Benton Harbor Emergency Manager Joe Harris restricts access to Jean Klock Park


THIS seems rather arbitrary. Which probably means there’s some underlying reason for it that will raise your hackles.

Locals are no longer allowed to take early morning walks in the park under an order issued by Benton Harbor’s Emergency Manager Joe Harris.

Jean Klock Park, the city’s public waterfront which has already been partially privatized as a Jack Nicklaus golf course, will only be open from 10 am to 10 pm between May 1 and Sept. 30, according to a May 4 order from Harris.

Residents claim that the order conflicts with the city’s charter, the deed that granted the park to the city and other legal agreements.


“Not only have the citizens of Benton Harbor lost their right to have representation by their elected officials, but they are also gradually losing the historical access to and use of their public parkland,“ said Carol Drake of Friends of Jean Klock Park. “Through his sole jurisdiction Joseph Harris has eroded the rights and privileges of the citizens. Is this being done to deprive the residents of access or is there another motive such as future privatization?”

You can read Harris’ order HERE (pdf).

Again, since there is no clear and obvious reason for this seemingly arbitrary action, we will need to dig deeper into the real cause. Got any ideas? Share them in the comments.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: I just noticed that this isn’t a new order. It was issued on May 4, 2011. It just goes to show that much of what is being done by Emergency Managers flies mostly under the radar and, in the case of Benton Harbor, it requires us to constantly check out their webpage to see what Joe Harris is up to.