Partners in Progress: A State Park in Genesee County! Imagine it.
Chevy Commons, also known as the old “Chevy in the Hole” is a 60+ acre property on the Flint River, a few blocks from downtown. The manufacturing complex was established in the 1930’s as one of General Motors’ four major production facilities in Flint. Once containing17 buildings; at its peak, the complex employed around 8,000 workers. Plant closings and building demolitions started in the mid 1990’s and continued through 2004, leaving acres of vacant, concrete-clad, contaminated brownfields in downtown.
“Reimagining Chevy in the Hole” began in 2007, with publication of the first concept plan funded through an EPA grant to Genesee County Land Bank and in partnership with University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment and the Genesee Institute. The plant outlined two possible alternatives for the site, one which imagined the site becoming a State Park in two phases, completing the transition by 2040. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of a coalition of local, state and federal partners, the concept became an approved site plan in 2014 and the first phase of construction began on just 16 acres east of Chevrolet Avenue in 2015. Utilizing EPA grants to Genesee County Treasurer, GCLBA served as project manager for then property owner, City of Flint. Designed to be developed in phases as funding became available, the remainder of the earthen cap was constructed over the next 6 years. Together with project partners GCLBA invested more than 13 million dollars in capping the former industrial brownfield with a low maintenance green cover.The final phase of construction began west of Chevrolet Avenue in September 2020, laying the groundwork for the July 2021 announcement that the community greenspace branded as Chevy Commons would be a part of Genesee County’s first State Park.
It seems impossible that such a grand vision could be achieved so quickly after construction began in 2015. Without the multitude of committed partners and champions, Chevy Commons and the State Park would have been unimaginable. Thank you to all project partners and funders that believed in the project and supported it along the way, including: City of Flint; United States Environmental Protection Agency; Genesee County Treasurer; Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy; United States Forest Service; Genesee County Parks; Michigan Land Bank Authority; C.S. Mott Foundation; and Kettering University.