Snyder, Bing announce tentative agreement to lease, maintain Belle Isle park

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Governor Snyder and Mayor Dave Bing announced a tentative landmark agreement to preserve, protect and enhance Belle Isle as a state park Wednesday morning.

The city of Detroit will maintain ownership under the agreement while the state of Michigan and Department of Natural Resources will lease the land under contract.

"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," said Snyder.

Snyder expects the proposed agreement to help generate economic development and neighborhood revitalization.

A press release by the city of Detroit indicates that under the proposed lease agreement:

  • The lease is 30 years from the time it is approved by the Detroit City Council. The lease would be extended for two additional 30-year periods, unless the city or state provides written notice to the other party of its intent to not extend the lease.
  • The state can terminate the lease after 18 months' prior notification to the city providing written notice. The city can call negotiating sessions to resolve obstacles to continuing the lease. The city can terminate the lease for cause if the state fails to fulfill the terms of the lease.
  • The Recreation Passport, which offers annual access to all Michigan state parks and recreation areas across the state, will not be immediately required for entry to Belle Isle. The Passport will be required for visitors to Belle Isle beginning March 31, 2013. Park goers on foot or entering the park via public transportation will not need a pass and can enter for free.
  • All park revenue from grants, endowments and other sources that derive from Belle Isle will be placed in a special sub-account in the Department of Natural Resources State Park improvement account to administer, maintain and improve the park. The balance of that account will transfer to the city upon termination of the lease.
  • The state will provide the mayor and Detroit City Council with annual reports, including management of the park and accounting of all park revenue. The city has the right to review and audit the state's records related to park revenue each year.
  • The city and state will together develop a detailed security plan for the park.
  • The DNR will improve the park based on a phased management plan. The improvements will remain with the park even after the lease is terminated.
  • MDOT will develop an asset management plan outlining short- and long-term strategies to maintain the roads and bridges in an acceptable condition using Act 51 funds.
  • The city and the state will work cooperatively with the Belle Isle Conservancy to develop a master plan to improve the park.
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