|Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 12:28 am: || |
Do your homework before you print any more libelous coments about Ron Kagan. The decision to close the Aquarium was not made by Ron Kagan. Whether or not the Aquarium should be preserved and kept open is one issue, but you need to target your very palpable contempt in the correct direction.
|Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 9:56 am: || |
Homework was done. Ron Kagan has the power to solve this problem. His policies have led the aquarium to this situation. The aquarium is his responsibility.
|Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 2:33 pm: || |
He does not have the power to solve this problem. The power is money and he does not have the money. The city does not have the money. The state does not give the money. Of course, it is always easy to target the messenger, but this was not his decision. If you believe otherwise, then I maintain, as I said before, you have not done your homework. Have you made a donation in the recent past that was designated for the aquarium? I'd like to pose that question to everyone on this site who is protesting the closing AND who is not a city resident.
|Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 4:55 pm: || |
Strange how there's never any money when things have to be kept up in Detroit, as opposed to the Zoo.
Where was the advertising all these years - and please don't catagorize the crass Sponge-Bob Squarepants promotion as a serious attempt at advertising!
And yes, I HAVE donated money to the Aquarium.
I've been there more times than Ron Kagan has, and I'm just a visitor!
|Posted on Thursday, February 03, 2005 - 7:52 pm: || |
Comments such as your last one, Stephen, hurt your cause, not help it. You don't know how many times he's been there, and you sound silly making such a statement. It's so much neater and easier if we can point to one cause, one person, one evil-doer, when we are angry about something. But regrettably the world is not nearly that neat or easy to analyze. The fact is that there isn't money in the city budget. There has been mismanagement in the city for over 40 years. That, coupled with the eroding tax base, and the State's budget crisis have hit Detroit hard. You guys really need to get it through your heads that it isn't Kagan who's to blame. He did not make the decision to close the aquarium. He did not make the decision to cut funding. He did not make the decision which facility to promote over any other facility. When you stop pointing fingers in blame, stop trying to lay the problem at the feet of one person and get on with the business of developing a strategy to change things, you will have graduated beyond an elementary school level of problem solving. Until you get past that, your cause is doomed. Stephen, do you live in Detroit?
Then let your vote speak for you.
|Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 12:04 am: || |
I have a pretty good idea how many times Ron Kagan has been to the Aquarium.
Can you see that the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak has been consistently promoted and kept up? Can you see that the Aquarium has been allowed to become dilapidated?
One can prevaricate upon the details as to who is to blame for this decade long deterioration, but the fact of the matter is that Ron Kagan has been in command of this ship, and being the captain, he receives the accolades or blame for the state of the Zoo's affairs. Your attempt at being his apologist does not change that.
|Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 9:57 am: || |
"...prevaricate upon the details..."? Prevaricate means lie and I'm not lying. Having not apologized, I'm not being an apologist either. I know that you are with the aquarium administration and I know that the closing means you lose that position. The Zoo is a phenomenal asset to the City. It is the largest tourist attraction in the State of Michigan, bringing in millions of dollars of revenue to the State annually. The Aquarium, for all its architectural beauty and historical significance, does not provide the same benefit. This is not the fault of one person. Belle Isle is simply not the attraction that it once was. It carries with it a perception of remoteness and danger. It is not regularly patrolled by police. It is off the beaten path. In order to go there, it has to be one's destination and there just isn't enough surrounding appeal on Jefferson Avenue to draw visitors to the area. Your argument that this is Kagan's fault just doesn't hold water (no pun intended). The decline and lack of focus on Belle Isle and downtown in general began long before he was hired by Coleman Young and long before Young was even the mayor. The riots of '67 started it, the racist policies of the Young administration continued it. In the last 40 years, there has been little development in the downtown area of the City and virtually none in the area bordering Belle Isle. You are blinding yourself to the truth with what appears to be a personal vendetta against Ron Kagan. This is obviously because you work at the Aquarium (how else would you know the number of times he'd visited) and because you are going to lose your job. But it would probably be more helpful to the cause if you could see beyond your own personal situation.
|Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 12:13 pm: || |
-I know that you are with the aquarium administration-
Huh? This discussion is at an end.
|Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 1:14 pm: || |
Your email address says that you are with the administration. Is it incorrect?
|Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 2:21 pm: || |
I am the web administrator for Fobia
|Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 2:36 pm: || |
As Harry Truman said, "the buck stops here." Where? With the top zoo administrator(s) and the Mayor(s) and City Council members who have spent (or allowed others to spend) 38 MILLION in capital improvements at Royal Oak in the last 8 years and have not spent a dime of Zoo money on capital improvements at the Aquarium. Further, efforts to educate Zoo members and the public about the Aquarium's beauty and advertise it have been next to nill. Many Zoo members probably don't even know the Aquarium is part of the Zoo and that their zoo mem. gets them into the AQ. free and that ample free parking is available. Where is the alluring,educational mini-billboard at the Zoo promoting the Aq.???? Etc....
Would this have happened, or such malign neglect be tolerated, if the Aquarium was in Royal Oak? No way. Not a chance.
The only way any of the above named officials are off the hook for this outrageous, deplorable, racist,and elitist misallocation of resources is if they strenously opposed it as it was going down.
|Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 2:54 pm: || |
As a retiree of the Detroit Zoo and past Curator of the Aquarium, I can vouch that the BI Aquarium has been sadly neglected under Director Kagan. It prospered and had excellent attendance in years past. I can also say with certainty that Stephen Goodfellow is not a Zoological Park employee. Now the question is where does "jane eyre's" zeal originate? "She" is not in possession of the facts beyond the very slanted version that Kagan has offered.
Diana R. Dubbeld (Diana)
|Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 3:40 pm: || |
We have done our homework "jane eyre" perhaps you should do a little of your own. As it has been said befor, Kagan is in charge of the zoo, that is in charge of the aquarium, he therefor gets the blame automatically, but he also rightfully deserves it as well.
|Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 3:50 pm: || |
If you are implying, with that snarky use of quotation marks around the word "she", that I am anything other than a concerned female citizen of the community, you couldn't be more wrong. Although not a retiree of the Zoo, nor a former curator, I am just like you. My zeal originates from my admiration of Dr. Kagan's work for all the world's animals and for the creating for the city and world-renowned zoo. The Aquartium may have been neglected under Kagan, but I question whether that was his policy or was it for some other reason or at someone else's direction. My point is that we need to laying blame and start being constructive. Who among us is a city resident? Who among us is a Detroit taxpayer? And who among us has contributed money to the Aquarium?
|Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 5:34 pm: || |
1) The "Detroit Zoo" is NOT a phenomenal asset to Detroit, any more than
the "Detroit" Pistons are. Moneys spent by tourists in the area surrounding
the zoo are sepnt in Oakland County, which does not pay to support the zoo.
I know what you're thinking, "Oakland County taxpayers give money to the
state, and that money in part goes to the zoo!" Yep, of the $14 million
dollar annual budget, about $500,00-$600,000 comes form the state--the
ENTIRE state. The fact is that any economic impact felt by having the
Detroit Zoo is felt in the Royal Oak area. Do you honestly think that
anyone goes to the Zoo and then drives to the Big Bad City to eat dinner?
2)The Zoo is NOT the largest tourist attraction in Michigan. The Henry Ford
brings in 1.5 million visitors a year, the Zoo brings in just under 1
million. If you want to stretch it a little, the Cabela's store in Dundee,
Michigan, brings in 2.5 million visitors every year. Yes, that is a tourist
destination. If you don't believe that, look at their customer base
analysis. Look in their parking lot and RV park, and see how far people
drive to a town in the middle of nowhere to go there. Same can be said for
Great Lakes Crossing and the casinos. Tourist destination does not have the
same narrow meaning that it once did. And I can absolutely assure you that
ALL of those attractions contribute many, many times the amount of money to
the economy of Michigan than the Zoo does.
