CHICAGO -- A state-run board Tuesday approved Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s push to lease Detroit’s biggest park for up to 30 years, killing an alternative 10-year lease proposed by the Detroit City Council.
The Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board met Tuesday to consider the two competing plans to have the state take over Belle Isle, one of the largest parks in the country and often dubbed the “jewel” of Detroit. The park has fallen into disrepair over the last several years as the bankrupt city’s finances deteriorated.
Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr signed the agreement for a 30-year lease six weeks ago, but the city council proposed an alternative plan that would have the state lease it for only 10 years and imposed some additional provisions.
The three-member loan board voted unanimously in favor of the state’s plan.
The state will take over operating and maintenance expenses, estimated at $6 million a year. The agreement sets up a seven-member advisory committee to advise the state.
For the first time, it will cost money to enter the park, which is an island in the middle of the Detroit River. The state will require all entering cars have or buy an $11-a-year passport that provides entrance to all state parks. Pedestrians, bikers, and bus riders can still enter for free.
Snyder first proposed the state take over Belle Isle in 2012, as part of the consent agreement the state entered into with the city before Detroit came under full state control. Mayor Dave Bing approved the lease, but the city council shot it down.
“This partnership will provide significant state investment in Belle Isle as its newest state park, while the city remains ownership of one of its jewels,” Snyder said in a statement.
Belle Isle will become the state’s 102nd park.