Help pours in for woman cleaning up Flint's Hidden Park

FLINT, Michigan—It is once again a green gem, nestled in the heart of streets of Stockdale Street, Paterson Street, and Milbourne Avenue. The trees lining this Hidden Park clap their leaves loud enough to drown out passing traffic on North Chevrolet Avenue just like before.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” asks park adopter Linn Aikins. The grass has been mowed, revealing a cement platform. Much of the debris along the fenceline has been cleared. The fallen tree near the West Patterson Street exit has been cleared. 
Linn Aikins
Civic Park’s Hidden Park is becoming a little less hidden these days.

Related article: One woman's fight to save Flint's hidden park

Since being featured in Flintside earlier this summer, help has come rolling in — including a professional cleaning crew hired by Keep Genesee County Beautiful, volunteers for cleanups and offers to donate tools. Plus, Aikins received a flood of people contacting her on Facebook to thank her for her work and share their memories of the park, whose official name is Dougherty Park.

“Now I have to get a toolshed,” Aikins says. “I am just in awe, you know, of the feedback.” 

Since June, Aikins has continued to organize one clean up after the other in an effort to revive the park, that is often overlooked because it is in the middle of the block and not fully visible from the road. 

CJ Evans Contracting handed the bulk of moving and clearing out dumped trash through the support of Keep Genesee County Beautiful 

The park’s transformation opens up opportunities for picnics, tables, and events for next year.
The progress of the Hidden Park has roped in visits from councilman Maurice Davis, Carma Lewis, and several residents in the area, Aikins says, which helps draw even more community attention to the park. The last Hidden Park clean up on Sept. 28 had up to 15 volunteers. 

“One person can change a lot — but if you don’t have the rest of the community in on that change, it's a hard change because you’re fighting an uphill battle,” Aikins says. In this way, her fellow members at Living Body of Christ Ministry church on Chevrolet has been the backbone of the revival of the park, she says.

Despite the progress, there continues to be issues along the fenceline with residential dumping into the park. 

“People know we are cleaning up the park, and it's a lack of respect,” says Aikins, who continues to return along with fellow church members to clean up newly deposited trash. 

Aikins invites all those who appreciate the park, including former residents, to help out at the park, see its progress, and share their memories.

“All the old residents, come and help us,” says Aikins. “Even just to take pictures or two, come out and see how she looks now compared with how she was abandoned all those years ago. She’s coming back.” 

When Aikins is  not strategizing park cleanups, sometimes she goes to Hidden Park clear her mind, listen to chatter of the birds and watch the goings on of wildlife like playful groundhogs. But just one little thing is missing in Aikins’ opinion. Two words: butterfly garden. It would be a beautiful addition to the park, underscoring the desire for the park to be a natural oasis, she says

“I want to keep it as natural as possible.Where people can just take her (the park) in,” smiles Aikins. “She’s been abandoned … but I refuse to abandon her this time.” 

For more information, contact Linn Aikins by phone at (810)-308-7628 or by email at [email protected]

Read more articles by Alexandria Brown.

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