3)The Zoo does not bring millions of dollars in revenue to the State
annually. It does bring millions of dollars in revenue INTO the state (not
the government of Michigan, but the area). Of this revenue, the State of
Michigan gets a tiny fraction.
4)Belle Isle is not the attraction it once was? Sounds like a scared
suburbanite to me. Belle Isle draws 2-2.5 MILLION visitors annually. The
fact that the marketing efforts (or lack therof) are only able to capture a
tiny fraction of these visitors is a testimony to the neglect and
ineffectual nature of the efforts. By the way, there is a permanent Detroit
Police outpost on Belle Isle, and the island is regularly patrolled, every
day of the year.
5) Perhaps it is you who are blinded to who can keep the BIA open. The
mayor did not approach Ron Kagan and say "close the aquarium". He did say,
"You need to cut $X, figure out a way to do it". You have no idea of the
history or chain of events which went into this decision. Your only
perception of Dr. Kagan is through the media. And just because a person is
losing their job, doesn't mean that's the only reason to put up a fight. If
you investigated the value to DETROIT that this facility provides, not just
the money issue, you might see that. This is not about someone's personal
situation, but about the loss of history, notoriety, art, and conservation
and cultural value to the city. Ask yourself this: Why is the parks and
rec department of Detroit eager to maintain the attached Scripps
Conservatory? The tax cost to the city is higher on this building, the
building is in worse shape, charges no admission, has lower attendance than
the Aquarium, and has no educational or conservation programming. Do you
think it could be because the people in parks and rec value what the
Conservatory means to the overall cultural picture in Detroit? They would
never think of offering the facility up for closure. So, when you say that
this isn't the fault of one person, that it is a matter of lack of funds,
you are only partially right. Funds must be cut, but the mayor depends on
his directors to tell him where the cuts should come from. And when he gets
incorrect information ( and it is GROSSLY incorrect) based on someone's
personal and career goals, he will make wrong decisions. If you don't think
that is what happened here, it is you who needs to do more homework.
|Posted on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 10:51 pm: || |
You all should change your name from "Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium" to "Enemies of Ron Kagan" - it would fit your mission better. Of course, that still wouldn't help keep the Aquarium open (or at least help prevent it from falling into the mud)... but it would at least be a more straightforward manifestation of the goal of this web site.
|Posted on Saturday, February 05, 2005 - 12:50 am: || |
Sorry, but it's not personal. He will suffer because of his error in judgement which will relegate a species of fish to the trashpile of extinction and destroy a national institution with one hundred years of venerable history.
Have you had a chance to see the hundreds of opinions posted to the site?
|Posted on Saturday, February 05, 2005 - 8:22 am: || |
No attempt to be snarky was intended. I just thought it odd that you variously have posted as "jane eyre" or "Jane Eyre". Seemed an unusual oversight for a person's real name. No matter. You are not in possession of facts in most matters. Residents are not alone in paying taxes to support the City's gems - so do those employed within the City. Visitors who attend the Aquarium and have paid admission fees also have a vested interest - as do State residents whose taxes have contributed to Detroit's cultural institutions for decades. Kagan alone is responsible for this attack upon the Aquarium. The Mayor did little more than "accept" the Director's recommendation.
Ivan Harold Dibble
|Posted on Saturday, February 05, 2005 - 1:11 pm: || |
On behalf of Dr Kagan at 5-52pm on the 3rd Feb you said
"He did not make the decision to cut funding. He did not make the decision which facility to promote over any other facility. When you stop pointing fingers in blame, stop trying to lay the problem at the feet of one person and get on with the business of developing a strategy to change things, you will have graduated beyond an elementary school level of problem solving. Until you get past that, your cause is doomed" Well if that is true and he does not like the fire then tell him to get out of the kitchen, and stop defending the decision!!
