black autonomy network community organization
working for economic and social justice in Benton Harbor, MI
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Harbor Shores’ Plan B is best option for all
The only real difference between Harbor Shores’ Plan A, which involves the taking of irreplaceable and invaluable public land, and Plan B, which does not, is that Plan B is infinitely better for everyone, including the investors.
Plan B offers two major attractions to draw people to this area, instead of only one. Nature, dunes and wildlife have all but disappeared along the lake, and, unlike golf courses which are overly abundant, appeal to almost everyone. If the golf course fails, and it will, the park will still be there attracting investment and economic growth for all, not just the very rich. Marcus Robinson says that if the course fails, it will revert back to the city, but even so, the land will be irretrievably altered and once again subject to the City Commission, which thus far has shown little interest in protecting it.
One of the great myths is that no one uses Jean Klock Park. I was there with some friends recently, swimming and enjoying the sunset along with at least 50 other people, including families with children cooking hot dogs. There were only twogarbage cans, which of course were overflowing. Apparently the city of Benton Harbor claims it cannot afford more garbage cans.
Thousands of dollars from the wrongful sale of Grand Boulevard were supposed to be dedicated to the park’s maintenance. Where did this money go? A recent private gift of $200,000 for upkeep also seems to have disappeared. Not to mention the fees collected by the city for the many events that take place in the park, as well as parking fees that accompany those events. Is there any accountability?
Another myth is that if you are against the taking of the park, you are against Harbor Shores and the renewal of Benton Harbor. Many of those who have been fighting to save the park have invested significantly in downtown Benton Harbor, particularly in the Arts District. The dissension that these myths have created has already done a great harm to this community.
Harbor Shores should admit that there is a way for everyone to be satisfied. If it’s leaders had told the truth and followed the law in the first place, there would be no need for lawsuits.