Detroit City Council won't vote yet on Belle Isle lease

Lease would hand over management to Department of Natural Resources for 30 years

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DETROIT - The Detroit City Council voted 6-3 Tuesday to table a vote on a plan that would lease Belle Isle to the state.  

Several councilpersons argued to get the vote done.

"It's time to put this to rest," said Councilman James Tate.

But others said too many questions were left unanswered and special considerations need to be taken with something that has such historic ties to the area.

"The city of Detroit has not just been gifted this island, the city residents pay for it and it is owned by the city. It's a great public space," said Councilwoman JoAnn Watson. "It would be a travesty for this council, for this mayor, to dispose of this – it's not just a local treasure – it's a national treasure."

Watson said the Belle Isle plan is not related to the city's money troubles.

"It has no relationship to the deficit. It has a relationship to people in high places who want a playground for the rich," she said.

But, other council members didn't agree and said fixing Detroit's finances could be just what Belle Isle needs.

"This issue has become front and center even though the city is going to hell in a handbasket financially. A global fix is where we need to be focusing our energies because the reality is if we fix the city's finances, Belle Isle takes care of itself," said councilman Ken Cockrel, Jr.

The state had said it needed to know by the end of the month if the city was going to agree to the deal.

"I would like to see that the state would not go away upset if we vote this down, because right now we just left it in purgatory. It's not dead yet," said Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh.

Breakdown of vote

Pugh: No

Spivey: No

Tate: Yes

Watson: No

Brown: Yes

Cockrel: No

Jenkins: Yes

Jones: No

Kenyatta: No

About the proposed agreement

Under the proposed the lease agreement, the management would be handed over to the Department of Natural Resources, which would commit to spending state park funding to restore the island.

Pedestrians and bicyclists would be free to enter, but motorists would be required to have a $10 recreation passport which allows vehicles into all Michigan state parks.

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