes Elected Chair of Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA
The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation announced that President and CEO of East Boston Neighborhood Health Center Manny Lopes has been elected chair of its Board of Directors.
Lopes joined the Foundation board in 2016. In the chair role, he succeeds Philip W. Johnston, a state and national leader on health and human services policy.
“I look forward to leading the Foundation board as chair and continuing to collaborate with my fellow board members, Foundation president Audrey Shelto, and partners in the community as we work to expand access to health care for our most vulnerable residents,” said Lopes. “Our newest board members add tremendous expertise in behavioral health treatment and health care policy. Their service on the board will further enable the Foundation to meet its mission to broaden coverage and reduce barriers to care at a time when systemic challenges continue to threaten access to quality health care.”
Eastie Native Receives Prestigious James Beard Culinary Award
East Boston’s Tony Messina was announced as the 2019 winner of the prestigious James Beard Award. Messina, head chef and partner at UNI in Boston, was presented with the coveted award at the 28th Annual James Beard awards in Chicago.
This is Messina’s second nomination and third year as a semifinalist for Best Chef: Northeast.
“As someone who was born and raised in (East) Boston, I can’t describe what this honor means to me,” said Messina. “It’s incredible to even be considered alongside such a talented list of local chefs, and I’m proud to represent New England cuisine from a global standpoint. I couldn’t do it without my team at UNI; without them, this would never be possible.”
Growing up in Eastie, Messina spent countless hours in his grandparents’ kitchen cooking elaborate Italian feasts as a young boy, and has been a fixture on the line in Boston restaurants since he began working as a caterer and cook at 14. After a stint shucking oysters and mixing drinks at Legal Seafoods, Messina joined the team at Michael Schlow’s Alta Strada. In 2009, he decided to formalize his culinary training and attend the Cambridge Culinary School. During this time, he staged at some of the best restaurants in Boston, including Radius, Hamersley’s Bistro, Salts, No. 9 Park and Clio. He graduated as valedictorian of his class and returned to Alta Strada as Sous Chef. The food at Alta Strada really spoke to Messina’s heritage – simple, clean Italian food using only the best ingredients.
City Officials, Massport Cut Ribbon on New Ambulance Bay
City officials, Massport cut the ribbon to officially open the new EMS station on Logan Airport property.
The chorus of demands for a second ambulance here has gotten louder in the community over the past year after Eastie resident Steve Holt waited nearly 30 minutes for a Boston EMS ambulance while his daughter suffered a seizure at their Jeffries Point home.
“Someone is going to die before an ambulance gets to them,” said Holt at the time. “That’s the way this ends unfortunately unless changes are made.”
In March 2018 Mayor Martin 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 used overtime funds to pay for the second ambulance in Eastie for the remainder of this Fiscal Year.
Walsh then earmarked funds to have the second ambulance permanently stationed in the neighborhood through a deal with Massport.
“This second ambulance will bring major benefits,” said Walsh. “It will help EMTs move more quickly and efficiently throughout East Boston, increasing capacity if there is an emergency happening at Logan Airport. It will reduce response times for our residents who need immediate medical care, saving even more lives.”
Dream Come True Eastie’s Angelina Botticelli Heading to Berklee College of Music on Full Scholarship
Since joining Zumix as a young girl, Angelina Botticelli has grown to become an accomplished musician. The lifelong Eastie resident and Boston Arts Academy (BAA) High School graduate has written original music, started a band, released an album, helped co-write an original piece for the Boston Landmarks Orchestra and hosts a weekly radio show for Zumix radio.
In June 2019 life came full circle for Botticelli as her postgraduate dream has come true.
In June it was announced that Botticelli will be attending the prestigious Berklee College of Music on a full tuition scholarship in the fall. Botticelli was the only student to receive a full ride to Berklee from BAA in 2019.
“Angelina has been singing and playing music since she could walk,” said Zumix Founder and Director Madeleine Steczynski. “As a soloist, ensemble member, and lead singer of the band Wild Painting, she writes and performs music that moves people and penetrates the soul. In addition to music, Angelina hosts a weekly radio show on 94.9 ZUMIX Radio, is actively involved in social justice efforts, and is always eager to give back to her community. We are so happy she received a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music, and can’t wait to see what she produces next.”
