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Posted on Friday, March 04, 2005 - 11:56 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

You will note that when Ron Kagan talks about the aquarium or is quoted in the newspaper that he makes the same statements over and over again.

The only thing that changes is the amount the aquarium costs the city.

That amount has been (at least in the past 4 months) :

five hundred thousand dollars
one million dollars
seven hundred and twenty thousand dollars
five hundred and thirty thousand dollars

He is not exhibiting any intention or ability to compromise or work for the good of the people of Detroit and this region.

In my opinion the following applies to Mr. Kagan and Mr. Kilpatrick and their approach to this issue :

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Benjamin Franklin

A different officer needs to be named to review the problem and not another obscure city bureacrat. There must be a state wide officer in the agricultural department that can help.
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Suzan Campbell
Posted on Friday, March 04, 2005 - 12:33 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

We need to have reliable information on expenses and needed repairs (under a million for the latter, from what I've heard from folks with no bias either way).

We also need some scrutiny of the "high-tech as the solution to all problems" school of thought - attendance continues to decline at the Detroit Zoo, even with the presence of "State of the Art" exhibits such as the Arctic Ring of Life and the Adventure Simulator that are being held up as the solution to the City's cultural venues woes.

The low tech but stimulus rich little aquarium seems to be providing a high-quality visitor experience for a lot of folks, now that it is actually being promoted.........

Thanks again, FOBIA, for everything you've been doing on its behalf.
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Posted on Friday, March 04, 2005 - 6:16 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

How about traveling aquarium exhibits to local school districts that cannot afford field trips. My daughter's school gets Alive Science (or somthing like that)to come to the school for several hundred dollars. It is easier to coordinate this way than arrange bussing for a bunch of students. I think school districts/teachers would love the aquarium to come to them.
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Posted on Saturday, March 05, 2005 - 11:23 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

If another cultural venue is closed on Belle Isle, what will be left for inner city young adults and teenagers to do there? Drink alcohol, get into fist fights, and oh yeah, kill one another. If this city cares about its youth so much, they wouldn't deprive them of every last cultural experience. I guess because Kwame has bodyguards and tax funded transportation to take his kids out of the city to enjoy cultural experiences, it doesn't matter. IT angers me to no end, that because none of this affects him, or his family, he will do away with it. If his children were required to attend Detroit Public Schools, I assure you they would be the finest around. Mayor Kwame needs to stop making the statement " I love this City" every time he and his huge diamond are on television. If he truly loved this city, he would not shut down and board up every building with any historical significants. I cry every time I take my children to Belle Isle, because I had a Friend shot and killed there, because all of the things I remember about Belle Isle are gone. The huge slide, the zoo, the conservatory, all gone. I would happily pay $2 to get onto Belle Isle. I think that charging a small sum of money would not only deter some of the rif raf, but would generate enough funding to keep the park up. Belle Isle has become a hot spot for drugs, drinking and fighting, each and every weekend throughout the summer. As someone who lived on Jefferson Ave, I would like to see these people do something else with their time. Charging a nominal fee, would do nothing but good for the Island, and anyone who can't see that is obviously intent on driving this city into the ground. There is more patronage to the Belle Isle Aquarium than to the "Campus Martius Skating Rink" yet the Aquarium has to close? Mark my words, the City of Detroit will never rebound from the gutter if they close down their cultural attractions. I'm sure the Super Bowl people would not think highly of a mayor who puts a football game's importance ahead of the cultural significants of a 101 year old aquarium. Kwame will have closed down every reason for people from the suburbs (Grosse Pointe Park) to go into the City at all. If kwame ever questions why the White Flight happened, I could get him in contact with my Grandmother, a Detroit native, who could clue him in on why those who were born and raised in this city are leaving, and have left. It's a shame that Kwame ruined everything, however I would be willing to bet that he and his family won't be living in Detroit once his term is over.
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Diana R. Dubbeld (Diana)
Posted on Sunday, March 06, 2005 - 12:29 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The conservatory is still open and charges no admission fee. Stop by and visit it sometime. :-)
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Bob W.
Posted on Sunday, March 06, 2005 - 12:06 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This what I somewhat mistakenly used the FOBIA email list to say, regarding admin's flee or fight vote:

Ultimately I think that we would have to get the other "f" we had for awhile back in this for it to make sense, "fund-raising." In a city apparently on its way to receivership, money spent on any cultural entity, with somewhat limited patronage, is not likely to fly. This is even if that patronage became limited in large part by a lack of promotion.

