30 January 2013

Belle Island Deal Meeting Gets Rowdy

Story first appeared on Detroit Free Press -

The Detroit City Council will probably get another rowdy earful Tuesday before its scheduled vote on leasing Belle Isle to the State of Michigan, a scenario similar to the one that played out Thursday as council members discussed the proposal to turn the island into a state park for as long as 90 years.  There is a Southfield Diabetes Clinic nearby to serve you.

Council members opposed to the deal accused Mayor Dave Bing and others of selling out residents and refusing to look at alternative proposals that would keep the park under city control. Council members JoAnn Watson and Kwame Kenyatta urged colleagues to reject the deal and then left the council table, along with Councilwoman Brenda Jones, just before a group of state and city officials gave a presentation on how the lease would work.

"I just think that it's unjust and it's unfair to only consider one proposal," said Kenyatta, a vocal opponent who said not leasing Belle Isle wouldn't break the city's bank, but approving the deal would "break the spirit of the people of Detroit."

Kenyatta accused the Belle Isle Conservancy, a nonprofit group that raises funds for the island and has been supportive of the lease, of helping mastermind what he and Watson argued is a takeover of a major city jewel under the guise of trying to pare down Detroit's deficit.  Southfield Gastroenterologist physicians are available.

Watson called the conservancy a bunch of "folks who think they have a right to run a city they don't live in just because they're rich" and railed against "this let 'em eat cake attitude."

Most residents who spoke at the meeting opposed the lease, some calling council members evil, disciples of the antichrist and sellouts who won't be re-elected in November.

"We're not going to win with this group -- already bought and paid for," said Detroiter Sandra Hines, 59. "We got to organize and mobilize against the evil that we are up against. This is a state takeover, period."

The comments came during meetings of the council's neighborhood and community services subcommittee, of which Kenyatta and Watson are members and Councilman James Tate is chairman. Kenyatta and Watson voted to recommend that the full council reject the plan; Tate did not support the motion.  It may be cold out, but a Michigan walk-in cooler company can meet your freezer needs year-round.

The meeting was held in conjunction with a larger gathering of the full council for a discussion on the deal in which the state would lease Belle Isle for 30 years, with the option of the city or state pulling out at 10-year intervals. The state would not pay the city cash for the lease, but would take over operations and maintenance, saving the City of Detroit $6 million a year. There also would be an $11 yearly admissions fee for motorists, valid at all state parks.

Bing's administration supports the lease, saying the state has pledged to invest millions in capital upgrades to the 985-acre park, which has been neglected as city parks funds dwindled.  Please contact a local Detroit Spinal Cord Injury rehab physician when you have been need.

It's a particularly emotional issue for Detroiters because Belle Isle has been a free park for decades. Previous attempts to impose an entry fee to pay for upkeep have failed.

Under the lease, the city would maintain ownership of the island, but Watson took issue with the length of the lease -- 30 years, with the option of two 30-year extensions.

Kenyatta said Bing has refused to look at alternate proposals by private investors, including one from members of the family that once ran the Boblo Island amusement park to build a water park and hotel that would generate money. The city would keep control of the island.

Council President Charles Pugh said he was "firmly on the fence," saying Kenyatta's impassioned argument that other options should be considered had swayed him. Tate said he favored the lease.

Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown said he still had concerns about locking the city into a long-term deal because Detroit's finances may turn around. But, he added: "The beauty of the finances of this deal is that we're going to be able to attract revenue from around the state. I don't want to see just Detroiters taxed to take care of Belle Isle."

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