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The DNR wants to keep the Grand Prix on Belle Isle

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The Grand Prix setting up five weeks before the race.
Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard

Earlier this month, the Detroit Grand Prix pitched a new proposal to keep the three-day car race on Belle Isle, a state park. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which runs Belle Isle, says it’s received over 300 emails from residents for and opposed to the race taking place on the island park. Today, the DNR says they’d like to move forward with keeping the race on the island.

The pitch last month included decreasing the set-up time three days—from 65 to 62 days. The Grand Prix fee would increase to $300,000 and they’d give extra funding to special projects on the island.

Those opposed to the race being held on Belle Isle often note the extended set-up time. The race takes place the first weekend of June; the multi-week set-up often ties up parts of the island during nice spring weather.

The DNR is citing the financial benefits to the park, the limited impact on natural resources, and the historical significance of holding a race there.

The DNR wants specific changes to the plan, including:

  • The amount of compensation for holding the event at Belle Isle Park.
  • The duration (number of days) from set-up to teardown.
  • Offsetting the “lost opportunity” revenue from picnic shelters, concessions, and other facilities that normally would be operating during that time.
  • Specific details on accountability to ensure that any natural resources, facilities, or other park amenities displaced, damaged, or otherwise altered due to the Detroit Grand Prix’s presence on the island are restored to conditions satisfactory to the DNR.

Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division, says, “We believe there are many far-reaching benefits in working toward a plan where Belle Isle Park continues as the site of the Detroit Grand Prix. We feel confident that we can arrive at a plan that honors the history, excitement and impact of this iconic race, while also safeguarding and enhancing the green spaces and experiences that people have come to expect from a day at Belle Isle.”

The Belle Isle Park Advisory Committee is meeting Thursday, Aug. 2, at 6 p.m. at the Belle Isle Nature Center, 176 Lakeside Drive, to discuss the Grand Prix. The public will be able to comment there. The public can also still share feedback at DNR-GrandPrix-Proposal@michigan.gov until August 2.