EXCLUSIVE POLL: Detroiters split on Snyder's Belle Isle plan, favor City Council proposal

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Detroit voters are split on Governor Rick Snyder and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr's 30 year lease plan to improve and operate Belle Isle Park. 

In an exclusive WXYZ-TV 7/Detroit Free Press Poll, 46 percent of 400 likely Detroit voters said they approve of the Governor's proposal. Forty-five percent oppose it and 9 percent aren't sure how they feel about it.

Snyder's plan to spruce up the historic 985 acre Belle Isle in downtown Detroit, would save the city about $4 - $6 million per year to maintain the park. There is also a commitment that the state will pump $10 - $20 million into Belle Isle over its first three years of operation.  

Detroit would then have two optional 15 year renewals to the lease agreement.

In the survey conducted by EPIC MRA based in Lansing, Detroit residents were asked their opinion about an alternative plan proposed by City Council that would lease the spacious urban park to the state for 10 years instead of thirty. This plan would also include the financial improvements in the Governor and Orr's state proposal.  

Respondents were also asked how they feel about opposing both Belle Isle plans. Forty-two percent prefer City Council's 10 year lease plan. Thirty-five percent reject both proposals and 19 percent like the 30 year lease plan. Only 4 percent were undecided.

Channel  7 pollster Bernie Porn noted that like many other Detroit issues, race is playing a significant role.

"Most white voters support the Governor's 30 year lease plan, most black voters favor the City Council's 10 year proposal but like the Belle Isle improvements that would come with that plan," he says. 

If Governor Snyder's plan becomes reality, visitors to the park would have to purchase a Michigan Recreation Passport for $11 that would give them access to Belle Isle and all other Michigan State Parks and Campgrounds. 

The majority of Detroit voters surveyed, 63 percent, say they would buy the pass. Thirty-two percent are opposed to it and 5 percent can't make up their minds about it.

Our exclusive WXYZ-TV 7/Detroit Free Press poll was conducted October 24 – 26 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4. 9 percent. Twenty percent of the likely voters called were reached on their cell phones. 


Governor Snyder and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr have proposed that Detroit's historic 985 acre Belle Isle Park will be leased for 30 years and operated as a Michigan state park, saving Detroit between $4 to $6 million per year to maintain Belle Isle, with a commitment that the state will fund between $10 million to $20 million dollars in improvements in the first three years to the park. The City would have two optional 15 year renewals of the lease agreement. Based on what you know or have heard or read about this proposal to have the state lease Belle Isle and operate it as a state park, do you favor or oppose the proposal?

Favor – 46%
Oppose – 45%
Undecided/Refused to Answer

The Detroit City Council voted to approve of an alternative proposal that would have the state lease Belle Isle Park for 10 years instead of 30 years as proposed by the state. The proposal by City Council would include all of the requirements proposed by Governor Snyder. Based on what you know or have heard or read about the alternative proposal by City Council, do you favor the state 30 year lease proposal, the city council 10 year proposal, or, do you oppose both proposals and prefer that the City of Detroit keep Belle Isle Park and operate it as a City Park? 

Favor state 30 year lease proposal – 19%
Favor City Council 10 year proposal – 42%
Oppose both proposals and prefers keeping Belle Isle as a city park – 35%
Undecided/Refused to Answer – 4%

Under the state proposal, visitors who drive to Belle Isle would need a pass – known as the Michigan Recreation Passport – to gain entrance to the park.  Currently, purchase of the $11 Michigan Recreation Passport allows access to any of Michigan's State Parks and Campgrounds and the proposal would include Belle Isle as one of them. The passes can be purchased from the Department of Natural Resources or can be included as part of the payment to the Secretary of State when renewing license plates. Those walking, biking or taking public transportation could still get on to the island for free. Do you favor or oppose this yearly fee to gain entrance to Belle Isle Park?

Favor – 63%
Opposed – 32%
Undecided/Refused to Answer – 5%

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