State Withdraws Offer To Lease Belle Isle
DETROIT (WWJ) – Gov. Rick Snyder has withdrawn an offer by the state to lease Belle Isle from Detroit.
This latest comes after the Detroit City Council resolved on Tuesday not to vote on whether or not to accept the agreement, citing a need to get more details on the island’s deed and lingering questions on what happens to revenue from park events.
Governor’s office spokesman Caleb Buhs told WWJ Newsradio 950 the council’s decision forced them to pull the offer. Buhs said there would not be another time extension — however, he said a deal could still be made if council members changed their minds before this Thursday, Jan. 31.
“We’ve made it clear that the end of January was a crucial time frame to the state’s ability to plan and marshal resources for this upcoming season,” said Buhs. “Without Council’s action during this time frame, it becomes impossible for the state to partner with them to help preserve and enhance Belle Isle for all Detroiters, Michiganders, and visitors alike.
“The governor was hopeful that an agreement would be reached to make Belle Isle become a state park and allow the park to be returned to its former status as quite frankly, one of the best parks in the nation,” Buhs said.
Councilman Ken Cockrel spoke ahead of the decision, saying that they have many more important issues on the table.
“We need to get the focus back to where it belongs, and the focus needs to belong on fixing the city’s finances,” said Cockrel. “That has got to be the priority. That is what we need to do; that is what we need to be about the business of.”
Council President Charles Pugh said he would like to explore other options to maintain and beautify the island.
“I just feel like we have not had a full commitment from the mayor’s office to make sure that our jewel really is a jewel,” Pugh said.
Pugh said he would like the state as a partner on Belle Isle, but not as a lease holder.
The proposed plan, supported by both Snyder and Mayor Dave Bing, would allow Detroit to maintain ownership of the 985-acre island park and save the cash-strapped city $6 million annually in maintenance and other costs. The state would have leased Belle Isle for 30 years, with options every 10 years to renew.