Here you will find status updates for the Belle Isle courts.

This includes renovation status & completion dates.

Posts are by MHA administrators and members. You are encouraged to add comments and feedback.

Please be respectful of fellow users. Trolling posts will be deleted.

  • 03 Jul 2019 1:18 PM | Stewart Shevin (Administrator)

    Dear Friends of Belle Isle Handball,

    We received an update from Michigan DNR on the status of proposed repairs to the court ceiling (see below). Unfortunately the news is not good, especially after all this time.

    The state is not prepared to spend the money for ceiling replacement this year, at least for all six courts. It is possible they will do two courts.

    The current remaining money allocated is to remove the existing ceiling / roof, repair the wall cap, protect by installing coping and flashing, and paint. The DNR requires the roof removal as the structural integrity was deemed unsafe.

    The hope is after all the back and forth, this work will begin shortly so the courts will open this summer. The MHA will keep you informed on this web page. If you have questions, post them here or email me and we will respond as best we can, so those answers can be shared with all MHA members.



    On Jul 2, 2019, at 6:47 PM, Treadwell, Amanda (DNR) <> wrote:

    Hi Stewart,

    I wanted to reach out to you to give you an update on the pricing we received from our contractor for the mesh ceiling system that handball players have requested. The scope of work remaining in his contract includes painting the repaired masonry structure and then the work associated with the roof removal.

    The Cost for the installing the designed mesh panel ceiling would be approximately $350,000.  The DNR had added another $50,000 to this contract this year to complete the balance of work not yet addressed (not including the mesh ceiling).  This brings up the total budget for Athletic Complex improvements to $835,000.  

    Please note that there is only about $65,000 left in the contract to paint the structure and address the failing roof structure.  We have many critical infrastructure needs around the park at this time. Because of the great need and our limited capital outlay budget, I believe it would be difficult secure the DNR-PRD chiefs’ approval to include in the Belle Isle 2020 budget a line item that would direct the needed funds to provide for the mesh ceiling.

    To date, the masonry repairs needed to address the structural concerns within the masonry walls have been completed and the short term goal for this project would be to address the roof system so that it does not continue to compromise the masonry walls.

    I would be happy to review with you further the pricing we have received from our contractor for this project and discuss our next steps.

    Best Regards,


  • 01 May 2019 11:49 PM | Stewart Shevin (Administrator)

    Michael MacDonald & Stewart Shevin met with Amanda Treadwell of the MDNR (Mi. Dept. of Natural Resources) on Wednesday, 5/1 at the MDNA’s new digs on Belle Isle. Amanda updated us as we looked over and approved the architectural drawings for the court renovation. She was both candid, inclusive and accommodating.

    The detailed plans included:

    - Removal of the existing roof including ceiling lights, netting and steel poles that support the netting

    - Installation of a steel 1/2” flat diamond mesh ceiling and support structure. This will cover 20’ x 20’, or the front 1/2 of the court.  Sample here. This will be supported every 4’ with 2” x 8” tube steel that runs perpendicular to the front wall.

    - The ceiling will have a 5 degree pitch and a 3” space below the support cross beam. This will cause balls hit on top the ceiling to roll back down onto the court floor

    - Additional block, flashing and coping work will be added to fix the existing block walls and properly shore up the newly exposed block wall tops.

    - The courts will be repainted with a creme color. 

    - There will be no ceiling lighting replaced. The flood lights at the fences will remain.

    Estimate of construction timeline:

    Amanda was not able to give a finish date. But a rough sequence of events follows:

    - The plans are currently out for an estimate of costs.

    - The plans need to be approved by LARA (License and Regulatory Affairs) for code adherence. 1-2 weeks.

    - Existing roof demolition. 2 weeks.

    - Repair of any structure caused by demolition. 1 week.

    - Fabrication of metal ceiling and support structure. 3 weeks

    - Construct cement block coping and flashing.

    - Assembly of ceiling grate (welding and otherwise. 1 week

    - Paint - 1 week

    Some of these items will happen concurrently. That said, our best guess for completion is September, 2019. 

    I realize this is disheartening for the Belle Isle players. Our hope is that when it’s all said and done, the courts will be in great shape for years to come.

    - Stewart Shevin

  • 30 Apr 2019 11:30 PM | Stewart Shevin (Administrator)

    The courts are currently closed for renovation. Please read the thread for specifics of renovation details. As soon as we hear anything, it will be updated here.

