Blogs > From The Bleacher Seats

A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

For whom the Belle tolls

I’m just sad.
I am not enraged. I am not hateful. I am just very disappointed.
Just hours after the Detroit City Council voted 6-3 to table a vote on a plan that would lease Belle Isle to the state Tuesday, Governor Rick Synder announced the offer had been withdrawn.
Under the proposed agreement, management would have been handed over to the Department of Natural Resources, which would have committed to spending state park funding to restore the island.
Pedestrians and bicyclists would have been free to enter, but motorists would have been required to have a $10 recreation passport which would have allowed vehicles into all Michigan state parks.
That is $10 per year, not $10 per visit. The cost was hardly prohibitive.
"I am extremely disappointed with today’s decision by City Council to table the vote on the Belle Isle lease deal with the State," said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. "I believe the majority of Detroiters supported this lease agreement. City Council’s actions today will force us to look at making additional cutbacks that may negatively impact the City’s other parks."

I’m just sad. Belle Isle has so much potential. It truly is a gem, but everyone would admit it needs some polishing. Let the state spend its money to spit shine Belle Isle. Is there any harm in that?
Believe me, this is not a political statement. I am no fan of Governor Snyder. He is so far right of my own political leanings
that I’d need a chiropractor if I craned my neck to catch a glimpse of him.
Even if we were sitting in the same row at Comerica Park, Ford Field or watching a Lugnuts game in downtown Lansing.
But the state’s plans for Belle Isle were solid.
Has anyone had the opportunity to visit the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor that stretches between Atwater Street and the Detroit River near the Rivertown warehouse district?
My wife, Kim, and I stop there frequently during the warmer months. Usually we’ll have breakfast at the Farmers Restaurant in the Eastern Market and then go to the state park to walk it off.
It is a glorious 3.1 acre spot, complete with a 52-slip marina, a lighthouse, a river walk, and even wetlands.
We walk, but you can even rent a bicycle or bring your own. There’s an ice cream shop and you can grab a cone and just sit on one of the many benches to watch the freighters go past if you prefer. You can throw a line in the water and fish, too.
It’s a beautiful area. I can only imagine how gorgeous Belle Isle would’ve been with that kind of financial impetus from the state.
Imagination will have to suffice. The Belle Isle deal seemingly is off. I’m just sad, that is all.


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