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Belle Isle acquired by State of Michigan

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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