As Belle Isle Hangs In Balance, Other Parks Need Makeover
DETROIT (WWJ) As the eyes of metro Detroit turn to Belle Isle in the midst of a tug-of-war over who could better rehab it into a thriving recreation spot — the city or the state — other Detroit parks are going neglected.
Up Jefferson Avenue from Belle Isle are several other parks, including Riverfront-Lakewood East Park at the end of Alter Road, that have not been maintained.
Riverfront-Lakewood East Park is smaller than Belle Isle, but has parking and newer picnic tables and grills.
It’s also overgrown, and now only used by fishermen during the day and miscreants at night. Nearby resident Mike, who didn’t want to give his last name, hopes the park could become a jewel for the city.
“I’d make it family friendly, so that people would bring their families out here and enjoy the park — fishing, maybe add some swings and places for the kids,” Mike said.
Mike fishes at the park — he drives on well-worn two tracks through the tall grass right up to the railing where Lake St. Clair funnels into the Detroit River. Between the river and the parking lot are nearly new picnic tables and grills under blue-topped gazebos — with tall grass growing up all around.
“I’d like to say the last four to five years at least, the city hasn’t really maintained it, I can’t tell you the last time they emptied the garbage receptacle,” he said.
He says the park could be turned into a nice family-friendly place. But he wonders if the city charges an entrance fee — as the state would at Belle Isle — would the park ever benefit? He doesn’t think so, given the evidence of money mismanagement among city officials.
“As we see, a lot of backdoor deals and contractors, and I just don’t know what’s going on, how the money gets siphoned,” he said.
WWJ is making efforts to ask the city about their plans for Riverfront-Lakewood East Park. There’s no response so far.
Detroit City Council has balked over a proposed 30-year lease of Belle Isle as a state park in exchange for maintenance and improvements, paid for out of the state’s $10 Recreation Passport sticker.