Friday, March 26, 2010

Opponents of park privatization appeal to state Supreme Court
By Eartha Jane Melzer 3/25/10

Benton Harbor residents that oppose the transformation of the city’s lakefront park into a private golf course are appealing a recent Court of Appeals ruling that OK’d the golf development.

The Friends of Jean Klock Park warn that if the ruling is allowed to stand it will clear the way for further corporate takeovers of public land. The group said:

“We feel more strongly than ever that the Trial Court and Court of Appeals erred in their decisions and we are deeply concerned about the dangerous precedent that has been set. The decision of the Appeals Court will most certainly clear a path for corporations and government to take dedicated public park land and use it for private commercial purposes. People who make a gift, who leave a legacy like the Klocks, should know that their legacy will be protected in the future. Unless the Michigan Supreme Court reverses the lower court’s decision, “those who do not own a foot of ground…have no piano or phonograph”, as John Klock promised at the dedication ceremony, are the biggest losers, because the park is no longer theirs.”

Jean Klock Park was donated to Benton Harbor in 1917. In 2006 the city agreed to lease 22 acres at the center of Jean Klock park to developers for 105 years. The city was given contaminated former industrial parcels in trade for the park’s lakeside dunes.