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GLIN==> National Park Service Rejects Benton Harbor Park Privatization



October 17, 2007

National Park Service Rejects Conversion Proposal for Jean Klock Park

Jean Klock Park supporters elated over decision that protects historic park

For Immediate Release     

CONTACT:   
Carol Drake, Friends of Jean Klock Park    
(269) 925-4880        info@savejeanklockpark.org

LuAnne Kozma, Defense of Place         
(248) 473-5761      luanne@defenseofplace.org

Friends of Jean Klock Park    www.savejeanklockpark.org
Defense of Place                    www.defenseofplace.org
Olson, Bzdok, and Howard    www.envlaw.com



(Benton Harbor, Mich. October 17, 2007)?The Friends of Jean Klock Park and supporters applauded a decision by the National Park Service today that rejected  the conversion proposal submitted by the City of Benton Harbor through the State of Michigan, to lease Jean Klock Park to private interests to construct part of a golf course in the park. 

Jean Klock Park, a pristine park with dunes and a half-mile of lakefront on Lake Michigan, was deeded and gifted to Benton Harbor residents 90 years ago. Residents won further protection for the park in 2004 as a result of a lawsuit that allowed the carving out of some acreage for a residential development with the stipulation that the remaining acres of the park be kept as a public park.

The City of Benton Harbor received $1.74 million in federal and state grants for the park over the years, including a grant from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, administered by the National Park Service which has strict guidelines against taking public parkland away from the public. 

Jean Klock Park also was developed using grants from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Clean Michigan Initiative and other programs.

In a letter to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the National Park Service rejected the entire conversion proposal that would give control of the entirety of Jean Klock Park to the private organization  Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment Incorporated and its affiliates. One of the affiliates, Cornerstone Alliance, the local economic development organization,  also would have benefited from the privatization plan.  

The National Park Service called the proposed replacement lands for the Jean Klock Park acreage that would be lost ?insufficient in magnitude, capacity, and viability to mitigate the subject 22.11 acre or any larger conversion.? 

?Justice has prevailed, the law was upheld and the clear intent of Mr. and Mrs. Klock's gift will be protected,? said Carol Drake, of Friends of Jean Klock Park and a plaintiff in the lawsuit a few years ago to protect the park. 

?The National Park Service correctly recognized the injustice that was proposed for Jean Klock Park,? said LuAnne Kozma, Michigan Director of Defense of Place, an organization that assisted the Friends group with their fight. ?This decision reaffirms that public parks rightfully belong to the public."

The National Park Service soundly rejected the proposal on all grounds including the lease agreement between  the City and the developer.
 
Emma Kinnard, a Benton Harbor resident who worked to save the park, said,  "It's a blessing the National Park Service could see to the heart of residents' concerns and honored the fact that this park was a gift to us to be here for our future generations. I was told over and over again this was a done deal. This is proof that it wasn?t true."

Jean Klock Park was dedicated to the children of Benton Harbor and future generations in large public ceremonies in the park?s dunes in 1917 when donors John and Carrie Klock  gave the parkland as a memorial to their deceased daughter Jean. 

To view the letter from the National Park Service, go to:

 www.savejeanklockpark.org

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