Detroit Grand Prix Arrives On Belle Isle As Gov. Snyder Ponders Future Of Island Park
Racing fans are falling over themselves this week to scoop up tickets for the Detroit Grand Prix, making its return to Belle Isle. The IndyCar event runs through Sunday, but it may not be the last time visitors reach for their wallets in order to set foot on Detroit’s most famous island and largest park.
The 982-acre island, which is sometimes called “Detroit’s Jewel,” sits on the Detroit River and is currently managed by the Detroit Department of Recreation. It’s a popular destination for city residents to go hiking, biking, swimming and barbequing. Belle Isle also features a beach, a lighthouse and a conservatory designed by famed architect Albert Kahn.
Snyder told Crain’s if Belle Isle does become a state park, visitors will likely have to pay a fee, but Detroit residents would probably get free admittance for several years. He also said plans for the park could include upgrades to lighting, transportation and police presence, adding the state is open to development proposals.
The privatization of Belle Isle is a hot-button issue in Detroit, but the idea has long had backers. An article from as long ago as 2000 by Michael D. LaFaive that appears on the website of the conservative Mackinac Center For Public Policy proposed selling the island outright to private investors.