FCA contributes nearly $700K to revitalize east-side neighborhoods

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV on Monday contributed nearly $700,000 for investments into three east-side Detroit neighborhoods as a part of its community benefits commitments.

The funds will contribute to environmental education and increased stormwater management at Chandler Park and support the city's Impact Neighborhood Fund that will support public projects in the Chandler Park, East Canfield and Riverbend neighborhoods. The city will work with residents to determine what those projects should be.

Riverbend Association President and president of the Detroit Police Department's 5th Precinct Community Relations District Council Jay Henderson unwraps an enlarged check for $400,000 during a press conference announcing FCA,  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, investment of nearly $700,000 in Detroit's Eastside communities at a press conference in Chandler Park in Detroit, Michigan  on December 21, 2020.

"So often the east side has been forgotten, but not today," City Councilman Andre Spivey said during a news conference. "We want this to be a destination. We want this to be a place where people can grow and live and work."

The commitments are a result of a community benefits agreement in connection to the Italian American automaker's $2.5 billion investment into its east-side Detroit Assembly Complex. The new Mack Assembly Plant will begin production in the first months of next year producing a new, unnamed full-size Jeep SUV. The adjacent Jefferson North Assembly Plant also will receive updates for the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV.

Ron Stallworth, External Affairs Lead for Wayne County, FCA,  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, announces an investment of nearly $700,000 in Detroit's Eastside communities at a press conference in Chandler Park in Detroit, Michigan  on December 21, 2020.

"It's a great responsibility we have as a company, and we do not take it lightly," said Ron Stallworth, FCA's external affairs lead in Wayne County. "Our entire team is committed to partnership and collaboration with the residents particularly on the east side of Detroit. We are here to follow-through on our commitments."

Economic catalyst Invest Detroit is the fiduciary for Monday's $400,000 contribution to the Impact Neighborhood Fund. The Detroit Planning & Development Department will work with city resident to determine which projects receive funding. The other half of Fiat Chrysler's $800,000 to the fund will come next year.

"Partnerships are critical to the survival of our neighborhoods," said Jay Henderson, president of the Riverbend Association and of the Detroit Police Department's 5th Precinct Community Relations District Council, a community group comprised of neighborhood associations and block clubs. "We are a community of working people who only want the best for our families and that includes clean, safe and sustainable neighborhoods."

The funds are expected to be split between the three neighborhoods. One potential project it could support in Riverbend is a walkway and pavilion in Goethe Park, Henderson said.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, FCA, announces an invest of nearly $700,000 in Detroit's Eastside communities at a press conference in Chandler Park in Detroit, Michigan on December 21, 2020.

Another $285,000 is going to the Chandler Park Conservancy. The money will fund an educational pavilion focused on stormwater management, wildlife habitat and environmental stewardship near the new 2.5 million-gallon stormwater marshland at Dickerson Avenue and Frankfort Street in the 200-acre park. The funds also will support other stormwater management that takes water off nearby roads to prevent flooding.

Chandler Park Conservancy President and CEO Alex Allen, III speaks during a press conference announcing FCA,  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, investment of nearly $700,000 in Detroit's Eastside communities at a press conference in Chandler Park in Detroit, Michigan  on December 21, 2020.

"We anticipate teaching kids, young people, adults, seniors about environmental education, the birds, the bees, the flowers and the trees, how stormwater works in the park," said Alex Allen III, CEO of the conservancy.

The structure will work in partnership with a similar environmental education pavilion at the new stormwater park FCA is funding at Beniteau Street and Kercheval Avenue also as a part of its community benefits agreement, said FCA's Stallworth, who is also a conservancy board member. The company Monday donated 20,000 masks to community leaders amid the COIVD-19 pandemic, as well.

Design for a future educational pavilion in Chandler Park.  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, FCA, announces an invest of nearly $700,000 in Detroit's Eastside communities at a press conference in Chandler Park in Detroit, Michigan  on December 21, 2020.

The automaker has made conditional job offers to 4,100 Detroiters, though not all will work at its new Mack plant. The company has provided $4 million for the creation of the Manufacturing Career Academy at Southeastern High School, $5.8 million to the state for workforce development and training, $1.8 million for a home repair grant program and $1.4 million for other environemntal projects.

Next month, FCA will share more details on its plans for solar bus stops, distributing rain barrels, restoring the 300 lots where the city has demolished buildings and planting 600 more trees on top of the original 500 to which it committed.

"Our collective futures," Stallworth said, "will be based on how we collaborate to transform this east side neighborhood."

bnoble@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble

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