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Bing announces park closures after Belle Isle deal is rejected

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing delivering his budget address last April.
City of Detroit
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing delivering his budget address last April.

The city of Detroit will close 50 parks in the spring because of the City Council’s inaction on a proposal to make Belle Isle into a state park.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says that would have freed up about $6 million for the city to invest in other parks and recreation centers—and that effectively means $6 million they’d counted on to bolster other park services have disappeared.

So the city is responding by making cuts: closing 50 parks, limiting maintenance at another 38, and canceling plans to extend rec center hours and add 50 employees.

“These dollars were critical to allow us to be able to make a positive impact for the community, and without those, our efforts will be diminished,” said Alicia Minter, director of Detroit’s recreation department.

Bing says the Council’s vote took his administration by surprise.

“We made the assumption that this was going to happen,” Bing said. “I mean, this was a no-brainer."

Bing insists the move isn’t in retaliation for the Council vote, but rather a practical matter of money in a city strapped for cash.

The moves leave Detroit with just 57 operational parks. The city once had more than 300.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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