Michael Bartlett (Mike)
|Posted on Wednesday, February 09, 2005 - 11:30 am: || |
I don't fully blame Stephen for fingering Dr. Kagan. I have nothing against the man, but he has significant influence when it comes to closing the aquarium, or finding a way to keep it open.
Who's fault is it? Well, I guess it's mine. I have been a suburban resident for all 33 years of my life and all I have ever done to contribute to the aquarium is pay admission. I have not provided enough money to maintain the aquarium and I should have done more. I should have started a long time ago.
I think Dr. Kagan has done phenominal work in Royal Oak. I have no doubt that he cares for the animals and wants what is best for them. All I would ask of him really is to find a less destructive way to rid himself of the financial burden of running the aquarium with a reasonable time frame to accomplish that.
I can't speak for all of FOBIA on this, but I beg forgiveness that I did not attend to the needs of the aquarium sooner, and I would be happy to help FOBIA establish alternative resources to support the upkeep of the aquarium, but that will take some time.
|Posted on Wednesday, February 09, 2005 - 12:45 pm: || |
The aquarium is a beautiful but antiquated facility that would need millions of dollars (which simply do not exist) to make it a safe place for marine animals to be on display and flourish. I have not seen much on this website that suggests compassion for these animals. I have seen a lot that suggests an admirable determination to preserve a City landmark. And I agree with the idea of preservation. We've been too quick in this city to destroy our older edifices in favor of erecting new buildings. The aquarium is a wonderful example of old architecture that should be preserved. But the building does not work in its current state as an aquarium. Let's take care of its inhabitants AND preserve its structure. Both goals can be served, if we put aside finger-pointing and blame-laying and focus on constructive solutions.
Diana R. Dubbeld (Diana)
|Posted on Wednesday, February 09, 2005 - 3:54 pm: || |
The fish have a very adiquate enviornment in wich to thrive. If you know anything about fish, you can see numerour babies in the tanks on display. They are also the only faciliry that can maintain the endangered and extint in the wild Golden Sawfin Goodied. Just because things dont look "pretty" to us humans doesnt mean it is inacaquate for the fish. Algae never killed a fish, but humans have killed fish trying to rid tanks of it im sure.
Most people who keep home aquariums do more damage and are more cruel to their fish than the aquarium is to theirs. But that is another topic entirely.
|Posted on Wednesday, February 09, 2005 - 10:45 pm: || |
The aquarium is more than adequate in it's care of and safety for "marine" (I assume you mean aquatic) animals. I get very disturbed when people who obviously know very little about the wellbeing of animals contend that they do. Are you aware that some of the fish at the Aquarium have been thriving there for 37 years? Are you aware that many of the animals are more than 20 years old? Are you aware that the Belle Isle Aquarium is INTERNATIONALLY considered to be a leader, not just a small palyer, in numerous conservation and captive breeding programs? Are you aware that the Aquarium has successfully bred freshwater stingrays for FIVE generations? Are you aware that the Aquarium is able to propagate animals which other, higher-tech, newer, bigger aquariums find impossible to breed? Are you aware that the American Zoological Association has given the only three Bean Awards for Conservation bestowed upon the Detroit Zoological Institution to the Belle Isle Aquarium? The building definitely does need significant repairs, but that has nothing to do with the safety and health of the animals, or for that matter the human patrons, of the Aquarium. Might I ask what other use might be envisioned for a building whose walls are composed of imoveable glass-fronted concrete fish tanks? Any other use of the building would require a total reconfiguration, which would, in fact, destroy most of the architectural and historical significance of the building. As far as the notion that the money doesn't exist to fund renovations, this is pure hogwash. The CITY may not have the money, but it's out there. The Detroit Zoological Society was somehow able to find nearly $40 MILLION dollars in the last ten years to fund projects for the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak. They funded the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery, National Amphibian Conservation Center, Arctic Ring of Life, Ford Education Center, and the new Animal Hospital building. That's how things get done at the zoo when money is tight with the city. That's what should have been done for the Aquarium.
