LANSING, Mich. Nov 12 A Michigan emergency loan
board on Tuesday approved a plan for the state of Michigan to
lease Belle Isle park from Detroit for 30 years, with possible
extensions up to 60 years, rejecting a competing plan from
Detroit's city council that would have limited the initial lease
period to 10 years.
The three-member panel, which was appointed by Michigan
Governor Rick Snyder, unanimously approved the lease, which is
for 30 years with two optional 15-year renewals. The state also
has said it will spend up to $20 million to improve facilities
on the island park in the Detroit River in the first 18 to 36
months of its management, which will begin in 90 days.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Detroit Emergency Manager
Kevyn Orr and other state officials signed the agreement last
month over objections from the Detroit City Council, which had
proposed a lease of 10 years, with two 10-year renewals.
The state said it hopes to finance the improvements through
grants, bonds and private donations, and the longer lease will
be helpful in seeking funding for the upgrades to the island's
public facilities, it said.
"One of the key terms involved with this was the financing
terms and the time involved as was stated," said Bill Nowling,
Orr's spokesman. "We think that 30 years is important to get all
the financing in place so that we can get the improvements in
place over time. Ten years is just too short of a time to do
Leasing the island to the state has been a priority of Orr's
since he was appointed in March. Snyder had put forward a
similar plan in January, but the governor pulled it from
consideration after Detroit's city council could not bring the
measure to a vote.
The state's emergency manager law required the city council
to approve the lease agreed to by Orr or propose an alternative
that would have saved the city the same amount or more.
Detroit City Councilman James Tate attended Tuesday's
meeting and told reporters he was "not terribly surprised" that
the city's alternative lease plan was rejected.
Tate said the council would engage with the state and the
emergency manager to ensure that the agreement addresses some of
the council's concerns, including the request for a guarantee
that funding for the island is in place prior to turning over
operation of the island to the state.
"When the deal is done you can't walk out with your head to
the ground," Tate said. "Now you have to make sure that whatever
was approved, it works. It's about accountability at this