Feb 10

Belle Isle to Become a Michigan State Park


After over a century of multiple owners, the City of Detroit purchased Belle Isle (named after the daughter of Lewis Cass, Michigan’s first territorial governor) in 1879. The City hired Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York City, to provide similar design services for Belle Isle Park. Only some of Olmsted’s plans were realized, however, because Mr. Olmsted and the City of Detroit Parks Department couldn’t agree on the plans.

The Belle Isle Conservancy has a history of Belle Isle on its website.

Entrance to Belle Isle has always been free, but in the past several years, the City of Detroit did not have the revenue necessary to properly maintain and upgrade the park. Now that Belle Isle is a part of the State Department of Natural Resources, there will be a park entrance for cars ($11/year) and motorcycles ($5/year) that can be paid with the next vehicle registration fee in 2014. The fee sticker allows entrance to all of the official State of Michigan parks. Walkers, joggers, and bicyclists will not be charged.

Many upgrades, improvements, and repairs are already underway to prepare the Island for spring and summer.

The park fee requirement will be phased in throughout 2014, and vouchers will be offered to guests for events such as family reunions and weddings previously scheduled for 2014.

Let us know in the comments section how you feel about Belle Isle becoming an official State of Michigan Park (although still owned by the City of Detroit).

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