Lots of work to do on Belle Isle

Massive renovations underway for Belle Isle

DETROIT – It's a makeover the likes of which hasn't been seen on Belle Isle in decades.

Now that the state of Michigan has taken control of Belle Isle and the Department of Natural Resources is on site, you're just as likely to see contractors with hammers as people out enjoying the park.

Previous story: Changes coming to Belle Isle

The renovations are underway and they are massive. Right now, it's all about the basics.

It's a lot more work than it sounds. Many of the bathrooms are in desperate need of fixes -- some quick, some not.

"We're assessing all the bathrooms and due to it being winterized, we haven't turned on the water yet," said Scott Pratt, of DNR. "We're getting some heat in some bathrooms as well."

Clearing the debris has made a major change already and the security has been beefed up 100 percent.

The DNR has plans to turn the old building that served as the Detroit Police Department's headquarters on the island into a welcome center.

Another building, which is called the White House, is getting a functional renovation to serve as an administrative building, all with an eye to historic preservation.

Those are the big building projects for starters, but what about recreation?

"All types of fishing. The DNR, we have our Recreational 101, hunting, archery, canoeing, paddle boat, all that stuff," said Pratt. "Listening session at the end of March, converting lighting to LED, and potentially horseback riding."

There will also be new vendors for food and other items, but realize even the food stands need work done to make sure they are up to snuff.

"The benefits here are truly endless," said Pratt. "The community will really see them on the island."

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