Chelsea Community Center Plans Jog Forward


Chelsea’s long pursuit of a community center has taken a significant step forward.

The Chelsea Community Center Task Force, formed in 2020, submitted its Preliminary Recommendation Report to the City Council at its Oct 17, 2022, meeting.

“We’ve been talking about this now for several years but more intensely for the last ten months now,” said Mayor Jane Pacheco when introducing the report to the council.

The Community Center Task Force (CCTF) made four recommendations:

  1. City staff forms a working group to explore the three site options, estimating costs, compatibility with other civic initiatives, and partnering opportunities with local organizations for funding and programming.
  2. The working group comprises representatives from the CCTF, Parks, and Rec, City Council, Chelsea Schools, 5HF, Chelsea Hospital, Silver Maples, and Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative.
  3. Per the community survey, plans should include a pool, gym, meeting/rental space, indoor track, aerobics space, spin, and other classes, coffee shop, teen hangout space, adequate parking, bus stop, and room for expansion.
  4. The working group submits its results in time for the council’s February 2023 visioning session.
City-owned property on the corner of Freer and Trinkle is one of the suggested sites for a community center. Image: Google Streetview.

The CCTF recommendations come from a Spring 2022 survey where 544 respondents outlined their desire for a community center. Highlights from the survey include:

  • 70% travel at least five miles from home for recreational services.
  • 80% indicated they would come at least once a week.
  • 75% of adults are willing to pay a user fee.
  • 40% of respondents live outside of Chelsea
  • 61% want aquatic facilities, including multipurpose pool, lap lanes, outdoor pool, splash pad, and lazy river.
  • 60% prefer an indoor track.
  • 52% would like a gym
  • 48% want a space for aerobics and other activities
  • 46% favor indoor adventures like a climbing wall
  • 43% would like to see a coffee shop
  • 42% would like to see space for a teen hangout
  • 41% want meeting/rental spaces

In addition to the survey results, the CCTF recommended an outdoor multi-use recreation space, play structures, ice rink, sledding hill, free weights and strength training area, community resource and information hub, community garden, creative/maker spaces, skate park, practice/study spaces.

The three location options are 1) new construction on the corner of Freer and Trinkle, 2) new construction at Timbertown, or 3) renovating and repurposing the existing Wellness Center.

The preliminary cost estimate for building a new facility which includes all of the above elements, is $25,485,604.

The council discussed the high price tag.

“It’s been almost 20 years, and people are still kicking this down the road, so maybe we just don’t need it,” commented Councilmember Charles Wiseley. “That being said, I think that gives you an idea of where I stand on all this.”

“We have a little bit of a model for when things go well here for projects that are expensive,” said Councilmember Peter Feeney. “Usually, they involve multiple partners in the community.”

“This particular project is really complex because there’s already people in the community providing the services or some of the services that everybody would like to see under one roof,” continued Feeney. “If it’s a $25 million ball that gets thrown in our laps, the chances of succeeding aren’t great.”

“I’m very interested to see what the partnering options are and what the options are for developing what everybody seems to be looking for here,” concluded Feeney.

“There is good community support, and every community partner that was contacted is in support of some sort of partnership,” said Mayor Pacheco. “It is our decision to direct staff to flesh this out a little bit more, come back to us, come back to the task force, and I think we can go from there.”

The council approved the motion to accept the preliminary Community Center Task Force report dated Oct 4, 2022, and to direct staff to further investigate recommended options, as outlined in the report.

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