Walsh Cuts the Ribbon on the $4.7 Million Noyes Park Renovations
Mayor Martin Walsh joins the community and members of the late Anthony ‘Tony’ Capozzi’s family to cut the ribbon on the completed Noyes Park rehab.
During his Neighborhood Coffee Hour in June Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department officially cut the ribbon on the new and improved Noyes Park.
“Noyes Park has undergone major reconstruction and we are proud to share the results of the hard work that went into this project with the East Boston community,” said Mayor Walsh. “The new and improved Noyes Park will be a place that children and families will enjoy for many years to come, and I want to thank everyone involved for bringing this great new park to life.”
The ribbon cutting also marked the naming of the park’s baseball diamonds after the late Anthony ‘Tony’ Capozzi.
Capozzi, who worked for the city’s Parks Department, served East Boston Little League for more than 35 years as a coach, umpire, groundskeeper, concessioners, or any other task that he had to for the children of Eastie. In many ways Capozzi, who died in 2009, was “East Boston Little League” and for over three decades Noyes Park was his second home.
John Nucci Celebrates His One-Year Anniversary of Life-Saving Kidney Transplant
In June a group of close friends and family were invited to a luncheon at Rino’s Place in East Boston by John Nucci.
The day marked the one year anniversary of Nucci’s life-saving kidney transplant. The former Boston City Councilor and current Suffolk University senior vice president wanted to bring a group of friends and family together to thank them for all their love and support during his battle against Polysystic Kidney Disease, his life-saving transplant surgery and subsequent recovery.
One person in the room, Kerri Abrams, who donated one of her kidneys to Nucci stood out among the crowd.
“There are really no words to explain the gratitude I feel towards my family and friends and of course Kerri, my wonderful donor who gave me this second chance at life,” said an emotional Nucci holding Abrams’s hand. “Being surrounded by all of you today makes this already special day even more special and rewarding. The one anniversary gift that would make Kerri and I the most happy would be if everybody here spread the word about organ donation and how important it is. It literally saves lives.”
Eastie Comments on New Massport CEO
The Massport Board voted 5-2 to confirm Massport’s Port Director Lisa Weiland as the Port Authority’s new CEO.
Weiland replaced Thomas Glynn as CEO who stepped down in November. Massport’s CFO John Pranckevicius has filled in as CEO since the nationwide search began last year.
In 2016 the Massport board voted to promote Weiland from Acting Port Director to Port Director.
Wieland has served as the Acting Port Director since March of 2015 and previously as Maritime’s Chief Administrative Officer. As Port Director, she oversees planning, development, marketing, operations, security, financial management, administration and maintenance of all of Massport’s non-aviation properties. Before joining the Maritime team, Wieland served in several roles at Massport, including the Director of HR Strategy & Employment and the Director of Corporate Planning and Analysis. Wieland has been with Massport since 2006.
Prior to her employment with Massport, Wieland worked as a consultant for Bain and Company serving health care and consumer products clients, and for CNN in various news and political assignments. She received her B.A. from UCLA in Political Science, and her M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.
Rep. Adrian Madaro Announces Hire of Gloribel Rivas as New Legislative Aide
At a community meeting in June, Rep. Adrian Madaro introduced his new legislative aide Gloribel Rivas to residents.
“She’s an incredibly intelligent woman with a big heart who truly cares about the neighborhood,” said Madaro to the crowd.
Rivas, 24, grew up in Eastie after immigrating to the United States from El Salvador with her family at the age of 5. As a child, she attended Boston Public Schools, graduating from Boston Latin School and then University of Massachusetts Boston.
Throughout college, she was an active and dedicated volunteer at the East Boston branch of City Life/Vida Urbana, a non-profit dedicated to helping people stay in their homes in the face of eviction or foreclosure.
Rivas also worked as a volunteer on the campaign of Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards.
