Mayoral Candidate Lisa Howze Pitches Promising Plan to Save Belle Isle

The cash-strapped city of Detroit can maintain control of Belle Isle without spending a dime, says mayoral candidate and state Rep. Lisa Howze.

In fact, under Howze’s plan, the city could generate revenue from the island park and create new jobs by hosting concerts, a fair and other events. Corporate sponsorships also would raise much-needed money.

The revived park would drive more traffic to the park, which could charge a nominal fee for events, Howze said.

“When you begin to focus positive energy on something, people start to believe again,” Howze said. “You have to dedicate your time and energy into making Belle Isle a great destination that still belongs to Detroit. Unfortunately the current administration hasn’t done that.”

The plan is a refreshing and reasonable alternative to transferring control of the park to the state for 30 years under a tentative agreement between Mayor Dave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder. That pact has incensed Detroiters because it offers no guarantees that the park would receive a penny for improvements or police protection.

Without a guarantee, the council has refused to consider the agreement but has offered no alternative to spending millions of dollars a year operating the park.

Howze, a certified public accountant, said her plan would make Belle Isle a top destination spot that would increase Detroit tourism, which in turn would bring more money to businesses and the city’s withering tax base.

As an example, Howze points to the wildly successful Belle Isle Grand Prix, which has attracted more than 100,000 visitors and infused about $52 million into the local economy.

It’s this kind of progressive thinking that is missing in Detroit.

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.