|Posted on Wednesday, February 09, 2005 - 11:08 pm: || |
You sound like you're very disturbed, Anonymous. Anyone who begins his or her statement of position by making something over the difference between marine and aquatic clearly has some other issues in play. Notwithstanding all the wonderful things that you have pointed out that have happened under Ron Kagan's watch, the facility needs a great deal of repair in order to become state of the art safe. That's the simple fact. And tell me why the negative things that happen at the aquarium are Kagan's fault but the positive things, the things that you mentioned, just kind of spontaneously happened. So is he the bad guy or the good guy? Is he responsible only for the bad things? Did he help the good things happen or did they happen in spite of his concerted efforts to shut down this facility? You can't have it both ways.
|Posted on Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 1:28 am: || |
Merely a correction Miss Eyre. Marine implies a saltwater environment, whereas aquatic can refer to both fresh and saltwater. Just out of curiousity when was the last time you took it upon yourself to visit the facility?
|Posted on Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 5:59 pm: || |
As I'm not opposed to the closing of the facility, I'm not sure why my attendance record is relevant. Can you clarify why you are curious about it?
|Posted on Thursday, February 10, 2005 - 10:04 pm: || |
A rebuttal to some of your comments.
Yes the aquarium is beautiful and old-fashioned, but NOT antiquated. The exhibitry and life support stuff has been updated to today standards, thanks to the Detroit Zoological Society. The animals reproduce (look in the tanks), which tells me they are flourishing.
To imply that the people posting on this forum or those affiliated with FOBIA do not have compassion or concern for the well being of the animals at the aquarium and are only concerned with saving another old building couldn't be further from the truth. Listen to Mr. Kagan in the Metro Times, and you will know that we are just a bunch of "hobbyists" trying to save the place. Most hobbyists know quite a bit about their hobby. Don't you think that if these hobbyists thought that the living conditions for the aquarium's animals was substandard, they would be on Mr. Kagan's side in calling for the fish to be moved to a more sutiable aquarium.
Most of the positive things that have happened at the aquarium, happened regardless of who the director was. The curatorial and zookeeper staff made these good things happen, and most of it started under former curator Jim Langhammer. He and his staff pioneered the husbandry techniques for maintaining and reproducing freshwater stingrays in captivity. He also started the Aquarium's desert fish conservation program wth the golden sawfin. Yes, Mr. Kagan rubber stamped the continuation of these programs when he became director. Yes, Mr. Kagan encourages conservation programs at the zoo and aquarium (read his report card at the zoo web site), but it is mostly the curatorial staff that picks the programs and animals.
Yes, the aquarium needs a considerable sum of money for needed repairs. But it is not unsafe for animals or patrons. Yes, the aquarium needs more patronage. Yes, Mr. Kagan can and has raised considerable sums of money for the zoo. But he is also ultimately responsible for the debacle the aquarium is in. He has raised over $30 million for new exhibits and capital improvements,over the past ten years, but has authorized less than $750,000.00 to be spent at the aquarium. Is that being a good steward? I think not.
Yes, I am a city of Detroit taxpayer. Yes I have contributed money to both the zoo and aquarium.
I think the aquarium needs it own fund raising society. But it also needs a "stay of execution" from the mayor for this to work. It also needs a director to go to bat for it, not place it on a platter.
Your attendance record is relevant, as you've stated what terriable conditions the aquarium is in. Are you stating this from your own eyes or relying on Mr. Kagan's word?
|Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 12:05 am: || |
Clearly, Ms. Eyre and Mr. Gray have differing viewpoints about the "reasons" behind the current plight of the Belle Isle Aquarium. Unfortunately, whatever other cogent points Mr. Gray has are diluted by the apparently irresistable need for blame. Anyone who's been to Belle Isle Aquarium knows that there are fish reproducing (some even immaculately) ... and anyone who's been there knows that even if Belle Isle Aquarium were returned to a "pristine" state, it wouldn't provide the type of experience that is expected from a public aquarium.
