Saturday, July 16, 2011

Nature Returns to Buick City


Gerry Godin, the creator of the excellent All Things Buick blog, sent me this photo that he took on July 15 at the old Division Street gate off Hamilton Avenue. It's hard to believe that this spot, once a congested entrance to the massive Buick factory complex, the geographic heart of Flint, is now a place where the deer (and the antelope?) play or, in this case, die.

I've written several posts about the return of wildlife in Michigan as the population declines and parts of Detroit and Flint empty out and return to nature. There was one about red foxes and another about beavers. Carriage Town resident Michael Freeman told me about deer nibbling at the lilac bushes in his side yard, the former site of 3rd Avenue Fish & Chips, when I was visiting Flint a few summers back. It shouldn't be all that surprising given how overgrown and wild parts of Flint are these days. When people leave, nature reasserts itself.


12 comments:

  1. wow. surreal. yes, depressing...but so was the factory.

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  2. Plant trees! Make it a lumber town again.

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  3. Shots like this always make me wonder why people are so against Dan Kildee and the county land bank and the shrinking city concept. Flint is obviously shrinking all by itself. Right now, there's really no reason the city won't lose another 25,000 people over the next decade. Flint needs a plan to deal with this reality.

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  4. I've seen racoons several times climbing trees coming home at night on the east-side. Regarding the former plant sites themselves, First Solar just built a huge new solar field not too long ago in Sarnia which is just down the road from Flint on I-69. If they can collect enough sun there to be profitable then they should be able to do it in Flint with all of the tax credits and trends toward everyone wanting to use renewable energy. Between Buick City, AC, and Chevy in the hole there's probably close to a thousand acres they could have and they could probably get it from Motors Liquidation and the city for next to nothing.

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  5. I loved 3rd Ave Fish & Chips!

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  6. Read: "Gerry Godin Returns To Buick City"-- I knew that deer was just around the corner someplace along with the rest of the critters taking up residence.

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  7. Seeing an empty factory that will not be reused-depressing.

    Seeing a working factory that gainfully employed tens of thousands of marginally skilled workers, allowing them and their children and grandchildren to join the middle class-not depressing.

    Seeing that other cities, including Detroit, are still talking about rebuilding, while Flint people and leaders talk about shutting everything down-depressing.

    Seeing the lifeless deer not much older than a fawn-depressing.

    Seeing people propose solutions that won't work economically or scientifically to save Flint OR the rest of the world-depressing.

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  8. I too loved Third Ave. Fish and Chips. Dad brought some home every Friday. Coney's on Saturday for us kids.

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  9. I would rather see nature than a factory that is closed and keeps something else from going their .Flint should look into using these large publicly owned tracks of land in a profitable way even if its only Christmas tree farms.Hopefully the rampant crime will speed up the slow exodus and stabilize population sooner city could be nice smaller 75 thousand to 80 thousand city.With remnants of former boom times like cultural center and downtown along with colleges could be a nice small city.

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  10. While we debate the future of this once bustling city, time marches on and deterioration sets in. It will be difficult to create much of anything positive in the midst of so many abandoned and dangerous inner-city properties. Word is out that anything goes in Flint; the police are obviously out numbered and out gunned. I would sure hate to be the last law abiding citizen to leave town. I would never, ever, ever, allow any of my children/grandchildren to live anywhere close to this kind of chaos, nor would most of this blog's readers. I have no doubt there will be small success stories, but by and large, businesses aren't looking for an abandoned factory in an abandoned crime riddled city, to relocate their workforce to. My thought is; what isn't being regularly used today will rather quickly fall down or burn, speeding the complete absorbtion of these properties into a somewhat natural condition. The result will be less costly to clean up and maintain by those few who remain and have Flint based livelihoods that are worth the effort. At some point down the road, there will be a reason to build up the city again, with new ideas, new structures and fewer thugs. For now, Flint citizens should think small. The name of Flint swells my heart with longing for a city that once was, but we should avoid this sentimentality, it doesn't help us do the right thing today.

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  11. Actually, Anon, the State Police have made a difference in Flint lately. We are looking forward to the 1 million dollar initiative Gov. Snyder has just authorized to fight crime in Flint. I drove through my Mott Park neighborhood this scorching summer morning and saw many well-kept yards and bright flowers. There is a big community garden on Flushing Road, not far from La Familia, the Mexican restaurant that is still going strong. The Kettering kids are striding with their backpacks to early morning classes, the campus looks beautiful, as does the Flint Children's Museum with its adjacent garden and playground all maintained by by volunteers. I can't say it's all good--the Mott Golf course is overgrown, but then not maintaining it as a golf course keeps fertilizers and pesticides out of the Flint River that flows impressively by the U-M Flint campus and near the Farmer's Market that has a huge crowd for a Thursday morning. Oh, yeah, and my grandson can and does live in "this kind of chaos" in the city of Flint. All of the adults in his family have college degrees and he reads three grades above level. It's not all good, but it's not all bad.

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  12. This is all so depressing. I too Remember Flint as a bustling city, an active, thriving,interesting place to be. I grew up in Genesee County. I remember my Grandfather taking me to the Buick Plant to pick up his paychecks, going to the Coney Island, Woolworths, Hudsons, The Fair store, and all of these places are gone.
    Flint can never be as it once was..when the automotive industry shutdown, it threw Flint into a state of economic doom. It can never be recaptured. The city is ugly and damaged, as demolition of auto plants took place. If I never step foot in that city again,it won't bother me.

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