Report: State in talks to buy Belle Isle from Detroit

The city of Detroit appears to be in the process of selling Belle Isle to Michigan, a move that could mean admission fees for park users, the Motor City Muckraker has found.

Council members today demanded to know more about a reported deal being negotiated between Mayor Dave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder.

When asked to confirm a potential sale, Bing’s administration declined.

“Has there been a lease signed?” Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins asked. “It’s a pretty simple question.”

Councilwoman JoAnn Watson said any sale would be illegal because council would never support it.

“Nobody can take away Belle Isle without the approval of City Council, and we’re not going to entertain that,” Watson said. “It’s outrageous.”

State officials contend the mayor does not need council approval to sell city property under a consent agreement signed by the council, mayor and state.

Councilman Andre Spivey appeared to be open to a deal with the state.

“Changes need to be made” at Belle Isle, he said. “We need to find revenue for that island. There are bridges that aren’t safe.”

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.