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E-M:/ Preserving Jean Klock Park

Dear E/Mers:

The battle to preserve Jean Klock Park, the city park in Benton Harbor, is heating up. Last week the City of Benton Harbor approved a draft Lease Agreement with Harbor Shores Redevelopment Inc, that would allow part of the corporation's golf course inside the public park.  The next morning a shredding truck was outside City Hall, and bags and bags coming out of the building.

The Benton Spirit newspaper covered the meeting:

(and click on "government")

A letter to the editor by Friends of Jean Klock Park appeared in the Sunday, Dec 17th Herald Palladium that's worth reading. That website is inaccessible without a subscription, but you can read the letter in its unedited form on the FJKP website:

Park preservation fight has roots in 2004 agreement


An excerpt:

Friends of Jean Klock Park
Unedited Letter to Editors
Sent Dec. 14, 2006

On Monday Dec. 11th, the City of Benton Harbor hastily approved a draft version of the lease agreement with Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment Inc. to use Jean Klock Park?s (JKP) dunes and parkland for a golf  course. The Friends of Jean Klock Park cannot stress strongly enough to the public that this is not a done deal!  

The obligations of Harbor Shores and Benton Harbor under this Agreement are contingent upon:

(a) The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board and the National Park Service issuing final approvals.
(b) The Berrien County Circuit Court must issue an order confirming an amendment to Consent Judgment which governs JKP, that would permit a golf course.
... the Friends of JKP intend to challenge the lease agreement between the city of Benton Harbor and Harbor Shores on the basis
that the lease is prohibited by certain deed restrictions and the 2004 Consent Judgment that protects the park from
further development.  We maintain that three holes of a privately owned golf course on leased public parkland do
not qualify as a ?public park use.?  We also believe that a lease constitutes the same thing as a sale which is also
prohibited under the terms of the agreement.

On January 8, 2004, directly after the litigation, the Herald Palladium published the following statement from retired
Berrien County Judge Ron Taylor who acted as a consultant to the plaintiffs and assured the plaintiffs that the park
was protected for all time: ??..we are pleased that this settlement will finally, once and for all, put an end to periodic
attempts over the years to sell off or otherwise profit from this important piece of heritage of the southwestern
Michigan area.?

In 2003 we made a commitment to protect and preserve JKP. We intend to honor that commitment.

To donate to Friends of Jean Klock Park, please visit:

Friends of Jean Klock Park
P.O. Box 8988
Benton Harbor, MI 49023

LuAnne Kozma
Novi, MI
Defense of Place Michigan

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