Fundraising to Launch to Reimagine the City’s Largest Park
TimberTown is ready to be Reimagined – with new play elements, improved infrastructure, and more – thanks to partnerships between the City of Chelsea, Huron Waterloo Pathway Initiative, and Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation. And with matching challenges of $100,000, organizers hope to double the opportunity.
The kick off for this unique community-wide project will be held on Feb. 20, at 6:30pm to 7:30pm, in the Chelsea District Library’s McKune Room. The “build week” is scheduled for Aug. 6 to 11, 2024. At the kickoff, community members will be able to learn more about the overall project, watch the premiere of the TimberTown Reimagined video, see the new playground designs, and sign up to volunteer.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for the Chelsea area,” said Chelsea City Manager Marty Colburn, “TimberTown Reimagined is one of two complimentary projects that are being developed in tandem and we’re excited to be a part of these projects. They are good for the City, good for the townships, and good for our local businesses who benefit when people visit Chelsea.”
Noting the preliminary site-work, including improved water access for the Community Garden, Colburn said that the staff has been involved since initial discussions began in 2022. That's when the City’s Park & Rec Commission was first approached by community volunteer Jeff Hardcastle.
Hardcastle, founder and former board chair of HWPI, said the idea of revamping TimberTown emerged as HWPI and B2B looked to build a trailhead in Chelsea.
“With the completion of the B2B through and north beyond TimberTown, we knew TimberTown was the ideal location,” he said.
“Trailheads can add more traffic to a site, so we realized that we needed to improve the entrance and parking,” he added.
Hardcastle said that as he began thinking through the project, he saw that the play structure needed some work, and that the park could also serve as a location for the city’s first dedicated pickleball pickleball facility.
At the same time, Chelsea Park & Rec Commission had been discussing the same concepts: how to repair the playground, where and how to add pickleball outdoor courts, and the best way to preserve and repair the Pathway to Renewal, the community art project created in 2003.
Good ideas have a synergy and energy that flows and grows and TimberTown Reimagined is no exception. An anonymous donor is joining Chelsea State Bank in providng $50,000 to encourage donors - off all sizes-- to chip in to make the project a reality.
“By investing in this project, we are investing in the longevity of our robust parks system which greatly benefits members of the Chelsea and surrounding communities,” said Joanne Rau, President & CEO of Chelsea State Bank. “Chelsea State Bank will match up to $50,000 of community donations raised for this project because we believe in leaving a sustainable legacy for the communities we serve,” she added.
“In fact,” Rau said, “we’ll also be encouraging our staff to volunteer during the Build Week in August. We’re going to need approximately 500 volunteers over the duration of Build Week to help paint, stain, sand, hammer and nail. We’ll need the entire community to help in some capacity.”
Gestamp, TimberTown’s neighbor, is also getting involved by providing in-kind labor and materials.
“They will be replacing all the existing wooden roofs on the play structure with metal roofs,” said Hardcastle, “and plan to have their staff volunteer during the Build week, also. Gestamp is opening up their parking areas to be used for overflow parking when there are larger events happening at TimberTown.”
The project has 5 parts: one, infrastructure such as paved parking and security lights; two, the wooden play structure that will be repaired and have many new bright and accessible play elements; three, the repair of the Pathway to Renewal; four, the addition of trailhead signage; and five, new pickleball courts.
“Chelsea Pickleball stepped up and raised the money needed to build six permanent courts at TimberTown,” said Hardcastle. “So that part of the project is essentially done.” The courts’ fencing, surface, and signage will go in this spring.”
“We’re extremely excited about the community engagement the project is generating,” said Hardcastle. “When the community built TimberTown in 1997, it was an amazing experience and we think the re-imagining of TimberTown this summer will not only result in a wonderful ‘new’ community park, but also create a highly memorable experience for the hundreds of area volunteers who we’ll be needed to get it done.”
For more information, to donate, or to sign-up as a volunteer for build week visit: www.TimberTownChelsea.org.
Photos/Graphics attached courtesy of City of Chelsea
TimberTown aerial credit Photo Credit: William Brown