DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit City Council on Monday unanimously rejected a plan to lease the 985-acre Belle Island park to the state for 30 years, proposing a 10-year deal instead.
The 30-year lease that Gov. Rick Snyder and emergency manager Kevyn Orr signed Oct. 1 would make Belle Isle a state park, saving Detroit $6 million annually in maintenance.
After rejecting the deal Monday, the council voted 4-2 for a 10-year lease.
Councilman James Tate said there is no perfect agreement, "but I do think we've gotten a lot closer."
"You can't say no without a viable alternative," Tate said. "I believe that's what this body has put together."
It was unclear whether Snyder and Orr will accept the counter-proposal, but an Orr spokesman said Monday that the emergency manager still backed the original deal. Orr said earlier that he would implement the lease as signed unless the council came up with a plan that made equivalent cost savings.
"Orr believes the current lease agreement ... provides the best framework in which to ensure that Belle Isle regains its luster as one of the city of Detroit's crown jewels," Bill Nowling said in an email to The Associated Press.
Orr has asked a federal judge to place Detroit under bankruptcy protection, saying it cannot meet $18 billion or more in long-term debt that includes underfunded obligations of about $3.5 billion for pensions and $5.7 billion for retiree health coverage.
Under the Snyder-Orr deal, Michigan would invest $10 million to $20 million over three years. There'd be an annual $11 per-vehicle admission charge as at other state parks.
Snyder withdrew a similar offer earlier this year following council opposition.
City Council President Saunteel Jenkins said the council's proposed lease has "more definitive plans," including provisions to ensure Michigan keeps promises to upgrade the park.
"We know they can fund improvements on the park. But the question is, will they fund the improvements on the park?" Jenkins said Monday. "We want the lease to be written to fund improvements on the park or be able to terminate the lease."
Council members Brenda Jones and JoAnn Watson voted against the lease and the counter-proposal as well.
"The council should not be pushed into approving a lease," Watson said. "There's nothing wrong with the city operating its own asset. Belle Isle is a significant treasure. It's a treasure we can manage better, and we have the capacity to do that."