Ask 100 people where the Mill Hill
neighborhood separates from the Mill Creek neighborhood and one would probably
get 100 different answers.
Neighborhoods in Chelsea have been loosely
defined for decades, with some not even named at all, but now Downtown
Coordinator Mimi Graney is looking to residents of Chelsea to define the City’s
neighborhoods more precisely.
“It came up because City Planner Karl Allen
has been working on a project by the Produce Center and he kept calling it West
Chelsea,” she said. “Every time he did that, people would laugh at it. It
brought up the question as to what do you call that area. It was the same thing
for the Walnut Street Synagogue area. Then you have people talking about
Prattville. We decided to try to figure out what you call the various
neighborhoods of Chelsea.”
That started with a query of the Chel-Yea
group last month, and during that event and with online follow ups, Graney said
she got very impassioned responses.
People, she said, took it very seriously.
“Several people said everything was just
Chelsea, but others had strong opinions about Admiral’s Hill and Prattville,”
she said. “It has solicited a lot of interested conversations.”
Chelsea High, Addison-Orange, Soldiers’ Home/Powderhorn Hill, Cary Square, Mill
Creek, Mill Hill, Spencer Avenue, Eastern Ave Industrial Area, Box District,
Bellingham Hill, Salt Piles, Waterfront, Downtown (including Chelsea Square and
Bellingham Square), Williams School, Carter Park, Mystic Mall, Produce District
and Admiral’s Hill.
It was difficult, she said, to find the real
boundaries of the Soldiers’ Home neighborhood versus Cary Square, she said, and
many said the Spencer Avenue area should be called Upper Broadway. Mill Creek,
on the other hand, has been confused in some ways with the Parkway Plaza.
She said the exercise is one that moves
beyond the fun of talking about it, and moving towards making it a place.
“The legacy of the fire in the Mystic Mall
area sort of upended most boundaries there,” she said. “People are
uncomfortable with the area beyond Carter Park and Chelsea High area. If it
doesn’t have a name, it becomes this no man’s land. Naming a place has a power
to it. I’m hoping people in these areas claim that power in that naming.”
Graney said they
will continue to take input on the neighborhood boundaries, and will likely
present something to the community in the near future.
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