“The struggle to save Jean Klock Park from development is an issue of moral values. The park was a gift for ‘the children of future generations forever’ “

Benton Harbor Blues

Re “Can Jack Nicklaus Save Benton Harbor?” by Mick Dumke, May 22

You missed the fact that the City of Benton Harbor is required to mitigate the land with land of equal or greater recreational value. And that the city has already lost a court case over selling another part of the park, and is prohibited from giving up any more of the park. And that the city illegally sold off lake frontage after they accepted the park grant and they will still need to mitigate that parcel. This is going to cost the city of Benton Harbor so much money that it doesn’t have!


Last fall in a petition drive to ask the governor of Michigan to withdraw support for taking the public park, roughly seven out of ten people in both the “twin cities” were willing to sign and did so. Others were supportive but fearful of consequences if their name showed up in support of something which has the false appearance of being against “progress.” Most people get the dynamics; the chamber of commerce understandably is concerned about business, most of which is elsewhere. But the real profit potential over the short to mid-term—if the market ever recovers—is in land speculation. And water. Ahem.

The boil order last year was because a contractor working for the developer ruptured a pipe—and a person working on the crew wrote to the local paper to set the record straight. So easy to blame the city—but in this case, it wasn’t the city’s fault.

Catherine Garden

To Xopher: While the story does note that “any conversion of parkland would have to be offset by new land of equal or greater utility,” you’re absolutely right about the 2003 battle over the conversion of park space to private homes—though of course those homes went up anyway.

Catherine: I believe there were two boil orders in Benton Harbor last year. One, in October, was the result of a Harbor Shores construction mishap. The other, about a month earlier, occurred after a 17-year-old pipe broke in the Benton Harbor water plant, which state environmental officials say needs major repairs. Last month the city approved terms of a $14.5 million loan to make them.

Mick Dumke

As a child growing up in the “twin cities” of St. Joseph/Benton Harbor, MI, it was a given and an impressive piece of knowledge to be assured that Jean Klock Park had been protected by the benevolent actions of John Klock in a legal covenant to always be there in its natural state, for future generations of children.

Area beaches have always had their turn at popularity, and the fact that Jean Klock Park is now one of the lesser used is no argument for its destruction. In its natural state, the dunes and wetlands within the park offer visitors the imagery of what this area looked like hundreds, perhaps thousands of years ago. This was Klock’s intent, to give people a meditative place that nurtured the spirit and soul. Nearby Silver Beach in St. Joseph is crowded and full of structured activity areas, volleyball courts, sculpture, and has lost any natural appeal to anyone seeking the simple gift of quietude amid the sun, sand, and air.

What truly exists in the struggle to save Jean Klock Park from development is an issue of moral values. The park was a gift for “the children of future generations forever” and for Cornerstone Alliance’s Wendy Dant Chesser to [state] “the children of Benton Harbor are not using it today” misses the mark in its flimsy righteousness to justify the aberration of the parkland and snub the Klock legacy. Whether for or against the proposed golf course, there isn’t anyone who would not be outraged and aghast to witness someone stealing from a child. Yet essentially, this is exactly what is transpiring within Harbor Shores efforts to acquire Jean Klock Park for their profiteering purposes. It’s carpetbagging and thievery from its rightful heirs, future generations of children unborn, who have no voice in what justly in truth, belongs to them.

Michel Dasse

Benton Harbor, MI

Unsung Ribs

Re “Smoke and Sauce,” Restaurants 5/22

There is a place on the south side that nobody talks about and it is probably one of the oldest and best rib houses. [It’s] called Ribs Unlimited [1419 W. 79th St.]; they are not fancy but they give you a very solid product.

Casey Coleman

An Open Letter to Grant Park Conservancy President Bob O’Neill

Dear Bob,

The audacity of you to pen a letter to the Chicago Journal last week excoriating anyone who objects to you and Daley ignoring the courts, majority public opinion, and the wishes of Grant Park’s original creators by insisting that the Children’s Museum be relocated there [“A Commission of Puppets by Ben Joravsky, May 15; “Forever Open, Clear, and Free” by Lynn Becker, September 14]! Who the hell are you to refer to those who object to this fiasco as “fringe groups” and to question where “their authority and credibility comes from?” Contrary to your stupid contention that “this issue has been blown way out of proportion,” the only thing out of proportion is your misguided notion that Daley and his army of lapdogs, of which you are chief among, are sole determinants of what is best for this city, and that constituents’ opinions don’t count for jack. And the nerve of you to feign a concern for children! If you and Daley genuinely cared for kids, most of whom are not the privileged Lincoln Park ilk you are most comfortable with, you’d readily see the wisdom of relocating the museum to a more accessible neighborhood location.

Gerry Martin

Dearborn Park