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Palmer Commons, parking and future projects dominate DDA discussions

Photo by Lisa Carolin. Agricole, a year-round farmers market, will be located inside the Mack Building.

At Thursday morning’s Chelsea Downtown Development Authority meeting, developer Joe Ziolkowski requested a change in parking in the area near the redeveloped Mack Building.

He expects three businesses to open on the ground floor next month and there are four apartments on the second floor.

He explained that farmers and other vendors would be dropping off food and other items for the Farm Market store and customers would be stopping in to purchase items.

He asked that as many as five of the 55 available spots in the area be designated with a time limit. He said there are three entrances to the building and wanted short-term parking available nearby.

DDA members reminded Ziolkowski that currently the city does not enforce parking time limits and chalking tires is no longer a viable option to aid in any enforcement in the future.

Although the DDA agreed that most people want to follow the rules and try to obey parking signs, residents who live in the area and employees of downtown businesses would prove to be the biggest challenge when it comes to filling the parking spaces closest to the downtown stores.

After a lengthy discussion about downtown parking – specifically near the Depot and the Mack Building on and around Jackson Street, the DDA voted to request that three spots along the north side of the railroad tracks be designated as 30-minute spots from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

This request will be forwarded to the Chelsea Police Department and the City Council for approval.

The DDA voted to move $35,000 from the remaining $79,000 in the Palmer Commons bond fund into the special projects fund and earmarked the money as $25,000 for additional parking lot repairs and $10,000 to paint downtown light poles. (Board Member Charles Wiseley voted no). This change must be approved by the City Council. The remaining money will be left in the bond fund for any additional projects at Palmer Commons.   

Three events have now been booked for the space in the next few months, according to City Manager John Hanifan.

He said the response has been positive for the Saturday Farmers Market that began the first Saturday in May in the new community space.

Updating the DDA on the project’s progress, the stamped concrete in the front of the space along Main Street has been completed, the sign was installed on the arch and the tables, chairs, benches, bike racks and trash cans that have been ordered are expected to arrive and be installed in the next week.

Monica Monsma, executive director of the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce updated the DDA on the following upcoming events:

  • The chamber is working on updated parking maps for the city thanks to a community tourism grant.
  • Nomination forms will soon be available for Citizen of the Year and Lifetime Achievement awards.
  • On June 5, is the annual chamber golf outing at Pierce Lake Golf Course and there are some spaces left for golfers
  • July 13 there will be a distillery tour during which folks from Ann Arbor will be bused into Chelsea to visit Ugly Dog Distillery and enjoy Chelsea shopping
  • The new community profile publication will be out next month, and it’s focused more on assisting tourists including information about where to shop and dine in the city as well as updated listings for all chamber members
  • On Sept. 21, a new event called the Backyard Beer Garden is being planned with outdoor games at Palmer Commons and it will be a fundraiser for the chamber
  • On Oct. 3, the chamber is coordinating a Manufacturing Day in Chelsea at four different facilities. Three high schools (Chelsea, Manchester and Grass Lake) have already committed to busing students to Chelsea where they will learn about engineering, robotics and job opportunities at these plants. Monsma said she hopes to have six high schools involved but currently, it’s expected that about 120 students will participate.
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