A fully restored Model T is interesting and educational, and worth (in the opinion of many) the time, money, and effort necessary to restore and maintain it. But that same Model T will never be able to deliver the kind of fully-functional and customer-centered experience that even the most modest 2004 Chevrolet subcompact can. Detroit needs an aquarium that can draw 1,000,000 visitors surely as much as it needs to preserve its historic identity.
Let's face it - you all can continue with the acrimony and the blame and the catchy "made for tv" protests and end up with nothing, or you can figure out a way to work with Kagan and the zoological group and the City to keep the place staffed (and from collapsing) long enough to develop an alternative...
Based on what I see from this group, I'd still rather give my dollars to the zoological society because they have a proven track record - they found the right way to work with the powers that be to turn the overgrown, broken down, unfriendly, unsightly zoo in royal oak into a nationally recognized destination. I bet a lot of others feel as I do.
|Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 12:25 am: || |
I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship...I'm with you!
Michael Bartlett (Mike)
|Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 4:43 pm: || |
Setting aside the sarcastic tone Phobia has, I agree with a great deal of the content. Assigning blame never solved a problem, and it matters little to me if Dr. Kagan should be blamed for this or not. All I really want for FOBIA is a fair opportunity to save the aquarium we have by arranging with the powers that be to transfer the infrastructure to a different funding orgaization within a reasonable time frame.
I support the idea of building a new state-of-the art aquarium, but that idea is not mutually exclusive from preserving what we have. Detroit doesn't need to go any length of time without an aquarium if we work toward a positive solution.
Jane Eyre, Phobia, you both have mentioned a need to focus on saving the aquarium rather than flaming people and arrousing anger. Also, you both appear to be quite thoughtful. With all respect and setting aside distractions caused by those supporting FOBIA with angry contributions, do you have insight to share on systematically solving this problem so that city of Detroit doesn't have to take another step backward?
|Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 6:59 pm: || |
Phobia suggests we "work" with Zoo Director Ron Kagan. To what end? He has already announced the Aquarium's death knell. What would you like us to do?
|Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 11:11 pm: || |
I was going to suggest that someone talk to Kagan about a plan to save the aquarium - if there is a good plan to find funding, he could hardly turn it down, could he?
It certainly sounds like he's interested in having a public aquarium. It seems like we should try to understand Kagan's reasoning for closing the aquarium - my presumption is that the zoological institute isn't terribly focused on "historical preservation," seeing how that has nothing to do with their business. Not that historical preservation isn't important, but why would they want to stay in an old building that is marginal, when they could have a brand-new building to take care of their animals? The new aquarium in Atlanta will open with zero debt and private funding (proving that it can be done and isn't just "kisses"), so it would certainly be tempting ... so why not take a moment to find out exactly what the issues are that are forcing the closure of the aquarium? Logic would dictate that "historical preservation" isn't a factor in the zoos decision (you certainly don't see anything about that on their web site), so perhaps a better understanding of the zoos position would help FOBIA approach the correct folks (there's a Historical Society in Detroit that operates a Museum on Belle Isle right near the aquarium, for example).
I'm just saying (apparently to no avail, given the obvious agenda) that a non-pugilistic approach to understanding your "enemy," might help get to the root of the matter and suggest an alternative. Why couldn't some private funder be located to keep the belle isle aquarium alive AND support a new downtown aquarium - the fundraising power of Kagan's folks combined with some grassroots interest might be more powerful.
That's presuming that keeping an aquarium in Detroit is the actual goal.
|Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 3:57 pm: || |
I believe there is a letter in "exceptional letters" that addresses this subject:
I owned a home in the City of Detroit for seven years
and, during that time, held 3 different full-time jobs
in the city. I visited Belle Isle with my family when
I was a child. Please do not trade the Belle Isle
Aquarium, a Detroit institution, for an over-hyped new
aquarium that does not even exist on paper.
