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E-M:/ JKP Protectors Succeed in Halting Beach Destruction

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

For Immediate Release
September 25, 2008


Terry Lodge, 419-205-7084

Julie Weiss, 269-277-6932
Protect Jean Klock Park

Cindy Arch, 707-395-0438
Executive Director, Defense of Place


(San Francisco, CA) - September 25, 2008  After putting their freedom on
the line in a valiant effort to protect Jean Klock Park, citizen activists
were victorious in stopping the bulldozers sent by Whirlpool
Corporation-backed Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment Inc. that this
week decimated the natural beach and destroyed legacy trees that have
graced the Park since it was dedicated in 1917.

Bowing to public outrage, the developers postponed their bulldozing until
after an October 2 hearing when a federal court judge will rule on an
injunction filed Monday by the park advocates to stop the destruction.

Seven Benton Harbor and Benton Township residents sued the National Park
Service in federal court last month, alleging extensive violations of the
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) by the NPS and failure to
properly apply regulations mandated under the Land and Water Conservation
Fund Act.  The State of Michigan and the city of Benton Harbor are named
as co-defendants.

Toledo, Ohio, attorney Terry J. Lodge who represents the plaintiffs in the
pending federal suit said, "All of this destruction is part of the illegal
conversion of Jean Klock Park.  A golf course will permanently damage the
park’s sand dunes, but that impact has not been fully disclosed to the

Benton Harbor City Commissioners in June turned over 22 acres of their
city's only lakeshore public park to private developers for construction
of an exclusive Jack Nicklaus signature golf course. In return, the
developers pay $35,000 per year to Benton Harbor; contribute $5,000
annually to a Community Benefits Fund; give Benton Harbor a percentage of
golf course net profits; promise to oversee spending of $3 million for
roads, trails and parking lots which will destroy many of the natural
features of the park as part of the golf course plan; and provide 38 acres
of non-contiguous brownfields and wetlands for new and mitigated parkland,
some of which are located in neighboring St. Joseph, home of area
Representative Fred Upton, a Whirlpool family heir who lives two blocks
from Jean Klock Park.

Governor Jennifer Granholm, Congressman Upton, and city commissioners tout
the 530-acre, $500 million dollar development that includes million dollar
homes as the salvation of poverty-stricken Benton Harbor.  Blue-sky
promises have ranged from improving literacy and homeownership, to
reducing the high-school dropout rate, more than doubling of the tax base,
and new jobs.

Before the recent upheaval in the national housing market, the Western
Michigan Business Review in April reported that the average household
income of new second-home owners, estimated at 65% of buyers by economic
development agency Cornerstone Alliance, would be $185,000.  The average
annual income for current Benton Harbor households is less than $26,000.

Defense of Place Executive Director Cindy Arch said her organization is
seeing a disturbing trend across the nation of public lands being given
over to corporate control.  "The last 'best land' in America is coveted by
big business.  When the government facilitates the transfer of public
resources to private interests, the government is no longer acting in the
interest of its citizens."

Defense of Place has assisted the advocates in the fight to save Jean
Klock Park, providing technical assistance and obtaining documents in the
public interest from federal, state and local agencies through the Freedom
of Information Act that otherwise would not have been made public.
Defense of Place works nationally for permanent protection of parks, open
space and wildlife refuges.  To contribute or for more information:

Defense of Place www.defenseofplace.org
Protect Jean Klock Park www.protectjkp.com


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