Through collaboration between local partners, implementation of the Flint Riverfront Restoration Plan began in 2015 and continues today. Significant progress has been made, including removing the Hamilton Dam superstructure, removing Fabri Dam, and completing phases 1 – 5 of development at Chevy Commons. To date, more than $15 million of funding has been raised to implement the plan. In 2022, the State of Michigan announced that it would establish a new state park in Flint that will include the Flint Riverfront Restoration Project area.
Significant dam removal progress has been made. The superstructures of both Hamilton Dam and Fabri Dam were removed in 2018, thanks to a $3 million Michigan Department of Natural Resources Dam Management grant. The concrete weir at the site of the Hamilton Dam remains today. It will be removed during the second and final phase of in-river restoration work, which will mark the complete removal of Hamilton Dam. Buoys are currently in place directly upstream of the weir to warn paddlers that it is not safe to pass over the weir. PLEASE NOTE: Paddlers on the Flint River should portage around the weir.
The plans for remaining in-river restoration work are being finalized. This includes completing the removal of Hamilton Dam and installing “rifles,” clusters of boulders along the river’s edge. These rifles are designed to imitate a natural river structure, which will manage the change in the river’s elevation due to the removal of Hamilton Dam. This approach is intended to maximize the effect of in-river restoration work on the natural habitat, including benefits to fish and other aquatic species. This work is expected to begin in 2023 and be completed by the end of 2026.
Plans for improving Riverbank Park are being finalized in tandem with in-river restoration plans. Riverbank Park will be transformed by enhanced physical and visual access to the river. Restoration efforts will address longstanding obstacles presented by the existing park infrastructure to safety, accessibility, and maintenance. Design recommendations include creating new access points to the Flint River, constructing ADA accessible pathways, installing a new lighting network, restoring the fountains at both Grand Fountain Block and Waterwall Block, and restoring the public restroom. Specific plans for each of the six blocks that make-up Riverbank Park are being finalized now. Construction is expected to begin with the in-river restoration work in 2023 and to be completed by the end of 2026.
In recent years, Chevy Commons has been transformed from a vacant 60+ acre industrial site into a low-maintenance public park that includes trails for pedestrians and bikers as well as natural habitat for local species. Phases I – V of the project have been completed due to strong partnerships and significant funding from multiple sources. The project is a major success story and a nationally recognized Brownfield redevelopment example.
A NEW STATE PARK
In March of 2022, the State of Michigan announced that it would establish a new state park in the city of Flint. This is the first state park in Genesee County, the only county in Michigan without land that is managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and will become Michigan’s 104th state park. The announcement by the State of Michigan included $30.2 million to support the creation of the state park. The park is designed to consist of 230 acres that stretch approximately 3 miles east to west and more than 1.5 miles north to south. The area includes five park units and three trailway connections, which will provide visitors non-motorized access to the entirety of the park. This composition will provide diverse land use typologies and recreational uses for Flint and Genesee County residents and all park visitors.