DETROIT (WWJ) – The Detroit City Council has voted 7-2 to approve a contentious land-swap that could mean a second span will be added to the Ambassador Bridge.
It got loud and a little rowdy earlier at Tuesday’s meeting when residents were invited to have their say about that proposed deal that would give the Detroit International Bridge Company three acres of city-owned land near the bridge in exchange for five acres of land and millions of dollars of improvements to Riverside Park.READ MORE: Invasive Spotted Lanternfly Found in Oakland County; What To Do If You See One
Councilwoman Mary Sheffield, who voted yes, said it was a tough decision.
“Most of the conversation that I’ve heard from my constituents and those who have called my officer have been really around a second bridge,” Sheffield said. “And I have to take that out of the equation because, again, we are not approving a second span. We are transferring land and hopefully making sure that we have the $3 million to invest in recreation that we need in that area.”
A few dozen people who live near the Southwest Detroit park — which has been closed for three years — spoke out both for and against the deal — not all of them on their best behavior during the emotionally charged debate.
City Council President Brenda Jones got fed up with some who were clapping and shouting during and after others spoke.
“You guys can clap if you wanna clap, but I will not have anybody hollering out in the audience,” Jones said, in a stern tone. “I will have no hollering in this room! You will be escorted out if you continue to holler in this room. Nobody is going to disrespect anybody in this auditorium.”READ MORE: Woman Found Dead Inside SUV In Northwest Detroit
The Riverside Park deal would give billionaire Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun room to add ta win span over the Detroit River — something some say won’t be needed once the new Gordie Howe bridge is built.
Moroun’s son, Matthew Moroun — who serves of chairman of the Bridge Company — was thrilled with the decision.
He was asked what comes next.
“Well, the immediate steps are we owe the city $3 million and we owe them the title of a five acre strip of waterfront property,” the younger Moroun told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas. “We’ve committed to a number of very important things to the city and council.”
Residents speaking in favor of the plan said local kids could use an improved park, while others said the city blew it — settling for peanuts when a better deal could have been made.
“They gave away the people of Detroit’s power,” said Deb Sumner, with the group Friends of Riverside Park. “He (Matthew Moroun) is going to be laughing all his life about this deal as well as his father will laugh to his grave.”MORE NEWS: Lawyer In Whitmer Kidnap Plot Trial Raises Concern About Juror
Others speaking against the deal said it was rushed and should be put on hold until environmental, public health and community impact can be evaluated.