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Detroit News
Hendrix: Revitalize but don't sell Belle Isle

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Special letter

Hendrix: Revitalize but don't sell Belle Isle

By Freman Hendrix / Special to The Detroit News

The Sept. 2 editorial "Detroit should embrace Mackinac recommendations" misstates my position on the sale of Belle Isle to the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority. I have never proposed, nor would I ever accept, the sale of Belle Isle.

That island is a magnificent jewel in our city. Many Detroiters have cherished memories of times spent with family and friends on Belle Isle. The strong public reaction against the recent closing of the Belle Isle Aquarium provides evidence of Detroiters' feelings about the island and its attractions. Under a Hendrix administration, Belle Isle would not be for sale to anyone.

However, it is true that Belle Isle is not living up to its potential. Indeed, it has lost much of its luster. My priority would be to bring Belle Isle back to its former greatness, a place that we can be proud of again.

A lack of adequate funding has led to the tarnishing of this treasured jewel. That is why I have been advocating a dedicated revenue source for upgrading and maintaining Belle Isle.

A voter-approved fee to enter Belle Isle, combined with a portion of the millage that Detroit residents currently pay to the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, would provide sufficient funds to maintain Belle Isle and return it to the condition and status that it deserves.

Detroiters have been paying property taxes to the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority since 1940, yet that authority operates no parks within the city of Detroit.

With adequate revenues to reclaim and polish our island jewel, there will be no need to sell Belle Isle to ensure its future enjoyment by all.

Freman Hendrix

Candidate for Mayor