Motor City NOT on the Move: Belle Isle

By CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Sports Editor

Every week, this column hopes to shed light on some great things going on in the city and why Detroit is quite an amazing place to live, work, and play. Unfortunately, this will be the first time in the entire series, in nearly two years, that looks down upon the city of Detroit.

In the past few weeks there has been much debate between the Detroit City Council, Mayor Dave Bing, and residents about the state leasing the island park of Belle Isle from the city.

Why? Well, the island park is the city’s gem, or at least it was until the city couldn’t continue to take care of it. The island was designed by the same architect who designed New York City’s Central Park, and while Belle Isle is also older and larger than Central Park, it continued to be a heated topic of debate.

Belle Isle (Michigan Journal)

Belle Isle (Michigan Journal)

The state of Michigan is looking to help out the city of Detroit, especially financially. Right now, the city is in a $385 million dollar debt. The loss of residents, the crumbling police and fire force, adding to the fact that the tax base is not stable, with many of the residents living under poverty, it’s just hard to keep city government on budget.

So, why is Detroit not on the move in this piece? The city council. So maybe I’m a little bit biased, but just last week, city council tabled the decision for two weeks on whether or not to lease Belle Isle to the state.

Governor Rick Snyder responded a day later by revoking the lease proposal, which was for 30 years, and the city would still own the island, and the state would operate it, cutting $6 million from the city’s budget each year. So why did city council table the decision? Well, historically, the city has been predominantly white. When World War II ended, the city’s population began to move to the suburbs.

Suburban living was the trend back then. So anyone who originally thought the 1967 Riots started “white flight” you’re technically wrong. It accelerated white flight out of the city, and soon the city was predominantly African-American.

In the city council meeting last week, many residents showed up to voice their opinions, and even those who weren’t residents of the city showed up to support the idea. According to some reports both both Motor City Muckraker and the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, there were a select number of Detroit residents that shouted some obscene things.

“White whores can’t save us,” shouted one Detroit resident. As mentioned that many suburbanites were at the meeting to support the council leasing the island to the state, one resident shouted at suburbanites, “get out of here.”

Racism clearly still exists in Metro Detroit. Even councilwoman JoAnn Watson was sure that the state would turn the island into a playground for the rich.

On Friday, in response to city council not coming to an agreement, Mayor Bing had a press conference announcing the closing of 50 city parks in order to save money.

Detroit is a great place, but the politics and city government is a complete joke. One day, it will be better, but it’s only going to get better if the citizens of Detroit can get along, stop being racist and work together to bring their city back to the top. It’s a long shot, but hey, crazier things have happened.

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