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Activists attempting to get Detroit Grand Prix removed from Belle Isle

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Grand Prix officials and activists are clashing over the location of the annual race in Detroit.

Detroit Grand Prix officials are proposing a new contract that would keep the event on Belle Isle for three years, with an option for two more years after that.  The plan includes an offer by race organizers to increase the fee they pay to hold the event on the island by 50%, and cut the time it takes to set up the temporary track on Belle Isle.  Grand Prix president Michael Montri says organizers have already sped up the process by centralizing administrative functions in the island’s casino.

“You have to hook up power, you have to hook up telephone,  you have to hook up internet to all those individual trailers.  We had over 25 of them, and when we took everybody out of those trailers and put them in the casino, that simplifies the process a ton.”

Some activists told state officials on Friday that the Detroit Grand Prix should be removed from its current site on Belle Isle because it causes too much chaos for visitors on the island. Grand Prix officials presented their plan to renew the event’s contract at a public meeting.  But the coordinator of a group called Belle Isle Concern, Sandra Novacek, says the three-year deal proposed by race organizers is not good enough.

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“There was some movement to try to make improvements.  However the bottom line is, is that the Grand Prix, a car race, doesn’t belong on the public Belle Isle.”

Race organizers counter that they’ve contributed over $13 million to improve Belle Isle, and have restored landmarks like the Scott Memorial fountain.  The proposed race contract includes a $35 thousand dedicated fund to hold events other than racing on Belle Isle’s paved paddock space, a concrete slab protestor’s say disrupts the island’s natural beauty.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is considering the proposal.