CHICAGO -- A deal that would have allowed Michigan to take over Detroit’s largest park and issue bonds to fix it up may be dead after the Detroit City Council tabled it Tuesday and Gov. Rick Snyder subsequently withdrew the offer.
Some council members said Wednesday they were still hoping to revive the proposal, but it’s unclear if they can muster enough support.
The nine-member council voted 6-3 Tuesday to table the measure. That prompted Snyder to withdraw the offer, which he had threatened to do last week if the council did not vote on it soon.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said it needed to know by the end of January whether to include the park in its budget.
The deal would allow the state to lease Belle Isle, a popular island park that is nicknamed the jewel of Detroit, for 30 years, with an option to terminate the lease every 10 years.
It is one of a series of proposals outlined in a consent agreement inked last year between the city and the state.
The decision comes as a state review team continues to probe the city’s finances to determine whether to recommend that Snyder appoint an emergency manager.
The team will weigh the council’s decision to reject the lease as part of its overall fiscal review, a spokesman for Snyder told local reporters Tuesday.
Mayor Dave Bing, who supports the plan, issued a statement saying he was “extremely disappointed” with the council’s decision, and that he had quickly received a letter from Snyder withdrawing the offer.
“This plan would have provided state funding for the operation, renovation and maintenance of the island as a state park, while we work to stabilize the city’s finances,” Bing said in the statement. “City Council’s actions today will force us to look at making additional cutbacks that may negatively impact the city’s other parks.”
After the vote, council President Charles Pugh said the city had not yet explored enough financing options for preserving the park on its own. As an example, he said the city could consider tapping the Detroit port authority’s authority to issue bonds.
Supporters said the lease would have saved the city $6 million a year and the cost of fixing up the 985-acre island park, which is located in the Detroit River and is reportedly in a state of decay.
The state has said it would issue up to $20 million of bonds for capital improvements, and impose a new $11 annual fee for vehicles entering the park.
Critics, including those on the council, said $6 million is not enough to lose control of the park, and that the deal was distracting leaders from focusing on repairing the city’s financial position.
The state team is expected to deliver its report and recommendation by Feb. 16.