A major factor in getting contributors or partners for
a new aquarium is the probability that a new aquarium
will be a major tourist attraction. Consider the Law
of Diminishing Returns - As new aquariums are added
around the country, each becomes more ordinary and
less worth the trip.
Big fish tanks right bait for cities: Appeal of
aquariums luring tourists to urban areas
By Marnie Hunter, CNN
Wednesday, February 19, 2003 Posted: 12:37 PM EST
“The number of free-standing member aquariums in the
American Zoo and Aquarium Association has more than
doubled since 1989, jumping from 17 members that year
to 36 in 2001. At least 20 more facilities are in the
planning stages, said Sydney Butler, the association's
Detroit as a tourist attraction
- not near other major cities, like aquariums on the
- I75 and I94 do not take travelers past Detroit on
their way to other major cities or tourist
At the least, please consider the source of your
information and his track record. Dr. Ron Kagan has
opened a handful of new flashy exhibits at the MAIN
Zoo, but the financial condition of the zoo continues
|Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 6:02 pm: || |
I just wanted to throw out a few additional facts - Although I've since moved away, I worked for the City for many years, both for the Zoological Department (in Royal Oak and at the now defunct Belle Isle Zoo) and for the Recreation Department.
A number of years ago, during the master planning process for Belle Isle, Dr. Kagan told then Mayor Dennis Archer that the Belle Isle Zoo and Aquarium should not be incorporated into long term plans for the island, as he wanted to close them both. Archer told him that this was not acceptable, and that he was to find a way to keep the zoo open year round.
I heard this from someone who was present at the meeting, and since Dr. Kagan has frequently repeated his desire to close them both in zoo staff meetings and meetings with community groups ever since, I have no reason to doubt this account.
Within one month of Mayor Kilpatrick taking office, plans were announced to close the zoo. I find it difficult to believe that this was even on his agenda so early in his administration, before he spoke with Dr. Kagan. The public outcry at that time, along with the legal force of a successful ballot initiative led to an announcement for a new (still unopened) Belle Isle Nature Zoo.
This time around, the rapidity with which the Aquarium is being closed suggests a desire to stifle even the possibility of citizen outcry. It is easy to talk about a new, riverfront aquarium, but if the Detroit Zoo still needs millions of dollars in subsidy annually from Detroit taxpayers to survive, is it plausible that a new aquarium under the same management would be revenue neutral?
Is Dr. Kagan a misunderstood saint or the devil incarnate? Frankly, I don't know or care.
What I do know is that animals are being removed from the Aquarium, the collection is being dismantled already, and at this point, the only people with the power to stop it are the Mayor, or possibly Derrick Miller, his Chief Administrative Officer. Dr. Kagan truly wants it closed – he’s said so often enough.
The Belle Isle Aquarium has been an incredible resource in the conservation community for its work with rare and endangered fishes. If its present staff and collection are dispersed, that work, and at least one of those species will probably be lost forever.
The Aquarium is also a critical part of Belle Isle and the City's cultural heritage. Ironically, Belle Isle is looking better than it has in many years - the picnic pavillion and restrooms by the aquarium have just been renovated, the parking lot was replaced completely a few years ago, the playscape has been completely redesigned, and the conservatory has gotten grants for needed repairs. Boarding up yet another zoo facility on the island is shortsighted thinking on the City's part. Frankly, if the Aquarium is closed, the adjacent Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory is doomed as well.
Clearly, many of us believe that the Aquarium has great potential to survive and flourish over the long term with proper management, and that Belle Isle, Detroit and the region will all be richer if it does. What we need in the short term is a “stay of execution” from the Mayor while we work out the details.
Any ideas anyone?
