Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jean Klock Park Is Used On Daily Basis

July Letter to Editor, Benton Spirit Newspaper

The Herald-Palladium reports the Cornerstone Alliance spin on Jean Klock Park as factual alluding that there are only a “couple of people” opposing the City of Benton Harbor lease deal with Harbor Shores Redevelopment Inc. for three holes of their Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. Perhaps that newspaper should investigate for the truth rather than perpetuating the propaganda.

Hopefully, the readers and federal agencies understand that the public hearing “pro-golf course use of JKP supporters” majority were actually Cornerstone Alliance members residing in St. Joseph, Stevensville and surrounding areas--and not representative of BH residents.

Those supporters are not facing “good-for-the-area” land grab developments in their local public parks. A proposal to close a portion of Lions Park or Tiscornia Park in St. Joseph for the golf course would cause a major outcry. However, the local elected leadership doesn’t listen to the residents’ voiced concerns when expressing opposition to some development.

Several BH City Commissioners repeatedly state that anyone residing outside of the City of BH should not have any say in what the commissioners choose to do with the city’s JKP.

They emphasize that their responsibility is to the BH residents who elected them. Therefore, their responsibility should also be to protect this valuable lakeshore public park gift from encroaching development.

By the commissioners’ own statements, the non-BH residents’ letters should not receive any credence. Why are the “pro-golf course use of JKP” BH city residents not regularly proclaiming support at public city commission meetings?

That paper has reported the over-saturation of golf courses in Michigan, and the failing golf course developments around the nation. The Oaks golf course, formerly located on Niles Road/M-63, became another housing development. A number of fine, outstanding and struggling golf courses exist in Southwest Michigan. How many courses will be put out of business with the Harbor Shores plans? Has consideration been given to those existing businesses, the damage that will be done, and the jobs that will be lost? Or don’t those existing business owners count? [Golf course runoff is number one cause of Great Lakes pollution. ed.]

The question causing “great disappointment” for many is why a proposed plan to enrich JKP and all of its natural beauty was not presented and sold as a tourist destination?
When were the BH residents, Commissioners and the various local governmental agencies ever publicly presented with alternative proposals for JKP? When were the publicized opportunities in the planning stages to present original plans for this invaluable shoreline parkland given?

How long have local entities plotted to get and steal this Lake Michigan land gem from the rightful BH owner residents forever losing another portion of JKP? Those are the facts that need to be reported publicly. Unfortunately, Cornerstone Alliance chose to operate backwards on these development plans making deals and promises and now trying to get the permissions. And, anyone expressing opposition to their plans is “anti-progress” and “destroying the future of the area.” Do they believe that the residents are that ignorant?

For those who keep reporting that no one uses the park, have you been there recently? I wish you could see all of the people that are having fun and using the park on a daily basis. Evidently no one told them that they were not supposed to be there.
--Bette Pierman, Benton Harbor