PROFILE: Niven reflects on 20 years as Chelsea’s first, only mayor

Published 4:19 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Over the last 20 years, Earl has been elected mayor six times, including his partial term immediately after the city incorporated.

Under his leadership, Chelsea has grown from a population of 906 to about 12,000, and the economic landscape has bloomed into a healthy, stable place for commercial and privately owned businesses alike.

As predicted, 280 began to draw commercial business developments to the area, along with the need for a waterline on the highway.

“We had a need for water down 280,” Earl said.

The council decided to borrow $5 million, $3 million of which would go toward the waterline installation. The other $2 million funded the construction of the new city hall.

“That opened the door for the commercial development on Highway 280,” Earl said, noting a private sewer was also installed. “It’s all because of the growth and the investment we made with the waterline down Highway 280. Our philosophy so far in the city of Chelsea is to plan.”

The Chelsea Community Center and the Chelsea Sports Complex are two large-scale, multi-million-dollar capital projects Earl has overseen.

Chelsea officials break ground for the city's new community center May 20, 2014. (File)

Chelsea officials break ground for the city’s new community center May 20, 2014. (File)

“With the economy firming up, we look for future development,” Earl said. “We have seen that residential development brings commercial development.

“I think the next mayor and council will have a great opportunity to look at what has been done as a foundation to a fast-growing city,” Earl said. “Financially, there should be about $2 million in retained earnings to carry on the city.”