Sunday, August 12, 2012

Belle Isle

As if things weren't bad enough in Detroit, one of that city's most cherished landmarks has become a political football between the governments of the City of Detroit, and the State of Michigan. The nearly 1,000 acre Belle Isle on the Detroit River is a city park whose layout and structures were designed by estimable architects such as Frederick Law Olmsted, Albert Kahn and Cass Gilbert. Due to Detroit's current downward spiral which has only been exacerbated by the financial crisis of recent years, the park has fallen into disrepair. In steps the State of Michigan to the rescue with a plan to infuse money earmarked for the restoration and preservation of the park. They also propose signing a 99 year lease to take over control of the island park. Not so fast says Detroit Mayor (and former NBA star) Dave Bing; we'll be happy to take your money as long as you don't interfere with our control of Belle Isle.

Given how successful Detroit's city government has been in turning their city around, one can only imagine what a bangup job they would do with Belle Isle.

Aaron Renn's astute commentary about the stalemate in Detroit can be found here among other observations about Atlanta, Chicago, and Louisville.

I don't normally put a lot of weight into what's written in comments sections to blogs, they're usually forums to air out folks' dirty laundry. But the comments to this article in The Detroit News bring up something that the mainstream press is generally too polite to mention: the role that race plays in the power struggle up in the Motor City.

One can only hope that the folks of Detroit will eventually come to their senses by putting aside their personal agendas, grievances and biases, to work together for the betterment of one of our country's most important cities. Belle Isle is a diamond in the rough, its restoration and preservation would be a major step in the right direction to help bring life back into that most troubled city.

Unfortunately, time is running out and the city government seems content to sit by and watch.

Detroit deserves better.

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