The Year 2018:Milestones and Momentum

The 2018 year in Charlestown was one of milestones, passing the torch to the young generation and trying to manage the huge growth inside and around the Town.

Here are some of the highlights from the year:

•Councilor Lydia Edwards is sworn in on Jan. 1 with the City Council, and later in the morning takes her seat at City Hall for her first meeting as the District 1 Councilor. The first-term councilor held a busy schedule in her first year, tackling everything from One Charlestown to MassPort.

•The murder trial for Ryan ‘Duce’ Morrissey begins in January after four years of waiting. After many weeks of testimony and discussion, a jury acquits the accused shooters – Danilo and Alexander Soto – of murder. However, they convict getaway driver Julio Baez of first-degree murder. He is given the maximum sentence by Judge Janet Sanders in early February, closing a chapter on a very painful part of 2018 for the Town.

•Hood Park dominates the news in 2018, beginning the year with a discussion about a concert venue/parking garage on the campus. While the concert venue is pulled from the project, the parking garage continues and is approved. That project morphs into a year-long discussion on how much height is acceptable on the old dairy campus. In the fall, Hood proposes a new master plan that includes two buildings more than 200-feet tall. The discussion of the new, proposed project continues into 2019.

•A video put together by the Pure Hockey chain store company highlights the Charlestown hockey tradition in February with its first installment in a series of nationwide videos. The video includes interviews with Brendan Collier, Matt Grzelcyk, Micaela Sindoris, Jack Sullivan, Jack Sindoris, John Grzelcyk, Edie Evans and Steve Lakus. The company donates $5,000 to the CYHA. And, in addition, three CYHA teams take home the Mayor’s Cup for the first time and the Mites 1 team wins the Valley League title.

•Old Spaces, New Faces. The old Five Cent Savings Bank building gets a facelift on its first-floor as two new tenants – Cambridge Savings Bank and Starbucks – open in refurbished and welcoming spaces in early 2018.

• Wynn CEO Steve Wynn seemed to be in control of his company and the project just over the Charlestown line until late January, when he was accused of sexual misconduct in a Wall Street Journal report. The allegations quickly gathered steam, and by February Wynn had resigned from the company and the license for the Everett casino was in jeopardy and the project was moving forward “at risk.” The new CEO became Matt Maddox and the company saw huge amounts of turnover throughout the year. By the end of 2018, the license for the Everett site was still in limbo and an investigation into the matter still had yet to be revealed – having been delayed for months.

•Old Sully’s Café is no more. The storied neighborhood watering hole is purchased by long-time Charlestown develop George Georges at the corner of Union and Lynde Streets. Georges retrofits the old bar into three, two-bedroom condos, with work beginning in February. By the end of the year, all three units are occupied and Old Sully’s is part of neighborhood lore.

•One Charlestown loses is financing partner, SunCal, in early 2018, and later brings on Leggat McCall as the new partner. In the spring and fall, Councilor Lydia Edwards and the Boston Housing Authority hold hearings in Charlestown on the development, which has now been scaled back. More is to come in 2019, though.

•Substantial flooding hits Charlestown during a horrendous storm on March 2 when areas of the Town that aren’t usually flooded got a lot of water. The flooding was caused by a storm that brought on the second highest storm surge in Boston Harbor history. It was a wakeup call for many in regard to the new term of ‘Coastal Resiliency.’

•St. Catherine’s Church is converted into a Dollar Tree store, and the developer says the building has a lot more potential on the main floors.

•Derek Gallagher becomes the new director of the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club in April. Gallagher has worked at the Club for years, and has a long family history based in the club.

•Former Firefighter and Vietnam veteran John Tkachuk is chosen as the Chief Marshal of the 2018 Battle of Bunker Hill Day Parade. He oversees another wonderful month of activities in conjunction with the Bunker Hill Associates and Arthur Hurley of the Parade Committee.

•Mystic River Watershed Council kicks off a visioning process for the Lower Mystic River in Charlestown hoping to spark enthusiasm for opening up the waterfront along the Mystic.

•After 37 years on Main Street, Bunker Hill Florist store owners Joe Shadroui and Larry Bowling close up shop, selling their business to another owner.

•The Charlestown Peace Park draws a huge crowd at its unveiling on June 26. The unveiling was heavily attended and followed up by a Peace Walk.

•Navy Commander Robert ‘Bob’ Gillen passes away on July 6. A grand procession from the Carr Funeral Home to St. Francis de Sales Church takes place on July 11, followed by a packed house at the church for his Funeral Mass. Gillen had been an incredibly accomplished member of the Navy, more than a lot of people knew, and once commanded Old Ironsides in the Navy Yard. In recent years he was very active in the Town with organizations like the Old Charlestown Schoolboys and the Bunker Hill Parade Committee.

•The Kitchen Kup once again steals the show in August at Eden Street Park. This year, founder Joe Brennan enlists some help from younger players eager to have a bigger role in the tournament. The weather is hot and the competition does not disappoint. Sadly, the Southie ‘Mook’ team takes home the Kup again.

•The North Washington Street Bridge replacement project gets its notice to proceed in late August and preliminary work starts to pop up throughout the fall. The big announcement came in October when the state says it will build a temporary bridge to lessen the impacts and shorten the construction schedule.

•The Charlestown Navy Yard hosts U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke on Oct. 5 to announce a study to revamp the visitor experience in the Navy Yard. Zinke announces $3 million to begin planning for the restoration of the old Hoosac Building, which will serve as offices and a new home for the Constitution Museum

•The Lost Village section of the neighborhood speaks out in great numbers in late October against plans for a marijuana dispensary on Cambridge Street. The dispensary is proposed by Bloominus, and seems to have stalled at the moment.

•The Boston Public Schools rolls out its BuildBPS 2.0 plan in November to great disappointment citywide and in Charlestown. BPS does announce that it would like to look at phasing out the Edwards Middle School to make more elementary seats, but elementary parents in the Town were hoping for quicker action.

•The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) initiates its RFP review process for activating the Navy Yard in December. Six proposals came in and after a meeting in December, it’s mixed reviews for some of them. A few of the proposals are very ambitious, and the BPDA said it hadn’t expected such detailed proposals. The verdict is still out on the matter going into 2019.

•The Mayor’s Enchanted Trolley Tour visit to Charlestown is postponed in December, with Mayor Walsh and Santa Claus coming later in the month. It wasn’t canceled due to snow though, but rather heavy rain. Rain was a factor in nearly everything throughout 2018.

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