After graduating from college, she worked as a paralegal at FitzGerald Law Company, an immigration, personal injury, and criminal defense firm in Boston, where she was responsible for processing immigration cases, allowing her to gain a thorough understanding of the immigration process. Rivas is also a member of the Boston SPARK Council, Mayor Martin Walsh’s millennial advisory group.
“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with Rep. Madaro,” said Rivas. “I love East Boston, and I am proud to join a team that is dedicated to tirelessly advocating for the needs of everyone in our community”.
Eastie Farms’ Thiruvengadam Named ‘Volunteer of the Year’
During August’s Mayor on Main Streets event outside Sammy Carlo’s Deli, Eastie Farms founder and director Kannan Thiruvengadam, was honored as the Boston Main Streets Volunteer of the Year.
“As I’ve mentioned before what is really important to the Main Streets program are the volunteers,” said Mayor Martin Walsh. “These volunteers are vital to supporting Main Streets’ mission in goals in the neighborhood. Today we have Kannan (Thiruvengadam) who is no stranger to Main Streets. I met Kannan when I first became Mayor and quickly realized he’s not just a man that talks the talk but walks the walk.”
Aside from being a Main Streets volunteer and helping with such events as Taste of Eastie Thiruvengadam is the director of Eastie Farm on Sumner Street and of JP Green School, a sustainability education program at JP GreenHouse, a passive-solar and energy-positive house in Jamaica Plain.
He also hosts “What’s up Eastie?“a radio show about local issues in a larger context, at Zumix, a youth organization in Eastie.
Thiruvengadam is also a Climate Ready Boston Leader. He has a technology background, has studied climate science, permaculture, and community engagement, and is passionate about regenerative and sustainable practices in agriculture and urban design.
Last year the Boston City Council confirmed Thiruvengadam to the Community Preservation Committee.
Sammy Carlo’s Catering Honored by Walsh and Boston Main Streets
Mayor Martin Walsh and Main Streets traveled to Sammy Carlo’s to honor the Scire family as the Main Streets ‘Business of the Year’ and cut the ribbon on the business’s restoration.
“If you haven’t been inside and you haven’t eaten something, go in there and taste the food, and you’ll see why they’re the Business of the Year,” said Mayor Walsh. “We can talk about the beautiful new facade and the way it looks, but I tell you just go inside and taste the food. It’s absolutely amazing. It’s an old-school deli that were in all our neighborhoods years ago. It’s an amazing place with amazing food run by an amazing family. Stevie and Kathy (Scire) are active members of the community and always give back and I want to congratulate them on being awarded this recognition.”
Eastie’s Michael Sulprizio to Leave BCYF Deputy Commissioner Post
After nearly a decade working at Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF), with the last few years spent as Deputy Commissioner, East Boston’s Michael Sulprizio is moving on.
“I am moving on to a new role,” said Sulprizio. “I am excited to say I am staying with the City of Boston and have accepted a position with the Property Management Department. I will be working as the Deputy Commissioner of Administration and Finance.”
Sulprizio began his new job with the city on Monday August 26.
Sulprizio, who got his start in public service working as former State Rep. Carlo Basile’s Legislative Aid, began working for BCYF a little over eight years ago when he replaced Fran Riley as Director of the Harborside Community Center in East Boston. Riley, a longtime fixture at the Harborside, had retired that year after decades of service to the program.
From there Sulprizio, who received his Masters in Public Affairs from UMass, quickly moved up in the BCYF ranks and most recently served as the agency’s Deputy Commissioner.
“I have enjoyed my eight plus years at BCYF where I felt I was in a position to help bring investments to East Boston,” he said. “Mayor Walsh has invested so much in East Boston and BCYF was no exception. Along with the Mayor’s support we were able to complete the Paris Street Community Center Renovation and are about to begin work at Paris Street Pool in the coming months. We have also been able to purchase both the Paris Street and Martin Pino community center new vans, and are about to hire the first ever full-time computer instructor at Paris Street to provide computer instruction to the community.”
