Detroit and Michigan Partner to Restore Belle Isle



September 13, 2012

It's one of Michigan's gems -- Detroit's Belle Isle park, nestled in the Detroit River, the largest island park in the United States. Yesterday, Governor Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced a plan to preserve, protect and enhance Belle Isle as a state park.

"Establishing Belle Isle as a state park provides needed financial relief to Detroit without it relinquishing ownership, brings long overdue restoration and enhancements to the park, and guarantees a beautiful place for Michigan residents to enjoy for decades to come," Snyder said.

Bing, too, underscored the importance of the agreement. "It presents a win-win situation for the City and the entire State, by preserving a historic destination in the City of Detroit."

Under the agreement, the City of Detroit will maintain ownership with the state of Michigan and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) leasing the land under contract. The park's operations, maintenance and improvements will be managed by the DNR and funded through the Michigan State Parks Endowment Fund and through other sources. Additionally, the state Department of Transportation will assume responsibility for roads and bridges on Belle Isle.

On Thursday, Detroit media weighed in on the agreement, with The Detroit Free Press calling it "a jewel of a plan," adding that "The benefit here is clear, and the downside nonexistent." Detroit News columnist Laura Berman wrote, "An improved Belle Isle, revived by the state and linked to the RiverWalk, could be a powerful signal of a larger recovery -- a slice of pure Michigan-meets-Detroit, drawing visitors and vitality to the area."

Read more about the plan in Governor Snyder's Media Center.