FOBIA Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium
From: James Holtyn <email@example.com>
I am a professional ichthyologist and fish geneticist and in that capacity, as well as a tourist, have visited public aquaria all over the world. I would rate the Belle Isle aquarium as one of the best I have seen, and I think very highly of the professional acuity and competence of those staff members I have met. It would be a shame to close this Aquarium down when many of the other ones are simply displays of "charismatic" species with no thought to the biology involved. This is a truly professional establishment and should be allowed to continue.
Bruce J. Turner, Ph.D.
The Detroit Aquarium and botanical garden constitute one of the city's best kept secrets (probably a bad thing) and most impressive jewels (definitely a good thing). I live in the suburbs but visit the aquarium at least two or three times every winter. It is a romantic place steeped in history, architecture and beauty. If either of these places ever closes, it will surely be a sad and embarrassing day in Detroit. Is profit the only thing that matters? How can sooo much money be spent on sports stadiums, car shows, casinos and the Zoo proper, yet such quiet beauty go unnoticed? ADVERTISE! KEEP THEM OPEN! ALLOW THE FUNDING! MAKE THE COMMITMENT!!
It has caused both the American and the worldwide Conservation bodies some concern to learn that they are thinking of robbing this planet of one it's jewels by closing the Belle Isle Aquarium. If indeed the City Fathers of Detroit are allowed to do this then may I say that if they do, you will be taking away one of America's and this worlds few remaining places were man has and is helping to make amends for some of his mistakes. The work that they are doing there is priceless, and believe you me I know what I am talking about. It was the people who have and are working there that in part gave me the inspiration almost a decade ago to start the "Fish Ark Project" in the University of Morelia Mexico to help with the Conservation of all freshwater species there. Also over the years they have contributed greatly in the prevention of the extinctions of many species. "Skiffia francsae" just to name one for example owes it's continuing existence on this planet solely to the likes of James Langhammer, Doug Sweet, both employees of Belle Isle, and the good management of the Belle Isle Aquarium. So please PLEASE don't let them rob this planet of one of it's few havens of Conservation, as we need more Not less places like this. Thanking you in anticipation Ivan H Dibble. England. Tel No:- other Countries(44) for UK 1275 876666 Tel :- Within the UK 01275 876666 Mobile No 07729119441 Hobbyist Aqua Lab Conservation Project (HALCP) Interested in Mexican Freshwater Fish or Conservation. Then why not visit our web site at:- http://home.clara.net/brachydibble or e-mail to:- firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Fellow Aquarium Lovers, My husband works for the city recreation department and has never received any flyers in his paycheck for the aquarium! Also, he has worked for the city 20 or so years and has never gotten a flyer!
What has the drop been in attendance at many 'tourist attractions' since the economy has soured and gasoline prices have soared. Okay, so maybe we cannot compare Belle Isle with Disney World or Universal Studios, but how about with the New England Aquarium or one similar? Richard "Rit" Forcier Chairman, Board of Directors American Livebearer Association, Inc. www.livebearers.org
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.
Dear Ms. Mahaffey and Detroit City Council Members, I was sorry to hear of the recent decision to close the Belle Isle Aquarium. Many natural resource educators have worked collaboratively with curator Doug Sweet for years. The aquarium is truly a unique resource for residents in Michigan and throughout the Great Lakes. It is a gem and an important part of the City's historical landmarks. I urge you to reconsider this decision to close the oldest free standing aquarium in the country. Surely, there must be methods for securing alternative funding to keep this resource open for the thousands of students, teachers and others. Regards, Elizabeth LaPorte
Mayor Kilpatrick City of Detroit Executive Office Coleman A. Young Municipal Center 2 Woodward Ave., Ste. 1126 Detroit, MI 48226 Dear Mayor Kilpatrick: 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 (1737 GMT) http://www.cnn.com/2003/TRAVEL/DESTINATIONS/02/19/aquariums/
“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 executive director.” Detroit as a tourist attraction - not near other major cities, like aquariums on the East coast - I75 and I94 do not take travelers past Detroit on their way to other major cities or tourist destinations 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 to deteriorate. Sincerely,
I want to save the aquarium because the fishes need a home and someone
Jacob age 8divine child elementary school
I am 7 yrs.old, and i,ve been to the aquarium many times. My daddy always tells me he loves the aquarium and how his mom used to take him there all the time. Please don't close the aquarium. We love it very much. I think all the fish will be very sad to leave their home.
