FLINT, Michigan — With support from more than 600 donors and a $50,000 matching grant, the Flint River soon will be home to a new access point for kayaking, tubing, fishing and exploration.
Organizers hope to open Paddlers’ Landing in the Mott Park Recreation Area at the end of July, just four months from now, so construction will start as soon as possible — but cautiously so as to not disturb fish-spawning season in May and June, said Rebecca Fedewa, executive director of the Flint River Watershed Coalition, which spearheaded the fundraising effort.
All told, the campaign exceeded its goal by more than 30 percent, raising in excess of $65,000 on Patronicity and securing the $50,000 matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The original goal was to raise $50,000 in 50 days and win the $50,000 Patronicity grant, but that would not have covered the full cost of the project. The additional dollars combined with previous fundraising means the Paddlers’ Landing project is now fully funded, Fedewa said.
“The way people responded, it’s touching. It’s so nice to see. People recognize the river is a valuable asset,” Fedewa said at an impromptu celebration of the successful fundraising effort at the Ferris Wheel on the final day of the campaign.
Paddlers’ Landing will provide a safe and fully accessible community access point to the Flint River. The development will include concrete and wood stairs down to the river, a gravel driveway, signage, and a chairlift to open up access to the river to those with disabilities. Work on Paddlers’ Landing is being done by Oak Construction, based in Flushing.
It will be located just off the Flint River Trail along Sunset Drive just east of Ballenger Highway, near McLaren Hospital. It is a joint effort of the Corridor Alliance Chapter of the Flint River Watershed Coalition, Mott Park Recreation Area, and the City of Flint.
Paddlers’ Landing will allow for an additional entrance and exit point from the Flint River, especially for kayaker and other leisure activities. It is about an hour trip from Kayak Flint, a first-of-its-kind kayak rental and Flint River tour operation that launched on a limited basis for four weekends last summer and is slated to return this spring.
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The effort was buoyed by multiple major donations including gifts of $10,000 or more from the Hagerman Foundation, Habitat for Humanity BRAND grant program and Rotary Club of Flint as well as a cash and in-kind donations worth $10,000 from North American Engineering and Tooling Center.
On the final day of the Patronicity fundraiser, Union Sportsman Alliance made a $7,000 gift and the Community Foundation of Greater Flint donated $8,000.
Mott Park Recreation Area is a 70-acre area on Flint’s westside that used to be home to a nine-hole, city-owned golf course that closed in 2010. The Mott Park Recreation Association formed as a volunteer, nonprofit board to oversee the property. It worked with residents to create short- and long-term maintenance and development plans, including Paddlers’ Landing.
Mott Park Recreation Area is home to the disc golf course, the annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot, and a monarch butterfly watching area.