Mayor, CDC Cut Ribbon on Paris Village
In August Mayor Martin Walsh joined the East Boston Community Development Corporation (CDC), residents and local elected officials to celebrate the ribbon-cutting for Paris Village last Tuesday.
Paris Village is a $14 million residential community that features 32 affordable apartments for working families in Eastie. The new apartment building will be located on the former Salesian Boys & Girls Club site on Paris Street in the heart of the neighborhood.
“As demand for housing is increasing in East Boston and throughout the City, we’re using all kinds of tools and resources to build new housing,” said Mayor Walsh. “We’ll continue to keep affordability at the heart of our work to make sure people can continue to live and work in the communities they love. I want to thank our many partners for making Paris Village possible, allowing new generations to live and raise their families here.”
Corner of Byron and Bennington Streets Named After Wally Bowe
On a warm August afternoon, a group of friends and family members gathered outside the Salesian Boys & Girls Club in East Boston to officially rename the corner of Byron and Bennington streets ‘Wally Bowe Corner’.
The new street sign is a testament to the work Bowe did inside the Club, shaping the lives of Eastie’s youth during a career that spanned several decades. Bowe died suddenly in 2010 at the age of 53 years old but his memory lives on through the Wally Bowe fund that continues to help support Boys & Girls Club programs. The Wally Bowe Fund not only keeps his memory alive, but also continues the good work he did every day as a coach, teacher and role model for local youth.
Wally Bowe’s wife, Darlene, and daughter, Janae, unveil the street sign at the corner of Byron and Bennington streets just outside the Salesians Boys & Girls Club in honor of Bowe’s work at the club. The corner has been officially renamed ‘Wally Bowe Corner.’
“Wally’s influence is felt all throughout East Boston from the Point to Eagle Hill to up here in Orient Heights,” said Jim Correale who knew Bowe since becoming a ‘Club Kid’ at 13-years-old. “This is one of the places he made his biggest impact working at the Boys & Girls Club and Savio High School where hundreds and hundreds of young people were influenced by him.”
The event was also an opportunity for Bowe’s family to present the Salesian with a check from the last Wally Bowe Fund fundraiser that was held earlier this summer.
The fund, administered by his daughters Jillian and Janae, wife Darlene, and others in the community, provides support to the Salesians Boys & Girls Club, a non-profit organization that Bowe attended as a young man and where he worked for 25 years.
Community Says Farewell to Eastie Main Streets Director Max Gruner
In September the Main Streets board held a special farewell party for Max Gruner with dozens of Eastie residents, business leaders and friends paying tribute to the man that has had a positive impact on Eastie’s future.
“It’s hard to believe you were only here for six years,” said East Boston Chamber President Jim Kearney. “It feels like a lot longer because of the mark you have left on this community and all you have done for us. Your reach went beyond the Main Streets District and your work had a tremendous impact on the business owners, residents, homeowners and children that live and work in East Boston.”
Since coming to Eastie Gruner dedicated his work at Main Streets to providing an opportunity to showcase the rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and vibrant business opportunities of a community that is ideally situated to truly becoming the Gateway to Boston.
Lendlease, Walsh Cut Ribbon on Clippership Wharf Project
Mayor Martin Walsh joined Lendlease and East Boston elected officials to cut the ribbon on one of the neighborhood’s most highly anticipated waterfront development projects.
Clippership Wharf is a $300 million, 478-unit mixed-use waterfront project with climate resilient features including the restoration of a living shoreline and multi-modal transit access on one of Eastie’s historic wharfs. The project also includes 22 affordable housing units and 30 mixed-income condominiums at the Boston Housing Authority’s Heritage Apartments public housing community.
“We are celebrating over 400 new homes for individuals and families in East Boston,” said Mayor Walsh. “This project brings much needed housing to East Boston and our city. We inherited a housing shortage and we see people being pushed out of the city. We put a housing goal out there and projects like this helps us towards our housing goal.”
