LANSING (WWJ/AP) – A Michigan board is planning to meet to consider proposals to lease Detroit’s 985-acre Belle Isle park to the state.
Gov. Rick Snyder and emergency manager Kevyn Orr signed a 30-year lease on Oct. 1 to make Belle Isle a state park, saving Detroit $6 million annually in maintenance. But the city council rejected the deal and instead voted for a 10-year lease.
The Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board is scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon in Lansing. The board is made up of members of Snyder’s administration.
Under the Snyder-Orr deal, Michigan would invest $10 million to $20 million over three years. In order to get in, those who drive a car will need a Michigan Recreation Passport, which costs $11 per-vehicle annually. Those who enter on foot or on bikes will still get in for free.
The board has a Nov. 18 deadline to determine which plan is most viable.
Snyder and Mayor Dave Bing, earlier this year, put together a plan for the island — but Snyder withdrew the offer after city council members failed to vote on it.
Owned by the city since 1879. Belle Isle had suffered in recent years as a cash-strapped Detroit can’t afford repairs.
“Detroit’s current financial condition prohibits the city from investing in the much-needed restoration of Belle Isle,” Bing has said. “As I stated last year when a proposed lease agreement was developed, my administration strongly believes the state park structure is the best option for managing and maintaining the island and restoring it to its grandeur.”
Orr, who in July filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the city, has estimated Detroit’s long-term debt at a staggering $18 billion. A trial to determine whether Detroit qualifies for Chapter 9 protection wrapped up last week, but a final decision has yet to be made.
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