Plan to revitalize Flint's waterfront advances - WNEM TV 5

Plan to revitalize Flint's waterfront advances

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

A plan in the works that could start later this year could see a complete turnaround for one of Mid-Michigan's most notorious bodies of water.

For years the Flint River has been stigmatized as a cesspool of pollution, a place where dead bodies are found and more recently - a contributor to Flint's water crisis. The could all be changing.

Kayaking and tubing down the river will be a possibility by next year, according to Genesee County Parks and Recreation.

That's once the troubled Hamilton Dam is out of the way.

"I live in Flint and so I'm very excited to hear that we can go kayaking because when I'm done with this program I can afford to buy a kayak," said Liz Elston, resident.

She said she looks forward to coming back to a revitalized waterfront after she graduates from the University of Michigan's nursing school this December.

The Parks Commission is heading up a $3.7 million project to tear down the dam, which has been crumbling for years. The area downstream of the river will then be naturalized by a series of drops and pools to open up the area to recreational opportunities, including new hiking and biking trails.

"Flint has been kind of unfortunately run down for a while now. And people are working really hard at bringing it back, which will hopefully bring more people here and kind of stimulate the area," Elston said.

Curtis Lee, Flint resident, said the restoration project is obviously a good idea for the city, but until the city's crime rate is transformed he is cautious about spending leisurely time downtown.

"I don't now because of the crime, but it would be OK if they have like high security or something. It might be good for people," Lee said.

Only three of Hamilton Dam's six gates are operational. If the structures did fail the event could be devastating for downtown Flint. It would be safer to get rid of the dam.

The dam's removal is expected to have a significant beneficial effect on fish populations, particularly on fish that live in lakes but swim upriver to spawn.

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