Detroit, for reasons that are too extensive to argue here, is clearly, at this juncture, a non-viable economic entity, in which many governmental functions will become privatized, for reasons ranging from bad to terrible. Every cultural entity in it will become more completely dependent on some mix of privatization and state assistance, with DPL serving as the only partial exception. The latter at least can pass millages even if the revenue from them is based on dwindling value, much of the remainder value only there because of the general housing bubble.

In my mind, that's why no matter how many well-put together spread-sheets we come up with and how big of a well-informed constituency we have, ultimately, it will all depend on whether we can at least in large part privatize the aquarium. All of the electioneering that we could do during the campaign season would produce, at best, only vague promises, to be shredded at the earliest opportunity. Neither of the leading candidates is going to put more than that into it, nor would a yet to emerge dark horse. If we want the aquarium we're going to have to find the financing for it, Detroit will not be able to provide it for us, even with better government than it now has.

Bob W.
A second post to follow goes into more detail on funding
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Bob W.
Posted on Sunday, March 06, 2005 - 12:21 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

First, I don't favor a $2. charge just to get on the island, as tempting as it is. Belle Isle is a public park; it should remain as such.

However, various attractions on the island surely can levy a reasonable charge for admission. And given that charge, it seems that annual membership would be an option. And, we should consider collecting pledges for same here.

I'm not familiar with fund-raising in this area but I find it very hard to believe that nothing could be raised through grantsmanship to house species of fish that are endangered. I cannot commit huge amounts of time to this, so I should not be the only one working on it. However, I would be willing to do the following: search for what funding is available for that purpose and do some of the writing on the proposal.

Then, maybe I'm generating false hopes, but I also find it hard to believe that there isn't out there somewhere an angel for as attractive a cultural entity as the aquarium. If we could just find an individual or organization with deep enough pockets to fund an additional year's operation, it might provide the wiggle room necessary to save the institution.

Bob W.
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Suzan Campbell
Posted on Sunday, March 06, 2005 - 1:12 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Getting the aquarium out from under the authority of the Zoological Institute is critical if it is to have a hope of surviving. The Director's desire to shutter the place, along with his distorted facts and figures have done a lot to discourage potential "angels", as he has convinced most that it would be a waste of money. (We, of course, disagree)

"Privatize" is a dirty word in Detroit, however. Generally, in Detroit, "Privatize" means that someone is trying to cut city jobs and replace them with contract labor, utilizing poorly paid illegal aliens. Whether or not this characterization is fair, "Conservancy" would probably atract less negative comment.

What would be tremendously helpful in garnering public (particularly union) support would be including a commitment to "preserving city positions" in whatever scenario is proposed.

For the record, a number of the Aquarium's present staff are friends of mine, but there are solid reasons why including this assurance would be good strategy:

One - to ensure the solid support of Council and the unions, and

Two - They're aren't that many employees there and they do a great job. Much if not all of the Aquarium's success in conservation is due to its present staff, who are already familiar with the building and its systems.

Finally, I get the impression that Aquarium supporters fall into two main camps - folks who love fish, and folks who love Belle Isle. It would be worth exploring partnerships between existing Belle Isle support groups for a number of reasons, particularly the Conservatory. I know from friends with the Botanical Society that their efforts to raise funds have been hampered tremendously by the fact that Ron Kagan's desire to close the Aquarium is common knowledge, and no-one wants to commit to one facility when its "Siamese Twin" is perpetually under threat of abandonment and decay.

While the City continues to support the COnservatory (for the time being), it would be useful to start developing a vision that could eventually include both facilities, particularly by cooperating on children's programming, special events, etc.

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