By Jan Worth-Nelson
Flint River buffs are celebrating today as a partnership of the Flint River Watershed Coalition (FRWC) the Mott Park Neighborhood Association, the City of Flint and 600 other donors topped a $50,000 goal to match an equivalent contribution from the State of Michigan for construction of a paddlers’ landing at the Mott Park Recreation Area.
FRWC staff and representatives from the many partners and donors for the project assembled at The Ferris Wheel building downtown to mark the success of the campaign.
A beaming Rebecca Fedewa, executive director of the FRWC announced that the overall total raised for the project including the state money, is $138,000. “We’ve not only met our goal, we’ve blown it out of the water!” she said, adding, “The outpouring of love in this community–for this project and the Flint River–is just tremendous and we can’t thank people enough for making the campaign a success.”
The project will create safe and easier access to the river, which runs through the park, thanks to funds from 600 contributors to Patronicity, a crowd-funding platform of the Michigan Department of Economic Development (MEDC). The watershed partners had 50 days to raise the $50,000, reaching and exceeding the goal just a few hours before the time expired.
Sarah Scheitel, manager of the FRWC Corridor Alliance, said donations ranged from $10 to $10,000. The paddlers’ landing campaign was primed by $10,000 from the Hagerman Foundation. By mid-evening Thursday, the total was at $65,000.
Other major donors included the Habitat for Humanity BRAND grant program, the Rotary Club, UAW Local 659, and the North American Engineering and Tooling Center.
Fedewa said additional donations included a $5,000 personal donation from Ridgway White, CEO and president of the C.S. Mott Foundation, $7,000 from the Union Sportsman Alliance, and a final donation of $8,000 from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.
The success of the Patronicity campaign clears the way for an additional $50,000 from the MEDC through the Public Spaces, Community Places program. Fedewa said combining the Patronicity funds with the MEDC match and existing funds will “fully fund” the project, with construction set to be complete by this August.
Tom Saxton, a lifelong Mott Park resident, said the city’s “turn back to the river is perfect,” and noted, with Mott Park neighbors Ginny Braun and Teddy Robertson, that they are delighted about the natural beauty available. They said a bald eagle has been spotted recently in the vicinity.
The Mott Park Recreation Area was once a nine-hole golf course built in 1934 and designed for executives, who could come out after “bankers’ hours,” for a round, Robertson said. Closed in 2009, it has been resurrected in recent years by a devoted group of volunteers, the Mott Park Recreation Area Association. Lately the park has been devoted to disk golf on a course designed by Paul Grasso, Myles Nakamura, and Mark Stevens, with help from Kettering University students and funding from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.
In a November, 2017 story written for East Village Magazine by Robertson, Saxton, a women’s soccer coach at Michigan State, said he learned to play golf on the Mott Park course and taught his sons there too. To him, it was “a sacred space.”
Project designers of the paddlers’ landing noted it will open up access to the southwest corner of the Mott Recreation Area currently accessible only by bicycle or on foot. The hope is that it will encourage use of the area for community use, and in general support further development of the park, which once was a nine-hole golf course.
Features of the landing project will include:
— timber and concrete steps from the top of the river bank to the low water mark
— metal handrails
— wooden rails down the middle for sliding a canoe or kayak
— a transfer seat and step system to allow people with mobility issues to safely access the water
— a gravel drive to the launch site and signage to mark the landing and recognize supporters
For project details and to donate, visit: patronicity.com/paddlerslanding . Donations can always also be delivered to: The Flint River Watershed Coalition at 1300 Bluff Street, Suite 114, Flint, MI 48504.
The Flint River Watershed Coalition works in partnership to “protect, promote, and improve the Flint River and its watershed.” More information available at www.flintriver.org.
Banner photo courtesy of the FRWC Paddlers’ Landing website.
EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.