Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009
Justice is still possible for Klock supporters

Editor[herald palladium],

In a recent letter to the editor, Ray Dively wrote about the taking of 22-plus acres of Jean Klock Park's dunes and wetlands for a golf course development. He said that in his opinion this "was nothing but a land grab." It's obvious that even someone who does not live here sees the golf course development in the park for what it is. I have no doubt there are many who do live here who also feel the same way, but for one reason or another cannot go on record as being opposed to the destruction of the natural resources of the park.

Mr. Dively also questioned the breaking of the Klock deed. Not only did the 1917 Klock family deed indicate that the land was to be used forever by Benton Harbor as a public park, the city of Benton Harbor's own resolution states that "this land shall be named and forever known as Jean Klock Park." Not "Jean Klock Beach," or "Harbor Shores Golf and Beach Club," as depicted on maps, but "forever" as "Jean Klock Park." At the 1917 park dedication ceremony Mr. Klock stated: "Perhaps some of you do not own a foot of ground, therefore this park belongs to you ... The beach is yours, the drive is yours, the dunes are yours, all yours." He also asked that park remain in as natural of state as possible.

There is also the 2004 consent judgment that was intended to restrict further private development within JKP. As one of the plaintiffs who agreed to the 2003 settlement that resulted in the consent judgment, I can tell you that a golf course was never contemplated as a "public park purpose," and that our attorneys failed to advise us that particular language could be used as a loophole to allow a golf course use.

A lawsuit was filed in the fall of 2008 by myself and another former plaintiff to uphold the Klock deed and the consent judgment. The outcome was obviously predetermined, as the lawsuit was dismissed after a brief recess followed by a very lengthy, prewritten dissertation by a preconceiving judge. An appeal has been filed and while we await a court date, we remain adamant that both the Klock family deed and 2004 consent judgment have been grossly violated.

I and many others will forever remember how this spectacular land was bequeathed by an honorable and generous couple as a memorial to their child. No matter how popular the perceived improvements to JKP are, the parkland was desecrated out of greed by those who for 20 years secretly worked through the system until the day came when the majority of JKP could be wrested away from the public. I believe there are still plans that haven't been revealed; plans for the park for when the course fails; plans that don't include those who don't "own a foot of ground."

To support the Friends of Jean Klock's efforts to overturn the court's decision please visit: www.savejeanklockpark.org. Also, please visit: www.protectjkp.com.

Carol Drake, Sodus