Overcrowding prompts closure of Belle Isle Park
Detroit — The State Police said they temporarily closed Belle Isle Park Monday afternoon because of overcrowding.
The mid-90s heat brought thousands of people to the island park on Memorial Day. But the number reached a breaking point in the late afternoon, so State Police said on Twitter they were temporarily closing the park to people. Around 5:15 p.m, the State Police said on Twitter that people could come onto the island on foot but not in vehicles.
The park was closed at 4 p.m. because there was "a huge number" of people in the island park, State Police Lt. Michael Shaw said Monday. But he couldn't give a specific number.
"We are going to continue to monitor the crowd and as people leave we will let more on," Michigan State Police said in a tweet. "Thanks for your patience as we keep the park safe for all that want to visit!"
The state park has parking spaces for about 3,000 vehicles, Shaw said. Along with foot and bicycle traffic, there were at least 12,000 or more people on the island, he said.
The number of people who showed in the 95-degree heat created concerns about how to get medical and fire personnel on the island in cases of emergencies, Shaw said.
Although he couldn't say whether the weather played a role in the high Memorial Day turnout, Shaw said the state park has become a popular destination spot for local families and individuals who have started coming back after improvements on the island.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources took over operating the city's island park in 2014 during Detroit's financial emergency and bankruptcy because maintenance cost $6 million a year that former Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr said the city didn't have.
Belle Isle became Michigan's 102nd state park, and the state restored facilities that were neglected under the cash-strapped city government and tore down hazardous trees, among other improvements.
Staff Writer Richard Burr contributed