Belle Isle is loved, but needs more love
Belle Isle is Michigan's most popular state-run park, drawing 5.6 million visits last year.
- That's more than double the next most-visited, Holland State Park.
Why it matters: While Belle Isle is much-loved, its infrastructure is old after enduring years of disinvestment.
- The park is now under state control after the city, bankrupted in 2013, couldn't afford to maintain it.
- Big upgrades are supposedly in the works, newsletter Detour reported last year, but have gone slowly.
The big picture: It has the biggest operating budget of any state park by far, but that figure is a small fraction compared with the huge capital improvement needs the island has.
- The state's parks and rec chief, Ron Olson, tells Axios those needs will cost upwards of $200 million.
- They range from fixing stormwater drainage to repairing fishing piers and improving roads, according to a state master plan. Some work has already been done, like renovating parts of the conservatory and the first phase of a new trail.
Give input: The state Department of Natural Resources is asking for public feedback through July 4 on how to remake Belle Isle's languishing abandoned zoo area.
What we're watching: The big conversation is around vehicle safety, especially after a Memorial Day hit-and-run car crash on the island killed a 12-year-old girl and hurt another.
- Speeding has been a problem on Belle Isle for years and concerned residents say there's not enough traffic control measures to mitigate the danger, according to BridgeDetroit.
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