Main Street Park Project One Step Closer to Reality
Thanks to the City of Chelsea and the Main Street Park Alliance (MSPA), area residents are one step closer to enjoying a bustling new 2.5 acre park in the heart of town. At its July 24th meeting, Chelsea City Council unanimously approved an agreement between the city and MSPA to develop a community park at 500 Main Street, between Lincoln and Summit streets, on the property formerly owned by Federal Screw Works.
At the same meeting, City Council also voted to accept a $1,000,000 grant from Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to be used toward the remediation and development of the property. The lot is considered problematic due to, “...vacant buildings, contaminated soil and groundwater, and several abandoned underground storage tanks.”
The Main Street Park Project is being led by MPSA, a group of area residents who formed the non profit organization specifically to partner with the city to develop the abandoned lot into a park. According to the approved agreement, MPSA and the City agree that it is “...in the best interests of the City, as well as its residents and adjoining property owners, to remediate the contamination and to develop the Property into a park…”
The agreement shows that MSPA is the current owner of the property and has overall responsibility for managing the project including the environmental investigation, planning, fundraising and financial management, insurance, contractor management, site remediation, strategic partnerships, permitting, and construction. For its part, the city will serve as the fiduciary and also provide administrative and municipal support where needed. Once the park is complete, MSPA will sell the park to the City for $1.00.
Miller Canfield environmental attorney Matt Greenberg is working on the project and he attended the July 24th meeting via zoom to provide an update on the status of the project, an overview of the final agreement, and to answer any questions before the vote. Council Member Bill Ruddock asked Mr. Greenberg to explain why the agreement shows that MPSA will only remediate the soil contamination but not the groundwater contamination.
Greenberg provided two reasons. First, he clarified that the environmental analysis shows that the property can be safely operated as a park without exposing anyone to the dangers of the contaminated groundwater. More importantly, he said there is already a party of record responsible for the groundwater remediation–-Federal Screw Works, the former owner and contaminator of the property.
According to Greenberg, Federal Screw Works will address the groundwater contamination in accordance with standards set and approved by EGLE. The development agreement does state that MPSA and the City will both coordinate with EGLE to facilitate and ensure the safe completion of that remediation.
Mayor Pacheco asked Greenberg to explain what options the city has to exit the agreement should it become apparent the project can’t be completed safely or to the satisfaction of the city. Greenberg explained several parts of the agreement that allow the city to withdraw from the project at various points throughout the process, many of which are detailed in sections 13 and 14 of the development agreement.
If you’d like to learn more about the Main Street Park Project or donate to the project fund, please visit the Main Street Park Alliance website.