Council approves alternative lease for Belle Isle
By Donald Barnes
Special to the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — City Council approved Oct. 14 an alternative state lease of Belle Isle, for 10 years.
In a unanimous vote, council rejected the Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s most recent proposal to lease they city’s largest park for 30 years with, with two 15-year renewal options.
The alternative lease received a 4-2 vote. Council members JoAnn Watson and Brenda Jones voted against the lease.
According to David Whittaker, director of the city’s research and analysis department, the state has not shown the ability to fund improvements to island.
“If it’s not funded, then we can terminate the lease,” Council President Saunteel Jenkins said.
Councilman James Tate said he doesn’t think the city will ever find the perfect lease. “I do think we’ve gotten closer to a document,” Tate said. “I do what I believe is in the best interest of the city, you just can’t say no without a viable alternative.”
Watson presented the Belle Isle master plan, originally drafted in 2005. According to Watson, she couldn’t get her constituents to approve the plan. “This has nothing to with (bankruptcy), this has (everything) to do with a wealth transfer,” Watson said. “This body should not feel forced into some lease.”
The plan approved by council has 30 days to be approved by the three-member state Emergency Loan Board, each appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder.