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Students, neighbors, nonprofit join forces

Eight students from UM-Flint and their advisor, and four neighborhood residents, John Freeman, Nancy Covucci, Edwin Custer and Jerry Rule, cleaned out the house at 606 Crapo St. and prepared it for renovation May 20.

The Genesee County Land Bank, the property owner, provided a dumpster. Tools used in the cleanup were loaned to the group by the Salem Housing Community Development Corporation.

The two-story home facing the former Central High School was chosen as a renovation project by Central Park Neighborhood Association and the Court Street Village Nonprofit (CSVNP).

According to Director Norma Sain, CSVNP, the home was selected for rehabilitation because of its location.

"We wanted to rehabilitate a house in Central Park to keep the neighborhood stable," Sain said. "This neighborhood is a tipping point — we don't see a lot of homes needing rehabilitation here."

Sain said a $93,240 city grant would be used to bring back the historical beauty of the structure.

"The students and neighbors working together to clean out the building saved us some money. Also, the Land Bank has offered to help us with the work. It's a real collaborative process," Sain said.

According to Central Park Neighborhood Association President Jerry Rule, the house has a prominent location on the main corridor leading to the Cultural Center. The single-family residence will bring a new low- or moderate-income owner-occupant into the area.

"This is a four-bedroom, two-bath, single-family home," Rule explained.

"Although the home has been neglected, it has beautiful natural woodwork, a formal dining room with built-in cabinets, a fireplace and a second-story balcony in the master bedroom. This home, along with the UM-Flint Alternative House renovation, will restore Crapo Street to its former glory," Rule said.

Gary Ashley, UM-Flint University Outreach project coordinator, recruited the eight students who helped with the cleanup.

"Even though we're in the spring semester — a busy time for students — eight of them answered my call for help," Ashley said.

"The university wants its students to be civically engaged. These students are giving back to their community — and they're not afraid of hard work. They surprised some of our community partners with their strong work ethic," Ashley said.

"They really have a passion for making the community a better place. They didn't stop for a lunch break. They just kept on working until the job was done," Ashley added.

Custer said, "I hope that very soon the Land Bank will board up all accessible parts of the structure."

"Sherman Carter volunteered to mow the lot this summer. I will provide the mower and gas," he added.

"The garage looks like a removal to me. I also hope the family that gets the property goes through some basic home ownership training and has the will and resources to maintain its appearance," Custer said.

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