DETROIT (WWJ) – Should Belle Isle continue to host the Detroit Grand Prix? That’s the topic of a meeting on the island Wednesday evening.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which runs the island under a contract with Detroit, is holding a hearing to get the public’s input on the renewing the contract for the Grand Prix.
DNR Division Chief Ron Olson says local residents will be able to weigh in on whether the event should be held on the island in 2019 and beyond.
In an interview with WWJ’s Sandra McNeill, Olson acknowledged that whether or not the picturesque island, now a state park, is the place for auto racing has been the subject of some debate.
“The objective here is to listen to people and get their perspective on things,” Olson said. “We’ve heard everything from I don’t want a Grand Prix at all, to people that said, well, I like the race but I’d like to shorten the set up time and that kind of stuff and a number, a variety of things that people have suggested.”
“It’s all helpful, to hear what people are thinking and to take that into consideration.” he said, adding that a decision on whether to renew the contract to host the race must be made soon as it expire this year.
The meeting will start at 6 p.m. at the Belle Isle Nature Center, 176 Lakeside Drive. Officials will give a brief Grand Prix overview before the public will get a chance to speak. Possible next steps will be explored.
Can’t make the meeting? The public can also submit written comments via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org through Friday.
The Detroit Free Press reports that about two dozen people protested near the entrance of Belle Isle ahead of the 2017 Grand Prix, denouncing what they believe is an intrusive use of the park. Some cited concerns about the race’s potential environmental impacts on animals and plant life.
The race has been held periodically at the 982-acre park since 1992, and every year since 2012.