belle isle

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

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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Politics & Government
8:37 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Morning News Roundup: Deadly crash, right-to-work suit, and Detroit's parks crisis

Your daily news roundup for Friday, February 1st
User: Brother O'Mara Flickr

Deadly Pileup Leaves Three Dead

Southeastern Michigan is waking up to calmer weather this morning, and hopefully, safer driving.

A massive 30 vehicle pileup on I-75 Thursday morning killed two children and one adult. At least 20 others are injured, and several were hospitalized.

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Politics & Government
7:15 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Belle Isle deal dead after Detroit City Council skips vote

Belle Isle Casino with the GM RenCen in the background.
Angela Anderson-Cobb Flickr

A plan to turn Detroit’s Belle Isle into a state park appears dead.

The Detroit City Council declined to vote on a lease proposal for the island park Tuesday. Now, Governor Snyder’s officer says the state has pulled the offer because the city won’t meet an end-of-the-month deadline.

Caleb Buhs, a spokesman for the Governor’s office, says the deal needed to be finalized by then so the Michigan Department of Natural Resources could make funding and programming arrangements for the upcoming fiscal year.

The idea faced fierce opposition from the get-go.

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Politics & Government
7:06 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

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

Mike Russell wikimedia commons

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.

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Politics & Government
9:18 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Belle Isle plan moves to a vote, but faces resistance

The Scott fountain on Belle Isle
Credit wikimedia commons

It appears that a plan to turn Detroit’s Belle Isle into a state park will be voted on next week. But it’s far from clear how that vote will turn out.

The plan calls for the state to lease Belle Isle from Detroit for 30 years, and have the Michigan Department of Natural Resources manage it as a state park.

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Politics & Government
1:50 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Detroit City Council, state officials close in on Belle Isle deal

The Belle Isle casino.
Mikerussell wikimedia commons

State and Detroit city officials appear close to an agreement on a deal that would turn Belle Isle into a state park, the Detroit News is reporting.

A City Council vote to approve the deal could come as early as Monday.

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Economy
3:04 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Commonwealth of Belle Isle: The world's next city-state?

The future of Belle Isle?
commonwealthofbelleisle.com

Belle Isle inspires big dreams.

First there was the state’s attempt to photoshop Belle Isle into a "Pleasantville"-style utopia of dog walkers and picnics.

Now, a group of wealthy investors want to buy Detroit’s island park for $1 billion, secede from Michigan, and develop the 982 acres into the Commonwealth of Belle Isle, a Singapore-like city-state with its own laws, customs, and currency.

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Environment & Science
3:02 pm
Sun December 23, 2012

Officials: Common terns doing well on Belle Isle

The uncommon 'common tern'
DTE Energy

DETROIT (AP) - Officials say they've confirmed that common terns are doing well in restored habitat on the eastern tip of Belle Isle in the Detroit River.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says this year was the first time that the gull-like migratory birds have fledged, or grown enough to fly, in the area since the 1960s.

The habitat was created by the Detroit Zoological Society, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Detroit
1:15 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Belle Isle plan blocked by Detroit City Council

Some Detroiters have expressed their displeasure with the Belle Isle plan.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Matt Helms of the Detroit Free Press reports the Detroit City Council has dug their heels in on a plan for Belle Isle. The plan calls for the state to lease the park from the city and run it as a state park.

The Council has "indefinitely postponed" plans for a public hearing on the plan.

From the Freep:

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.

Politics & Government
12:18 pm
Mon October 8, 2012

Detroit group offers alternative to controversial Belle Isle plan

A Detroit-based group says it has developed a model to refurbish Detroit’s Belle Isle without turning it into a state park.

The group says a Belle Isle Park Authority could both run the island, and provide a mechanism for making needed investments.

Tom Barrow, a former Detroit mayoral candidate and a spokesman, said the plan includes a governing structure, entry fees, and other revenue sources.  

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Politics & Government
4:51 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Detroit City Council still skeptical of state's Belle Isle plan

The James Scott Memorial Fountain on Belle Isle Park.
Mike Russell wikimedia commons

Members of the Detroit City Council are still deeply skeptical of a plan to turn Belle Isle into a state park.

That’s despite efforts by Mayor Dave Bing’s office and state officials to persuade them it's a good idea.

At a meeting today, Council members continued to express concern about a lack of specifics in the plan—including how much money the state plans to invest in improvements.

They also questioned why the state wants a long-term, 30-year lease.

Council member Saunteel Jenkins says there need to be more guarantees.