Built to anticipate expected sea-level rise over the coming decades, Clippership Wharf uses technology that can be deployed up to 24 hours in advance to help keep storm surges at bay, and residential floors are 25 feet above-grade. The site also offers interaction with the water’s edge through the reintroduction of a natural, living shoreline. A new series of salt marsh terraces, bracketing the daily tides, will result in a diverse new wetland community for flora and fauna.
Gladys Oliveros Annnounced as New East Boston Main Streets Director
Gladys Oliveros, who has been a fixture in East Boston since immigrating from Colombia 35 years ago, was announced as the new executive director of East Boston Main Streets.
Oliveros replaced longtime director, Max Gruner, who left his post last week for a new job in New Mexico.
Oliveros, who has been working as a program supervisor at Boston Center for Youth and Families’ Paris Street site for the past two years said she has some pretty big shoes to fill replacing Gruner.
“It’s going to be a challenge but together we can do it,” Oliveros said. “East Boston has been my home and my community for 35 years and I have always looked for ways to help the neighborhood. I look forward to working with all of you. For those of you who know me know if you pick up the phone and call me I am there and it will be the same at Main Streets.”
Oliveros is a native of Barranquilla, Colombia and moved to Eastie over three decades ago.
Before working for BCYF Oliveros founded Casa de la Cultura. Casa de la Cultura is a Community Center focused on the Latino population of Eastie–offering education, information, recreational and cultural events to promote diversity growth among our community. The organization offered language classes, computer classes, chess classes for kids, citizenship’s classes as well as immigration services, and fitness.
Standing Room Only : Kennedy Announces Senate Candidacy in Eastie
In front of a standing room only crowd at the East Boston Social Centers, U.S. Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate taking on incumbent U.S. Sen. Ed Markey.
Kennedy’s choice of location was not by accident. The Kennedy family’s start in America is very much the same story as the hundreds of immigrants that call Eastie home.
Patrick Kennedy fled New Ross, Ireland and abject poverty for a better life in the U.S. and married Bridget Murphy at Holy Redeemer Church in the mid 1800s, just a few blocks from the Social Centers.
“It is so extremely meaningful to me to be able to do this, and announce this, here, where in 1848, a few steps from where this building is today, my father’s family first arrived in this country,” Kennedy began his speech. “Patrick Kennedy came, fleeing oppression, starvation, and he arrived here with literally nothing. He married a woman named Bridget Murphy. She ended up getting a store just down the road here over on Border Street. They built a family.
Patrick passed away young, from cholera. And from sheer force of will, and the help of a community, she kept that family together.”
Patrick’s son, P.J. Kennedy went on to become a successful saloon owner, ward boss and politician in Eastie. His son, Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of President John F. Kennedy and Joseph P. Kennedy III’s grandfather, the late Robert Kennedy, started what would become a family dynasty in U.S. Politics that spanned several generations.
“Her son owned a local saloon, became a ward boss, and served in the state Senate,” said Kennedy. “His son, my great-grandfather, was born a few blocks from here on Meridian Street. His son served this neighborhood in Congress, and then went on to serve as President of the United States. I’m here because my family has always appreciated that story. Has known what it meant to be from a place and believe in the promise of this country. To know that their own history meant that not every barrier was broken down, not every hard path cleared, but that here, in America, there was that shot for any striving family. The chance to build a home, and to make the most out of your dreams.”
Police Seize Kilogam of Fentanyl in Drug Bust
Two Mexican nationals were arrested and charged in federal court in Boston in connection with selling two kilograms of cocaine after a major drug bust on Sumner Street. Through a search warrant federal agents also discovered enough fentanyl to kill everyone and then some in East Boston.
Carlos Acosta Estrella, 31, and his mother, Ana Guadalupe Acosta Grajeda, 56, were arrested on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 and charged in a criminal complaint with one count of possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.
According to the criminal complaint, Estrella and Grajeda were arrested by law enforcement agents in Eastie after they were videotaped selling two kilograms of cocaine to a cooperating witness. Federal agents executed a search warrant of the East Boston apartment on Sumner Street where the defendants were located and seized one kilogram of suspected fentanyl, one kilogram of suspected heroin, numerous cell phones, a high-powered tactical shotgun with a laser sight, and a box of ammunition for the shotgun.
