Traverse City Record-Eagle

Other Views

September 25, 2012

Another View: Don't stall on Belle Isle

Detroit City Council is playing politics again. Unfortunately, the victim in their game is Belle Isle.

A couple of weeks ago, Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced a tentative lease agreement on a plan for saving Belle Isle. As mandated by the Financial Stability Agreement, the plan would have turned Belle Isle into a state park, yet ownership would remain with the city of Detroit.

The agreement was for 20 years, with two opportunities where both the city and state could renew the agreement for another 30 years. In addition, the agreement allows for either side to leave the agreement under certain conditions, plus it establishes a specific funding mechanism to be used exclusively for park operations and improvements.

Yet, the city council will not even consider the agreement, let alone vote on it.

Their reasons vary. Council members reportedly have said there's not enough in it for Detroit, there's no guarantee the state will follow through on its promises to make improvements to the island, and there's no details in either what improvements the state will make or how much the state will spend on those renovations.

These reasons are folly.

Here's what's in it for Detroit: The agreement will save the cash-strapped City of Detroit as much as a quarter of a billion dollars over the next three decades.

Here's the guarantee: The agreement can be voided by the city if the state does not follow through on its renovation plans.

Here's the details: The DNR will immediately start cutting the grass, picking up the trash and repairing and opening the restrooms. Those, according the DNR Director Keith Creagh, will happen within the first 90 days the state takes over. The remaining renovations and improvements Creagh said will take place over the course of the agreement.

Detroit City Council's refusal to even consider the agreement is simply political grandstanding. Three council members held a protest rally after the first agreement was announced. It attracted a lot of attention, something the remaining council members undoubtedly noticed.

Detroiters need to ask themselves one question: What's best for Belle Isle? What's best for Belle Isle is what's best for Detroit.

-- The Oakland Press

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