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E-M:/ For Immediate Release: Benton Harbor Park Advocates Expose Contamination Documents



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Enviro-Mich message from LuAnne Kozma <luanne_kozma@yahoo.com>
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Breaking news from the Jean Klock Park advocates.
For the undisclosed documents, see the link inside the release.


For Immediate Release: March 9, 2009

Contact:
Terry J. Lodge, 419-255-7552
Protect Jean Klock Park: info@protectjkp.com


Jean Klock Park Advocates Expose Contamination Documents

(Benton Harbor, Michigan) – Plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit to protect Jean Klock Park against unlawful golf course development provided new evidence to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today--documents never shown to the public or to federal agencies responsible for permitting -- that shows that the contamination issues on the proposed replacement parklands that are being covered up by the Harbor Shores developers are so severe that the permit needs to be revoked and the project must stop. 

In a letter by the plaintiffs’ legal counsel, Terry J. Lodge, of Toledo, Ohio, the group provided several documents that the Army Corps and National Park Service did not see during the permitting process. The plaintiffs called for an immediate suspension of the Clean Water Act permit granted by the Corps for the destruction of natural features in, and conversion of, Jean Klock Park.

The documents were brought to light only through Freedom of Information Act requests by the plaintiffs, months after the City of Benton Harbor held a public comment period in early 2008.  New significant findings include a letter by Earth Tech from April 2007 and a report on mitigation parcels by Gannett Fleming which detail the presence of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals, and a handwritten analysis by a Michigan DEQ staffer which discussing the high toxic levels on the parcels.

The federal agencies and the public were also not told that the developers plan to remove 900 dump-truck loads of sand and earth from the park’s dunes, an admission only made by Harbor Shores in testimony in federal court.

“Contrary to what was disclosed to the public for scrutiny during the pre-application phase in early 2008 by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Environmental Quality, and the City of Benton Harbor, we now know that all but one of the seven conversion mitigation parcels swapped for JKP land are contaminated,” Lodge stated. “These are the lands which, the public was told, are supposedly equal or even superior in quality to the pristine dunes overlooking the Lake Michigan shoreline within the park… the concealment is breathtaking.”

After the National Park Service and State of Michigan approved the conversion of Jean Klock Park as part of the privately-owned golf course backed by Whirlpool Corporation and championed by Governor Jennifer Granholm, seven Benton Harbor residents filed suit in federal court last summer against the Department of Interior (Weiss et. al. v. Kempthorne ) to stop the destruction of the park. The case has yet to be heard on the merits. 

To date, no Environmental Impact Statement has been done for the Harbor Shores project to assess the impacts on the entire region, Lake Michigan, the Paw Paw River and to the dunes and wetlands inside Jean Klock Park.

The National Park Service outright rejected, and later reversed itself without explanation when it rubber-stamped the proposed replacement lands to be used as parkland. In its 2007 rejection of the proposal, the Park Service cited numerous flaws in the parcels---their usefulness as parkland because they are dispersed parcels not permanently connected to each other—and also stated that if the parcels were contaminated or controlled by  Harbor Shores, they would be rejected.  

“The National Park Service relied on the State of Michigan for its assurance that the contamination issues were resolved without seeing some of these key documents and without insisting on a Environmental Impact Statement, which is why both the federal government and Michigan DNR are named in the lawsuit,” said LuAnne Kozma, Michigan Director of Defense of Place, a national park advocacy organization that is supporting the fight to protect Jean Klock Park.

The letter to the U.S. Army Corps and the previously undisclosed documents demonstrating contamination are posted on:

http://protectjkp.com/documents.htm.

For updates on Jean Klock Park:

www.protectjkp.com
www.savejeanklockpark.org
www.defenseofplace.org

# # #



--- On Mon, 3/9/09, LuAnne Kozma <luanne_kozma@yahoo.com> wrote:

> From: LuAnne Kozma <luanne_kozma@yahoo.com>
> Subject: E-M:/ Bulldozers in Jean Klock Park
> To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
> Date: Monday, March 9, 2009, 11:01 AM
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Enviro-Mich message from LuAnne Kozma
> <luanne_kozma@yahoo.com>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 
> 
> Harbor Shores plans to tell more of its fairy tales in
> Benton Harbor today in a so-called public meeting.... while
> the media spits out Cornerstone Alliance press releases, and
> does not report on the destruction this Lake Michigan
> historic park.
> 
> Thank you to local advocate groups Protect JKP and Friends
> of Jean Klock Park for getting out the story on its
> websites, and for fighting this in court.
> 
> The federal case has not yet been heard, and the state case
> is on appeal with the Michigan state appeals court.
> 
> Take a look at the destruction of the park that happened
> last week on the Protect JKP website:
> 
> http://protectjkp.com/
> 
> Donations to the two local groups are very
> appreciated--keep them coming.
> 
> LuAnne
> 
> LuAnne Kozma
> Defense of Place
> www.defenseofplace.org
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
>       
> 
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