Chelsea City Council Receives Update on Main Street Park Plans
Like a child on a sunny summer splash pad, Chelsea's vision for a new community park is leaping forward as the Main Street Park Alliance (MSPA) unveils plans and extensive public input in a recent city council update.
Joe Ziolkowski, representing MSPA, provided an update to the Chelsea City Council at its January 22, 2023, meeting regarding the ongoing development of the new city park. Ziolkowski outlined the extensive community engagement and progress in shaping the park's future.
Ziolkowski began by recounting the alliance's journey since their last meeting with the council, emphasizing the significant public involvement. "We hired our design firm, VIRIDIS Design Group Grand Rapids, back in September and have since been intensely working through a public engagement process," he stated.
A key aspect of their approach has included various community segments. Ziolkowski told the council that MSPA received 599 responses from an online community survey, 244 youth surveys, and 250 middle schoolers were polled. Additionally, the alliance conducted focus groups with various stakeholders, including the senior community, Parks & Recreation, and accessibility advocates.
In addition to the surveys, in a recent newsletter, MSPA referred to four community focus group sessions which developed the design principles. Themes and priorities include:
- Connect to the Chelsea community and downtown core
- Conservation and sustainable practices
- Year-round use
- Sustainable framework for long-term maintenance
- Inclusive, multi-generational spaces
- Creating awareness of site revitalization and restoration efforts
- Coordination with local and state agencies
The alliance's proactive engagement with the city was also highlighted. “We've had multiple touchpoints with the city with City Manager Marty Colburn and some of the DPW staff and other partners with the city at almost every step,” said Ziolkowski. “We're sort of like walking a little bit hand in hand with the city on this.”
These efforts have culminated in developing three preliminary park concepts, with a final concept review planned with city partners on February 6.
Councilmember Ruddock raised concerns about the future maintenance costs of the park, to which Ziolkowski assured that VIRIDIS would provide an estimate in their next meeting. He also affirmed the alliance's commitment to supporting long-term park maintenance.
Mayor Pacheco acknowledged the beneficial role of City Manager Colburn in the process, especially in preparing for upcoming budget discussions.
Ziolkowski concluded, "It's exciting to see the project taking shape and becoming more real than it was a few years ago, with substantial funds already pledged."
The Chelsea City Council is set to receive a detailed concept proposal in March.