"Heart of Michigan Park Sacrificed for Private Golf Course"

"BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- In this predominantly black town with the lowest per-capita income anywhere in this hard-hit Rust Belt state, municipal leaders allowed a development group to take over the heart of a city park that fronts onto Lake Michigan -- land originally bequeathed to the people of Benton Harbor forever."

"Opponents claim the land deal violates the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act. In 1977, Benton Harbor accepted money from the fund for park development under the condition that it remain forever open to public or, if closed, be replaced with land of equal fair market value and reasonably equivalent recreational use.

Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment, Inc., a consortium of Whirlpool Foundation and two other non-profit groups, used the city land in the center of Jean Klock Park to build three holes of a 'Jack Nicklaus Signature' golf course. The course anchors a $500 million development billed on the developer’s website as combining 'the charm of a small town with the year-round amenities of a world-class destination, ideally located just 90 minutes from downtown Chicago.'

Annual memberships at the golf course start at $3,750. This in a town where the median income is $17,301, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, and where the 2010 U.S. Census found 48 percent of residents live below the poverty line."

Robert McClure reports for InvestigateWest June 11, 2012.

Source: Investigate West, 06/12/2012