Citizens 'Let it Rip' during packed hearing on Belle Isle - FOX 32 News Chicago

Detroit Citizens 'Let it Rip' during packed hearing on Belle Isle

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By Robin Schwartz
Fox 2 News


DETROIT (WJBK) -- Belle Isle, a place known for its beauty, peace and tranquility, brought out anger and frustration Monday at a public hearing in city council chambers.

Many people who came to speak lashed out at council members who support a deal to lease Belle Isle to the state.

"They are evil.  They view us with a lack of respect.  They don't care anything about what the people here in the city of Detroit want," a woman said.

The deal involves a 30 year lease with 30 year renewals, but the city and state both have the option to terminate the agreement every ten years.  It's expected to save the city six to eight million dollars in operating costs.  Residents could purchase an $11 pass to gain access to the island and other state parks for a year, but the money generated would go to the DNR and not Belle Isle.

There are also other concerns.

"If this contract is written, it doesn't stop the state from demolishing any of the buildings, bathrooms, bridges on the park if they so choose to," a woman said.

"The state is not doing anything that Detroit cannot already do," another woman remarked.

Supporters say the deal is a prime opportunity to restore the 985 acre park, which has seen better days.

"We wouldn't be here today if Detroit were able to maintain Belle Isle and I wouldn't be here.  I wouldn't need to feel sad about the disrepair and the sorry state of the island," a woman said.

Others call the agreement illegal because the state owes the city money and the charter says the city cannot enter into deals with debtors.

So many people attended the hearing many were forced to sit in an auditorium and watch on a video screen with two armed police officers standing by.

The mayor and the governor both support this plan.  We know at least three city council members oppose it.

It now does not appear council will vote on the issue Tuesday.  It has been taken off the agenda, and, at this point, it is unclear when they will vote.

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