Detroit mayor, Michigan governor unveil deal to lease Belle Isle to state

Plan is 30-year lease, which will pump money in to restore Detroit's Belle Isle park

DETROIT - Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced Wednesday a plan to lease Belle Isle to the state.

The city of Detroit will maintain ownership under the agreement with the state of Michigan and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) leasing the land under contract.

That plan is a 30-year lease for the state. In return, the Department of Natural Resources will commit to spending state park funding to restore the island.

The new plan calls for a lot of improvement to Belle Isle – but the $10 fee is not going over very well for some.

Bobbie Thomas said, "They aren't picking up our garbage. No police. They're taxing us to come on our island? It's very rude."

The park's operations, maintenance and improvements will be managed by the DNR and funded through the Michigan State Parks Endowment Fund and through other sources. Additionally, the state Department of Transportation (MDOT) will assume responsibility for roads and bridges on Belle Isle.

"I do believe that we can't allow some of the negative things that have gone on in our city for such a long period of time overshadow our future," Bing said. "I think, for the first time in a long time, this relationship between the state and the city is something that a lot of people have been waiting for."

No rent will be paid for the lease. Operation, maintenance and improvement projects will be considered compensation. A 11-member advisory council consisting of five representatives appointed by the governor, three representatives appointed by the mayor of the city of Detroit, two representatives appointed by the Detroit City Council, and one member who shall chair the committee jointly appointed by the governor and mayor, will advise the parties on implementation of improvements and master planning for the park. The city and state will also work cooperatively with the Belle Isle Conservancy or its successor.

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.

The agreement will still need approval from Detroit City Council and is expected to be discussed on Wednesday.

Copyright 2012 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.