Benton Harbor, Michigan — April 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Interactive panoramic image of Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor


The image below of Jean Klock Park and part of the Harbor Shores golf course is fully interactive and goes all the way around, 360-degrees. Use your mouse to drag in the direction you want to spin the image. You can also use the buttons to do these actions. Clicking “FULLSCREEN” (bottom right corner) gives the most dramatic effect, allowing it to fill your screen with a high resolution interactive panoramic image. You can also zoom in and out by scrolling or using the buttons at the bottom.

If you look just to the right of the tee box gazebo on top of the dune, you can see Ridgeway Drive, a row of very fancy houses where Congressman Fred Upton lives and the family of millionaire and developer Aubrey McClendon own four lots.

This image really lets you see the full scope of the golf course on the land deeded to the City of Benton Harbor by the Klock family. From the comments section at The Maddow Blog where my video from yesterday was reposted, “Katie-3340102” had this to say about the leasing of the parkland to the golf course:

Who wrote the lease for Benton Harbor? Why Harbor Shores’ attorney, of course, someone who, as it turns out, ALSO represented the City of Benton Harbor in a previous sale of Jean Klock Park acreage.

If you are patient and read through this next, perhaps it will elucidate.

In 2003, the City of Benton Harbor executed a buy-sell agreement with a developer called Grand Boulevard Renaissance. The land in question was an approximately 4-acre parcel of Jean Klock Park along its northern border.

Six people sued to stop the sale. They settled the lawsuit in exchange for an agreement, memorialized in a consent decree (judgment), that a permanent injunction against any development not related to public park or bathing beach purposes would be recorded with the Jean Klock Park deed.

But wait! There’s more!

Jean Klock Park was awarded a grant from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. This golf course “conversion” of JKP land had to be approved by the National Park Service, as a result. An appraisal using the Federal Uniform Appraisal Standards had to be undertaken in order to determine the value of the JKP land, so that the City of Benton Harbor could exchange other land to be used as a park, a requirement under the law, for what was being excised from JKP.

Enter the Consent Judgment.

The appraiser, working for the lawyer who wrote the Harbor Shores lease (he was then representing the City of BH – this was in 2006; he now represents Harbor Shores), used the Consent Judgment and its permanent injunction against commercial development as justification for valuing the land in JKP at about a 90% discount to market. He determined that the 22+ acres were worth about $900,000. because of the Consent Judgment.

The Federal Uniform Appraisal Standards contemplate such land use restrictions, however, and require an economic or “highest and best use” valuation in spite of zoning laws and the like. But thus far the federal courts have agreed with the city and the developer that the appraisal is sound, and further have held that the 7 people suing under federal law have no standing to challenge the appraisal.

So the lowball rent – and the Consent Judgment, as a matter of fact – are all part of the grand scheme.

The image is by my wife, Anne Savage. You can see more of her stunning photography at her website, Anne Savage Photography. Please do not repost without permission. Thank you.

I’m just sayin’…