In 1917, John Nellis Klock and his wife Carrie deeded a stellar 90-acre parcel of Lake Michigan frontage property to the City of Benton Harbor, Michigan and surrounding communities. There was one primary restriction: the property was to be used explicitly and forever as a public park and bathing beach. Still, with little opportunity for public input, the City of Benton Harbor recently signed a lease agreement with Harbor Shores for three holes of a privately owned Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course on this publicly owned Lake Michigan Park.
Friends of Jean Klock Park and supporters have beenworking diligently for over four years to protect the park and ensure the Klock family’s wishes are honored.
In mid-October, the City of Benton Harbor learned that its proposal to perpetually lease Jean Klock Park to private interests was rejected by the National Park Service (NPS). Since restricted federal funds have been used at the park, NPS approval is required.
The City of Benton Harbor received $1.74 million in federal and state grants for the park over the years, including a grant from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (administered by the National Park Service) with strict guidelines against taking public parkland away from the public. Jean Klock Park also was developed using grants from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Clean Michigan Initiative and other public programs.
This National Park Service’s rejection of the development proposal is a major victory. Hard work has finally paid off with a step in the right direction.
Although this is a major accomplishment, there is more work to do. Governor Granholm and the developer of Harbor Shores plan to appeal the decision. You can help!
Go to www.savejeanklockpark.org and sign the petition to request that Governor Jennifer Granholm withdraw the State of Michigan’s support for the Harbor Plan to convert public land to a privately-owned golf course.
Contact Carol Drake, Friends of Jean Klock Park, for more info:
(269) 925-4880 or