Chelsea City Manager Atkinson is Looking Forward to a Great 2023
Chelsea City Manager Roy Atkinson took time to talk with the Sun Times News about what is in the works for 2023.
Continue Building Local and Regional Relationships
Initially, it may not sound very exciting, but Atkinson believes communication and relationships are foundational to everything else, whether residents, groups, or municipalities. Right off the bat, he lists a new city website in the works and a future upgrade in council meeting technology as examples of “finding new ways to communicate with residents and improving our current methods.”
Atkinson cites the ongoing collaboration between the city and groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and the school district as vital partnerships. Looking outside of Chelsea, Atkinson says, “There’s a lot of strategic advantages to strengthening relationships with our municipal partners in the region, and it really reflects good governance.”
“I think being open to conversations is number one,” he says. “We’ve been really getting ahead in that. We’re having conversations we haven’t had in quite a long time.”
As one example of such conversations, Atkinson points to recent talks with Sylvan Township regarding the interconnection of municipal services. The two municipalities are exploring a possible agreement where one system could support the other if services were diminished or failed for some reason.
Main Street Park
“The city has been working in tandem with Main Street Park Alliance to figure out how to approach that site and work on the feasibility of a potential park,” says Atkinson. “Come next year, I think we’re going to be moving forward with potential solutions, and we’ll hopefully have a good way forward on that.”
In addition to planning the park’s design, Atkinson says the alliance is developing responsibilities and roles for the groups involved as a structure for the park for years to come.
The project is working on converting a former industrial site in downtown Chelsea that has stymied developers in the past. While the final design has not yet been formalized, plans include play structures, a splash pad, green space, and a pavilion.
And speaking of parks…
“I think we’re going to see a lot of movement on our public-private partnership for the Timbertown project,” says Atkinson. “We have a five-pronged approach.”
He explains the first objective is proposed infrastructure improvements such as a paved parking lot, better ADA accessibility, better lighting, and public restrooms. Second, the massive wooden play structure would be refurbished.
The third is the restoration of the Pathway to Renewal mosaic in the park. “That mosaic has an amazing backstory,” says Atkinson. “It needs quite a bit of work. We have a workgroup assigned specifically for the mosaic to explore how we can best tackle that.”
Fourth is the installation of pickleball courts. “We’ve got a pretty hardy group of pickleball players here,” says Atkinson.
The fifth initiative has already been accomplished through a collaboration with Washtenaw County Parks & Rec and Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative – designating Timbertown as an official Border-to--Border Trail trailhead. An informational kiosk will be installed, and a repair station.
Chamber of Commerce Programming
“I think it's important that we call out the Chelsea Area of Commerce because they are largely our festivalization wing in the community,” says Atkinson. “Terris and the chamber have done an awesome job keeping the city programmed year-round.”
The Chamber’s annual events include SculptureWalk, Backyard Beer Garden, Chelsea Trail Challenge, Hometown Holiday, and Sounds & Sights on Thursday Nights. Plus, there is a steady stream of smaller events throughout the year.
“They’re back at it again in 2023, and we’re very lucky to have such an engaged Chamber of Commerce in our community,” adds Atkinson.
“The developers recently received a $1.5 million MEDC grant through the Michigan Community Revitalization Program,” says Atkinson. “It’s intended to support the redevelopment of contaminated or historic sites in downtown corridors.”
“From all indications, they are going to move forward with that project,” he adds. “They’re anticipating beginning this next year.”
The Rockwell Building was built in the early 1900s and is part of Chelsea’s Clocktower complex. Manufacturing operations ceased in 1987. A hindrance to development has been the cost of contamination cleanup from manufacturing processes. Developers plan on converting the building into 51 apartment units.
So, as you’re out and about enjoying all the things Chelsea already provides, keep in mind there’s more to come.
Photo by Doug Marrin