Venn Manor Condominium Association
4142 Cass, Suite 201
Detroit, MI 48201
February 17, 2005
Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
City of Detroit Executive Office
Coleman A. Young Municipal Center
2 Woodward Ave., Ste. 1126
Detroit, MI 48226
Your Honor Kwame Kilpatrick:
On February 16, 2005, the Board of the Venn Manor Condominium Association voted to support the effort to keep the Belle Isle Aquarium open.
Our building, the Venn Manor, was built in 1904 and is a Detroit historic building. We, as co-owners of this elegant building, share the value of preserving Detroit’s heritage. Keeping the Belle Isle Aquarium open is a way of maintaining that heritage. The Aquarium is an irreplaceable landmark that has provided priceless educational experiences for the children of Detroit for over 100 years.
The aquarium, designed by Albert Kahn with tile by Pewabic, is a Detroit masterpiece and a perfect companion to the late Victorian conservatory on Belle Isle. Such a gem must be maintained as a symbol of pride for the City of Detroit.
We want you to give a 120 grace period to the aquarium, which would allow an in-depth review of the closing.
The board was unanimous in our vote to ask you to reconsider your plan to close the Aquarium.
Sandra A. Novacek, President
Venn Manor Condominium Association
cc: Friends of the Belle Isle Aquarium
Members of Detroit City Council
Jennifer Granholm, Governor, State of Michigan
The Board of Directors of the Sherwood Forest Association, an historic neighborhood in northwest Detroit, voted unanimously at its February meeting to support efforts to insure the continuing operation of the Belle Isle Aquarium. Detroit cannot afford to lost another architectural treasure. While we understand that the City is facing severe economic difficulties, we urge the Mayor and Detroit City Council to keep the aquarium open while the aquarium's many friends in this region explore ways to assist the City in finding the funds to save the oldest continuously operating public aquarium in North America.
January 28, 2005
Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick Ron Kagan, Ph.D., Director
City of Detroit Detroit Zoological Institute
1126 CAYMC PO Box 39
Detroit MI 48226 Royal Oak MI 48068
Dear Mayor Kilpatrick and Dr. Kagan:
On behalf of the Friends of Belle Isle, this is to protest the sudden and appalling closure of the Belle Isle Aquarium.
Like closing of the Belle Isle Zoo, this completely ignores the needs of the citizens of Detroit, especially school children, who have benefited from the opportunity to enjoy and learn about marine animals and fish in an historic and beautiful building.
Since 2001, the Zoological Institute has taken over the Nature Center and closed it (albeit with promises of reopening it), closed the Belle Isle Zoo, and now is closing the Aquarium. We are at a loss to understand how the Institute and the City can close this wonderful facility while giving only promises of a new one on the Riverfront.
The Friends remain ever hopeful that instead of protesting closures of our City’s treasured landmarks, we can work with you for their preservation.
Mary M. Waterstone
cc: Zoological Commission: S. Martin Taylor, President; Ruth R. Glancy; Cynthia Ford; Burton Farbman
Detroit City Council: Maryann Mahaffey, President; Kenneth V. Cockrel, President Pro Tem
February 14, 2005
Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick Ron Kagan, Ph.D., Director
City of Detroit Detroit Zoological Institute
1126 CAYMC PO Box 39
Detroit MI 48226 Royal Oak MI 48068
Dear Mayor Kilpatrick and Dr. Kagan:
The Board of the Friends of Belle Isle appreciates Dr. Kagan’s response to my letter of January 28, 2005, opposing the decision to close the Belle Isle Aquarium.
We, however, remain adamantly opposed to the closing. We take issue with several of the “justifications” set forth in Dr. Kagan’s letter.
1) He states that the closing will save the City $500,000 in costs, though fails to mention the $145,000 in revenue. This revenue rose 6 percent in 2004 and is up 9 percent so far this year.
2) He says that “City residents/taxpayers have voted on this issue with their attendance,” and points out that in 2000, there were 86,000 visitors to the Aquarium and, in 2004, 53,000 (an approximate 35 percent drop). If this a valid reason, then the Royal Oak Zoo should be closed as well, since it had a 400,000 drop in visitors from 1.4 million in 2000 to 1 million in 2004 (an approximate 30 percent drop).
Further, attendance at the Aquarium has remained stable in the last two years. Also, Dr. Kagan’s figures fail to take into account the closing of the Belle Isle Zoo in 2001, as many people came to visit both attractions in one trip.
