By Joel Thurtell
For eleven years, Matty Moroun has squatted on Detroit’s Riverside Park.
Hoping to keep his illegal fence up a bit longer, as in forever, Matty’s now claiming the park is contaminated.
There is a public information meeting about the Riverside contamination issue today, March 21, 2012 at 5:30 p.m. in the Patton Recreation Center, 2301 Woodmere, according to Southwest Detroit community organizer Rashid.
“This isn’t a ruse to give or sell the park to DIBC,” according to Naomi Patton, spokesman for Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. DIBC is the Detroit International Bridge Company, which runs the Ambassador Bridge and belongs to Manuel “Matty” Moroun.
“DIBC made the contamination claim and the city began its investigation,” said Patton.
The city has applied for $550,000 in federal grants to assess possible contamination and do a cleanup, according to a February 7, 2012 letter to Mayor Bing from Ronald Smedley, brownfield redevelopment coordinator for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
According to Smedley, the city is eligible for the U.S> Environmental Protection Agency grant.
By my reckoning, that’s $550,000 in federal taxpayer money being blown because a billionaire wants to own the park.
In late 2008, after reports on this blog that Matty had hijacked parts of Riverside Park and padlocked its public boat ramp, the city sued Matty to get its park back. Four years later, Matty’s still trying to keep a foothold in the park.
Why would Matty want to own a public park?
The park is located right square where Matty wants to build a new bridge between the US and Canada. Without the park, Matty’s so-called “twin” bridge is dead before it gets to teh water.
State environmental officials are investigating, said patton.
The city, she said, is “getting a brownfield grant to study cleanup.”
“They are shutting down Riverside Park due to contamination,” said Rashid. “Apparently the Michcon lines have leached the soil on the entire property.”