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E-M:/ Getting fed up with secrecy in Benton Harbor

With permission of the author I'm posting this letter that recently appeared in the local Benton Harbor news media.

Mr. Kechkaylo is another brave local voice not afraid to chime in about the outrage of the corporate/government stealing of the commons of Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor and about numerous environmental concerns that are not being addressed.

Benton Harbor residents, fed up with deceipt, secrecy, the bold disregard for the law, and just plain being ignored, recently demanded that the State do an  Environmental Impact Statement for the entire Harbor Shores project and follow Environmental Justice laws.

If Environmental Justice means anything except a DEQ-sponsored study to this governor,  then the people, the brave voices, of Benton Harbor, and Saginaw, and Pontiac, and Flint and Highland Park, can not be ignored.

More brave souls presented a powerful Power Point presentation the other night at a  Benton Harbor city commission subcommittee meeting, exposing the truth about the plan to steal the park.

The grassroots, the Diane Heberts and Mr. Kechkaylo's of the world, they know their stuff.

LuAnne Kozma
Defense of Place


Harbor Shores irrigation would unleash toxins


The Harbor Shores project should never have been
allowed to begin and should not continue. I am 81,
grew up in the city of Benton Harbor, and through my
experience have first-hand knowledge of the
development area. I have received many blocked calls
telling me to keep my mouth shut. I won?t because I
care about this county and feel the residents are being
robbed and deceived.
At age 9, I began trapping muskrats in the marshes
and streams of the Paw Paw and St.
Joe rivers. The water was clear and clean and the
marshes were loaded with carp, northern pike and
pickerels, plus ducks, geese and songbirds. The
riverbanks were teaming with perch fingerlings and
emerald shiners.
On several occasions I saw trucks loaded with junk
and barrels marked ?danger-poison!? As they dumped
the junk into the Paw Paw, bulldozers pushed the
barrels to make room for more. The barrels broke open
and released a heavy green liquid. There was also a
small creek that ran from Auto Specialties into the Paw
Paw River that was yellow green in color. As a kid I
didn?t have waders and gloves and was unaware of the
toxins I was being exposed to. What I did know was
that if I didn?t get the muskrats out of that creek by
noon their hides would slip off!

Through the years I witnessed transformers,
refrigerators ? you name it ? being dumped into what
are now contamination hot spots. At the end of 50
years of trapping and fishing there was a noticeable
reduction of the fish and wildlife that were once so

Now the state is prepared to allow this very same land
to be used for a golf course, land that is made up of
fine sand where dangerous contaminants may be
deeply embedded. If the golf course is constructed,
the saturation of this ground with 450,000 gallons of
water a day for irrigation will cause these contaminants
to seep into the river and out into the lake.

I have been a Realtor for 45 years and was a highly
qualified appraiser. I am aware of the preposterous,
rock-bottom low appraisals for 22 acres of Jean Klock Park and the inflated
appraisals of the 40-some acres of the proposed
mitigated, disconnected and contaminated
swamplands; swamplands that are worth very little, if
anything at all. In my opinion the firm that conducted
the appraisals is highly incompetent. There are no
sales of swampland, therefore there are no
comparables for them.

During my career in real estate I have done many
planned unit developments and can tell you that you
must go through a lengthy and stringent permit
approval process. The process involves the county
health department and road commission, drain
commission, power company, etc., and when near
water, the Army Corps of Engineers. Why is it I could
not proceed with these types of developments unless I
had every single duck in a row first but Harbor Shores

William Kechkaylo
Berrien Springs

MICHDAVE@aol.com wrote:
I recall  during the waning days of the Engler/Harding era, Diane Hebert, walking up to the microphone before a packed public audience and tearing to shreds a Dow Chemical funded health study. Sitting at tables facing the audience  were any number of Engler's anointed officials who were in attendance to convince the public to support the study. There were many people in the audience who knew the study  was BS, that it was more of the same, State of MIchigan and Feds  kow-towing to Dow. Diane Hebert was the only one in the audience with the guts to tear that study up in front of everyone.... she never batted an eye she just did it. At the end of the day... Diane Hebert was the most correct person in that room. The bravest too!
The world today needs every voice not afraid to chime in..........
Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council  

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