Wednesday, January 20, 2010

[Whirlpool's plan to profit from public legacy would make all public land vulnerable to privatization]

Federal judge dismisses lawsuit over Jean Klock Park
By Eartha Jane Melzer 1/19/10

A federal judge in Grand Rapids has dismissed a lawsuit that claimed the National Park Service and Army Corps of Engineers failed to follow environmental laws when they allowed Benton Harbor’s Jean Klock to be developed as a private Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course.

Opponents of the conversion of the public park say that a critical concern is the trade of majestic dune views in a globally rare ecosystem along Lake Michigan for 38 acres of environmentally contaminated, former industrial land.

“We’re taking an appeal because there were several major factual errors and legal flaws in the ruling, which, if left unchallenged, open local and state parks across the country to privatization just because a powerful entity has a plan to profit from the public’s legacy,”
Terry Lodge, attorney for the plaintiffs said in a statement.

Cornerstone Alliance President Wendy Dant Chesser told WSJM that last week’s ruling validates years of hard work on the part of Harbor Shores developers.

A separate case remains pending in the state Court of Appeals.

Plaintiffs in that case claim that the privatization of the park violates the terms of the deed that granted it to the public as well as a 2004 consent judgment in which the city of Benton Harbor agreed to preserve the park for public use.