Dobel Street | Metro Detroit

An open letter to Detroit City Council

Distinguished Councilwoman Watson and Councilman Kenyatta:

You probably don’t remember me. I’m nobody really — just a guy who’s doing the best he can and cares about his native city.

Councilman Kenyatta, I met you in my childhood park, Fletcher Field, on Detroit’s east side a couple of years back. Councilwoman Watson, I talked with you at your office for at least an hour about three years ago, along with Mt. Olivet Cemetery Director Mark Gracely. We came to see you to discuss what’s happening at City Airport, wondering if McNichols Road might reopen someday, which would be beneficial to everybody living and working on both sides of the airport barrier.

I’m writing to you now to ask you to reconsider your position on Belle Isle, that leasing it to the state is not a good thing for the city or its residents.

I respectfully disagree. Six years ago, Fletcher Field had gone back to nature because — as Marvel Cheeks, then the Adopt-a-Park Program Director, told me time and again — the city could not afford to upkeep it anymore. The same goes for countless other neighborhood parks, where children of my generation felt safe, played the days away and dreamed about the future.

Many kids in Detroit today have no place to play, no programs to take part in, no hope that things will ever change. I find that heartbreaking.

That’s why I formed a coalition in the fall of 2007 to resurrect Fletcher Field and have been working ever since to keep the park open, cut, clean and a beautiful place to host events that kids can look forward to and have fond memories of in the future. Our coalition is diverse — city, suburbs, black, white, old, young — and full of more heart than the Tin Man could ever dream of having.

I tell you this because believing that every white guy from the suburbs is a heartless phony who wants to steal from you is as racist as me saying every black guy is a criminal. It’s SO WRONG AND DIVISIVE, as is the hyperbolic rhetoric that’s being tossed around this week.

Frankly, the $8 million it costs annually to upkeep Belle Isle could likely serve hundreds of small neighborhood parks, which would be used on a daily basis by the kids who live around them. And the