Detroit City Council members say city has struck new deal to let state operate Belle Isle
State management of Belle Isle to save Detroit $4 million yearly
Detroit City Council members say Gov. Rick Snyder and the city's emergency manager have struck a deal to have the state run Belle Isle.
The council members discussed it during a public meeting Tuesday.
The 985-acre island is a city park in the Detroit River. Detroit has struggled to maintain it because of poor finances. Council President Saunteel Jenkins says she was informed of the deal Monday.
"One way to revitalize Detroit is by revitalizing Belle Isle, one of Detroit’s most iconic places," said Snyder. "This state-city partnership will provide a clean, safe park environment and enhance Belle Isle for citizens while still allowing the city to retain ownership of one of its jewels. This lease will save Detroit much-needed funds as the city emerges from financial crisis and will generate economic development and neighborhood revitalization that are core to Detroit’s comeback."
Terms of Belle Isle lease deal
The signed lease, a 30-year term with two 15-year renewals, will relieve city financial pressures and revitalize the park.
View/download: Belle Isle lease agreement
The lease was signed by emergency manager Kevyn Orr, Keith Creagh, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, on Monday, and then by Gov. Snyder Tuesday.
City Council has 10 days to approve or disapprove the lease.
If the Council rejects the lease, it has an additional seven days to present an alternative that would save the same amount of money or more as the lease.
Under the lease terms, the city will maintain ownership of Belle Isle, while the Michigan DNR assumes responsibility for managing Belle Isle according to the standards of other Michigan state parks. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) will assume responsibility for roads and bridges on Belle Isle.
The DNR will assume management of the park and begin to make improvements following a 90-day transition period.
The state management of Belle Isle will save Detroit a minimum of $4 million a year.
The state will also invest in the island through a variety of sources, including grants, bonds and donations from private organizations willing to partner in the park’s revitalization.
Those improvements will amount to between $10 million and $20 million in the first 18-36 months of state management.
The Recreation Passport, which offers access to all Michigan state parks and recreation areas across the state for an entire year, will be required for entry to Belle Isle beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
The passport currently costs $11 for Michigan residents and is a per-car charge.
It does not apply to individuals. Pedestrians, bicyclists and those using public transportation can enter the park for free and will not need the passport.
The state will provide the mayor of Detroit and Detroit City Council with annual reports updating them on management of the park.
The governor and Mayor Dave Bing had an earlier plan to lease it to the state and operate it as a state park. But council members refused to sign on, and Snyder withdrew the offer.
As emergency manager, Orr doesn't need the council's approval.
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- Michigan withdraws offer to lease Belle Isle from Detroit
- Public hearing on Belle Isle's future gets heated
- Plan unveiled to 'rejuvenate' Belle Isle
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