[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ MAA/Fisherman's Landing Press Release

Fisherman's Landing is a 23 acre boat launch and campground on the southeast shore of Muskegon Lake.  The property is owned by the City of Muskegon, and the facility was developed with state and federal funds channeled through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  It was initially operated for several years by the City at a significant financial loss.

The City subsequently approached two local groups with the intent of forming an independent board to operate Fisherman's Landing.  One group was the Michigan Anglers Association (formerly Muskegon Country Steelheaders), a group of fishermen with a relatively large membership and a small budget.  The other group was the Muskegon Sportfishing Association, primarily a trade organization composed of tackle shop owners, boat dealers, motel owners, etc.  It has a relatively small membership and a large budget.  It was agreed that three members from each group and a President would constitute a Fisherman's Landing Board of Directors, with non-voting representation from the City's Department of Leisure Services.  The Michigan Anglers  Association entered into this agreement in good faith, and the collaboration worked well;  policy changes and physical improvements were made, and within a few years, Fisherman's Landing was operating at a profit.  The Michigan Anglers Association, as both a stakeholder
user, took pride in its contribution.  The City Commission purchased a study of how the facility could be improved and expanded;  fishermen and campers reacted positively to the study's recommendations.  Mr. Tom Kampenga, member of the Muskegon Sportfishing Association and real estate agent, was elected President of the Fisherman's Landing Board, a not unreasonable action at the time because the Landing's operation has much in common with a business enterprise.

Over two years ago, rumors circulated that the City Commission planned to relocate Fisherman's Landing.  When asked, President Kampenga and Department of Leisure Services Director Ric Scott characterized the City's plans as nebulous and distant.  The Michigan Anglers Association members of the Boards called for a vote on the concept of relocation;  President Kampenga refused that request because several long range possibilities were being considered.  Subsequently, two competing shoreline development proposals were submitted to the City Council.  The Council adopted in concept the proposal necessitating the removal of Fisherman's Landing to a downtown Muskegon site, with its current location to become an aggregate storage area for the developer.  The Michigan Anglers Association and other user groups and individuals repeatedly opposed this proposal at hearings and in print, and were dismissed as being opposed to change.  President Kampenga, while never allowing a vote on the issue, publicly characterized the Fisherman's Landing Board's position as "neutral."  This has never been true.

President Kampenga has not convened a Board meeting in nine months, while making public statements that he would "see that the interests of fishermen are represented," and most recently "It looks like [the developers] have solved the fishing problem."  Mr. Kampenga has never represented fishermen and campers; he is a businessman who has a conflict of interest.  The Muskegon City Council and the Muskegon Chronicle have chosen to believe that he represents sportsmen, and to portray him to the public as doing so.  Those who actually have a sportfishing constituency have yet to identify a single Fisherman's Landing patron who favors the move.  We believe Mr. Kampenga and his supporters have promoted privatization and personal interest in violation of the public trust.

In light of this background, on June 10th, 2002, Fisherman's Landing Directors Jack Harrington, Don Zuder, and Tom Hamilton convened a meeting of the Fisherman's Landing Board.  President Kampenga and Director Don Irwin were personally contacted, and declined to attend (these five are the only known current Directors).  In a series of motions, Mr. Jack Harrington replaced Mr. Kampenga as representative and sole spokesperson for the Fisherman's Landing Board.

Jack Harrington
Donald Zuder
Thomas Hamilton