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Demolition of the Belle Isle water slide began Monday to make way for upgrades to the beach area, including a new splash park.

The water slide opened in 1996 and is "well past its useful lifespan, with significant disrepair and investment needs," according to a press release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The department has management responsibility for Belle Isle Park under a 30 year lease with the city of Detroit

Michele Hodges, president of the Belle Isle Conservancy, said the water slide was outdated, unsafe for public use and hadn't been used since 2013. 

Rather than continuing to spend money on the water slide in an attempt to make it safe, the DNR, city and Belle Isle Conservancy decided to invest in revitalizing the beach area. They plan to replace the water slide with a patio area and construct a splash park in the beach area's west end. Enhanced seating, landscaping and parking is also included in the plan.

"The new amenities will blend into the natural beauty of the island and offer water play activities for park users of all ages and abilities," the DNR press release said.

The estimated cost for the entire construction project in the beach area is $3.5 million. The DNR said the work will be implemented in phases as funds are raised.

Monday's slide demolition cost is estimated to be around $50,000, but Farrow Group, Inc., a Detroit demolition company owned by Michael Farrow, did the work for free.

"The Farrow Group donated its time and resources to take the water slide down which enables us to move the project forward," Hodges said. "[Farrow] is a wonderful man who believes in his city and just wants to give back, so I’m quite moved by his generosity and his commitment to Belle Isle."

The design phase for the project was funded by money raised from the Belle Isle Conservancy's annual "Polish the Jewel" luncheon. This year's luncheon is in October will continue to raise funds for future phases. Support will also be solicited from the philanthropic community, the release said.

The demolition began at 10 a.m. on Monday and is expected to take a week to complete.

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