Monday, April 21, 2008

Jack Lessenberry on Jean Klock Park development

Part of Jack Lessenberry's commentary on Mich. Public Radio on Monday, 4/21/08:

...Today, Benton Harbor is the poorest city in Michigan, a place of boarded up storefronts. John Klock’s Benton Harbor was 97 percent white. Today’s city is 95 percent black.

There are those who say the Harbor Shores development is Benton Harbor’s last best hope. They say it will boost the local economy. That rich people will come to play golf and frolic on the beach, and their dollars will trickle down to benefit the poor.

Maybe, but I doubt it. What I do know is that the property belonged to John Nellis Klock, who died seventy years ago this month. If he had wanted it to be a golf course, he would have said so.

He once had been a very poor kid, who had never been able to take his only daughter to the beach. He wanted to make it possible for other poor kids to do what he couldn’t. I think there is little doubt as to what the park’s future should be.