Chelsea Jog Forward Community Center Plans
Chelsea’s long quest for a community center has taken a significant step forward.
The Chelsea Community Center Task Force, formed in 2020, submitted its preliminary recommendation report to City Council at its October 17, 2022 meeting.
“We’ve been talking about it now for several years, but more intensely for ten months now,” Mayor Jane Pacheco said when presenting the report to council.
The Community Centers Task Force (CCTF) made four recommendations:
- City staff form a working group to explore the three site options, estimate costs, compatibility with other civic initiatives, and opportunities to partner with local organizations for funding and programming.
- The task force includes representatives from CCTF, Parks and Recreation, City Council, Chelsea Schools, 5HF, Chelsea Hospital, Silver Maples and the Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative.
- According to the community survey, plans should include a pool, gym, meeting/rental space, indoor track, aerobics space, spin and other classes, cafe, hangout space for teenagers, adequate parking, a bus stop and room for expansion.
- The working group submits its results in time for the February 2023 viewing session of the board.
The CCTF recommendations come from a spring 2022 survey where 544 respondents expressed their desire for a community center. Highlights of the survey include:
- 70% travel at least eight kilometers from home for recreational services.
- 80% said they would come at least once a week.
- 75% of adults are willing to pay user fees.
- 40% of respondents live outside of Chelsea
- 61% want water facilities, including a multi-purpose pool, lap lanes, outdoor pool, wading pool and lazy river.
- 60% prefer an indoor track.
- 52% would like a gym
- 48% want space for aerobics and other activities
- 46% prefer indoor adventures like a rock climbing wall
- 43% would like to see a cafe
- 42% would like to see space for a teen hangout
- 41% want meeting/rental space
In addition to the survey results, the CCTF recommended a multi-purpose outdoor recreational space, play structures, ice rink, toboggan run, strength training and strength training area, resource and information center communities, a community garden, creative/maker spaces, a skate park, practice/study spaces.
The three location options are 1) new construction at the corner of Freer and Trinkle, 2) new construction in Timbertown, or 3) renovation and repurposing of the existing wellness center.
The preliminary cost estimate for building a new facility that includes all of the above is $25,485,604.
The council discussed the high price.
“It’s been almost 20 years, and people are still pushing things forward, so maybe we just don’t need them,” commented council member Charles Wiseley. “That being said, I think that gives you an idea of where I stand on all of this.”
“We have a bit of a pattern for when things are going well here for projects that are expensive,” council member Peter Feeney said. “Usually they involve several partners in the community.”
“This particular project is really complex because there are already people in the community providing the services or some of the services that everyone would like to see under one roof,” Feeney continued. “If it’s a $25 million ball that’s thrown in our lap, the odds of it succeeding are not great.”
“I’m very interested in seeing what the partnership options are and what the options are to develop what everyone seems to be looking for here,” Feeney concluded.
“There is good community support, and every community partner that has been contacted is in favor of some sort of partnership,” Mayor Pacheco said. “It’s our decision to have the staff flesh that out a bit more, come back to us, come back to the working group, and I think we can go from there.”
The Board approved the motion to accept the Community Center Task Force’s draft report dated October 4, 2022 and to direct staff to further explore the recommended options as outlined in the report.