Final piece of Detroit landswap deal with Maroun family up for council vote

Dozens of southwest Detroit residents, activists and stakeholders are urging the City Council to vote no on the final piece of a land swap deal with the Moroun family’s Detroit International Bridge Company.

"Leave it alone, leave our community alone leave our neighborhood alone," said Bianca Cuevas. "Stop."

The City of Detroit would get another $2 million to improve Riverside Park. DIBC would get a piece of land near that park in exchange.

Critics of the deal are concerned the company will close St. Anne Street between Fort and Lafayette to connect the property in question and the lot behind a wall bordering the Hubbard- Richard neighborhood where trucks cross into Canada.

"It has caused many environmental concerns and hazards. they keep trying to close all these streets around here and it’s just really not fair to the residents," said Pam Turner who lives in the Hubbard-Richard neighborhood.

But one of the kickers: Council approved the deal seven years ago-before voting down the final piece of it in 2021.

Conrad Mallet, an attorney for the city, says that cannot happen this time around.

"Randy, we’re going to be in breach of a contract," he said. "We made an obligation with the DIBC to exchange land so we could make Riverside Park what it is today, and we’re almost done and we could be finished."

"What I think that’s been very clear is we have a council that regardless of whatever deal it is is willing to vote a bad deal down. Which is what this deal is," said Councilwoman Gabriella Santiago-Romero.

FOX 2: "You want council to approve this deal tomorrow?"

"Yeah absolutely," said Gloria Roche.

Roche says improvements to the revived Riverside Park are at stake if the City Council fails to do so.

"This park brings in a lot of kids from the neighborhood," said Teresa Infante. "They don’t have too many places to go to, so if we can protect them and have a safe environment, that’s the priority."

Councilwoman Gabriella Santiago-Romero says she’s willing to use American Rescue Plan dollars and dip into the city’s surplus to fund park improvements.

These residents and stakeholders want council to deep-six the deal-forcing DIBC back to the table to negotiate protections and a community benefits agreement.

FOX 2 received a statement from the bridge company which reads in part:

"No one, not even those who have historically opposed us, disputes that DIBC has kept every promise it made in the (Land Exchange Agreement)  ...

"We have engaged in discussions regarding other issues that the Hubbard Richard Neighborhood has raised. We intend to continue to engage with the community, but the issues we are discussing are unrelated and should not be tied to completing the lea which was signed over seven years ago."

The council is set to take up this issue Tuesday morning, stay tuned.