By Nic Custer
A proposal has emerged for reuse of the long-vacant Pierce Golf Course, City Administrator Sylvester Jones told the College Cultural Neighborhood Association at its November meeting.
Jones also addressed Kearsley Manor residents’ concerns about a rental inspection fee issue with their landlord.
Other business at the meeting included details on the safety millage results, a report on a Crim Fitness Foundation community education initiative and an overview of neighborhood real estate prices.
Regarding the golf course, Jones told members the city has been trying to make partnerships with likeminded organizations who can reuse vacant public facilities. He said the city received a proposal from Gear Up 2 Lead for the Pierce Community Center and Golf Course, but he did not offer any details.
He said because it seemed Gear Up 2 Lead had not yet explained their plans to the neighborhood, city officials did not want to proceed without hearing public comment.
“We believe it’s important the residents have some dialogue with this group before the city makes its decision,” Jones said.
He said he would invite the organization’s leadership to the January CCNA meeting to present their idea for leasing the space. That would allow the city to hear residents’ feedback before moving forward.
Jones said he also will determine whether the organization has the necessary resources to manage the facility so the city will no longer have to pay for mowing, plowing and utility costs. “If they don’t, we don’t want to enter into a partnership with them,” he said.
He said Gear Up 2 Lead was the only organization to submit a proposal for the site to the city so far. The organization offered to lease the vacant community center for $1 per month. Jones said the city may ask for a larger lease amont if the proposal is accepted.
Kearsley Manor inspection fee upset clarified
Andy Everman questioned Jones about letters Kearsley Manor residents received from their landlord stating the city is charging each resident a $5 inspection fee. Jones explained it appeared the property owner is trying to get out of paying his rental inspection fees by claiming the city is asking the tenants to pay the cost themselves.
“Kearsley Manor had not paid their rental inspection since 2009,” Jones said. “This gentleman has been raising the rent at this facility but has not been paying for the rental inspection since 2009. And so his way of getting out of it is to say, ‘the city of Flint is asking me to do this.’ The city of Flint is not asking him to do it,” Jones clarified.
Jones said rental inspections hadn’t been a priority under the Emergency Financial Managers. Earlier that day, Mayor Karen Weaver visited Kearsley Manor to speak with residents directly and called the property owner, who lives in Arizona. Jones said she let the owner know the city is holding him responsible for the rental inspection fee and not the tenants. Jones said the rental inspection price is based on the number of units in a property.
Millage approval means more firefighters, reopening Station 8
He also announced that because city residents voted to renew a public safety millage in early November, the Flint Fire Department will be eligible to receive a federal SAFER grant to hire 33 firefighters and reopen the Station 8 firehouse on Atherton Road.
Flint Fire Chief Raymond Barton said he appreciated the community support for the public safety millage renewal. He said funding generated by the millage renewal made the difference in whether additional federal funds were available. The fire department will be able to reopen Station 8 instead of having to close Station 3 and lay off several firefighters, which would have occurred if the millage and grant funds were unavailable. Barton said this will allow firefighters to respond to fires more quickly because they can fully staff fire trucks and will have the minimum 4 fire fighters required on site to immediately enter burning structures instead of a 3-person fire truck crew waiting for additional backup.
Crim Foundation to bolster Pierce “community center” approach
In other news, Kyle Peppin, Crim Fitness Foundation’s Pierce Creative Arts Elementary community school director, told members Crim has partnered with Flint Community Schools to provide supplemental education programs for students in all 11 Flint schools.
Peppin said the program will include extracurricular programs for both children and adults at Pierce Elementary which allows it to function more like a community center.
A Crim adult runners’ club is set to be the first program for adults at the school, but Peppin said the foundation also wants to hear what residents would like to see. He distributed a survey asking for other suggestions. He said a DM Burr security officer will be present at the building whenever programs are occurring.
Because arts have been cut from the schools, the Crim Foundation also is looking for volunteers to help teach teach art classes, Peppin said.
The survey also mentioned volunteer opportunities for residents to help youth in education, sports, mentoring, safe pathways to school or for neighborhood clean-ups.
Peppin said the foundation, like the city of Flint, is interested in working with the former Pierce Golf Club and would welcome suggestions for reuse of that site. In 2014, Crim used the golf course for a 3-mile “steeplechase” cross country race. More information on the community education initiative is at flintcommunityed.org, More information about Pierce Elementary is available from Peppin at 516-1171 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CCNA “distressed homes” down, sales prices up
Realtor Mark Fisher reported 28 houses are for sale in the neighborhood. He said this number was typical since inventory rises and sales decrease in early winter. He said only one house for sale is considered distressed – that is, either a short sale or foreclosure. He said is the lowest number of distressed homes for sale in the neighborhood since before 2008. Fisher has been tracking home sales’ price per square foot since 2013. The current average is $37 per square foot, which has risen from an average of $18 per square foot in 2013. He said the water crisis has not slowed down sales in the neighborhood and all houses attempting to get a mortgage have their water tested anyway. He said he has not seen many homes for sale that have high lead levels.
The group will meet next at 7 p.m. Jan. 19 at MCC’s RTC auditorium.
EVM Managing Editor Nic Custer can be reached at email@example.com.