By JERRICE DONELSON, Staff Writer
The state of Belle Isle as a continued topic of discussion has gone beyond the water cooler by hitting the tweets and the streets this week as spectators to protesters from Detroit to Cleveland responded to the idea of turning Belle Isle into a state park. Three members of the Detroit City Council were slated to take a vote this week to determine if it would take the offer to vote on a lease deal with the State of Michigan designating Belle Isle as a state park operated by the Department of Natural Resources. However, as the City Council members didn’t see the offer to have the island taken over by the state as a means to a bleak and blighted financial end, they opted to delay the vote which in turn, caused Governor Rick Snyder to take the offer off the table entirely.
The thought of the state taking yet another Detroit commodity under their control was met with a great divide of mixed reviews among Detroiters including some objections from the council members themselves. Similar to last week’s Commonwealth of Belle Isle talks at the DAC, the lack of details of the Detroit landmark becoming a commodity of the state wasn’t met without trepidation by Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh.
According to Pugh, his lack of comfortability with the lease idea was due to “…the fact that we have never really sat down and had a brainstorming session about all of the possibilities for Belle Isle.”(Detroit News) Like Pugh and many Detroiters who attended the vote voicing their opinions in the matter, Councilman Kenneth Cockrel, Jr. was more concerned with the escalating financial issues that are still plaguing the city and believes these issues have been minimalized by the constant spotlight on Belle isle. However, others like Mayor Dave Bing and Cleveland Cavalier’s owner and Quicken Loans chairman Dan Gilbert are both quoted at being “disappointed” at the breakdown of the deal (Detroit News). After receiving the letter from Snyder’s office discontinuing the offer due to the council declining to vote, Bing’s belief that Detroiters supported the agreement has moved him to possibly consider circumventing the Detroit City Council’s decision by seeking approval from the Financial-Advisory Board who, in the best interest of the city, can approve reform efforts on its behalf. Unfortunately, with the state and city musical-chair-like debate taking center-stage, it is the fallout from their actions, or lack of, which is said by Bing to be “…forcing cutbacks that may negatively impact the city’s other parks.”
Needless to say, whether made to be the “Motown Monaco”, state park or Detroit historical landmark, Belle Isle seems to be the most valuable chip in the game patiently awaiting its benefactors – whoever they may be.