Snyder: Belle Isle Lease Offer May Return—But Not In 2013


As with any year that hasn’t been lived yet, a world of possibilities awaits Detroit. For instance, the Detroit Tigers could still win the 2014 World Series and Belle Isle could still become a state park.

That’s right. It’s not over yet.

Hopes for a State-City lease deal that would have put Detroit’s island park in the charge of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources were seemingly smashed to bits last month when governor Rick Snyder pulled the offer. Snyder says he only dropped the deal after Detroit city council failed to vote on the proposal before deadline.

But it’s not the end of a possible State lease of Belle Isle. If enough council members change their minds, or if the city falls under the reigns of a state-appointed emergency manager, the 30-year lease deal may likely resurface in 2014. At least that’s what Snyder has been hinting at recently.

Reports that the state set aside more than $4 million to spend on Belle Isle’s upkeep if the deal went through were true, but now that money will dissolve back into the state’s $50.9 billion annual budget. Snyder says he’s willing to nest-egg some funds for Belle Isle again, though.

Last week the Detroit News reported

“… The governor said he’s not ruled out budgeting the money for converting Belle Isle into a state park in 2014 if City Council changes its mind about the lease.

“That deadline’s past, so it’s not going to happen (this year),” Snyder said.”


 Snyder told the Detroit Free Press editorial board the same thing: that the Belle Isle may just come back to the table.

He said he left money in the state budget for Belle Isle to show he was “dead serious” about making a deal with Detroit to maintain the 982-acre  park.

The council indirectly voted against the proposal this year by stalling past deadline, something that cancels the offer for this year. But 2014 is a chance for the city to have a change of heart.

  “They can say they didn’t vote, but I take it they voted ‘no’,” Snyder told the Free Press. “So we’re going to follow through in what we were going to do for 2014. I said ’13 was off the table, but if somebody wants to talk ’14 … [I’m open].”

For all intents and purposes, it sounds like the offer is still an option, just delayed. And from the looks of things, Detroit will likely be in State receivership come 2014. As we all know, a lot can change in a year.

Again, it’s a world of possibilities. 

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