Belle Isle lease to state of Michigan likely to happen

Detroit emergency manager plans to OK state lease of city island park


DETROIT – Any debate over leasing Detroit's Belle Isle Park to the state of Michigan appears to be over, now that emergency manager Kevyn Orr is in charge of the city's crippled finances.

When the proposal first surfaced earlier this year, the debate was intense and emotional, and the plan was rejected. But at a public meeting Monday night, Kevyn Orr made his position clear.

"I would pursue leasing Belle Isle to the state. I'm going to pursue that because that relieves us of a $6 million obligation. I would not sell it," Orr said.

The island park would remain the property of the city of Detroit, but state would manage the island as a state park.

On Tuesday afternoon, Gene Nix, of Inkster, was on Belle Isle where he voiced his support for Orr's plan.

"I think it's a good idea. It's a  beautiful park and it needs the money. It needs the money into it for beautifying the park. You can see it needs work," Nix said.

While the decision to lease the park to the state is a quick and easy one for Kevyn Orr, he also sees it as a way of bringing Belle Isle up the quality of Milliken State Park, on the Detroit Riverfront near the Renaissance Center.

"It relieves us of an obligation and, quite frankly, Milliken Park is a state park and I understand it is doing quite well," Orr said.

James Few was riding his recumbent bike around Milliken Park Tuesday. He would like to see Belle Isle become a state park too.

"I think it should happen. I think it should be a place where anybody can enjoy all these activities you can enjoy at Milliken Park," Few said.

Contacted by Local 4, spokesmen for the Governor's office said any state lease of Belle Isle would not likely take place this year, but 2014 could see Belle Isle Park join the state park system.

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