Michael Bartlett (Mike)
|Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 10:56 am: || |
I appreciate your concern Phobia that FOBIA only wishes to stir trouble and defame people, and to an extent, a fledgling organization will tend to lack focus and organization which has on occasion led to angry outcries. These are not unwarranted given the great loss many people of Detroit, the metropolitan area, the state of michigan and even the 100 countries who represented themselves at the aquarium in the last 18 months would feel if the aquarium closed. However, there are also people who seek to identify the problem completly, gather information from all relevant sources (including Dr. Kagan), and devise a plan to serve the needs of the people involved--preferably without hostility. Your call for reason does not fall entirely on deaf ears.
|Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 11:41 am: || |
It sounds like a rational discussion may have prevailed between FOBIA and Kagan and the City with the natural result of a face-to-face meeting with the guy. I hope things move forward in a spirit of collaboration to a successful outcome. Let's just not forget that, per Ms. Campbell's point, that the effort will have to foster tourism for the entire island - and particularly the attached plant house.
|Posted on Friday, February 25, 2005 - 1:17 am: || |
I think Jane Eyre is the name Kagen uses when he dresses up in drag. Only he could be in such denial over his own incompetence. To everyone else, it is obvious.
Kagen was recently mysteriously fired as head of the Detroit Zoological Society, which has one of the worse efficiency tracks record in the country (That means after expenses, like his $40K salary on top of his $140K zoo director salary, there is little left to pass onto the real cause).
There should be an investigation into how he handled funds donated to the Aquarium via the Detroit Zoological Society that were earmarked for the Aquarium. Where did those funds go? His silence on this is deafening.
Meanwhile, he has already started to dismantle the Aquarium. The Sea Horses are gone. Does this sound like someone who we can rely upon for support? KAGEN HAS GOT TO GO!
|Posted on Friday, February 25, 2005 - 6:34 pm: || |
It is time to quit Kagan bashing and start being constructive; like raising money. I have pledged $ have you Seahorse? The seahorses are still at the aquarium, I saw them yesterday.
|Posted on Saturday, February 26, 2005 - 1:29 am: || |
We need money and we need it now. Don't sell the jewels for the cost of cleaning. Go to Belleisleaquarium.org and click pledge and paypal and let's save this wonderous place.
Michael Bartlett (Mike)
|Posted on Saturday, February 26, 2005 - 4:24 pm: || |
Half a million dollars can be a daunting amount of money to raise before the mayor's deadline, but there are people who have that money on hand that can cover the cost of the entire thing. All we need to do is demonstrate our sincerity for the cause. Talk is cheep. Indeed it is time to prove our seriousness and lay real green dollars on the table. If enough people lay out money that represents a serious commitment, it is quite possible for a "white knight" to cover the rest. Indeed bashing Ron Kagan can not serve a positive purpose. Money talks. Let yours speak for you. I did.
|Posted on Sunday, February 27, 2005 - 12:45 pm: || |
Youre spinnin your wheels fobia
Michael Bartlett (Mike)
|Posted on Sunday, February 27, 2005 - 2:14 pm: || |
I love critics. They tell me that my efforts are noticed and that change is possible.
|Posted on Sunday, February 27, 2005 - 5:33 pm: || |
Wow $8K. Where is your "white knight" or heavy hitters? Fobia you're not even an 501c3 organization. What do you plan to do w/ the plegded $?
|Posted on Sunday, February 27, 2005 - 5:38 pm: || |
Have you nothing better to do! Why waste YOUR time on our pathetic cause. GET OFF THE SITE IF YOUR NOT OTHE SHIP!!!!
|Posted on Sunday, February 27, 2005 - 6:38 pm: || |
Anonymous, I have pledged money. I'm going to pledge more. We are spinning our wheels and raising money. Collectively, we all can be the "white knight".
Diana R. Dubbeld (Diana)
|Posted on Sunday, February 27, 2005 - 7:24 pm: || |
Critics are the motivation to make great things happen.
|Posted on Saturday, March 12, 2005 - 4:23 pm: || |
If all you negitive critics gave a penny for each word you wrote saying why the Belle Isle Aquarium is not worth fighting for, enough money would come in to save it. I have donated a lot and will contuniue because this is a free country and our past actions will tell what we have to look forward to.