  • 30 Apr 2019 11:58 AM | Stewart Shevin (Administrator)

    As you can imagine, along with the ceiling tear-out the interior court lighting will go away. As of May 1, 2019 the MHA board has decided that MHA will not allocate funds for installation of new lighting at this time. This is because:

    - Park hours end roughly at sunset in the summer. It is doubtful anyone will play in the evening.

    - Funds for the courts will be directed toward cement floor surface repair and caulking of floor to wall joints.

    - There are still flood lights at the rear of the fenced area

  • 30 Apr 2019 11:57 AM | Stewart Shevin (Administrator)

    After much schmoozing by Stewart Shevin,  the state has agreed to change their plans for the roof structure. We have seen engineering drawings (below) provided by the city of a fixed, metal 1/2” diamond mesh that will incorporate a slight slope so that balls hit onto the roof structure will roll back down. This will not only provide a playable ceiling, but also save $6 per mighty hand error! The courts will play similar to St. Clair Shores and Palmer Park. 
    We am waiting on Amanda Treadwell, our contact at the MDMR as to when the tear-out of the current roof structure will begin and replacement ceiling installed. Stewart Shevin and Michael MacDonald of the MHA board are meeting with Amanda on May 1 to approve the engineering drawings.

  • 01 Feb 2019 11:54 AM | Stewart Shevin (Administrator)

    History in 2018: The MDNR repaired some cement block and added a (I imagine ADA approved) walkway to the courts from the street. This happened as part of the athletic field area grant. The MDNR began ceiling repairs began to correct leaks. At that time the roof was determined by state engineers to be too costly to repair as the structure is rotted. This caused the area to be closed off for liability reasons. The water fountain was refurbished by the MHA. 

    Plans shifted because of this. A decision was made to tear out the roof, and replace with netting that would keep balls somewhat within the court area, but not act as a playable surface. This decision, we were to find out, was because the state had no idea that the ceiling is part of the playable court.

  • 30 Jan 2014 12:22 AM | Stewart Shevin (Administrator)

    Report from MHA President, Dale Chimenti

    BELLE ISLE, January 30, 2014

    This morning, a meeting of the Advisory Board established by the Governor of the State of Michigan convened at the Detroit Yacht Club on Belle Isle.  Tom Obrien and I attended this public meeting for the purpose of ensuring that our presence on the Island is well-known and to establish a relationship with the State of Michigan, Department of Natural Resources who is now running Belle Isle.

    We have managed to do just that and are very pleased to report that we had a one-on one with Keith Creagh the Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Ron Olson, Chief of Parks and Recreation for the State of Michigan, Scott Pratt, Chief of southern field operations, Michael Turrell of the same office who is entrusted with the daily running of the Island and many of the other Board Members including Alicia Minter, Director of the Detroit Parks and Recreation Department, as well as non –governmental Board Members such as Michael Curis….

    I might add that in a conversation with Keith Creagh, he indicated that he is a racquetball player, to which I replied, “this is not going well”.  Keith, Tom Obrien and I had a good laugh but I assure you that the State knows who we are.

    Previously, we had dealt with Alicia Minter as she is/was the head of the Parks and Rec in Detroit.  John Schandevel had established a great working relationship with Alicia, and while the City of Detroit has no say in the affairs on Belle Isle, Alicia is a Board Member and was very cordial and accommodating.

    On behalf of the Michigan Handball Association , I am very excited to report that our presence at the meeting was critical and landed us directly in their sites as a “partner agency”, bureaucratic lingo for a very interested partner…  In fact, Ron Olson mentioned the handball community in his public presentation to the Board and audience. We are on their radar screen….

    It is the intention of the Dept of Natural Resources to collaborate with :

    City of Detroit Staff

    Advisory Committee

    Belle Isle Conservancy ( The MHA is a member)

    On Island Stakeholders (such as the MHA…)

    Partner Agencies ( MDOT, MSP, MDEQ, US Army Corp of Engineers)

    The current focus of the State is to focus on the upcoming season, the search for initial investments, listening sessions, and leveraging resources.  As to the latter, we hope that the State of Michigan will be a source of funding for continued improvements to the courts, but we are realistic in our goals and expect that you, the handball community, will continue to provide financial support in the form of annual dues and donations to the Michigan Handball Association.   We remain committed to performing repairs, maintenance and improvements to the facility. 

    Thank you for your support . We do appreciate your comments and suggestions so please feel free to contact me, Rick Leonard, Bill Cantwell, or Tom Obrien .

    We look forward to seeing you on Belle Isle in a few months…..

    Dale Chimenti

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