CHELSEA, Ala. (WIAT) — The city of Chelsea is seeing rapid growth. Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Chelsea’s mayor, Tony Picklesimer, said it’s one the fastest growing cities in the entire state.
Mayor Picklesimer said Chelsea has come a long way from its humble beginnings at just 2,000 citizens to now over 16,000.
He said the city has seen a consistent 3%-5% growth rate for about a decade straight. The mayor credits the city’s quality of life, offering something for the whole family- great schools, athletic facilities, and booming home construction.
Mayor Picklesimer said there’s is even more to look forward to as the city continues bringing in new businesses alongside updates to facilities and roads. But this rapid growth doesn’t come without with challenges.
They are working on ways to navigate through the growing pains that can accompany the number of people that continue streaming in.
Mayor Picklesimer said their city has seen about 1,000 more people move in over the last couple of years. It can be hard, especially for the schools, to prepare for this kind of growth
He said it takes a lot of planning- that partnering with Shelby County and their board of education has been crucial. A major focus is placed on improving their school facilities.
“We have a $4.2 million gymnasium being built on one of our elementary schools that the city of Chelsea is paying for in its entirety,” said Mayor Picklesimer. “And we’ve just committed $5 million to the board of education for improvements at the high school.”
The city recently worked to straighten busy roads like Highways 39 and 47. In addition to facility upgrades, a new hotel is on the horizon.
Before his term is up, Mayor Picklesimer said he wants to recruit more companies.
“To bring their offices and bring their employees,” said Mayor Picklesimer. “The people are coming. The people are buying the houses. So, I really don’t have to work to attract population. I want to bring jobs to Chelsea so more people can not only live here but work here as well.”
As they continue to add on, the city does not have plans to physically expand any further, but instead fill in the gaps in existing locations throughout the city.
Bart Pettus, a local father, said he and his wife chose to raise their family here in Chelsea because of how easy it is to get connected within the community.
Pettus, who also serves as director of the city’s parks and recreation, said this growth movement has a direct impact on their youth sports programs.
The city is working to keep up, by upgrading their sports facilities with new state of the art additions
With so many current and upcoming family-oriented amenities, Pettus said he just knew this is the place to raise his girls.
“There are so many young families here, so it was so easy to get plugged into the community,” said Pettus. “And being around the ball parks and athletic facilities, you meet so many new, young families. So we knew it was a great place to raise a family. And that’s I think one of the biggest draws- that you see the growth right now in Chelsea.”
Pettus said the project closest to completion is 4 brand new turf fields for softball and baseball at the Chelsea Sports Complex. A second gymnasium is also being added to the community center.