Snyder Says State's Offer to Take Charge of Belle Isle Will Be Withdrawn

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Gov. Rick Snyder is apparently making good on his threat to withdraw the state's offer to lease and maintain Belle Isle as a Michigan state park after the Detroit City Council declined to take the matter up on Tuesday. Snyder had warned the Council last week that he would withdraw the offer if an agreement could not be reached this week, yet on Monday a three-member committee voted to table the offer for the next two weeks. According to a report by the Detroit Free Press, the committee cited the need to answer some unresolved questions as the reasoning behind its decision.

Now it appears that the lease agreement may not move forward at all. Snyder's spokeswoman, Sara Wurfel, told the Detroit News and other media outlets on Tuesday that since the City Council "didn't act" the state "can't partner on that project and move forward."

Here is some of the key information that has emerged regarding the Belle Isle lease deal as of Tuesday.

* The deal itself was the subject of a heated public debate on Monday. Local news station CBS Detroit was among the media outlets that reported that many of the public comments were racially charged, with the words "lynch," "rape," and "Massah Snyder" making appearances.

* Other speakers at the public meeting on Monday spoke of the impact on businesses if the state were to take over Belle Isle. MLive quoted Detroit business owner Jocelyn Harris, who said that the deal "will not benefit our community," and argued that having the state run Belle Isle could cost local contractors that currently work on the island their jobs.

* At the end of the public hearing on Monday, a three-member committee voted to table the offer for two weeks pending further questioning. The measure could've been put back on the table by the City Council itself during its session on Tuesday, but council members opted not to do so.

* Snyder is said to be disappointed in the City Council's decision. Spokesman Caleb Buhs was quoted by the Detroit Free Press on Tuesday as saying that "we have to withdraw the offer, and there can't be another time extension."

* Snyder's most recent offer involved the city allowing the state to lease Belle Isle for renewable 10-year terms, during which the island would be maintained by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as part of the state park system. It would also have allowed the state to charge the usual fees associated with such parks, as noted by Michigan Radio.

* There was no word as of Tuesday as to what the city's plans for Belle Isle will include if Snyder makes good on his threat to rescind the state's offer by the end of the week if the City Council declines to act.

Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in politics and public issues.

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