Piling on top of news last week that Manuel "Matty" Moroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge, still has a goal to build a new international span, the Windsor Star floated a report today that says a deal over a public park between Detroit and Moroun may be in the works — to the billionaire's benefit.
Political leaders are questioning whether Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has agreed to a deal with Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun over a vital piece of city-owned land needed for Moroun’s twin-span proposal.
Riverside Park, which sits on the riverfront underneath the bridge in Detroit, is needed by Moroun before he can get U.S. environmental approvals for his “enhancement project” — a new six-lane cable-stayed bridge to Windsor that would run parallel to the existing bridge.
But Duggan's administration says that's nothing but hearsay. In a statement released to Deadline Detroit, spokesperson John Roach said, "Mayor Duggan always has favored building two bridges, but there is no deal with Mr. Moroun."
Nevertheless, whatever the scuttlebutt may be, a coalition has formed to urge U.S. officials not to allow use of Riverside Park for Moroun's proposed twin span.
The group — which includes the Bridgewatch Detroit Coalition, the Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice, former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and Joe Rashid, of Friends of Riverside Park — writes:
We are opposed to the Ambassador Bridge Company’s future use of our public park, Riverside Park. Riverside Park is Southwest Detroit's only riverfront access, and its illegal closure by the Company negatively impacted our community's quality of life. Our City had to sue the Ambassador Bridge Company for trespass after they closed access to the park and destroyed our baseball field. It is critical to note that the park was acquired with assistance from the Land and Conservation Fund, which triggers a heightened process for any sale of the park, as well as additional protection for this irreplaceable community green space. We want the U.S. Federal Government to be on full alert that we are very concerned with recent speculation by local elected officials in Detroit that Riverside Park would be sold.
A separate $2.1 billion bridge that wouldn't be owned by Moroun is expected to be constructed by 2020.