UM-Flint Students Re-Imagine Flint's Civic Park Neighborhood

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UM-Flint Students Re-Imagine Flint’s Civic Park Neighborhood
UM-Flint Students Re-Imagine Flint’s Civic Park Neighborhood

University of Michigan-Flint resource planning and social work students met last week at Joy Tabernacle on Chevrolet Avenue to present to the public their proposals for revamping vacant sites within the Civic Park neighborhood.

Following their oral presentations, the students received highly supportive comments from residents of Civic Park, a North Flint neighborhood that emerged around 1918 with rapid new housing construction during the rise of the auto industry, and has struggled during decades of decline to regain its character as a strong, welcoming community.

Senior housing, a community center, baseball and soccer fields, a concession stand, a community garden, gazebo, mobile farmers' market, and a small park and pavilion were some of the project ideas that students presented.

Victoria Morckel with students preparing to present their proposal for Civic Park.

The collaborative course project for SWR 304 "The Urban Context" and RPL 411 "Reimagining Cities" was facilitated by Todd Womack, social work lecturer, and Victoria Morckel, assistant professor in earth and resource science. They coordinated joint class sessions for students in both disciplines to work together to run needs assessments, introduce potential programs, determine cost and feasibility, and prepare visuals.

"Resource planning focused on the resources related to the proposals and social work focused on the programming," Womack explained.
"These proposals are meant to get the neighborhood to brainstorm about possibilities," Morckel said. "Our hope is to lay the groundwork for future planning."

UM-Flint students listen to comments from the public after their presentations.

Students said they enjoyed developing their ideas after examining the vacant properties and talking with residents about what they hope for the future of the Civic Park neighborhood. Residents also expressed excitement about getting involved to help move any project forward.

"We talked to people in the community," said social work student Johnny Ward. "People see us helping them, and they want to help. They see our ideas, and they get ideas."

"It's exciting to see what residents are envisioning and what we are envisioning and to help get something implemented in the community," social work student Ashley Hill said.

A variety of student proposals were introduced to enhance Civic Park neighborhood.

Eric Williams, president of the Civic Park Neighborhood Association, was encouraged by the wide variety and depth of proposals that the UM-Flint students presented.

"This is awesome," Williams said. "We're trying to think about what we can do to bring back the city of Flint and this community and to attract more businesses."

Project and community leaders hope to obtain more grant funding to support the development of community enhancement projects for the Civic Park neighborhood.

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