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Gov. Whitmer announced plans for new state park in Flint

By STEPHEN BOROWY

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    FLINT, Michigan (WNEM) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced plans to create a new state park in Flint using federal funds from President Joe Biden’s American Recovery Plan.

This would be the first state park in Genesee County, which is the only county in Michigan without land that is managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“Parks are pillars of our local communities and economies,” Gov. Whitmer said. “Through the pandemic, park attendance reached historic highs as people went outdoors to unwind and connect with their loved ones. That’s especially true in Michigan’s great cities, which have been disproportionately impacted by COVID. This new park in Flint is a multi-generational investment in the community that will support small businesses, create jobs, and give people a space to enjoy with friends and family.”

Whitmer made the announcement at Chevy Commons, a former industrial site in Flint, along with Congressman Dan Kildee, Rep. John Cherry, Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley, and several others. Genesee County announced last year it would transform the site into an urban greenspace.

The Michigan DNR will use the Flint River Restoration Plan and collaborate with the local community to develop this new park as well as find more funding.

The $26.2 million investment in the Flint state park would be drawn from $250 million in funding previously proposed by Whitmer.

“A new state park in the heart of Flint will help transform our community and create opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors and come together,” Kildee said. “In Congress, I helped pass the American Rescue Plan to provide resources to the state of Michigan to make these significant economic investments. I applaud Governor Whitmer for her leadership and bold vision to help Flint reimagine and reinvest in Chevy Commons.”

The proposed investment would develop a park at Chevy Commons and expand along the Flint River corridor to connect the park to local neighborhoods, businesses, and institutions. The park would connect the University of Michigan-Flint, Kettering University, the Flint Farmers’ Market, the Flint Cultural Center Campus, and the Iron Belle Trail.

While the plan is still in its earliest stages, Whitmer’s office said the new park could include non-motorized trails, unique playscapes, accessible open spaces, fishing platforms, and canoe and kayak launches into the Flint River. Whitmer’s proposal still needs approval from the Legislature. A timeline for completion and further funding still needs to be developed.

“Flint is proud to be the first city in Genesee County to have a State Park,” Neeley said. “Repurposing this land for outdoor recreational space will enhance residents’ health and quality of life while giving families in Flint an opportunity to enjoy nature. A state park in Flint is a beacon of light and will have vast environmental, economic, and social impacts through the transformation of key land within the City. We thank God, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Governor Whitmer for making this possible. Prayer, Planning and Partnerships work.”

State and local parks saw an influx of visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. State parks saw 35 million visitors in 2020, a 30 percent increase compared to the previous year, Whitmer’s office said.

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