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Here’s what Belle Isle looks like five weeks before the Grand Prix

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Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

After a long, cold winter, spring has finally made its way to southeast Michigan. Time to enjoy some of our favorite outdoor parks! Of course, if you plan on heading to Belle Isle, Detroit’s island jewel, be advised that much of the island is currently under construction.

Basically, Belle Isle is a mess right now.

Set-up for the Detroit Grand Prix started in the last couple weeks, and already, grand stands and concrete barriers are up along much of the west end of the island. The Grand Prix will take place June 1-3.

Barriers are set up along the inner ring, making it increasingly difficult for bikers, joggers, and walkers to safely use the bike path. Grandstands are set up right as cars enter the island. Much of the area around the fountain and casino has been taken over by Grand Prix construction.

Debate has escalated over the past few years over the amount of time it takes to set up for the Grand Prix and if Belle Isle is the right venue for it. When asked about alternate venues, such as City Airport, Grand Prix chairman Bud Denker recently said, “There is no Plan B.”

Some of the Grand Prix grandstands currently sit on a piece of land that will be turned into a world-class garden next year by famed garden designer Piet Oudolf.

The Detroit Grand Prix has claimed in recent years that the race has a positive economic impact for Detroit and Belle Isle, bringing millions into the city and park for improvements, although the exact amount and impact have also been debated. The Grand Prix has cut down the long set-up time in recent years, although it’s much longer than many other races.

This is what the park looks like now, and this is what it will look like until mid-June.