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Public Hearing, Council Vote Could Come This Week On Leasing Belle Isle To State

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DETROIT (WWJ) – There could be another vocal public hearing Monday about the proposed lease of Belle Isle to the state .

The president of Citizens for Detroit’s Future, Tom Barrow, opposes a lease to the state.

“I’m hopeful that the city council will see that this is not something that they should take the responsibility for and let the people decide it,” said Barrow.

Barrow said their proposal gives a number of ways for Detroit to control its island, provided for its maintenance and to allow its citizens and those that visit it to pay for its upkeep – it’s just never been vetted. “Nothing’s being vetted except for the governor’s plan.”

Mayor Dave Bing’s administration supports the lease because the state plans to invest millions to upgrade the park. City Council is expected to vote on the lease Tuesday.

Council president pro-tem Gary Brown expects the lease may pass on Tuesday.

“The beauty of the finances of this deal is that we are 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,” said Brown. “I’d like to see the finances that are in this deal – I’ve never had a problem with the finances.”

“This is so huge and so life altering that six people on the city council just simply don’t have the right – the moral authority. They may have the legal ability but they don’t have the moral authority to transfer a major city asset – that’s been under the control and ownership of the people of Detroit, for approaching two-hundred years, “said Barrow.

Barrow says the issue should be put on the ballot and go before the voters. “I think the people need to decide this, it should be placed on the ballot … in August primary – and let the people of Detroit decide if they want to have their Belle Isle ceded over to the state of Michigan.”

City Council’s  Brown thinks the votes are there for the lease, but doesn’t think it’ll be unanimous.

“I would doubt very seriously if this passes with six votes” Brown said. “If they got, five, at the bare minimum … that is all we need – is five votes.”

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