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E-M:/ Federal Lawsuit Filed to Protect Jean Klock Park

Enviro-Mich message from LuAnne Kozma <luanne_kozma@yahoo.com>


For Immediate Release: August 5, 2008


Contact:  Protect Jean Klock Park

                 Julie Weiss

                 (269)  519 – 8192


                 email:   info@protectjkp.com


Jean Klock Park Advocates Sue National Park Service

Cite extensive violation of National Environmental Policy Act

State of Michigan Named Co-Defendant


(Benton Harbor, Michigan) – August 5, 2008


Seven Benton Harbor and Benton Township residents today filed suit against the National Park Service in the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging multiple violations of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and failure to properly apply regulations mandated under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act in its July 25 decision to approve the conversion of Jean Klock Park on Lake Michigan to an elite Jack Nicklaus golf course.


Residents assert that the plan to convert significant portions of the Park for private development fails to disclose the true scope of impacts to the environment and fails to present and analyze serious development alternatives as required under the law.


The 91year-old public park offers commanding views of Lake Michigan from the dunes - -  which would be off limits to all but golfers paying greens fees reported to be as high as $225. per round.


The State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the City of Benton Harbor also are named as defendants in the 52-page Complaint filed by Toledo attorney Terry J. Lodge. 


The lawsuit claims that the City and the developer, Harbor Shores, a consortium made up of the Whirlpool Foundation, the Cornerstone Alliance and the Alliance for World Class Communities, have continuously concealed significant information about the environmental impacts which would result from golf course construction and maintenance in the park. The conversion plan does not reveal the quantity of sand which would be removed from the dunes and replaced with topsoil for a stable, unchanging base, nor the amount of chemical herbicides and pesticides which would be released into the environment, nor does it take into account the widely fluctuating lake level over time and the effects of historical high levels in reducing the beach and park land available to the public.

"We think if the public had been told the truth about how much permanent damage there will be to the dunes, trees, plants and animals, the outrage would have killed this idea.  Why else did Harbor Shores hide this from us?" said Emma Kinnard, a plaintiff.


 “Extensive excavation and stabilization of the dunes would be necessary to plant golf course features,” said plaintiff Julie Weiss.  “In a plan which describes wetland fill to the last cubic yard, there is no dissection whatsoever of the impacts to the dunes, the signature landscape of Lake Michigan’s eastern shore. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.”


Plaintiffs also contend that the appraisal price of $900,000 for the 22 acres featuring dramatic views of Lake Michigan is low by perhaps $15,000,000 because it ignores explicit federal requirements.   Finally, opponents of golf holes in the park assert that seven parcels of land along the Paw Paw River, some of it so polluted it may be too expensive to clean up, cannot come close to compensating the public for taking away the aesthetic beauty and joy which access to the dunes affords.


“Rarely has the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act been so violated,” said LuAnne Kozma, Michigan Director of the San Francisco-based park preservation organization, Defense of Place. “The law is very clear. This lawsuit has national implications for places everywhere that matter, like Jean Klock Park.”   Kozma has worked with many local residents and people around the state for over two years to preserve the park for the public for all time.


On July 8 Carol Drake and Clellen Bury representing the Friends of Jean Klock Park filed a separate lawsuit in Berrien County Circuit Court alleging multiple violations of a four-year-old settlement agreement promising no future development in the park.


 “This park was left to all of us, and our children, and their children, forever,” said James Duncan, another plaintiff.  “No one living today will be alive when this lease runs out in 105 years.  They’re taking our park away to give to outsiders for what in real life terms is ‘forever.’” 


 “We have a better idea:  build Harbor Shores golf course outside the park, and follow our lead to restore Jean Klock Park to the grandeur envisioned in the 1920’s by the foremost Prairie School landscape architect, Jens Jensen. That way, we’ll have something special for everyone,” said Nicole Moon, a plaintiff.

For more information contact Protect Jean Klock Park  at info@protectjkp.com or telephone 269 519 8192.  Visit our website at www.protectjkp.com.

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