Detroit Grand Prix needs to leave Belle Isle, say park activists

- Could the Detroit Grand Prix leave Belle Isle?

The event's future on the island is being reconsidered and the public weighed in Wednesday at a forum. The question is whether the Department of Natural Resources renew its agreement with the Detroit Grand Prix to have the race at the park.

Opponents say the race has no business at the state park, while those in favor of keeping it say the event has caused millions of dollars of improvements to be made at Belle Isle.

Both sides were debating the issue with environmental groups wanting a study to determine the impact of the race on Belle Isle.

"They don't know how it affects the wild life," said Michael Betzold, who wants the race moved. "And (how it affects) all the other things on the island (and) the historic buildings. It is a great event but it doesn't belong at the park. It takes over the best part of the park at the best time of the year.

"We wouldn't have a soccer match in the Rivera Court at the DIA and Belle Isle is a treasure."

Bud Denker from the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix was on hand for the discussion.

"We're here tonight to listen to people," he said. "Both the pros and the opponents. There are a lot of people who are here that I'm sure are for the event and what economic benefits it provides.

"From 2007 and on it has been millions and millions of dollars."

The agreement between the DNR and Grand Prix expires in 2019.

The DNR wants to hear from the public about whether the race should be held at the park, email your comments about the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle to Pratts@michigan.gov by Friday.

The next race is set for June 1 to the 3rd of 2018.

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