Governor Snyder’s office withdrew its offer to turn Belle Isle into a state park and lease it from the city of Detroit after the Detroit City Council decided not to take a vote on the measure Monday afternoon. The reaction online was swift and mostly against the city council’s decision.
The lease was viewed by supporters as an opportunity to get the Belle Isle’s expenses off the city’s books and redirect that money to other parks or services as well as have access to funds for greater improvements.
Many opponents considered it a land and job grab, and others believed the deal was bad because they felt there were no solid guarantees the island, designed by the same person who designed Central Park, would get improvements.
Our own Jerome Espy was at the final public hearing. The reaction from the attendees there was strong. He observed about three quarters of the people at that hearing were against the lease deal.
But another survey by The Detroit News showed more than 60% of Detroit residents supported Belle Isle becoming a state park.
When it came to social media, the backlash against council was fierce. It was a stream of mostly disappointment and anger, as “Belle Isle” became a locally trending topic on the social media service Twitter around the time of the city council meeting and subsequent withdrawal by the Governor’s office.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That “same thing” happened over again when it came to the Belle Isle proposed lease … playing on divisiveness, fear, uncertainty and doubt and rarely publicly discussing the actual contents of what was on the table … and we got the same results.
Mayor Bing says there may be more cuts that would “negatively impact” the city parks in the wake of the council decision and state offer withdrawal. The Belle Isle lease was also one of the 27 items in the consent agreement signed by the city and the state last April.
According to the Detroit Free Press, council President Charles Pugh said he could not support the state lease and he hoped the attention paid to Belle Isle could renew city efforts to fix up the park in cooperation with nonprofit groups such as the Friends of Belle Isle or the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy.
However, Belle Isle becoming a state park may not, in the end, be a totally dead issue. Deadline Detroit’s Bill McGraw posts that it’s just a matter of time until the state is running Belle Isle due to the financial collapse of city government.
The reaction on Twitter chastising the Detroit City Council was strong and overwhelmingly for the lease deal, which the state withdrew. Here’s a sampling on our Storify.