belle isle

Environment & Science
7:37 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Forest Service grant will help Belle Isle forestry

Detroit kids learn about the ecology on Belle Isle in 2012.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The federal government is offering some help to restore the forest on Detroit’s Belle Isle.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow announced the $300,000 grant from the US Forest Service Thursday.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has been cutting down a lot of dead and damaged trees on Belle Isle lately, as the island makes its transition to a state park.

The grant will help carry on that effort. It will also help the DNR and community groups reforest the island.

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Stateside
4:20 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Belle Isle becomes Michigan's 102nd state park

Belle Isle's Scott Fountain.
demccain flickrriver

A new chapter has begun in the long history of Detroit's Belle Isle, which is transitioning to become Michigan's 102nd state park. 

The full change takes place today, as state park officials assume control of the park under the lease imposed by Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr. The move should save the city between $4 and $5 million a year. 

Starting today, motorists will need an $11 state recreation passport to enter the park. 

Detroit Free Press editorial editor Stephen Henderson joins us today to talk about what we can expect for the future of Belle Isle and the city of Detroit. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

Stateside
4:20 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Stateside for Monday, February 10, 2014

Belle Isle has become Michigan's 102nd State Park. What does this new chapter for Belle Isle mean for the city and people of Detroit?

Next, stray animals in Detroit are up for debate since a article by Bloomberg News put the number of strays at 50,000. A Michigan State University professor discusses the findings of her study on the problem. 

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Politics & Government
7:38 am
Mon February 10, 2014

In this morning's headlines: Minimum wage, Belle Isle, Saginaw schools

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

Group files petition today to bump minimum wage to $9.50

"The campaign to raise Michigan’s minimum wage has settled on a target of $9.50 an hour. The group expects to file its petition language later today with state elections officials," Rick Pluta reports.

Belle Isle becomes a state park

Detroit's Belle Isle park becomes Michigan's newest state park today.

"The state is taking over the city-owned park under a lease deal with Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. [The move is] expected to save the bankrupt city between $4 million and $6 million a year," the Associated Press reports.

Saginaw school board continues to negotiate deficit elimination plan

"Saginaw school board members will try again tomorrow to hash out a deficit elimination plan. Last week school board members met three times to discuss a plan to trim the district’s multi-million dollar deficit. The plan included layoffs and school closings," Steve Carmody reports.

Politics & Government
6:00 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Detroit's Belle Isle on the cusp of becoming Michigan's newest state park

The Scott Fountain on Belle Isle

As Detroit’s Belle Isle is about to become Michigan’s newest state park, the island’s state park advisory committee met for the first time Thursday.

That committee is meant to add a measure of transparency to the island’s new governing scheme, members said they would work to earn Detroiters' trust.

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Politics & Government
1:56 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

State's lease on Detroit's Belle Isle starts, $11 per car will be required

The Scott fountain on Belle Isle
demccain flickrriver

That per car fee won't go into effect for another 90 days, as the MDNR transitions into running things on Detroit's Belle Isle under a 30-year lease approved yesterday by a state loan board.

Detroit City Council wanted a 10-year lease. More from Crain's Detroit Business:

Keith Creagh, director of the Department of Natural Resources, said the reason the state sought a 30-year lease was to be able to apply for grants for park improvements that would require such a time commitment.

The city’s argument for a 10-year lease was that following Detroit’s exit from bankruptcy and a reduction in its structural deficit and a move to a balanced budget, it will have the capacity a decade from now to again properly fund and maintain the 985-acre park.

One member of the loan board overseeing the deal said terms of the deal could be revisited in the future. 

Politics & Government
7:32 am
Tue November 12, 2013

In this morning's headlines: Belle Isle, ex-con officially Flint councilman, cost of Detroit recount

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Michigan board to consider Belle Isle deal

"A Michigan board is planning to meet to consider proposals to lease Detroit's 985-acre Belle Isle park to the state. Gov. Rick Snyder and emergency manager Kevyn Orr signed a 30-year lease on Oct. 1 to make Belle Isle a state park, saving Detroit $6 million annually in maintenance. But the city council rejected the deal and instead voted for a 10-year lease," the Associated Press reports.

Ex-convict sworn in to Flint City Council

"The new Flint city council was sworn in to office yesterday, including a new councilman who served time for murder. Councilman Wantwaz Davis  served 19 years in prison for murdering a man he claims assaulted his mother," Steve Carmody reports.

Detroit mayor's recount cost Wayne County $5,500

The recount the Board of State Canvassers had to do for Detroit's mayoral primary has cost Wayne County nearly $5,500. The recount came after confusion over the number of write-in votes for then candidate, Mike Duggan. The Detroit Free Press has more.