“If you’re saying to us ‘We want to trust us, give us 30 years and we’ll go out and get the money to make these improvements…’ I just want to see it in writing,” said Jenkins.

State officials said it's tough to be specific about those improvements because there’s no master plan for the island.

But they indicated the state could issue $20 million in bonds to upgrade Belle Isle.

Politics & Government
10:20 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Commentary: Acid test for Detroit

Does Detroit have any chance of avoiding bankruptcy and a state takeover of some kind? Frankly, I don’t know. The odds right now look bad for the city being able to continue governing itself.

But miracles and surprises happen. And right now, something is going on which should be a pretty clear test of whether those running the Michigan’s largest city can avoid disaster.

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morning news roundup
7:54 am
Wed September 19, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines. . .

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Michigan No. 5 most obese state in the US

Michigan is now the fifth-most obese state in the nation. That's according to a study released yesterday by the Trust for America’s Health. The study also used data from the Centers for Disease Control to project obesity through the year 2030. The report says if habits don't change by then, about three out of every five

Snyder in China

Governor Rick Snyder left for a 10-day trade mission to China Tuesday. "Governor Snyder and members of his administration say he has two goals – to boost the more than two billion dollars a year in goods and services exported to China from Michigan, and to convince Chinese companies to make Michigan their U-S operational base," Rick Pluta reports. 

Detroit City Council says Belle Isle proposal is dead without changes

"It looks like a plan to turn Detroit’s Belle Isle into a state park has no shot with the Detroit City Council. The plan calls for the city to lease the park to the state for 30 years. The state would take over maintenance and make major, as-yet-unspecified upgrades to the island. But City Council members blasted the plan’s lack of detail. So far, Bing hasn’t laid out a contingency plan for dealing with Council resistance," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Politics & Government
6:51 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Council warns Bing: Belle Isle plan dead without major changes

A sign on Belle Isle.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Without major changes, it looks like the proposal to turn Detroit’s Belle Isle into a state park doesn’t have a shot with the Detroit City Council.

City Council members blasted the proposal at a meeting Tuesday, calling it, among other things, “ridiculous” and “terrible.”

Mayor Dave Bing and Governor Snyder outlined the plan last week. It calls for the city to lease Belle Isle to the state for 30 years. In return, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources would maintain the island. The state would also make some as-yet-unspecified major upgrades.

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Politics & Government
6:18 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

After 7 years, Belle Isle Aquarium re-opens to the public

Belle Isle Aquarium
via belleisleconservancy.org

The nation’s oldest aquarium is up and running once again.

Detroit’s Belle Isle Aquarium will be open to visitors Saturday for the first time since 2005, when the city shut it down due to a lack of funds.

That’s thanks to the efforts of volunteers, who’ve worked to restore the 108-year-old building and its aquatic population for the past seven years.

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Politics & Government
9:49 am
Thu September 13, 2012

Commentary: Restoring Belle Isle

There was some good news yesterday for those who care about this state. Governor Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced a deal to turn Belle Isle, the city’s neglected jewel of an island park, over to state management for the next thirty years.

Under the agreement, the state would pour millions into Belle Isle, fixing up facilities that have become shabby. They would restore shelters and restrooms; shore up buildings that are starting to crumble, and make the park safe and family-friendly. 

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Offbeat
2:26 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Belle Isle to be overtaken by Photoshopped people?

A glimpse of the disturbing Belle Isle to come - from today's press materials about the proposed Belle Isle agreement.
State of Michigan/City of Detroit

Many Detroiters have long been suspicious of outsiders coming in to control their city, but once they lay their eyes on what Mayor Dave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder have in store for the city's crown jewel, Belle Isle Park, they finally have real reasons to be afraid.

Belle Isle, it appears, will soon be overtaken by Photoshopped people from Pleasantville.

Only Detroiters won't have the pleasure of romping around their Utopia with Toby Maguire and Reese Witherspoon. They'll have to share the park with out-of-proportion picnickers, a cardboard blue heron, and a dancing DNR park ranger.

Politics & Government
1:40 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Details of the proposed Belle Isle agreement

The James Scott Memorial Fountain on Belle Isle Park.
Mike Russell wikimedia commons

Today, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder announced a plan to manage and restore Belle Isle. The plan will go before Detroit City Council for approval.

It calls for park operations, maintenance, and improvements to be managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources under a 30-year lease agreement. MDOT would maintain roads and bridges on Belle Isle.

The city of Detroit would maintain ownership of the park.

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