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E-M:/ Rescue Jean Klock Park: the lid is off

Dear E/Mers,

Thanks to the Detroit Free Press, the lid is finally off in the mainstream media, about the outrageous, illegal land grab of Jean Klock Park, being attempted by  Whirlpool Corporation and Governor Granholm.

I want Michigan environmentalists to know that it's not a done deal and there are ways you and your organization can assist. Please contact me or Friends of Jean Klock Park (www.savejeanklockpark.org).

The announcement that Harbor Shores has begun, is exactly what they want everyone to think: that saving the park is over and you might as well give up.

It's pathetic when a US manufacturer (or its paid mouthpieces) can't think of anything to do to revitalize an area--not manufacturing??--except takeover a public park for a playground for their corporate executives.

In Chicago, people are taking on the daunting task of taking back their lakefront for the public after missteps and  private development there:


This seems much more difficult than preserving what you have in the first place. Especially if you've already preserved a park intentionally for 90 years, and put public tax dollars -- grant after grant after grant-- into protecting that park. $1.74 million in state and federal grants have been spent on Jean Klock Park, not to mention 90 years of city tax dollars. That's a public investment in the future.

The fiction Harbor Shores and the governor are spouting is they are "expanding and improving" Jean Klock Park. The article didn't mention that the proposed use of the park is to put a golf course right smack dab in the middle of the park's dunes.  The plan would totally destroy them, totally consume them, and consume nearly the entire park.

I challenge anyone who cares about their favorite park and its continued protection and existence as a park, to  "expand and improve" it by putting a high-priced golf course in it.

So this nonsense that it'll be public golf, is just subterfuge for the plain fact that Harbor Shores is the same old, tired (and now quite out-of-fashion) residential development-on-a-golf course, that destroys open space and greenspace everywhere such developments are located.  Development of any kind is not allowed in Jean Klock Park.

The last time Jean Klock Park was threatened citizens took the City to court. The awful compromise, a settlement, that was reluctantly reached was: That was the end of it--27 homes of the proposed 28 homes could be built on 4 acres, in exchange for the rest of the park being protected.

Some basic facts that may or may not surprise you

There are many dots to be connected in this complicated plot to takeover Jean Klock Park, but here are just a few of the basics you should know:

First,  Whirlpool CEO Jeff Fettig  lives on Lake Michigan, right next to Jean Klock Park. (You probably already know this, Kathy Henry--  he's on the board of Dow Chemical) (Corporate power to corporate power: Shall we host the Granholm Invitational Pure Michigan Golf Tournament at your place or mine?)

Second, the area's Congressman, Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), is a grandson of the founder of Whirlpool. Whirlpool started out as the Upton company. Upton also lives on Lake Michigan nearby the park.

Granholm received substantial campaign contributions from Whirlpool  executives and made a TV campaign ad in which she boasts how Whirlpool "chose" Michigan to locate its corporate headquarters. (They were already here). The Free Press article says Granholm offered Whirlpool a carrot. It may have been the other way around. Check out www.opensecrets.org and plug in Whirlpool.

The Benton Harbor Task Force, formed after the "riot," was seeded by Granholm with Harbor Shores developers and Whirlpool executives. The Task Force's report never mentions a golf course, nor any plans for Jean Klock Park, either, which at the time was being fought for in court by Benton Harbor residents, despite the report claiming there is no local advocacy for recreation. 

One of the developers for the project is The Related, owned by superwealthy developer Steve Ross, who recently gave quite a chunk of change, $100 million, to the University of Michigan.

Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment Inc. was initiated with a loan from Whirlpool Corp., headed by a real estate attorney named John Cameron, who now works for Dickinson Wright. The Dickinson Wright attorney who represented  Benton Harbor in the previous conversion of the park, and for the proposed Harbor Shores invasion in the park, Geoff Fields, also wrote the Settlement Agreement, and the park lease agreement. Fields has now stepped down from representing the city for the Harbor Shores deal since there is "now" a clear conflict... but not until after all the work's been done.

And finally, Nicklaus Design admits they've been working on this deal over 3 years, during the time the first conversion of the park was taking place.

More in coming emails,

LuAnne Kozma
Defense of Place

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