Video of man stealing metal from roof of Flint school adds to neighbors' concerns

Published: May. 29, 2019 at 11:38 PM EDT
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(05/29/2019) - Flint resident Matt Schlinker videotaped a man stealing metal from the roof of a vacant Flint school Tuesday morning.

He saw the man on the roof ripping off a chunk of metal from the spire in broad daylight. The video was taken at the former Whittier Classical Academy, which sits right next to the former Flint Central High School.

Neighbors are concerned that the buildings have not only fallen into disrepair, but are attracting this type of crime.

"I love this neighborhood we're all very concerned about the condition of these beautiful old buildings," said Kathy Watchorn, who just purchased a condo in Flint's Central Park Neighborhood.

She said something needs to be done to secure these buildings after watching her neighbor's Facebook post.

"They are an eyesore to this neighborhood that is trying to come back," she said. "It's the gateway to the Cultural Center."

The former Central High School and Whittier Classical Academy buildings are just steps away from the Flint Cultural Center.

"This is a stain on the community and it's a real black eye to Flint," said John Henry.

The Flint Institute of Arts director and the Flint Institute of Music's Rodney Lontine both watched the Facebook post of the man on the roof.

"I'm sure like-minded people can get together and say, 'What is the solution?'" he said. "It shouldn't just be there crumbling away."

Last fall the Central Park Neighborhood Association sent a letter to the Flint Community Schools Board of Education asking them to address some of their immediate concerns.

"There were broken windows and graffiti, manholes that were unsafe," said association president Karen Tipper.

She said while some of their concerns were addressed, a long term solution is needed.

"It's not only unsightly, it's dangerous," she said.

Flint Community Schools officials say they are "exploring options for the buildings that are no longer in use by the district, and will disclose next steps as soon as they become available."

They also said they're "monitoring" the situation and do not condone trespassing on private property.

The school board is trying to figure out what to do with all of the vacant buildings in the district with limited funds. Demolishing the buildings and clean up could cost up to $3 million.