Officials Seek State Approval for Park

City Manager Jay Ash (l) and State Representative Eugene O’Flaherty discuss plans and strategy for a new park to be built on Washington Avenue, across from Bloomingdale Street.   The proposed park is at the site of the former Tudor Garage, a property the City took for back taxes. Should a State grant be secured, a $585,000 park could be under construction there next July.

The City is seeking State funding to assist in the construction of another new park in Chelsea.  If successful, the effort being waged by City Manager Jay Ash, Representative Eugene O’Flaherty and City Councillor Cliff Cunningham will result in the ninth new park being created in Chelsea over the last decade and a half.

“We’ve got a remarkable record for creating new parks,” boasted City Manager Jay Ash who suggested that only Worcester has created more new parks in the state than Chelsea over the last 15 years.  “In each instance, the State has been a substantial partner and a prime reason for our success.”

“My colleagues and I are pleased to be joining with Manager Ash to hopefully deliver another great new open space to our community.  We’re pleased to continue to fund the State’s PARC Program to get money out to places like Chelsea to build new parks and renovate those already in use, and we’re equally as thrilled to actually see Chelsea being a major beneficiary of our work on Beacon Hill,” exclaimed O’Flaherty.

The latest effort of Ash and O’Flaherty focuses on a parcel the City acquired through a tax taking on Washington Avenue, across from Bloomingdale Street.  The site of the former Tudor Garage was permitted for a residential project several years ago, but the failure of the developer to get the project going and to stay current on his taxes resulted in the City taking.  Although Ash has made his reputation on securing new development on old properties, his efforts to also increase open space options for local residents is also noteworthy.

“The challenges of producing on both our economic development and open space agendas are closely the same.  When you think about how Chelsea was already built out generations ago, we need to take a look at the old and figure out how to reposition it into the new to support the overall revitalization of our community.  In some cases, that means building hotels.  In others, it means creating parks.

“On this parcel, there was quite a bit of pressure to overbuild on it,” Ash continued.  “I had calls and meetings from would-be redevelopers who were talking about building 10-18 units on the site.  I stood my ground and continued to say that whatever was done on the parcel had to fit and promote the character of Cary Square.  In the end, the back taxes owed made the parcel to expensive to otherwise develop, so it cost us the loss of about $150,000 in back taxes to take the property.”

“I’m glad we did,” said Councillor Cunningham, who has been in discussions with Ash and O’Flaherty about the park option.  “There isn’t a public open space option for blocks around Cary Square, so the residents of the area need this park for an improved quality of life.  The vision many of us have had for the property may soon come to life.”

That vision was enhanced by two community meetings that generated additional input and refinement of the plan for the 7,200 sq. ft. parcel.  The $585,000 proposal for what is being referred to as “Tudor Park” involves the installation of four paved play areas, connecting pathways, three varying play structures, benches, trash and recycling receptacles, shading retaining walls, trees and vegetation and pedestrian appropriate lighting.

“I’m very impressed with the plans and look forward to delivering this fall what will hopefully be good news about the State’s participation in making it happen,” offered O’Flaherty.  “This will be a top priority for me and, if successful, will really complement the newly constructed Washington Avenue and the housing construction at the old taxi cab garage to make Cary Square a very attractive neighborhood district.”

Ash said that the project would likely go into construction in July of 2013 and would take six months to complete.

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