The City of Flint today held a celebration for the beginning of Phase 1 construction at the future site of the Chevy Commons community green space. Work is currently underway to install the first section of the soil cap which will eventually cover the site as well as coinciding infrastructure improvements to storm sewer lines underground. Mayor Dayne Walling was joined by Genesee County Treasurer and Land Bank Chair Deb Cherry, Congressman Dan Kildee, Senator Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman in recognizing the project. Also in attendance were members of the various partner organizations who have contributed to the project and other community stakeholders.
“This site holds a lot of history for Flint and presented the City with significant challenges,” said Mayor Dayne Walling. “From being a bustling industrial center that contributed to the city’s growth to eventually becoming a major brownfield and environmental liability, what we see today is the beginning of the area’s new chapter as a clean, open community space that is in line with the vision laid out in Flint’s Master Plan. This vision could not have been realized without the dedicated work of all of our partners here today.”
“Chevy Commons is a great example of how community collaboration can bring new investments and renewed purpose to vacant spaces in Flint,” Congressman Dan Kildee said. “This project is the direct result of community stakeholders – the EPA, the Genesee County Lank Bank, and local government – working together to make a real, positive impact in our community. This new site will return this vacant property to productive use once again, and will mean direct investments to strengthen our city.”
Phase I in the Chevy Commons Site Design plan involves converting approximately 16 of the 60 acres of the City-owned, former automobile manufacturing facility known as Chevy in the Hole, into a natural green space. The space will be redeveloped into open grasslands and woodlands with trails that will be accessible for walking through the park. The paths will be looped throughout the site to enjoy views of the river and the new meadow areas.
This first phase involves improving the edges of the site that are most visible and accessible to the community and surrounding institutions to encourage visitors to come to the site while also creating opportunities for economic development. The plan calls for the site to be capped with an attractive low-maintenance natural landscape, which is intended to minimize maintenance and storm water management costs, and a parking lot for visitors.
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the City of Flint and Genesee County have joined forces to transform this historic Chevy auto plant site from a fenced-off and weed-infested brownfield into a community park that Flint residents will enjoy for years to come,” said U.S. EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman. “EPA’s investment of over $7.3 million to redevelop this site is a great example of our work to make a visible difference here in Flint and at former auto manufacturing sites in other communities in Michigan.”
“The transformation of the City of Flint is one of the best kept secrets in the State of Michigan,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow. “This project is an important part of this transformation. It’s not only good news for the families who will enjoy this revitalized space, but represents the kind of partnerships that are making a vibrant community and downtown a reality for Flint.”
The Contractor chosen for the construction of Phase I is LA Construction LLC (Aaron Adkins) of Flushing. The Construction Manager is AKT Peerless Environmental & Energy Services (Ryan Londrigan) of Saginaw. The work is funded by the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, U.S. EPA Brownfield Grants, and the GM Bankruptcy settlement. The Genesee County Land Bank manages all the grant funded work. These grants have enabled the City and Genesee County Land Bank to address immediate safety and environmental contamination concerns on the site and to build this Phase I of the green cap.
“We truly appreciate the support the EPA has provided to help transform this brownfield property into a unique and valuable amenity for our community,” said Genesee County Treasurer and Land Bank Chair Deb Cherry.
The Site Design Plan was prepared by a team of landscape architects, engineers and environmental professionals led by Wade Trim and AKT Peerless Environmental & Engineering Services. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the U.S. EPA were consulted throughout the process to ensure the creation of a safe place for the public to enjoy. Chevy Commons occupies the site where part of the1936/37 Sit-Down Strike took place. Automobile manufacturing operations began at the property in 1904 and the last factory buildings were demolished in 2004 by Delphi.