3) Dr. Kagan describes “looming capital costs to properly maintain the facilities,” and says that “significant capital investment might be necessary” to stabilize the physical structure. It appears to us that, if true, this is due to the lack of spending for capital improvements for many years. In the last ten years, the Zoological Society has raised more than $38 million dollars, which has been devoted entirely to the Royal Oak Zoo. If even a small percentage had been spent annually on the historic Aquarium building, it would not now be in need of the substantial investment he mentions. Incidentally, we understand that the $600,000 Dr. Kagan cites, not only stabilized the flooring structure for 20 years, it also included painting, as well as lead paint and asbestos abatement.
` If there is not enough money available to keep this Aquarium open, where will the millions of dollars for the promised new “state of the art” facility come from?
4) Dr. Kagan speaks eloquently of the $100 million impact of a new “state of the art” Aquarium on the Riverfront. However, there is no such Aquarium now. Why should the City have no Aquarium, unless and until Dr. Kagan realizes his dream for a “Riverfront Aquarium.” Also, he fails to note that the current Aquarium, since August 18, 2003, has been visited by the citizens of 99 foreign nations, 49 of the 50 United States, 3 United States Territories, and 65 of Michigan’s 83 counties. Why should the city have no such attraction until Dr. Kagan’s dream is a reality?
If and when such a new Aquarium is realized, then potential use of the Belle Isle Aquarium could be explored. This could especially take into account the “outstanding conservation work” that has occurred at the Aquarium.
Since it has been several years since the Belle Isle Zoo closed (in 2001), and the opening of the “multi-million dollar nature zoo” Dr. Kagan describes does not appear to be imminent, it would seem likely that at least as long would be required for a new “state of the art” Aquarium. For that period there will be no Aquarium in Detroit!
5) Dr. Kagan speaks of “several marketing and public relations efforts, including press announcements, partnerships with Coca Cola, media shoots, celebrations which included a 100th Anniversary Party last year and special events.” We are at a loss to understand this statement since the marketing of the Aquarium has been minimal, at best.
a) The only mention of the Aquarium on the Zoo’s website is through a series of menu selections which ultimately reveal the Aquarium’s location, hours of operation and admission fees. No other information about exhibits, history, or programs is provided. How could people know about the new exhibits he mentions?
b) The Zoo’s website contains an archive that has all press releases since January 2001. Of the 190 press releases, only two related to the Aquarium, one for the shark birth and the other for the closing. Further, the standardized information attached to the end of every press release does not mention anything about the Aquarium. There were no press releases about the “new exhibits, like the sea horses and saltwater fish” Dr. Kagan mentions.
c) The “Coca Cola Partnership” cited promoted the Shark Tale movie. The large cardboard stand-up displaying Coca Cola and Shark Tale art had only a small text relating to the Aquarium along with discount tickets. This does not constitute a major partnership.
d) He mentions “media shoots.” As we understand it, there was one shoot per year at the Aquarium. The others were for the Royal Oak Zoo. Also, it is not clear to what the “Media One shoot” mentioned involved.
e) The Aquarium used to be a part of the Senior Free Day Program. For the past several years, this promotion was only at the Royal Oak Zoo. The Aquarium was specifically excluded. (We understand at the request of Royal Oak Staff).
f) As for the 100th Anniversary Celebration, the Aquarium simply “piggybacked” on the efforts by the City Recreation Department and the Belle Isle Botanical Society. There were pony rides, food vendors, musical acts and souvenirs celebrating the Conservatory’s 100th Anniversary. The Zoo sent a small merchandise cart featuring Aquarium shirts (no mention of the 100th Anniversary) and items such as coffee mugs, which advertised the Royal Oak Zoo. (This contrasts with the major celebration for the Royal Oak Zoo’s 75th Anniversary, which spanned an entire year, and was well promoted for that year).
g) There was a Fox 2 promotion at the Aquarium for “Where in the World is Lee.” The prize was movie tickets. This was not an Aquarium promotion or special event. We are aware of no other “special events for the Aquarium” that was mentioned.
Dr. Kagan closes his letter by saying, “We hope you will join us in our quest to bring Detroit the new Belle Isle Nature Zoo, as well as a new Aquarium.” I remind Dr. Kagan that he has never included the Friends of Belle Isle in his planning, despite our requests to be included. We can only assume that had he truly wanted us to “join,” he would have asked – or at least responded to the request made orally to Mr. Shawn Stinton in November 2003. (The gentleman sent in Dr. Kagan’s place, when he was the scheduled Main Speaker at our 2003 Annual Meeting). Per Mr. Stinton’s direction, a formal request by e-mail was sent to him. The Friends have never heard from anyone at the Zoo.
