Chelsea Parks and Recreation





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Updates on Pierce Park and Letts Creek

By Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com

The Chelsea Parks and Recreation Commission, on July 17, focused again on Pierce Park and its improvements, along with an update on the Letts Creek Linear Park.

City manager John Hanifan asked the commission if the previously proposed site group visits for commission members was still the plan.   Prior recommendations to the commission included visiting Gallup Park and other local parks that the commission wanted to look at in terms of accessibility.



With the design and concept plan for Pierce Park already accepted by the commission, the discussion turned to whether they should visit other parks. It was agreed that each member of the commission would try, individually, to visit the other parks before their next meeting.

Hanifan said they will likely bring someone in to ensure the pathways and slopes are adequate in the new plan.

The next step for the commission is to finalize other specific elements. The plan has been shared with council, a public input session took place earlier in the summer, and an initial plan was laid out.

Some things are already known, the new pathway is set and the new look restrooms too, but other aspects need final decisions. These include seating, the front garden space near the rock, and play structures.

At their next meeting in August, the commission plans to meet at Pierce Park to plan onsite. With the insight gained, the commission will plan a budget.

Options break down further pertaining to cost. The commission could decide to buy new structures, for example, or repaint what they currently have.

Mayor Melissa Johnson mentioned that with it being a phased project, certain things can be budgeted in and if not, moved to a later time.

Hanifan suggested that holding another public input session might be best. With the emphasis on the rock at the prior session, something that Hanifan says was definitely a good thing, but another input session would give people a chance to look at the plan beyond the rock, and consider the final elements. At the public input session prior, only concepts of new structures and seating were at stations in the park to get people thinking about what could be implemented.

After elements are finalized the crowdfunding portion for park funding can begin – the city would raise a certain dollar amount with Patronicity, a site that helps communities fund local initiatives.

In addition to the discussion on Pierce Park, the commission considered official reaction to people painting on the trees near the rock. While the rock painting is a local attraction, painting on the nearby trees is technically prohibited and something the trees surrounding the rock have been a victim of for years. The city workers cannot remove the paint without doing harm to the trees and have looked at ways to notify park goers of the rules. Maybe a sign that says don’t paint on the trees?

Letts Creek

As housing developments continue progress in Chelsea, the Letts Creek Linear Park progress continues as well. Hanifan notified the commission that with the next step of construction planned, it would be a good time to add signage.

He also notified them a grant was received to finish the park from McKinley street to M-52/Main.

Hanifan said he is looking at submitting a grant for what would be the west end of the park, a joint effort with neighboring Sylvan Township to connect communities.

With the developments going in at Heritage Park, there have been talks about making a connection happen in the short term, with the idea being that the park could extend up and go to the dog park. With no sidewalk currently, although one is planned, it would eventually connect to Freer where the Border-to-Border trail segment will come in.

The Freer/Dexter-Chelsea intersection was discussed, the trail is still coming in, but with no sidewalk and train tracks nearby, a safety and planning grant through SEMCOG would be a solution.

This wouldn’t take place until October, and ideally construction would start in 2019, but Hanifan noted that it would be dependent on the bidding scene, supplies, and what else is happening in the region at that time.

One alternative discussed with that intersection is a tunnel under the road, something that the city is optimistic can happen. Hanifan told the commission the number of grants for tunnels and large-scale tunnels are going up.

The east portion would finish in 2-3 years ideally If everything stays on track.

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Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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