Chelsea’s Proposed Main St Park Environmental Tests Results Released

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Conceptual rendering of the city park imagined for the abandoned and blighted Federal Screw Works property in downtown Chelsea.

Developer Joe Ziolkowski of the Main Street Park Alliance (MSPA) presented results from the group’s environmental study of the blighted Federal Screw property at the Dec. 19 Chelsea City Council meeting.

Ziolkowski began by acknowledging how collaboration with the city, particularly City Manager Roy Atkinson, has helped with the project. “Since Roy has come on board, things have picked up quite a bit with Main Street Park Alliance. Roy has been an excellent partner to us, bringing the right consultants to the table.”

Ziolkowski told the council that the purchased agreement for the property MSPA signed last August doesn’t mean the group owns the property. The document allows them a 13-month inspection period for the property, which has been extended “so that we can fit all the items in that we need,” said Ziolkowski.

With the city's help, MSPA received a $65,000 brownfield grant from Washtenaw County for phases one and two of the environmental testing. “We’re very grateful for that,” said Ziolkowski.

Ziolkowski explained the old office building would need to be torn down. The structural soundness of the larger pavilion is yet to be determined.

Ziolkowski explained how MSPA wanted to go “above and beyond” on environmental testing. The group put up an additional $35,000, bringing the total for testing to $100,000. “We completed three or four times more testing than would have been typical,” he said.

Tests discovered three buried tanks ranging from 10,000 to 15,000 gallons that EGLE records showed were removed. The property’s current owner, Magellan Development, is responsible for removal.

“The site turned out more or less like we kind of thought it would,” said Ziolkowski. “Nothing eyebrow raising except the southwest corner.”

Testing revealed oil from previous site use in an area approximately 100 by 200 feet. Ziolkowski explained the concern is the oil is seeping off the site, probably into the utility corridor and possibly adjacent properties to the south. The tests also revealed a broken storm sewer posing another pathway for the oil to migrate off the site.

“We’re not deterred by what we’re seeing here,” said Ziolkowski, noting Federal Screw is responsible for the contamination cleanup. However, MSPA doesn’t believe that will be enforced, with so many other sites in Michigan taking a higher priority.

“If we’re waiting for them to come clean this up, I don’t think any of us are going to be in this room, maybe, let alone on this planet,” he said.

Federal Screw Works was an automotive supplier manufacturing various metal components from 1917 to 2005. The company contributed significantly to the war effort during WWII. Such was its output that the military awarded the employees and company for their work.

Since its closing, various developers have considered the property. However, the challenges of converting the contaminated manufacturing site for commercial and/or residential use have proved too much

As a remedy for the oil contamination, MSPA is working with the city to dig out the contaminated ground, replace it with clean soil, and fix the broken storm sewer.

“We’re forming a really nice partnership with the City of Chelsea, and we have real momentum,” said Ziolkowski. “Not only do we have the resources to put behind this clean, this build, this dig, but we also believe we can leverage other resources to get this done.”

MSPA hopes that all the necessary steps fall into place to begin digging out the contaminated dirt and other remediation work this coming summer.

“We feel like there’s a confluence of partnerships and alliances right now that will help make this a successful project,” concluded Ziolkowski.

More information on Main Street Park Alliance, its work, and how to support the initiative can be found at https://www.mainstreetpark.org/

Images courtesy of MSPA

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