Friday, June 22, 2007

Whirlpool Nails the Benton Harbor Coffin


Three years ago Whirlpool flew all of the Benton
Harbor city commissioners to Atlanta where they were
wined and dined for a weekend. The goal of this trip?
To show the commissioners a golf course! After
this "bribery vacation", the commissioners agreed to
sell Whirlpool 530 acres of Benton Harbor land for
less than one million dollars. An outright steal.
The commissioners who voted to sell for almost nothing
are the reason Benton Harbor residents may no longer
be able to enjoy nature, the lake, and the beach in
summer, and the reason why we could have an
environmental disaster in our midst.


It was a dark day on May 21, 2007. Governor Granholm
came to the city of Benton Harbor, Michigan to give
Whirlpool her blessing to take-over the city of Benton

As reported in the 5/22/07 Herald Palladium, David
Whitwan, the former CEO of Whirlpool said, "'Today, we
are pleased to announce the real beginning of a
project called Harbor Shores.' [Many Berrien County
residents understand that this implies the take-over
of Benton Harbor.]

"'It is more than bricks and mortar and a Jack
Nicklaus golf course,' Gov. Jennifer Granholm said at
the evening celebration. For the record... Harbor
Shores is to consist of the 18 holes Nicklaus
Signature Golf Course; about 860 units of [elegant
exquisite] housing; a 350-room hotel, conference
center [for the rich] and 60,000-square-foot indoor
water park [for members only]; a second hotel; 27,000
square feet of commercial and retail space; and two
marinas." [And don't forget the new posh
condominiums that will over take the community.]

"Jack Nicklaus describes his plans for the centerpiece
of Harbor Shores, a top-flight public golf course,
during a taped video presentation Monday." Nicklaus
meant to say a top-flight private elegant golf course
for the rich only.

Jack Nicklaus design involvement in the Harbor Shores
take-over of Benton Harbor began over four years ago.
Nicklaus's company reviews dozens of potential
projects world wide every year and does not engage in
everyone of them. But Harbor Shores was very
appealing for various reasons. One, the 530 acres of
beautiful land for almost no money. It was a steal.
Second, given the many design locations that were
considered over the past four years, the most recent
design plan has been an exhaustive effort including
three holes in Benton Harbor Jean Klock Park beach.
Without these holes as depicted in the current design,
the course and overall development would fall short of
being marketed as a world class desination.

Mark Mitchell, Alliance for World Class Community,
has failed the city of Benton Harbor by refusing to
tell the residents the truth. There will be no
training and no jobs, directly or indirectly. No
renovation of homes for the citizens of Benton Harbor.
There will be a direct take over of Benton Harbor, a
city that is 96%

The development project in Benton Harbor, a city
controlled by Whirlpool, will convert our Jean Klock
Park beach, the only place in the city that provides
public access to Lake Michigan into a golf course for
the very rich.

Jean Klock Park beach provides the only place where
the African-American residents of Benton Harbor can
freely enjoy the environment, open space dunes and on
the beautiful beach of the Lake within Benton Harbor
city limits. The environmental impact of the proposed
private golf course will be devastating to the
African-American community. The filling in of
wetlands have a negative impact on the environment of
the community. The wetlands and the pesticide usage
would have a detrimental impact on city residents,
waterways, and wildlife. Pesticides will be
devastating to the city of Benton Harbor.

The developers, Governor Granholm, Benton Harbor city
commissioners, and others supporting this take over of
Benton Harbor can not hide from the truth forever.
The Harbor Shores take over will turn jean klock park
into a private golf course and drive the residents of
Benton Harbor completely out of the city.

My question to the governor: what if the governor of
Michigan spent a fraction of the tax payers dollars
she is pouring into Harbor Shores on employment and
education for the residents of Benton Harbor? The
problem is simple: Harbor Shores development is for
the rich. Corporate greed is placed ahead of the
peoples' need. Let us fight this take-over.