Politics & Government
8:32 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Detroit City Council rejects Belle Isle lease, offers its own proposal

Belle Isle beach in July
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit City Council has rejected a proposal to lease Belle Isle to the state. But the Council is also putting forth its own, alternative lease deal.

Governor Snyder and emergency manager Kevyn Orr already signed a 30-year lease deal last month.

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Politics & Government
8:30 am
Sat October 5, 2013

Talking about the shutdown and Michigan, the Detroit mayors race and Belle Isle

Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Week in review interview for 10/5/13

Each week, I review the news with political analyst Jack Lessenberry.

This week we discuss how the government shutdown will affect Michigan, new endorsements in the Detroit mayor's race, and the state agreement to fund Belle Isle.

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Opinion
8:51 am
Wed October 2, 2013

Belle Isle is a rare victory for common sense in government

Lessenberry commentary for 10/2/13

Something good happened yesterday, something smart and rational that will help improve people’s lives. This was not typical of the day, mind you. Actually, yesterday was a day of supreme irrationality in federal, state and local government.

Nationally, the government shutdown continued, with Republicans vowing to take the nation over a cliff unless Democrats agree to defund the Affordable Care Act. This happened on the same day that millions rushed to sign up for health insurance plans.

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Week in Michigan Politics
8:40 am
Wed October 2, 2013

Jack talks about government shutdown, health care glitches, and Belle Isle

cncphotos flickr

Week in Michigan politics interview for 10/2/13

This week in Michigan politics, political analyst Jack Lessenberry and Morning Edition host Christina Shockley discuss the government shutdown, glitches in the launch of the health insurance marketplace, and the deal for the state to take over Detroit's Belle Isle.

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Politics & Government
7:38 am
Wed October 2, 2013

In this morning's headlines: Shutdown, Medicaid delays, Belle Isle deal

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Shutdown could cost Michigan $18 million a day

"Michigan’s budget chief says the federal shutdown could cost the state $18 million dollars a day in lost funding. Budget Director John Nixon says he does not expect that to happen unless the shutdown lasts more than two weeks. He says, after that, pre-funding for some big programs will run out," Rick Pluta reports.

Delays in Medicaid sign up

"The Michigan Department of Community Health is still working to start early enrollment to help people sign up for Michigan's expanded Medicaid program. Michigan's Medicaid expansion also still needs to be approved by the federal government. That means hundreds of thousands of low-wage Michiganders could have to wait weeks or months to enroll," Jake Neher reports

The state to take over Detroit's Belle Isle

"The state of Michigan has signed a deal to lease Detroit’s Belle Isle. Governor Snyder and emergency manager Kevyn Orr have both approved the 30-year plan. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will run Belle Isle as a state park, saving Detroit an estimated $4 million a year in maintenance costs," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Politics & Government
3:54 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

State and Detroit officials strike tentative deal to lease Belle Isle

Beach-goers at Belle Isle in July.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan has signed a deal to lease Detroit’s Belle Isle.

Governor Snyder and emergency manager Kevyn Orr have both approved the plan.

The state won’t pay anything for the 30-year deal, which has two 15-year renewal options.

But the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will run Belle Isle as a state park, saving Detroit an estimated $4 million a year in maintenance costs.

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Offbeat
12:02 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Man lands in Detroit after swimming 22 miles with a ton of bricks

Jim Dreyer, third from the left, and his team before he began the swim.
Jim Dreyer's Facebook page Facebook

He very well may be the first shark in Lake St. Clair -- and certainly the first one hauling a ton of bricks.

Long-distance swimmer, motivational speaker, and Michigan native Jim Dreyer -- who calls himself “The Shark” -- finished up a 22-mile swim today from Algonac to Belle Isle. But just in case the swim across Lake St. Clair wasn’t enough, Dreyer raised the stakes on his charity swim for Habitat for Humanity: The Shark is pulling along two dinghies holding 2,000 pounds of bricks.

Dreyer was expected to finish his swim yesterday, but his journey took a day longer than expected.

A post on his Facebook page said he was in good shape as he finished up his swim:

And I am sure most of you figured out he has been swimming over 48 hours, non stop!! Making all long distance open water swimmers proud!! Making Pure Michigan proud too.

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Economy
4:35 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

Detroit's assets are under review amid crushing debt

Art in the DIA is the topic of many discussions about Detroit's future.
Photo courtesy of the DIA

Kevyn Orr is Detroit’s state-appointed emergency manager. And he has some pretty extraordinary powers to chart the course of Detroit’s potential bankruptcy—and its future.

