ICSC members lend a hand in Flint, Mich., water crisis


Publish Date: March 03, 2016

ICSC members are working to offer assistance as the city of Flint, Mich., fights to sustain itself amid problems from a contaminated water supply. Nearly two years ago the city switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. During the change, failure to properly treat the pipes for corrosion resulted in levels of lead contamination in the water that continues to affect the area.

Genesee Valley Center, in neighboring Flint Township, which is unaffected by the contamination, has stepped up to help. Last October the mall sponsored a water drive for city schools that collected some 210,000 containers of bottled water. The mall also introduced an initiative in January to collect cash donations for the Flint Child Health & Development Fund, which helps those with health issues related to the water crisis. Genesee Valley Center now has a giant-size piggy bank set up for donations.

Bloomfield Hills, Mich.–based Lomax Stern Development is another ICSC member that is helping, having teamed up with Flint-based restaurant chain Halo Burger to provide bottled water to residents. The company is also raising money for the Flint Child Health & Development Fund.

“ICSC has some dynamic leadership and members in Michigan,” said Stephen Taylor, manager of ICSC’s Central Division State & Local Government Relations. “Their commitment to highlighting and supporting the relief efforts in Flint has been and continues to be a central focus of leadership in the state.”

The help is surely needed, but the challenge is to get the resources to the right place, says Daniel Stern, a partner at Lormax Stern. “Once you get into the city, there isn’t any rhyme or reason as to who’s affected and who’s not,” said Stern. One house might be fine, while three of the neighboring homes are testing positive for lead, he says. Stern has worked through ICSC’s Michigan State Government Relations Committee to help funnel even more industry support to the city. “There is a group of us that are working to serve as boots on the ground to make sure that our initiative is not blind,” said Stern. “This issue needs a very targeted approach, because it is not affecting the entire metro area. So what we are looking to accomplish is to funnel help and money into specific areas.” Among the priorities is the provision of water filters and testing kits, Stern says.

ICSC members are exploring further ways to help. “As a state committee, we are actively looking for ways to become a vehicle to help raise additional funds for what is a humanitarian crisis in the city of Flint,” said Edward A. Eickhoff, CRX, CLS, senior vice president of development at Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust, based near Detroit. Eickhoff is co-chairman of ICSC’s Michigan State Government Relations Committee.

“We also want to get a vehicle in place that will be able to continue assisting when the media attention dies down,” said Eickhoff, “because this is going to be a long-term problem that needs to be solved.”