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COLUMN: Neighbors

Fitchburg restaurateur and philanthropist David Celuzza will receive Fitchburg State University's President's Medal at its winter commencement ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 25 in the campus Athletics and Recreation Center, 130 North St. President Robert V. Antonucci will deliver the commencement address.

Mr. Celuzza, owner of Slattery's Restaurant in Fitchburg, has been an engaged citizen and entrepreneur for decades, devoting his talent and energy to many organizations and community projects.

Mr. Celuzza managed Slattery's for 12 years before taking ownership in 1984 and transforming the local pub into a full-service restaurant. The establishment, which employs 70 people, has been named one of the top 500 independent restaurants in the United States by Restaurant & Institutions magazine.

After graduating from Fitchburg High School, Mr. Celuzza earned a bachelor of science degree from Fitchburg State. He was a member of the staff of the student newspaper The Cycle, whose editors took the administration to federal court in a civil rights/freedom of speech battle that garnered national attention.

A former member of the U.S. Army Reserve, Mr. Celuzza serves on the board of directors of IC Federal Credit Union, where he chairs its supervisory committee, as well as the board of directors for Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School Foundation. He was also past chairman of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, and the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.

Mr. Celuzza founded Slattery's Turkey Trot, one of the largest and most successful road-running events in the state. The race, which celebrated its 32nd running last year, awards thousands of dollars in scholarships each year to six local high schools, with nearly $180,000 donated over its history. Mr. Celuzza has also served on the board of directors of the Fitchburg State University Foundation and chaired its development committee.

In 2009, he was named Citizen of the Year by the Multi-Service Center and made an honorary lifetime member of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association Board of Directors. In 2010, he was presented with the Distinguished Citizen Award by the Nashua Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Mr. Celuzza and his wife, Donna, and their son, Liam, live in Lunenburg.

For the first time, three Fitchburg families recently celebrated the holidays in their own homes, thanks to the revitalization of the Elm Street area.

Three brand-new homes replaced tenement housing and empty lots as part of Fitchburg's effort to create high-quality affordable housing close to downtown.

The single-family homes, which are approximately 1,400 square feet each, were built using Fitchburg HOME funds of approximately $210,000, as well as $450,000 provided by the state's Department of Housing and Community Development Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

"The transformation of the neighborhood has been made possible thanks to federal, state and city programs, as well as the outstanding work of the Twin Cities CDC," said Fitchburg Director of Housing Ryan McNutt.

According to Twin Cities CDC Executive Director Marc Dohan, whose agency is a partner in the revitalization effort, the buyers are local, young families who are just starting out.

To qualify to buy the homes, which sold for approximately $125,000, the new homeowners, Jacob Workman, Nguyet Nguyen and Daniel Torres, had to be first-time homebuyers and meet the income guidelines.

Mr. Dohan was surprised how quickly the homes sold. "We know the formula works," he said. "People want high-quality housing that is accessible, but with low interest rates it really helped move the homes quickly."

"Because these homes were built using the latest construction techniques as well as having energy-efficient appliances and boilers, the utility cost will be lower than in an average home," said Steve Cook, director of housing development for Twin Cities CDC.

Since 2008, the city of Fitchburg and Twin Cities CDC have improved the neighborhood's existing housing, and developed new housing and green space. In addition to the Elm Street homes, other properties improved include single-family homes on Johnson and Essex streets, two multiple-unit homes on High and Marshall streets, and 10 rental units on Prichard and Marshall streets.

In addition to housing, the Twin Cities CDC helped create the Elm Street Area Neighborhood Association, which organizes monthly neighborhood cleanups and beautification initiatives.

Kyle Clark of Gardner, serving with the Company B (Military Intelligence), 27th Brigade Special Troops Battalion of the New York Army National Guard, was recently promoted to the rank of specialist.

Vanessa M. Yu of Leominster, the daughter of Dr. Wankin J. Yu and Margaret Leong-Yu, earned highest honors for the fall 2012 term at Philips Exeter Academy, Exeter, N.H.



CUTLINE: (1) Mr. Celuzza. (2) Tom Gray, left, senior vice president of Workers' Credit Union and a board member of Twin Cities Community Development Corp., congratulates new homeowners Daniel Torres and Maria C. Malava at a ribbon-cutting for three Elm Street single-family homes built with the help of the city of Fitchburg and Twin Cities CDC.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 18, 2013
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