Letter: Move Grand Prix off Belle Isle

As an avid Belle Isle visitor and supporter, I strongly object to the presence of the Grand Prix on Belle Isle. Having automotive race events such as the Grand Prix and the Red Bull events on a nature park such as Belle Isle is incongruous with the original mission of the park. The fact that no environmental impact study has ever been conducted to detail the effects that this event has on the land, wildlife, protected wetlands, etc., is troubling. An organization such as the DNR that has custodial responsibility for this park should be conducting a study such as this as a minimum requirement.

What’s most troubling to me is that an organization such as the Grand Prix group can take over prime portions of the park, for three months (setup to teardown) during prime park season. It’s just not democratic. Barricades, concrete abutments and chainlink fence deny visitors free and ready access to many of the features of the park and the riverfront, and the bike (and jogging) lanes are obstructed to the point of being unsafe. That an individual or organization (however well-funded) can have the power and authority to tie up a taxpayer-funded public park like this is disgraceful.

I hope that the state will consider not renewing the Grand Prix lease after the final year’s race. There is plenty of vacant (and underutilized) parcels of land in the City of Detroit that the Penske people can set up shop and run their race. It should not be staged on Belle Isle.

David Martin, Ferndale