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Kettering trying to make University Avenue area safe

Kettering University’s University Avenue Corridor Coalition (UACC) is trying to make the University Avenue area, between McLaren Hospital and the UM-Flint, a safe and viable economic area.

Jack Stock, Kettering external relations director, said the coalition was established in September 2012 at the National Crime Prevention Council Conference on Kettering’s campus.

Stock explained that the acronym, CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design), is the key. “All that means in layman’s terms is to clean the darn area up.”

The overarching goal, Stock says, is to make the University Avenue area walkable and likable.

Stock pointed out that the area is an “institutional corridor.”

“There’s Durant-Tuuri-Mott Elementary School, the largest elementary school in Flint, different churches and credit unions. We want to improve it so when you’re standing downtown and you look east, you see Central Park, the Flint Cultural Center, Mott Community College and the College Cultural neighborhood. When you look west, down University Avenue, the anchor institutions are McLaren, Hurley, Kettering and UM-Flint,” he said.

The University Avenue Corridor also has a number of abandoned lots and homes and an increased crime rate which creates lots of work for the coalition. A group of more than 40 businesses, nonprofits and residents are involved in tackling the environmental clean up. The Mott Park, Glendale Hills and Carriage Town neighborhood associations are also involved, he added.

“Right now, we’re using sweat equity and we’re looking for grants and support from a variety of places. It’s a lot of volunteering,” Stock said.

He said that 165 Kettering students cleaned up University Avenue July 13. The students collected over 125 bags’ worth of garbage.

In addition to volunteer work done by students and residents, Stock says the coalition is using any resources it can get, including the Genesee County Land Bank, a Flint Blight Elimination grant and support from Kettering University.

Stock discussed several strategies being put into place to improve the area’s safety and security. Future efforts include taking advantage of overlapping territories and recruiting police forces from private industries like Hurley and McLaren hospitals and the UM-Flint.

“The Mott public safety department covers the neighborhoods around the college,” he said. “We don’t have as strong a force, but we’re working on making that happen.”

Stock said the coalition has taken past successes as a springboard for reaching their goals for the corridor.

“One of the areas that we’re proud of is University Avenue and Grand Traverse. It’s got a wonderful park called University Square that the Carriage Town Ministries have done a wonderful job on.”

The ministries got permission to tear down the Kessel supermarket on the lot and built the park. Even the corridor’s name change and revitalization in 2008 remains a point of inspiration for the revitalization efforts.

“They changed the name from Third Avenue to University Avenue,” he said. “They put in streetlights, boulevards and medians between streets. All we’re doing is extending the idea of improving that gateway downtown, improving the idea they created.”

Kettering University plans to have a ribbon cutting ceremony for new security cameras and security systems supplied by the Lear Corporation Aug. 6. The cameras will be on campus and plans are being made for them to be installed along the avenue.

But, Stock said, installing the cameras off-campus is a longer-term goal — more than a year off.

“We take it upon ourselves to make a difference in our community,” he said. “If the bad guys know that you’re talking, it sends a message loud and clear. If you don’t, that sends a message too.”

The University Avenue Corridor Coalition meets monthly to talk about ways to improve the area.

People can submit their ideas about how to reinvigorate the avenue and make it a safe, walkable area to Stock at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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