The Friends of Belle Isle are deeply concerned about the closing of this readily available and important resource for Detroit citizens, especially school children. While the Belle Isle Nature Zoo and new Aquarium remain merely promises, our Detroit citizens must “do without.”
Mary M. Waterstone
cc: Zoological Commission: S. Martin Taylor, President; Ruth R. Glancy, Cynthia Ford, Burton Farbman
Detroit City Council: Maryann Mahaffey, President; Kenneth V. Cockrel, President Pro Tem; Alonzo Bates, Sheila M. Cockrel, Sharon McPhail, Alberta Tinsley-Talabi, JoAnn Watson
February 16, 2005
Honorable Members of the Detroit City Council
I’m sure you have received a variety of letters and e-mails and I certainly appreciate this opportunity for some of the Aquarium supporters to appear before you. I think you can see from the protests and actions initiated so far, that our community -and also people outside the metropolitan area- do care. If you check the “Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium” website, there are hundreds of messages, and many people who would like to help. There are a variety of solutions on the Friends website that should be considered for short-run and long run viability of the Aquarium. Not all the solutions are realistic, but some certainly are! Not all the criticisms of the decision are fair, but many certainly are! Two weeks more is an insufficient time to gather the financial information and support necessary to jointly find a way to maintain the operations of this 101-year-old institution, one that provides important recreational and educational experiences for our residents and attracts visitors to Belle Isle and Detroit.
Speaking as a practical planner concerned with the economic and development implications of this action as well as the loss it would be for recreational opportunities in our community, it is the wrong decision at the wrong time! Some have spoken of a new Aquarium at another riverfront location. But if we are to relocate this function, and find an alternative suitable use for this beautiful historic building, this should take place when there is a new Aquarium in place, not now! It would be at least five years before such a new building could be designed and constructed-- once massive capital financing and long-term operational support could be located. Meanwhile, we would have lost a major community resource, destroyed another important part of our community’s history, and by dispersing the valuable specimens we have in the Aquarium (even moving some to possible extinction) we would have made it significantly more difficult to open such a new facility.
I ask you to reconsider the proposed Aquarium closing on February 28th and provide the funding to keep it open, at least for another six months. While the City and the Zoological Society have the major responsibility for locating the funds, the citizens will join with these two sponsoring agencies in the challenging task of finding a viable economic solution. There needs to be sufficient time to meet that challenge. We have a gem in our Aquarium. It needs to be polished, not thrown out. It needs to be protected, not destroyed. It needs everyone’s help – and your support now.
cc: Honorable Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick; Dr. Ron Kagan, Director, Detroit Zoo;
Mrs. Ruth Glancy, Chairwoman, Detroit Zoological Society
March 10, 2005
Dear Ms. Lin:
I’d like to comment on your article about the Belle Isle Aquarium closing. It’s sad to see another Detroit landmark disappear. We’ve lost so many. My hat’s off to the Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium as they climb a long, steep hill. Trying to collect “nickel & dime” contributions from a public faced with rising costs, shrinking wages, and, like me, unemployment is a very undaunted task. Will they succeed? I doubt it. The thing they
need is BIG money.
We in the Detroit Metro area have just that. We have four professional sports teams that are supported very nicely by the people of Detroit and surrounding area. We know they have ample funds. They more then comment about their spending in the news: “I’ll spend until Tigers win,” and the Lions hired two players for $20 million over 3-5 years. Wouldn’t it be nice if our four sports organizations returned some of that support to the city that bears their first name to preserve our city and our nations history?
Since these are sports organizations, they have players. Wouldn’t they like to preserve history in their community? Sure they would. The vast majority of these players are multi-millionaires whose lavish lifestyle is furnished by Metro Detroiters who fill the seats of the coliseums and purchase team merchandise. Maybe it’s time to give something back to this community, and what a more fitting way to do it. Even ½% of their millions would assure worry free operations of the aquarium for decades to come.
(And, if the Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium were smart, which I think they are, they would place all excess in an endowment earmarked for the Belle Isle Aquarium so any future maintenance problems will be met. Also, have this endowment written in such a manner that the City of Detroit cannot access these funds for other than maintenance. I’m sure one of the pro sports owners can have one of their financial lawyers aid in the proper wording.)
Here are two new markets, with money, that the Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium should explore. Upon there success, a bronze plaque thanking the organizations and contributing players should be presented to team representatives in a small ceremony. And that would be a touching ending to a successful campaign.
