Mayor Dave Bing announced on Friday that the city of Detroit will close 50 parks across the city -- just days after Detroit City Council vetoed a plan he supported to lease Belle Isle to the state.
Bing said during a press conference Friday morning that 50 parks will no longer receive any maintenance or recreation support from the city. Another 38 parks across Detroit will shift to limited maintenance.
(See a map of the parks scheduled to close here.)
However, 19 parks have been chosen in accordance with the Detroit Future City plan prepared by the Detroit Works Project, a keynote part of Mayor Bing's administration. Those parks will receive "top-notch," and in some cases, improved services, Bing said.
Plans to extend hours at six recreation centers will also be scrapped, Bing said in a release, as well as plans to hire 10 fulltime and 40 part-time employees to work on new programs at the recreation department.
Despite the timing of the announcement, the mayor denied that the park closings were in any way a retaliatory political move, calling the suggestion, "stupid. Makes no sense." he added, "We need to work together."
But Bing was quick to criticize the nine members of Detroit City Council for vetoing the Belle Isle deal, which would have allowed the state of Michigan to lease the island park and run it as a state park. He claimed that three Detroit City Council members had originally helped put together the lease deal, but one of those members later voted against it.
"We looked a gift horse in the mouth," said Bing. He added, "When we thumb our nose at $6 million dollars, I think it's nuts."
He also said Belle Isle would see decreased services in the wake of his announcement.
"Historically, we've not done a good job on Belle Isle," Bing said. "We didn't have the funding to do it. It's gonna get worse."
In 2010, Bing's administration threatened to close 77 parks as part of cost-cutting measures.
During the press conference, the mayor also shrugged off a suggestion that Detroit's business community mobilize to help maintain the parks slated for closing.
"We can't think that the business community is constantly going to take care of it," he replied.
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