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State Interested In Keeping Detroit Grand Prix On Belle Isle

July 28, 2018 - 8:16 am
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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Michigan's Department of Natural Resources says it is interested in moving forward on a plan that would keep the Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle.

The agency says key agreement areas -- such as compensation for using the island park, the number of days race officials need for setup and teardown, and offsetting revenue lost from the use of island facilities during the event -- need to be resolved before a final decision is made. 

DNR Parks and Recreation chief Ron Olson says the next step is presenting what the agency believes are "fair and equitable changes" to the race proposal.

“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,” Olson said in a statement. “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.”

Grand Prix officials say they will "review the feedback and the suggested adjustments to the proposal internally over the next few days and determine our next steps in the process. We remain committed to bringing the Grand Prix back to Belle Isle in 2019 and beyond."

The Detroit Grand Prix first was held on Belle Isle in 1992 to 2001 and again in 2007-2008. It has been run on Belle Isle every year since 2012. Since 2007, the Detroit Grand Prix has invested more than $13.5 million in enhancements to Belle Isle Park’s natural and cultural resources.

Environmental assessments conducted by DNR staff show that the Grand Prix’s presence on Belle Isle has little to no long-term impact on area wildlife and natural areas. Event setup starts after bird and waterfowl migration occurs, and most animals and birds were found to be living in the flatwoods area on the park’s east end, opposite of the race location.

The DNR, which manages Belle Isle operations, is encouraging the public to submit comments and feedback on the plan at [email protected], through Aug. 2. Nearly 300 messages have been received so far.

The DNR is expected to make a final decision shortly after the Aug. 2 Belle Isle Park Advisory Committee meeting.