Living on Main St.
As you may know, I live on Main St. It's a great location and we love being in the heart of the city, walking downtown, having local stores nearby and easy access to the highway. Most of the time, I am able to simply pull out of my driveway like a normal person and am on my way. But there are times when traffic is heavy and it takes a good 5 minutes or so before I can pull out. Traffic gets backed up all the way from the railroad tracks downtown to past Pierce Park (near Old US 12). After living here for a number of years, I have this system down pat and know which times of day I need to allow extra time for this.
One of the proposed tenants for this new development is a drive-thru bank. As I not-so-patiently waited to pulled out of my driveway this afternoon to pick up my daughter from school, it made me sick to think how hellish Main St. will be if there is a continuous line of cars waiting to turn in or out of the bank. Besides, aren't we trying to promote Chelsea as a walkable community?
Part of the charm of Chelsea is the historic homes on Main St. on the approach to downtown. Visitors and passersby have daydreams of the people living in those cute little houses strolling to the cute little downtown to mail a letter or stop for ice cream. Well, that daydream is a reality for residents that live on Main, Pierce, Lincoln, Congdon, Summit, etc. A drive-thru bank will be dangerous to pedestrians, and make the already very congested traffic on Main St. a nightmarish inconvenience for residents and visitors. And what about the emergency traffic headed to Chelsea Community Hospital, whose entrance is across the street from the FSW location?
Other tenants of the proposed site might include a restaurant, office and medical buildings and residential apartments. Magellan also developed the "Chelsea Courtyard" strip mall where Blockbuster, Divine Java, the Dollar Store and others are located, as well as Dexter's new Busch's and surrounding stores. Here is their current plan for the FSW site:
The Historical Preservation Part of It
As you have undoubtedly read in the paper, there is a group in Chelsea who are strongly urging the city planning commission and the developers to save part of the FSW building. The Federal Screw Works has fascinating story spanning nearly 100 years. If you'd like to read more about it, you might want to check out Federal Screw Works page on ArborWiki.
When most people think of the building, they see the large factory that has FEDERAL SCREW WORKS on the front. Well, that's not what the preservationists are talking about. It's the painted brick building on the north side of the property that the Citizens for FSW are trying to save, along with another small brick building that faces Congdon St. near the Chelsea Center for the Arts.
From what I could tell at the meeting last night, it does not sound like the developers are open to the idea of saving this building. That is a shame, and for what it's worth, I strongly believe that extra time or costs on their part would come back to them 3-fold in new business gained from publicity and community good will. Wouldn't every small town want a developer who could preserve some of our history and character AND provide a great new place?
The most important thing to me is that this new space fits in well with the residential community. This is not the place for a strip mall or office building park. This area has historic homes filled with families who have lived here for generations, or moved here because we fell in love with the town. Our property values, our summer strolls downtown, our daily commutes and our every day well being pretty much depend on what goes into this new development.
If you live or work on Main St. or anywhere near downtown, or even if you ever drive on Main St., or visit businesses or organizations near that area (Faith In Action, Chelsea Center for the Arts, Chelsea Community Hospital, Cottage Inn Pizza, etc.) these decisions will affect you. Not to sound like an alarmist, but if you have an opinion on this subject, now is the time to speak up.
We don't have the authority to make decisions about the FSW development, but we do have the ability to communicate with the Planning Commission -- and they make the decisions. The Planning Commission's next meeting is a working session, but the public can attend. If you want your voice to be hear, I suggest contacting a member of the PC or writing a letter for their consideration, and then attend the next meeting to see what happens.
- City of Chelsea Planning Commission - you can browse agendas and meeting minutes from past sessions, as well as learn more about the members and meeting schedule.
- City of Chelsea Planning Commission Meeting Minutes for 4/15 (not yet available)
- Federal Screw Works on ArborWiki
- Magellan Properties proposed site plan for 500 S. Main St.