Last Friday, Orr took questions from reporters. The very first question he faced was pretty much, ”What’s for sale?”

“Right now there’s nothing for sale, including Howdy Doody.”

Orr was actually referring to the Detroit Institute of Arts, whose collection includes the original puppet from the 1950s children’s TV show. Though no one knows for sure, the DIA’s total assets — which include masterpieces by Van Gogh and Picasso — could be worth about $2.5 billion.

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The Environment Report
12:43 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Detroit high schoolers explore wilder side of Belle Isle

Students from Detroit's Western International High School check out the Belle Isle Conservatory after their nature hike was rained out.
Jonathan Hoard

If you’ve heard about Belle Isle in the news lately, it was probably a story about people fighting over who should control Detroit’s famous island park. Those political fights tend to overshadow the island’s unique ecosystem. It’s a tiny fragment of what southeast Michigan looked like before industrialization.

Recently, some Detroit schoolkids got to take a look at this natural heart of Belle Isle. I had the chance to tag along.

It wasn’t a great day to be out on Belle Isle. In fact, it was pretty miserable.  It was rainy and cold, and a lot of these ninth-graders from Detroit’s Western International High School didn’t exactly dress for the weather. But too bad.

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Stateside
4:35 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Controversy has followed Belle Isle since the beginning

Belle Isle
Mike Russell wikimedia commons

The issue of whether or not the State would take over Belle Isle was tossed back and forth between Detroit City Council and Lansing like a hot potato.

It finally ground to a halt when City Council tabled a decision on a state deal. Governor Snyder declared the deal dead once that happened.

The State took its offer off the table, saying there was not enough time to get Belle Isle ready for the summer season.

But this political squabbling over Belle Isle has a long history in Detroit and Michigan.

It’s not new.

It goes back to the very first days when Detroiters wanted a park.

That was in 1871, and fireworks were flaring then.

Amy Elliott Bragg is the author of “Hidden History of Detroit” and she blogs about Detroit history at nighttraintodetroit.com.

Amy broke down the history of the Belle Isle purchase - the controversy that was stirred up  over a 100 years ago - and what can we  learn in 2013 about what it took to make Belle Isle a city park.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Government
9:37 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Can Belle Isle deal be salvaged? One Detroit Council member thinks so

Gary Brown

At least one Detroit City Council member thinks that a deal to make Belle Isle into a state park can be salvaged.

The state took the deal off the table last week, after a majority of Council members declined to vote on it. Lansing had set the end of January as the deadline to finalize a lease agreement.

But Council President Pro-Tem Gary Brown says he thinks a deal can still get done if both sides are serious about it.

Brown used Governor Snyder's catch phrase when he suggested the Governor “use some relentless positive
action” to push the issue.

Noting that he supported the deal last week along with two others,  says three of his colleagues who voted against considering it are persuadable.

“There’s certainly enough time to ask my colleagues," Brown said.

"I mean, ask them what they need in this deal to change their vote. And then give it to
them. And make sure that the deal gets done.”

Governor Snyder pulled the deal off the table after the failed vote last week, saying that was a hard deadline the Michigan Department of Natural Resources needed to include Belle Isle in this year's state parks programming.

State officials could not be reached for comment on whether the Belle Isle deal could be revived.

Politics & Government
11:54 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Commentary: What’s next for Detroit

Lessenberry commentary for 2/4/13

Last week, Detroit City Council faced a choice. The state was offering to take over Belle Isle, the largest island city park in the nation, fix it up and run it as part of the state park system.

Had this happened, Belle Isle would have had a new lease on life. The city is unable to maintain it adequately, and many of its once-lovely features have been falling into a shabby state of disrepair.

The city would have still owned Belle Isle, and could cancel the lease and take back park operations in ten years if it decided to. In the meantime, turning Belle Isle over to the state would save the cash-poor city more than six million badly needed dollars a year.

This was a no-brainer of a deal. But alas, brains were not involved in the decision. What prevailed instead were toxic, self-destructive racial identity politics.

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Politics & Government
9:14 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Bing announces park closures after Belle Isle deal is rejected

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing delivering his budget address last April.
City of Detroit

The city of Detroit will close 50 parks in the spring because of the City Council’s inaction on a proposal to make Belle Isle into a state park.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says that would have freed up about $6 million for the city to invest in other parks and recreation centers—and that effectively means $6 million they’d counted on to bolster other park services have disappeared.

So the city is responding by making cuts: closing 50 parks, limiting maintenance at another 38, and canceling plans to extend rec center hours and add 50 employees.

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