Governor Gretchen Whitmer visited Flint's Chevy Commons July 14 to announce her plans to turn the space into Michigan's 104th state park (Courtesy of the Michigan Executive Office of the Governor)

Flint, MI–Based on suggestions from community members in an input session last November, a landscape architect from the firm overseeing the design for the proposed state park in Chevy Commons revealed new plans for the area.

Nate Trevethan, a senior design team member and landscape architect at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc., started the Jan. 19 Community Input Meeting off by listing the most common suggestions community members had for the new park.

Trevethan said the most highly requested amenities were boat landings and access to the river, public restrooms, better lighting, multi-use trails walkable by all ages and drinking fountains. Other highly requested additions to the park included structures or trees capable of providing shade (most trees planted in Chevy Commons today are saplings) as well as a water crisis memorial.

Trevethan acknowledged that under the current plan, the development of the park would focus roughly on the easternmost third of the 60-acre plot of land where Chevy Commons sits. This would be the area between the Flint River, Swartz Creek divergence and Stevenson Street.

With a focus on that area in mind, Trevethan said based on current observations, some changes to the topography of the park would need to be made.

“Our observations were, we’ve understood that Stevenson Street and the bridge specifically the Flint River has structural issues and it’s also very very low traffic and happens to cut the park in about a third. One thing that we would like to explore is the notion of removing Stevenson Street and using the bridge for people only,” Trevethan said.

This could open up more space in the park, Trevethan said, by shifting the Genesee Valley Trail from running directly down the middle of the park and allowing for other topographical changes to the landscape. These could include the creation of a knoll for events like small concerts or movies in the park in the summer and a sledding hill in the winter.

Trevethan also revealed that many requests had been made for the removal or integration of the concrete flood control walls running along the Flint River as a way to make the river’s edge more accessible to park goers.

While Trevethan noted those walls are necessary both for flood protection and as a barrier between potential pollutants deep in the soil and the river itself, he presented the idea of creating small, shallow, hydraulically connected ponds within Chevy Commons.

To start though, Trevethan said the base plan for the park will be to plant enough large trees to create a canopy to shade the park’s walking trails. Following that, initial project ideas include making the Stevenson Street bridge structurally sound and modifying it for pedestrian-only traffic, developing the knoll and making the river more accessible from the park.

Trevethan also noted that included in these initial plans is the idea of maintaining a clear line of sight between Kearsley Street and the park as well as making sure there is adequate lighting.

During the meeting, Flint residents had the chance to share their thoughts on what they want from the park.

Several residents voiced the wish to include a dog park in future plans. Others raised concerns about what removing Stevenson Street would mean in emergency situations where quick access to nearby hospitals like Hurley would be essential.

Plans for the developments in the park are still in their initial stages and subject to change. Trevethan said during the meeting that many of these changes would require teaming up with local organizations to understand how they would affect not only park goers but residents living in the area as well.

Suggestions or concerns can be emailed to Trevethan at ntrevethan@mvvainc.com

Santiago Ochoa

Santiago Ochoa is Flint Beat's Latinx Community reporter. He is always looking to write about anything Flint or Latinx. He especially enjoys investigative reporting and human-interest stories. A communications...

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