State set to withdraw Belle Isle lease offer after city tables vote

Jan 29, 2013

Update 7:06 p.m.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing issued a statement critical of both the city council for tabling the vote on the Belle Isle deal and the governor for pulling the deal off the table:

“I am extremely disappointed with today’s decision by City Council to table the vote on the Belle Isle lease deal with the State. I have just received a letter from the Governor's office confirming that he has now withdrawn the proposed Belle Isle lease agreement from further consideration. This plan would have provided state funding for the operation, renovation and maintenance of the island as a state park, while we work to stabilize the City’s finances. I believe the majority of Detroiters supported this lease agreement. City Council’s actions today will force us to look at making additional cutbacks that may negatively impact the City’s other parks.”

2:30 p.m.

A deal between the city of Detroit and the state over Belle Isle is off the table, state officials say.

According to Matt Helms and Joe Guillen of the Detroit Free Press, the state said it will withdraw its offer to lease and manage Belle Isle as a state park:

Caleb Buhs, a spokesman for Snyder, said today the council’s decision means “we have to withdraw the offer, and there can’t be another time extension.”

“As we stated in the past, the end of January is a crucial time for the DNR to be able to effectively plan and marshal resources for this season,” Buhs said. “The governor was hopeful that this would be a partnership that would allow the island to return to its former status as one of the best parks in the nation.”

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek covered the proceedings and will have more for us later.

12:38 p.m.

Detroit City Council voted to not put a final vote on the Belle Isle lease deal with the state on their agenda. It essentially tables any further discussion on the matter until February.

By then, there might not be any deal to discuss.

The state has said they want a decision on the matter soon. From MLive:

"I hope we can move forward, because again, we're at the wire on needing a decision," Snyder told WJR’s Paul W. Smith on Thursday, "because if a decision isn't made, we're just going to have to pass because we wouldn't be able to get ready for the summer time.

"The deadline is basically now, in terms of the next two or three days. As a practical matter, there's a lot of work to be done to do improvements."

11:12 a.m.

Detroit City Council is meeting right now to discuss the possibility of leasing the city's "crown jewel" park to the state of Michigan.

The current plan calls for Detroit to lease Belle Isle to the state for 30 years with an option to opt out of the lease after ten years. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources would manage Belle Isle as a state park.

It opens up more revenue to a park that is in need of upgrades and maintenance, but as Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek pointed out last week, some council members feel that giving up control of the park would be a blow to the city's spirit.

“You’re not gonna break the bank,” Kenyatta said. “But you’re gonna break the spirits of the people of this city. You’re gonna break the hearts of the people of this city.”

You can watch the proceedings live at WDIV.

We'll have an update for you if the vote occurs.