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Detroit Councilman Threatened Over Belle Isle Proposal

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Detroiters rally to keep Belle Isle on August 1, 2012. (WWJ Photo/Marie Osborne)

Detroiters rally to keep Belle Isle on August 1, 2012. (WWJ Photo/Marie Osborne)

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DETROIT (WWJ) - One Detroit city councilman says he’s been threatened over his position on the state’s offer to lease Belle Isle.

Some council members have called it stupid and insulting, but Councilman James Tate supported the latest version of the state’s proposed agreement — a deal he actually helped to craft.

Tate told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Stephanie Davis that some have threatened to drive him out of office.

“We try to communicate as much as we can — all the information and why we’re doing it,” said Tate. “But, ultimately, it comes down to what’s necessary. And if what we’re doing is necessary, whether it’s popular or not, we’ve gotta do it.”

Tate, who vented openly about the issue on his Facebook page, said he will not be bullied.

“People have said we’ll never let you run for dog catcher in this town and we’re gonna run you out; we’re gonna make sure that you don’t have any, comfort , you know — you can’t walk around comfortably,” Tate said. “I don’t take that as physical threats. I just think that because I have decided to work with all parties involved, someone targeted me as being the bad guy.”

The Belle Isle deal, which called for the state to lease the park for several years with an opt out clause in ten years,was voted down by city council on Tuesday.  Hours later, the state withdrew its offer.

The proposed plan, supported by both Gov. Rick 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.

Among those in Lansing speaking critically of the Detroit council’s decision is House Republican Speaker Jase Bolger.

“Bottom line is solutions need to be delivered. The citizens of Detroit deserve better than this, but if the city of Detroit is not going to accept responsibility, then they’re leaving the state with few choices,” Bolger said.

Many Detroit residents have spoken out about any proposal to lease the island, some saying such a move would further undermine the rights of citizens who have already lost political clout under a consent agreement with the state.

Some council members have called the proposed Belle Isle deal offensive, stupid and insulting.

RELATED: Belle Isle Lease Debate Gets Wild, Raucous

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