Detroit Grand Prix Organizers Want To Stay On Belle Isle

Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix organizers want to return to Belle Isle, but recent protests point to negative impacts the race has on the park's environment and public access

President Michael Montri made a presentation the Belle Isle Park Advisory Committee on Friday, as his group needs approvals from the Department of Natural Resources to continue racing at the state park. The race has been hosted on Belle Isle 19-times and Montri tells CTV News it's the only venue they are considering In the proposal.

Amidst mounting pressure for the DNR to say no, Montri pitched a new three year deal with a two year option, with organizers paying the DNR $385,000 annually while committing to a shorter set up and tear down period. 

"We're all in the room because we have a passion for Belle Isle,” said Montri. “I want to work with everybody to figure out how to improve this event and how to improve this park, going forward."

Montri also highlighted the $13-million worth of improvements they have made to the park including the paddock, roads, and the refurbishment of the James Scott Memorial Fountain.

“The good that our event does far outweighs the challenges,” said Montri.

Recent protests call into question the negative impacts the car race has on the environment as well as the limited public access to the park in the spring.

Dozens of Detroiters at the meeting spoke up, both for and against the race plan, with one resident saying, “you’re selling the jewel of Detroit to the highest bidder and sometimes money isn't everything."

Several other people stood up and praised the race as a "world-class event" and a "benifit to the city."

Residents can provide more comments until the next meeting of the Belle Isle Park advisory committee on Aug 2.

The final decision rests solely with the Department of Natural Resources. 

— with files from Rich Garton/CTV WIndsor.