Many, many years ago, Chelsea and Revere were one in the same city.
There were no boundaries along the Parkway or Chelsea Creek that separated the communities.
When the communities were based on agriculture in the early days, there are stories in the history books of Chelsea farmers and Revere farmers banding together in tough times – sometimes sharing hired hands and even slaves – to get their crops planted or harvested.
That was then, though, and in modern times the two communities have kind of had their backs to one another.
Revere was more suburban.
Chelsea became more urban.
Chelsea thought Revere was stuck up.
Revere thought Chelsea was unappealing.
Chelsea stuck together with Chelseans, and Revere stuck together with Reverites. The boundary, though indecipherable, couldn’t have been wider.
Now, especially in City Government, that cannot continue.
Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo – in his first year – has continued the tradition started by his predecessor, Tom Ambrosino, of breaking the ice between Chelsea and Revere.
Working with Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash has been a key part of Rizzo’s plan as he has settled into the first year of his four-year term. Ash, likewise, has returned the favor and has visited Revere to observe how Rizzo’s successful Anti-Crime Neighborhood Watch efforts have taken shape.
There are plenty of opportunities for the two communities to work together for the sake of efficiency.
Winthrop and Revere have already combined efforts in their public libraries, their Health Departments and their 9-1-1 Call Centers.
There’s no reason why Chelsea and Revere could not collaborate on similar tasks within government, sharing resources and saving money for the two communities.
Meanwhile, information sharing could be just as valuable.
When it comes to economic development, Ash is one of the foremost authorities in the state, and his ideas could be replicated in Revere and tweaked by Revere Development Director John Festa.
This is already being done to some extent, as under Ambrosino, Revere and Chelsea established a combined Economic Development Target Area – a program established in Chelsea and tacked onto successfully by Revere.
And when it comes to public safety, information sharing between the two police forces cannot be equated in dollars.
New Revere Chief Joe Cafarelli has proclaimed that he wants to work better with outside agencies and surrounding police departments.
Both communities share the same concerns when it comes to gangs, street violence and drugs. In fact, many of the same “major players” among the local criminal elements rotate between Chelsea and Revere these days. Just look at the police logs published in our papers.
The bottom line is that Chelsea and Revere are more similar than they are dissimilar. Both struggle with poverty, with embracing a large immigrant community, with growing public safety concerns, with a prominent proximity next to Logan Airport and Boston, and with a positive economic development outlook for the future.
Working together has become necessary to survive, just like in the old agricultural days of the communities.
The historical gap has simply run its course, even if only by necessity.