The Detroit City Council today (Oct. 16) indefinitely postponed a public hearing on a proposal for the state to lease Belle Isle and run the island as a state park, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The council’s decision means the proposal can’t go forward until council members get what they want: more funding guarantees from the state as well as a fuller hearing on alternative proposals for the island park.
Council members said the state had yet to respond to its request that guarantees of millions of dollars in upgrades to the island be put in writing, information that was not specifically spelled out in the state’s proposed 30-year lease. The lease would be for 30 years with two optional 30-year renewals.
Councilman Kwame Kenyatta said he was also awaiting more details from private interests who’ve proposed creating an outdoor-sports zone and a Boblo Island-like amusement center, options that could help raise money for Belle Isle’s upkeep without the city having to cede control of the park.
The state’s proposal would have instituted a first-ever charge for using Belle Isle; motorists would be required to buy a $10-a-year annual state parks passport good at all Michigan state parks, although pedestrians, bicyclists and bus riders would have been able to enter at no cost.
The council’s concerns about the fee and the implications of the city handing over operation of the 985-acre island to the state sank the state’s proposal, which requires council approval.
Mayor Dave Bing told the Free Press last week that he was optimistic he’ll be able to overcome council opposition to the lease and eventually have Belle Isle run as a state park, freeing up $6 million a year.