This idea will go far if presented in the proper way. Please consider distributing where it will have the best visibility. Thank you.
James N. Milke
I am a Canadian residing in Windsor, ON, Canada across the Detroit River from Detroit, MI and I want to donate to help try and save the Belle Isle Aquarium. I am appalled and think it is absolutely ridiculous to even consider closing such a valuable and rare jewel! It is a boon to the Metro Detroit area! Though born and raised in Windsor, your beautiful Belle Isle park with its little zoo, aquarium and gardens were a wonderful part of my childhood memories of growing up in this area, not to mention my adult ones as well. I cannot donate very much as my funds are extremely limited as I am unemployed as I am somewhat disabled, and I cannot donate through the website as I do not have access to a credit card, however, I was wondering if I could snail mail an International Money Order to you? Would that be ok? I'm sorry that it can't be very much, but, it takes many, many drops to fill a whole bucket, so to speak, and I believe that every little bit, no matter how small, helps, don't you you? Please get back to me with an address of where to send my donation asap, I would appreciate it very much, thank you. I am not sur if there is a deadline but I would like to beat it if at all possible. Sincerely, Mrs. Mary ('Mare") Moore Windsor, ON, Canada "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." ~ Margaret Mead, American Anthropologist (1901 - 1978)
Dear Mayor of Detroit, Let me introduce myself first. I'm a 32 year old living in Germany and I visited your city twice now in the past 2 years. Last year I went to Detroit with a friend of mine to visit the Belle Island Aquarium. We had a very nice stay there and enjoyed watching the fishes there. Now I just heard from this friend, that you are planning to close down the Belle Island Aquarium. And on this matter I want to state my disagreement with your plan there. Closing a 100 year old institution only for financial reasons isn't only shortsighted, since you'll kill a place of Detroit's culture. It might only be one small place, but it has formed also the image of Detroit together with all the other highlights. You shut down a place like this and Detroit will lose a portion of its identity. But also the work of the FOBIA group should prove that if the aquarium is promoted a bit and would be lead efficiently, it can be financially self sufficient and no burden to the city's finances (or how you'd probably say the taxpayer's money). Of course I can only speak to you out of a thousand miles distance and without knowing all the facts, but you can believe me that we have had similar cases in Germany also. And from all similar cases I know of I don't know any that wasn't a big mistake because it was a loss of culture and identity to the city, and even new projects couldn't make up for that loss. On another sidenote I heard that there are elections coming up, and even I know that this whole matter doesn't give you the best publicity. Also I can't imagine the people will be that stupid that they'll forget this in half a year. Well, I'm not someone who can vote in that election or even living in the USA, so probably I won't have a lot of impact on you, but still I'd like to be able to still visit Belle Island Aquarium again, if I should visit my friend again in Michigan. So I'd appreciate if you would reconsider your decision there and listen to the FOBIA memebers and all the people of Detroit who support them. Who knows, maybe I'll even get a reply from you. Kind regards Carsten Lenniger (Germany)
Good morning, I'd really like to renew my family's membership as the Detroit Zoo has been a very important part of our lives since we moved to the area in 2001 (we joined the zoo on our first day in our new home, even before we moved our furniture!), but my disappointment about your decision to close the Belle Isle Aquarium has led me to question my annual investment in the DZS. I am deeply concerned that the DETROIT Zoological Sociey seems to value its Royal Oak location over the facilities actually in the city of Detroit. I know the city has a $230 million deficit, but I simply cannot understand why the DZS and the city won't work with the Friends of the Belle Isle Aquarium to keep it open. After all, if they are willing to pay the city to lease it, what's the harm in that? I have written to the DZS and the mayor about this already, and since I've read your press releases numerous times, please do not send me another one of those as a response. Rather, if you value my family's 4+ years of membership, please seek to keep the Aquarium open and realize that the city of Detroit cannot afford to lose what few family-centered cultural and historical venues it still has. Detroit was once one of the most important cities in the country if not the world, and we have become but a shell of that; as the leading tourist attraction in the area, you have a duty to help us retain some of our former history and dignity! Yours truly, Sarah and family Ferndale
Letter in the Detroit Free Press, 04/10/05
Shame on Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick -- an opportunity to
demonstrate a little compassion for the little people blown. All things
are not about dollars and cents. The Belle Isle Aquarium is about
Detroit, Detroiters and memories of Detroit. You can't put dollars and
cents on memories, unless it's to say that it's priceless.