According to the DEA officials, two milligrams of fentanyl will kill an adult. One kilogram of fentanyl is equivalent to 1 million milligrams. The amount seized could potentially kill over 300,000 adults.
Community Breaks Ground on New Police Station
In October, Mayor Martin Walsh and Police Commissioner WIlliam Gross joined elected officials and the community to break ground on a new state-of-the-art police station at the City Yards.
The $30 million project will create a more efficient and better station for police and replace the aging District A-7 station on Meridian Street near Maverick Square. The station will be roughly 27,000 sq. ft. with an entrance on the corner of Condor and Trenton streets. There will be parking in the rear of the station for 50 vehicles and the building will be LEAD Silver Certified.
According to the city the public art will be placed on the future new Area A-7 Police Station in Eastie with the aim of creating a new public building that is welcoming to the community, while having a civic presence through public art and community space.
“In Boston, we put our community first, and this new police station is an investment in East Boston, and in public safety,” said Mayor Walsh. “This station is our commitment to the next generation. We’re dedicated to community policing, and that means interacting with residents, families and youth in a positive way. For our young people, this station is a place where they can learn about a career in law enforcement, join a youth group, or get mentoring. We will continue to invest in our values of trust and community, and create public spaces that help all residents.”
Community Gathers to Officially Name Greenway After the Late Mary Ellen Welch
The godmother of East Boston community activism, the late Mary Ellen Welch, was not much for adulations, awards or honors. Instead, Welch prefered to quietly go about her daily commitment to improving the lives of all who called Eastie home and inspiring generations to become community leaders.
Mayor Martin Walsh joined Eastie’s elected officials and Welch’s friends and family to officially name the East Boston Greenway the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway.
Yes, she was a force to be reckoned with at community meetings when her beloved community was threatened in any way. And there are countless beautification and open space projects that dot the entire neighborhood that have her fingerprints all over them.
But when it came to honors or hero worship she shrugged them off as silly, especially in her later years when she preferred to work behind the scenes–writing hundreds of letters to decision makers expressing her opinion or offering sage advice to those who sought it.
Massport Unveils New Ride App Area in Central Garage
Massport unveiled the Terminal A and C section of the new Ride App space in Central Parking. By creating a new Ride App area Massport hopes to reduce congestion at the airport and add amenities to improve the passenger experience that use these Ride Apps.
Starting in October the flying public landing and arriving at Terminals A and C that plan to use Ride Apps Uber and Lyft will meet their driver in Central Parking. Massport has placed multiple signs throughout the two terminals directing passengers to the new locations.
“Moving the Uber and Lyft operations to Central Parking does two main things – it helps us provide better customer service for all our passengers and it will help reduce the amount of congestion on our roadways and through the tunnels,” said Massport CEO Lisa Wieland. “This is part of our Logan Forward initiative, and we’re making improvements to create a better airport.”
Our Lady of the Assumption Church in East Boston Celebrates 150 Years
It was a special Mass for parishioners and clergy at Our Lady of the Assumption Church on Sumner Street in East Boston.
The church, which stood the test of time in Jeffries Point, turned 150 years old Sunday. To mark to occasion Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston, said a special Mass at the church.
The service included music, prayer and a special homily by O’Malley.
“Each year we celebrate the birthday of the Church on Pentecost, recalling when Mary and the apostles gathered in prayer in the cenacle,” said O’Malley Sunday. “Today we celebrate the 150th birthday of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, with gratitude for the service given by the priests, religious sisters and parishioners during that history. Today Our Lady of the Assumption Parish welcomes people from many countries and cultures, giving witness to the presence of Christ in our midst here and now and trusting in the intercession of our Blessed Mother. May the good work of the parish continue for many years into the future as we confidently go forward in the name of the Lord.”
