Thursday, July 02, 2009

Belle Isle Blues

Another "Jewel" of Detroit is in the news again: Belle Isle's two faces: Island jewel, lawless landmark

Quite simply the island is a very pretty patch of parkland and greenery connected by a bridge to the City of Detroit and that is where the problems lies. During the day its apparently relatively safe and a nice spot to visit, but at night the hood rats come out to play.
Chess boards and folding tables are replaced by SUVs with open hatches that function as impromptu speakeasies with loud sound systems, the clothing becomes a little more revealing, the scent of marijuana sometimes fills the air and the easy crawl of traffic morphs into custom-car gridlock with occasional halts for drag racing.


That's about the same time Sakina Ali, 18, and her girlfriends arrived. "It's really all about the boys," sad Ali, who lives on the east side of Detroit. "There really is nowhere else to go in this town."

Ali's car was nearly sandwiched between two beefed-up vehicles vibrating from the pulse of the sub-woofers and the traffic.

"Hmm, he looks good," said her friend Carla Davis, 19. "Maybe I can find someone decent."
Ah, the cultural mores of homo Detroitus. A quick clue -- if you're looking for someone "decent" then the contents of two stereo-blasting vehicles in a parking lot in the dark probably is not the ideal spot for a meet-n-greet.

Sounds like a place you want to take your kids to and enjoy the evening right?

We want this to remain a city jewel," said Alicia C. Minter, the city's recreation director.

She described the island as "not dangerous ...but dicey" and said the uptick in attention is to "make it inviting for everyone."

Of course, the City could cut down on some of this diceness and raise money for the upkeep of Belle Isle at the same time by charging a de minimis toll fee to travel on the bridge, say $2 a car or $1 per occupant, which would probably cut down on people coming in to goof around and you'll probably keep the decent folks coming. Of course every time htis is proposed its shouted down, folowed by worries that Belle Isle is starved of funds and the city can't afford to run it.

Instead of the toll, they're thinking of posting some signs:
The group is working to install signs, such as those that list park rules.

"If people just knew what was allowed and what was not, it could make a difference," she said.
Ok, if your visitors are so clueless to not understand and already know that rowdy behavior, public drunkeness and marijuana use along with drag racing is not allowed, the signs really aren't going to help much.

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