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Council moves Belle Isle vote to next week

By Zenobia Jeffries

The Michigan Citizen

Council members Andre Spivey and Saunteel Jenkins listen to residents during public comment

Council members Andre Spivey and Saunteel Jenkins listen to residents during public comment.

DETROIT – Detroit City Council will hold a special session Oct. 14 to vote on the proposed state lease of Belle Isle.

Council President Jenkins said in a special session, Oct. 11, she expects the legislative body will have alternatives ready then to the Belle Isle lease, proposed last month by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

Under the EM law the council has 10 days to vote on the lease submitted to them Sept. 30. The deadline is Oct. 14.  If council votes to reject the lease, they have seven days to submit the alternative. If council does not vote, the EM’s plan will move forward.

Councilwoman JoAnn Watson suggested the council look at the master plan for Belle Isle the city paid to have drafted.

“There’s a Belle Isle master plan I submitted for council to vote on… It’s a long, lofty plan that has all it needs for Belle Isle to come back to its full glory,” Watson said.

“Given that the city spent time and money putting together the master plan designed just for Belle Isle with every stakeholder weighing in, doesn’t it seem plausible that we go back to the source of something we paid for ?”

Jenkins said the plan doesn’t include “revenue.”

According to Jenkins, whatever alternative plan the council counters has to “generate revenue” and be “fully funded.”

“(If we) adopt a plan that is not solid, we end up with what was presented to us anyway,” Jenkins said. “The state claims they’re saving the city $6 million; that’s $6 million that will go back into the city’s coffers. If we submit a plan, it needs to do that plus.

Watson said there is no $6 million in savings.

“In that same agreement, there is a phrase saying that the City of Detroit would still be accountable for cost related to the run off of water and sewerage at $2.7 million,” Watson said. “That’s part of that $6 million. The lease is saying the city is still paying for that.”

Watson called the savings the state says will go back to the city “illusory.”

“Because it’s not on the table. There’s no money exchanged for the lease. It’s what lawyers call illusory.” she said.

During public comments, citizens urged council to vote no on the state proposed lease. Some asked council to vote no on any lease to the state.

“This lease with the state is worst than the one in January that was discussed,” Dawn deRose said. “”The island will be sectioned off where the average person will not be able to use it.”

Cicely McClellan said she’s opposed to any lease of Belle Isle to the State of Michigan .

“I think the plan submitted by Councilmember Watson was sufficient,” she said. “(The state) has clearly shown this is a power grab and resource grab.”

Rev. Dr. Yvette Griffin asked council to “stop amending the state’s lease.”

“We don’t have to do what the state wants us to do,” she said. “I hope that you will bring back hope to those who have supported you.”

Jenkins told residents that a no vote without amendments wasn’t a option.

“I appreciate the sentiment of just vote it down but we need to deal with reality,” she said.

Councilmember Ken Cockrel, Jr. noted the state had no revenue source supporting their plan.

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