Most Holy Redeemer Celebrates 175th Anniversary
The Holy Redeemer Church was Eastie’s first Roman Catholic Church built by Irish Immigrants in 1844 and designed by renowned architect Patrick Keely, known for his work on the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Brighton.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, said a special Mass of Thanksgiving
to celebrate the Most Holy Redeemer Church’s 175th Anniversary in Eastie.
Five years after it was built the church hosted the 1849 wedding of President John F. Kennedy’s great-grandparents. Patrick Kennedy and Bridget Murphy both immigrated to Eastie from New Ross, Ireland and their marriage and subsequent birth of their son, P.J. Kennedy, and grandson, Joseph P. Kennedy, began the Kennedy Family’s political dynasty in America.
EBNHC’s Joanna Cataldo Named ABCD Community Hero
East Boston native and longtime East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) employee Joanna Cataldo was recently honored at ABCD’s (Action for Boston Community Development) annual Community Heroes Celebration.
Cataldo grew up in Eastie and has worked here for the past 25 years, most of that time in various roles at the EBNHC. Her positions at the EBNHC include coordinator of the smoking cessation program, director of the Education and Training Institute, and for the past five years manager of the substance use and misuse prevention coalition.
“I truly enjoy connecting people to valuable resources that can put them on a path toward personal improvement and/or advancement—in a career, interpersonal relationships, better health, or in some other meaningful way,” said Cataldo. “Over the course of 25 years of working and volunteering in East Boston, I have had the privilege of supporting and celebrating many residents as they fulfill these goals.”
ISD Closes Maverick Dunkin’ Donuts Dunkin’ Donuts Corporate Files Suit Against Franchise Owner
The owner of two Dunkin’ Donuts franchises in East Boston is in some pretty hot water with the City of Boston and Dunkin’ Donuts Corporate.
The city’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) shut down the Dunkin’ Donuts in Maverick Square in November after video shot by Peter Wild surfaced on social media of a half dozen or so mice freeley scurrying around the inside of the popular coffee shop.
ISD then inspected the Dunkin’ Donuts location and found a whole host of health code violations. D’Alelio Management Co., operating as RMG Donuts, operates the Dunkin’ Donuts in Maverick as well as a second location on Bennington Street in Orient Heights.
During their inspection ISD inspectors found evidence of mice and roach infestations as well as small flies present in the dining area.
A second inspection the next day showed RMG Donuts had not remedied the health-code violations.
After the second ISD inspection Dunkin’ Donuts Corporate had enough and filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to strip RMG Donuts of its franchises in Eastie. In the suit Dunkin’ Donuts Corporate argues that RMG Donuts is in violation of its franchise agreement, which requires clean shops.
Sen. Ed Markey Makes Campaign Stop in Eastie
In his 43-year career, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey has rarely been the underdog in an election. Markey, who first served in the U.S. House from 1976 to 2013 before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2013, has built an impressive resume as a champion of environmental issues, immigration rights, addressing opioid abuse, affordable health care and housing.
In September U.S. Congressman Joseph Kennedy III (D-Cape Cod) announced that he would challenge Markey in the 2020 election.
In response, Markey made a campaign stop last Tuesday at the East Boston Social Centers to rally his troops, and begin organizing his state campaign on the local level.
Markey was introduced by Rep. Adrian Madaro who has endorsed the U.S. Senator in his bid for reelection against the younger Kennedy.
“Sen. Markey has been a man that has been fighting for our community for decades, putting in the hard work on behalf of the people of Massachusetts,” said Madaro. “He’s been fighting to make important changes on the national level, changes that have transformed our communities for the better. There is no doubt he is a gifted leader and expert on policy. You can’t mention the name Ed Markey without talking about climate change because he’s been a stalwart champion of the environment for his entire career. He has a very strong record of fighting for progressive policies to address climate change and environmental justice that impacts coastal communities like East Boston.”
Markey thanked the crowd of community organizers for coming to the Social Centers to be part of his reelection.
“I can feel the grassroots efforts happening all across the Commonwealth,” said Markey “We have big issues that we have to fight for. That’s what I do and have been doing every single day in the Senate. I stand up and fight for you. I stand up and fight for the people in East Boston and surrounding communities.”
