Belle Isle Deal Is a Win-Win for Detroit and State
This week, the City of Detroit’s Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced that a lease agreement has been reached over the management of Belle Isle.
At MUCC’s Annual Convention this summer, our members indicated via a resolution by Mike Doyle that we support the State of Michigan assisting financially in the rebuilding of Belle Isle, provided that the lease or sale agreement is long-term and any public investment is tied to keeping Belle Isle open to the general public for recreation rather than private development. This resolution passed unanimously and was promptly shared with both the Department of Natural Resources and the Governor’s office.
The lease agreement (available from the Detroit Free Press here) is that the State of Michigan, through the DNR, will operate Belle Isle as the 102nd State Park over the term of the lease, which is 30 years with the option to automatically renew this up to two more times for 15 years each. The City of Detroit will maintain ownership of Belle Isle, while the DNR will be responsible for the operations and maintenance and the Michigan Department of Transportation will help maintain certain roads and bridges.
A Recreation Passport, which is now $11 annually (available when you renew your license plates or at any State Park or Recreation Area), will be required to enter Belle Isle by vehicle just as in all State Parks, while those walking, biking in or taking public transportation can still get in for free. The Passport is available for $30.50 for non-resident annually or $8.40 for a non-resident daily pass. This Recreation Passport allows entry into all State parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds and non-motorized trail head and boat launch parking and the revenue is restricted for state parks, state forest recreation and grants to local community recreation projects. Any additional revenue from grants acquired by Belle Isle State Park, special event permits, or sponsorships will go into a DNR sub-account specifically for Belle Isle. Detroit and the State of Michigan will cooperate jointly to develop a security plan for public safety and law enforcement.
The Detroit City Council now must approve the lease or come up with an alternative plan that will still save the City of Detroit $4 million annually, which is what they currently spend in upkeep at Belle Isle. If they can’t reach an agreement, the lease will go forward as planned. Mayor David Bing is quoted as saying this is the “best option for managing and maintaining the island and restoring it to its grandeur.“