Proposed Rebirth for the Old Federal Screw Works

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Artist rendering of the splash pad area. Image: Joe Ziolkowski/Dangerous Architects PC

By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

A blighted property in downtown Chelsea may soon be destined for a new life as a new city park if local developer Joe Ziolkowski and his non-profit group, Main Street Park Alliance, have their way.

“I think it's a unique opportunity,” said Ziolkowski in a phone call. “We have a really great group of people who have come together that can make this park happen. It's a wonderful opportunity to change the paradigm on that piece of property and shift it from what it's been for the last 20 years to something that's usable for the entire city of Chelsea.”

The old Federal Screw property has frustrated developers for many years. Photo: Doug Marrin.

Mr. Ziolkowski presented the concept for converting the old Federal Screw Works property to the City Council at its December 13, 2021 meeting. He began with a brie review of the troublesome parcel and its abandoned building at 500 Main Street across from the Mobil gas station. Ziolkowski explained how repeated efforts to develop the 2.5-acre lot in recent years had been stymied for various reasons—environmental, deed restriction, groundwater issues, and money. “That property can only be used for commercial,” he also explained. “You can’t put residences on that property.”

So, what could be done with that property? Main Street Park Alliance has an idea.

“We wanted to flip the script on that property and reimagine it in a completely different way,” he said. “Instead of looking at it from a commercial development standpoint, which has been done, we wanted to look at it from the perspective of the greatest community gain and greatest community benefit.”

The proposed park would offer a wide variety of activities catering to all interests. Image: Joe Ziolowski/Dangerous Architects PC

They arrived at the idea of a vibrant community park in the heart of Chelsea. Ziolkowski explained that the non-profit would like to begin discussions with the City to explore potential public partners for the park concept.

The park will have a lot to offer. Plans include:

  • 8,000+ sq ft Indoor Recreation/All Purpose Space
  • ¼ Mile Walking Path with workout stations
  • Restorative/Rest/Picnic areas
  • Outdoor Courtyard
  • Skate Park
  • All Sports Turf Field
  • All Sports Court (futsol, basketball, roller hockey, ice rink)
  • Pickleball Courts
  • Cornhole/Bocci/Multipurpose Field
  • Gaga Pits
  • Splashpad
  • Climbing Wall and Climbing Boulders
  • Walking Bridge
  • Multi Age Playscapes
  • Circle Drive with Parking
  • Bathrooms/Storage

“The group had largely formed what’s in this park based off of the criteria of what’s trending in parks over the last ten years, coupled with what we are sort of seeing that’s missing in Chelsea,” said Ziolkowski.

The structure of the old building is sound and would be retained. Photo: Doug Marrin

Main Street Park Alliance has a purchase agreement in place with the owner of the property. He hopes to lock the deal up in the first two months of the new year. His group is working with an environmental consulting firm to help navigate the brownfield issues.

“I think it’s important to note that neither myself or anybody affiliated with the park or on our board is getting paid, drawing a salary, or receiving any sort of compensation,” Ziolkowski told the Council. “We are a completely, one-hundred percent volunteer group of people that have come together to try and do this project.”

Image: Joe Ziolkowski/Dangerous Architects PC

Ziolkowski’s group has been working on the concept for more than a year, but he feels it is just beginning. “There are many hurdles and many question marks yet to answer,” he said.

“Hopefully, in two, three years, it’s art that’s benefiting the entire City of Chelsea and surrounding communities to come use,” concluded Ziolkowski. “We will have, you know, a beautiful park that says something about who we are as a city and what we value as a city.”

Main Street Park Alliance would like to hear what the community thinks of the concept. They welcome your comments, which can be sent to info@mainstreetpark.org

Below is a video of an aerial artist rendering of the proposed project.

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This is such an exciting and wonderful prospect for Chelsea and will truly be a great asset and showcase for our city!   As a resident in downtown Chelsea, as well as a business owner (and pickleball player), I can definitely see this being a tremendous benefit to residents of all ages! I cant wait for it to be a reality!

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This is a wonderful opportunity for the city of Chelsea and it's community. Pickleball is a very social sport. Having a recreational center in the heart of the city will bring additional people to the businesses in the area during the day.   

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