The Main Street Park Alliance (MSPA) has hit a major milestone in its journey to build a new public park on the site of the old Federal Screw Works building as it begins the demolition of structures on the property. The activity is preparation for the environmental remediation of the contamination, which is the next phase and is scheduled to begin in August.

According to Joe Ziolkowski, a founding member of MSPA, the primary environmental concern with the property is prolonged exposure to contaminated soil.  That determination and the subsequent plan to address it are the result of significant work by the MSPA, its environmental consultants, and the City of Chelsea, along with regional and state environmental authorities like EGLE and Washtenaw County Brownfield Authority. “The MSPA Board of Directors decided long ago to go above and beyond what is required. It takes more time and money but it is the right thing to do.”

MSPA performed more testing than was necessary because we wanted to thoroughly understand the environmental conditions of the property. Satisfied with our understanding…MSPA’s environmental consultants created an environmental plan which will make the property safe for use,” said Ziolkowski. 

MSPA then took the additional but voluntary step to submit their plan to EGLE for review and input. Ziolkowski said, “It’s a collaborative process between landowner, EGLE, and the public that culminates with a public hearing. While this was a time consuming process we felt it important to have maximum transparency with the environmental condition of the property and our environmental plans to make it safe to use as a Public Park.”  

He described the remediation plan, “In addition to removing much of the contaminated soils we will also create a direct contact barrier in the form of a clean soil cap that will be over two feet in thickness with a demarcation line between new clean fill and existing soils. If the cap is ever worn in some area, say perhaps underneath a swing set, they will hit the demarcation barrier and required due care inspections will be able to quickly identify and make necessary repairs.” 

At the same time MSPA was planning for this groundwork, they also hired a design firm and hosted an extensive series of meetings, conversations, and surveys with the public and other stakeholders, to gather input for the design. The group revealed the park’s designs and amenities last month.  Details and conceptual drawings for the multigenerational park can be found on MSPA’s website

Said Ziolkowski, “The process…was well attended and received by Chelsea residents. It was important to give everyone a voice in the design process as this is a public park for the residents. It is a unique opportunity to organically create a recreation space within the City of Chelsea that will be enjoyed for generations.” 

Ziolkowski added, “And, of course, we’ve been busy raising money for the construction of the park. The park is 100% funded by local residents, foundations, and corporations.” A fundraising campaign kicks off later this year and MSPA estimates the project will cost approximately $6.5 million.

Ziolkowski closed by saying, “Marty Colburn and the City staff have been excellent to work with on this project. What has been absolutely amazing is how many Chelsea residents have contributed time, energy, resources, finances, and effort to this project along the way. People are desperate for a solution to that old abandoned site and are excited by the potential of a dynamic park in the heart of Chelsea. The citizens of Chelsea feel empowered to solve a longstanding problem themselves by creating something new and spectacular. It is inspiring.

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