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Grand Prix makes new pitch to stay on Belle Isle

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Should they stay or should they go?

Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

One of the most debated topics in Detroit occurs every spring—should the Detroit Grand Prix continue to be held on Belle Isle? Supporters argue that it brings much-needed funding to the island, and shows the city in a good light. Those opposed say that the natural space should not be used for a car race, and that it shuts down part of the island during a popular time of year.

This morning, the Grand Prix pitched a new proposal to the Belle Isle Park Advisory Committee. According to Crain’s, the Grand Prix would increase their annual fee to $300,000 (up from $200,000) for the next three years and offer extra funding for additional programs on the island.

The Grand Prix also said that they are working on ways to cut down on their time on the island, and that they’d decrease that time to 62 days. The Detroit Grand Prix is a three-day event at the beginning of June.

The advisory committee will make a recommendation to the Michigan DNR on the matter. The DNR says that they will:

Communicate with Detroit Grand Prix officials, as needed, to clarify any information in the proposal.

Accept public comments, questions and other feedback via email at through Aug. 2, 2018.

Determine if the proposal will be recommended for approval or needs to be modified. That evaluation will be based on several criteria, including compatibility with the Belle Isle Park strategic management plan; facility and environmental impact; and potential benefit to Belle Isle Park and the city of Detroit. If approved, any changes, enhancements and/or clarifications related to the proposal will be completed around July 23, 2018, and posted to the Belle Isle Park Advisory Committee website.

Hold a special meeting of the Belle Isle Park Advisory Committee Thursday, Aug. 2, at 6 p.m. (location to be determined). At the meeting, DNR staff will review and discuss the recommendation, and the public will have the opportunity for comment.

The DNR will make a decision after the August meeting.

About 100 people showed up to comment on the proposal, about equally divided in support, according to Crain’s.

Earlier this year, we asked readers what they thought about the Grand Prix on Belle Isle. After nearly 1,800 votes, 53 percent of readers opted to move it off the island. 31 percent said to keep it, while another 15 percent said to decrease the set-up time.