FLINT, Michigan -- A $350,000 grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation will help create a new space for the Flint River Watershed Coalition
and Kayak Flint
in a previously unoccupied building on the Flint River near downtown.
The grant to the Uptown Reinvestment Corporation will redevelop the former 1st
Source Servall Appliance Parts building at 630 W. Kearsley Street and adjacent properties and convert them into the new headquarters for the nonprofit Flint River Watershed Coalition and its Kayak Flint rental program, which began in 2018.
“This is something fun and exciting for the city. For the first time, the Flint River Watershed Coalition will have our own storefront and can have a bigger presence. In my wildest dreams when I started at the FRWC, I would have never anticipated any of this happening. The stars seem to be aligning,” said Rebecca Fedewa, executive director of the Flint River Watershed Coalition, in a news release. “The momentum is there, and we have really seen people embrace the river in a much larger way than we have seen in the past. We want to keep that going and be a resource for people to access the river if they don’t have the ability to do that on their own.”
The property is bordered by the Flint River, Swartz Creek, and Kearsley Street. It is near Chevy Commons park and Atwood Stadium. When completed, community members will be able to stop in and get maps and information about the Flint River Watershed. Future plans also include selling merchandise to support the organization’s operations.
Genesee County Parks & Recreation already has begun work to improve access to the Swartz Creek. FRWC will begin work to improve access to the Flint River after the organization raises an additional $190,000 to fully fund the project.
“The Flint River Watershed Coalition is doing great things to bring people to an amazing natural resource right in the heart of Flint,” said Ridgway White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation, in a news release. “I hope many more residents will be able to enjoy the river and all the opportunities it provides for recreation, education, and physical and mental health.”
The Flint River is home to several species of fish and wildlife, including nesting bald eagles.
“It’s a unique stretch of the river, and you will fall in love with it,” Fedewa said in a news release. “This is a great opportunity for us to show off the river as an environmental, economic and recreational asset to the community. A big part of what we do is encourage people to use the river, love the river and help us protect the river.”
Last year, more than 1,000 people used the Flint River for recreational purposes through the FRWC and Kayak Flint. Kayak Flint will open for the season on Memorial Day weekend. If renovations on the new property aren’t complete by then, residents will be able to launch into the Flint River from Tenacity Brewing Company at 119 N. Grand Traverse Street.