FLINT, MI — The debut of a parkland plan Thursday, April 10, for Flint’s Chevy in the Hole site got great reviews from the 70 or so people who showed up to see what’s in store for the old industrial property. Dozens of Flint people – many of whom raised their hands when asked who worked at the plant or were involved in the 1930s Sit-Down Strike, or had relatives who did – showed overwhelming support for the project. “I think it’s fabulous,” Sue Goering of Flint said. “I’m a walker, so being able to have a place like this to go to will be great.”
The plan includes transforming the former Chevrolet manufacturing site, a 60-acre space covered in concrete slabs, into a public park with walking paths intertwined in low-maintenance native plants, greens and wetlands that should help minimize storm water management costs.
“Not only is the name (of the site) Chevy in the Hole because of the topography of the site…it’s actually been a hole in the fabric of the community for many years,” said Megan Hunter, Flint’s chief planning officer. “(The new plan) really furthers the vision of the master plan…In a way, the master plan is going back to the 1920s plan – the John Nolan plan – a plan that really understood the importance of green space and connecting the community together.”
The new name? The Chevy Commons.
Project officials explained to Flint residents that a lot of thought has been put into paying homage to the site’s history, even using names that date back to Native American days. The city of Flint owns the property, and has created a plan to turn the former automobile manufacturing site wasteland into a green, public area called Chevy Commons that would allow bike and walking paths from all Flint’s neighborhoods to intersect in common ground.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Leora Campbell of Flint said, adding that she’s glad, after several years of talking about change, to finally see concrete plans and funding. “If you look at the city’s history, you’ll see that Flint is a comeback city. It might take some time, but Flint is a comeback city.” Thanks to a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the first phase of renovations – which will involve dumping dirt over the concrete and installing a parking area, walking paths and shrubs in about a third of the space – is scheduled to begin this August.
If all goes according to plan, the completed portion of Chevy Commons will be open for public use next spring.