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Flint blight removal gets help from community

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Flint Grounds Crew, Civic Park Tool Library and Urban Renaissance Center partnered to clean up illegal dumping and eliminate blight in Flint’s Civic Park Historic District on Nov. 14, 2020. (Photo credit: Jonathan Lantz)

FLINT, Mich. - The City of Flint and community organizations continue to battle blight and illegal dumping.

Flint Grounds Crew, Civic Park Tool Library and Urban Renaissance Center partnered for a mass blight removal effort from a lot at the corner of Rankin Street and Lawndale Avenue on Saturday.

Steven Adams-Bey, who was visiting his mother in the neighborhood, was relieved to see the clean up underway.

“To see that there’s no obstructions, things where children can get hurt or old people can get hurt by their environment, I love it,” he said.”

The neighborhood has been one of several hotspots for illegal dumping, but the Urban Renaissance Center has a plan.

“This used to be a dumping area that we’ll turn into a community garden area. Picnic area,” said Rev. Robert McCathern, executive director of Urban Renaissance Center.

The vision is a work that is still in progress.

“Everything from couches to washer and dryers. Anything you can think of that someone would take out of their house, they’re willing to dump it somewhere else,” said Chris Taylor of Flint Grounds Crew.

Joshua Arntson, director of operations of Flint Grounds Crew, said the group removed about two dozen trees and loads of trash from the lots in Civic Park.

“Whenever you have blight like that and overgrowth that always brings in things that are unsafe or brings in the illegal dumping,” he said.

RELATED ARTICLE: Flint residents demand people stop dumping trash in their neighborhood

Mayor Sheldon Neeley said more than two million pounds of illegally dumped trash had been collected citywide since the start of the year, but he said it does not take long before sites are trashed again.

“To really enhance the quality of life of residents in this community, we should be very upset at those individuals that treat our communities like a garbage can,” he said.

Neeley said the city is seeking tips and stepping up enforcement.

“We need to fight back and strike back against them.”

The community organizations hope that activity deters the culprits.

“Folks that have been doing the illegal dumping, they might think secondly about that, now,” said Arntson.

People can report neighborhood blight to the City of Flint Blight Elimination and Neighborhood Improvement Office at 810-237-2090 or visit www.CityofFlint.com/FightBlight.

Individuals who provide tips to Crime Stoppers could be eligible for rewards up to $1,000. Call 1-800-422-JAIL (5425) or visit the website at CrimeStoppersofFlint.com/.

The Mott Foundation is helping to support the city’s partnership with Crime stoppers.

RELATED ARTICLE: Illegal dumpers mar Flint's defunct Northern HS