Eastie’s Nantucket Lightship Receives Prestigious Federal Grant
Since 2009, Eastie has played host to a national treasure. The giant red lightship docked on Marginal Street was declared a National Historic Landmark (NHL) in 1989. Since then there has been a push locally to restore the historic Lightship Nantucket, also known as Lightship No. 112 or simply LV-112.
Recently, the efforts to restore and preserve the Nantucket got a huge boost when it was awarded a Save America’s Treasures (SAT) grant from the National Park Service, in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment of the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Announced this fall, a total of $12.6 million in grants will help fund 41 projects in 23 states. The funds will support the preservation of nationally significant historic properties and collections throughout the country.
The U.S. Lightship Museum (USLM), the non-profit organization that has been overseeing the Nantucket’s restoration, will receive a $487,500 grant to restore internal structural components and provide general maintenance critical to maintaining the integrity of the ship’s hull and ability to remain open to the general public for decades to come.
Pressley Takes a Tour of EBNHC Department
A week after leading a fight to secure strong investments in community health centers as part of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings’s Lower Drug Costs Now Act in the U.S. House, U.S. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley decided to visit one community Health Center that has become a model for others across the nation.
Pressley toured East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s (EBNHC) emergency department and then participated in a roundtable discussion with heads of the Health Center’s various departments.
EBNHC and the other 51 Community Health Centers in Massachusetts provide life-saving, affordable, and patient-centered resources to over 300,000 children, people experiencing homelessness, immigrants and veterans.
Pressley, a longtime advocate for community-based health care programs and, member of the Congressional Community Health Centers Caucus, helped secure $1.6 billion in funding for the Health Center program–including $5 million to support school-based health centers earlier this year. EBNHC runs a school-based health center at East Boston High School for students that are most at risk of not having easy access to primary care and other health care needs.
Councilor Edwards’ Affordable Housing Home Rule Petition Signed by Walsh
It was a huge win for District 1 City Councilor Lydia Edwards, her colleague Councilor Kim Janey and affordable housing advocates across the city.
Mayor Martin Walsh signed Edwards and Janey’s Home Rule Petition to impose a real estate transfer fee of 2 percent on the purchase price of any private real estate sale over $2 million and dedicate all revenues to affordable housing. The 2 percent fee will be used to generate additional funding to create and preserve affordable housing in Boston. The City Council approved the measure by a vote of 10-3.
The signing by Walsh now moves Edwards and Jayne’s Home Rule Petition to the Massachusetts Legislature for approval. If approved by the state, the City would have the ability to determine the final rate for the fee, collection method and any exemptions that would exist.
“Housing is the biggest economic challenge facing the residents of Boston and people across our region,” said Mayor Walsh. “That’s why it’s critically important that we do everything we can to support the creation of homes that are affordable, while also preserving our existing housing stock. I am proud to sign this Home Rule Petition that is a significant step forward in our work, by giving Boston the ability to impose a modest fee on the sale of private property, which will collectively do a world of good towards our efforts to make Boston a more affordable place to live.”
Damien Margardo Leaves BCYF After 31
Damien Margardo grew up a typical East Boston youth. He played sports, hung out at the community’s recreation centers with friends, and during the summer months, headed to the East Boston Camps in Westford with hundreds of other Eastie kids.
As a youth mentors like Marty Pino, John Forbes Sr. and Joe Weddelton shaped Margardo’s trajectory in life. As young adult Maragrdo embarked on a long career as a youth worker for the Boston Centers for Youth and Families.
However, after 31 years of service to the BCYF Marty Pino and Paris Street sites Margardo announced he was leaving BCYF to take on a new role at the Parks Department.
“I started working for BCYF in August 1988 as a lifeguard at the Paris Street Pool,” said Margardo at the party. “Since then I moved into working with youth and was most recently a BCYF Program Supervisor. I’m looking forward to the new challenges at Parks and Rec. What I’m going to miss most leaving BCYF will be all of the great seniors, youth and the families that I have worked with directly all these years.”