Times Staff Report
It took the combined strength of twenty East Boston and Chelsea residents to move a seven-foot tractor tire that has littered the beach of the Condor Street Urban Wild for at least a decade. But on Friday, during an Earth Day cleanup organized by the Environmental Chelsea Creek Crew (E3C) and the East Boston Chelsea Creek Action Group, the tire was heaved well above the high-tide line and now awaits pick-up.
“I’ve helped with cleanups at the Urban Wild since 2004,” said Community Organizer Melinda Alvarado-Vega. “That tire has always been an eyesore on the beach.”
The Condor Street Urban Wild cleanup was part of the second annual “Mystic Community Earth Day,” a series of events in the Lower Mystic River Watershed in Medford, Somerville, Malden, Everett, Chelsea, and East Boston. The events, which included clean-ups, trail clearings, and plantings, took place on Friday and Saturday, April 29 and 30 in honor of Earth Day, and focused on improving areas along the river while drawing attention to the needs of the watershed as a whole.
“The Mystic River and its tributaries like the Chelsea Creek run through some of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the state,” said Alvarado-Vega. “The waterway should be an asset to our communities, not a dumping ground.”
The Mystic River Watershed is the most urbanized and densely populated watershed in Massachusetts, with over half a million people living in its 76 square miles.
Due to its long industrial history and aging sewer systems, the water quality of the river is severely degraded and access to the riverfront is limited. To confront these challenges, residents, community groups, and organizations like the Chelsea Creek Action Group, are working to improve the Mystic River, its tributaries, and surrounding communities.
The Condor Street Urban Wild is a testament to the hard work to improve the Chelsea Creek. For decades, this 4.5-acre abandoned, contaminated site was closed to the public. Working with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Boston Parks and Environment Departments, the Chelsea Creek Action Group (CCAG) helped secure a $1.2 million Supplemental Environmental Project mitigation settlement to create Eastie’s only public park along the Chelsea Creek and restore some of the area’s natural wetlands.
“I watched a Green Heron fish in the shallow waters at the Urban Wild’s shore today,” described CCAG member Leigh Hall, who took part in Friday’s cleanup, “That’s a sign of a healthy marsh.”
CCAG is a grassroots organization formed by the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) and the Chelsea Green Space and Recreation Committee together with residents from both Eastie and Chelsea. CCAG seeks to reclaim the Chelsea Creek as an environmental, recreational, economic, and educational asset for East Boston, Chelsea, Revere and the region.
This year marked the 41st Earth Day, which was first held on April 22, 1970, and featured rallies, protests, and clean-ups across the country with a strong college student presence. That day is often considered the birth of the modern environmental movement.