Blight removal blocked by Flintâ??s historic designation

Church and state---they usually stay out of each others business but when you're cleaning up a neighborhood, you'll take all the help you can get.

â??Weâ??ve all got to work together,â?? says Robert McCathern. The local pastor lead Congressman Dan Kildee through his old neighborhood, hoping he can help clean up the mess left behind by abandoned homes.

â??This is really America's first subdivision. There are certain restrictions in terms of what can be done,â?? says Representative Dan Kildee, a democrat representing Flint.

Civic Parkâ??s historic designation means some homes can't be torn down.

Instead, volunteers put up decorative plywood to keep criminals out.

â??We know it's a band aid on an open sore but we would rather but a band aid then leave the sore open,â?? says McCathern.

â??You see less trash, more homes that are boarded up and less crime. So it's actually getting better,â?? says Sela Gibson who has lived in the neighborhood for 17 years.

Kildee has introduced a $100-million bill that could give Civic Park teens summer jobs cleaning up their own neighborhood while leaders work on the historic designation.

â??If there were more jobs and the city could come together, the city could be a better place,â?? says Gibson.

â??The question that the community and the state has to answer is what's the real footprint of the historic neighborhood that can actually be sustained and then can we start cleaning away some of the blight that surrounds that,â?? says Kildee. â??If we can get that done then I think maybe this neighborhood has a fighting chance,â?? he adds.

Neighbors hoping the walk around the neighborhood leads to a more permanent solution.

â??Iâ??m really trying to see a difference in the neighborhood,â?? adds Gibson.

The Genesee County Land Bank has submitted a zoning change request to Michiganâ??s historic preservation office. Theyâ??re hoping to hear back later this month.

Congressman Kildee's bill has been referred to a congressional committee.