Flint, MI — Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley has called for a special Flint City Council meeting to allocate American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and opioid settlement funds to “community projects,” according to an Oct. 25, 2023 press release.

The special meeting is scheduled to take place on Oct. 26 at 5:30 p.m.

The release lists a host of resolution to come before council this evening, the first being a $1 million allocation to Friends of Berston for the renovation and expansion of Berston Field House on Flint’s north side. This would be allocated from the contingency line item of the ARPA Allocation Plan adopted by the Flint City Council on Oct. 24, 2022.

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation President Ridgway White announced at a groundbreaking ceremony for Berston on Oct. 25 that the foundation will provide matching funds for all donations to the project up to $5 million, turning Flint’s additional allocation of $1 million into $2 million.

“It’s very important to put these dollars to work for the people of Flint,” Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said in the Oct. 25 release. “We have the opportunity to double the impact of ARPA of dollars for the oldest recreational facility in the city of Flint, doubling our investment.”

According to the same release, the City is also proposing $350,000 for alternative uses of vacant lots. These funds would be granted to six community organizations to implement projects utilizing such lots:

  • A $100,000 grant to Active Boys in Christ to fund the development of a vacant lot at 2701 Branch Road into the outdoor space of a youth training center for ages 7 to 17. The funds would be used to develop a portion of the property into a community garden, outdoor play area and a full outdoor basketball court.
  • A $125,000 grant to Friends of Berston to fund site improvements and the demolition of abandoned buildings on vacant lots to build the new baseball diamond and soccer field as part of its larger project. Berston will expand its site from 6.85 acres to 14.60 acres by purchasing an abandoned church property to the northeast and vacant residential property to the south.
  • A $25,000 grant to Communities First, Inc. to add an additional vacant lot to the third and final phase of its Foodie Commons at the Flowershop. Envisioned as Flint’s first dedicated food truck park, Foodie Commons will offer support for small businesses, flexible community gathering spaces for events like neighborhood meetings and amenities for all seasons.
  • A $25,000 grant for the Carriage Town Neighborhood Association to develop a playground at an informal pocket park. “While numerous parks are near the neighborhood, none offer play equipment for children and families,” the release states. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, residents created this pop-up space to support social gatherings with live music, games and local vendors.”
  • A $25,000 grant to “Hispanic Technology Center” to fund a pavilion and picnic table project at a neighborhood pocket park on two vacant lots that were adjacent to the center. According to the administration’s release, “this project was identified as a priority through a community engagement process — part of a long-term vision of transforming Lewis Street into Flint’s Latinx District.”
  • A $50,000 grant to Mott Community College for the Clark Commons Garden and Park Project. This will include a community garden with fruit trees and a small park with recreational space, seating, art and an outdoor exercise area.

Also included in the special meeting agenda is a resolution for $1.4 million in ARPA funds to enter gap financing contracts for residential and mixed-use projects, listed as follows:

  • $100,000 for MADE Institute to renovate five transitional houses for returning citizens.
  • $125,000 for Communities First, Inc. to develop affordable housing at 716 S. Grand Traverse.
  • $150,000 for Habitat for Humanity’s Sylvan Court Almost Home Project.
  • $200,000 for the YMCA to develop 50 residential units.
  • $125,000 for McFarlan Village to expand quality and affordable housing at 800 E. Court St.
  • $125,000 for McFarlan Village to revitalize 700 E. Court St.
  • $400,000 for Catholic Charities for the Sacred Heart Village tiny home community at 719 E. Moore St.
  • $175,000 for “Hispanic Technology Center’s Early Childhood Center.”

The following resolutions will be also be on the agenda at the meeting, according to the administration’s press release:

  • A resolution authorizing $1 million in ARPA funds to Michigan State University for the Flint Rx Kids Program.
  • A resolution authorizing $50,000 in ARPA funds to the LatinX Technology Center for blight projects.
  • A resolution authorizing $594,000 in ARPA funds for Flint’s Neighborhood Engagement Hub, which would give funds to the following:
    • $10,000 for each councilmember to select groups for blight projects, totaling $90,000.
    • $50,000 to reopen the east side’s Community Tool Shed in the city’s 4th ward.
    • $50,000 for Southside Neighborhood Coalition’s neighborhood beautification projects in the 9th ward.
    • $50,000 for the Carriage Town Neighborhood Association to close open foundations and tear down burned houses in the 5th ward.
    • $50,000 for the College Cultural Neighborhood Association to do handicap access concrete work in the 7th ward.
    • $50,000 for Sarvis Park improvements in the 2nd ward.
    • $50,000 for projects to be determined in wards 1, 3, 6 and 8.
    • $54,000 for an administrative/fiduciary fee.
  • A resolution authorizing $50,000 in ARPA funds for the James E. Kennedy Family Life Center for its “Kennedy Center Cleaners” project.
  • A resolution authorizing $50,000 in ARPA funds to the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village (SBEV) for its “Fighting Litter in Neighborhoods Together” project.
  • A resolution authorizing $108,000 in opioid settlement funds toward a lease at 4813 Clio Road for a customer service center for residents on Flint’s north side to engage with city services, such as paying water bills and other city fees, as well as have access to the city’s public health office.
  • A resolution to revise previously adopted ARPA home repair resolutions to increase spending potential and increase the number of households served.

Some of the administration’s proposed resolutions for the Oct. 26 meeting have been before Flint City Council already, including those for the Flint Rx Kids program, James E. Kennedy Family Life Center, SBEV, and the lease at Clio Road.

Regarding the potential service center lease, multiple councilmembers said they would not support it an Oct. 9 meeting. Councilwoman Tonya Burns said she knew of multiple opioid overdose deaths in her ward over the past month, which would not be helped by a place to pay water bills, to which Councilwoman Judy Priestley agreed.

“It might be allowable,” Priestley said of using the settlement funds for the building lease. “But with as many people dying [from overdose] on the streets as we have, I don’t think it’s wise.”

The Oct. 26 special meeting will be held in the council chambers on the third floor of Flint City Hall, located at 1101 S. Saginaw St.

Sophia is Flint Beat's City Hall reporter. She joins the team after previously reporting for the Livingston Daily and the Lansing State Journal, along with some freelance work with The New York Times....