The March 2006 conceptual plan of the Harbor Shores Resort and Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course development was not intended for the public viewing. It was by serendipity that we obtained a copy. It was glaringly obvious by the location of the "Harbor Shores "BEACH" and Golf Lodge" at the entrance to JKP that this was a complete takeover of the park. What was also depicted was a post industrial area to be developed as a mixed use development for office space, retail, and small business opportunities. Also in the plan were townhouses, condominiums etc., all to create jobs and to increase property and business tax revenue for the city of Benton Harbor. But there was another huge problem with this artist rendering. The New Products Corporation, a 90 year old manufacturer of USA products that employees 100 people, and its adjacent parcels and warehouses, were virtually wiped clean from this conceptual plan and replaced with town homes and golf course amenities. Click here to view an annotated PDF. Click on the image below to enlarge.
In January of 2007 the entire development was reconfigured. With the changes came the loss of the mixed use development area between Ox Creek and Graham Avenue that would have created jobs and new business and would have generated much needed tax revenue for Benton Harbor - because after all, that is what this development is supposed to be all about - creating jobs and tax revenue for Benton Harbor. In the mixed use development's place is a driving range, two golf holes and a new clubhouse for a non-profit, tax exempt Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course development. New Products Corporation's manufacturing facility was returned to the map but it's adjacent parcels were not. Harbor Shores claims to have ownership through a tax sale of one of the parcels. The New Products Corporation is fighting those claims and has filed a lawsuit. And because the "Harbor Shores Beach and Golf Lodge" didn't go over so well in the March 2006 rendition above, and like it makes any difference, the planned hotel structure at the entrance to JKP was renamed the "Harbor Shores Experience Center." Click here to view an annotated PDF. Click on the image below to enlarge.
Below is an illustration of the 22 acre conversion area of the remaining 73 acres of JKP. The developers made strives to make the use of the 22 acres sound minuscule but the reality is the conversion area destroyed the entire wooded areas of the globally rare dunes and wetland areas as well as the natural ecosystems of the park. Now there is a user unfriendly picnic area in the center of three golf holes and what is left of the once special and contiguous ecosystem of JKP has been re-contoured beyond recognition. And where there was once native vegetation, disturbed ground welcomed the arrival and spread of Phragmites, Spotted Napweed and other invasive plant species. All that is really left of this once stellar park is a strand of beach. Click on the image below to enlarge.
The next document illustrates the 22 acre conversion area in red and the land swap parcels for the dunes of JKP in green. There is much to be said about the mitigation. Not only has JKP been gutted, the land swap is similar to dismembered pieces of parkland that have been thrown and scattered. Most of the mitigation parcels are contaminated from post industrial use and are termed "facilities", meaning they are places of excessive concentrations of hazardous waste. To learn more read the Gannett Fleming Report. Parcels D and F are of huge concern and were to have undergone mass excavation and disposal of soil, industrial waste and concrete debris. Public trails now run through these parcels - potentially contaminated trailways that families with small children walk and ride their bikes on and where others walk their dogs. All may be at risk of contaminated surface water and ground inhalants. These contaminated parcels and trailways are what were exchanged for the pure and pristine dunes of JKP. Click on the image below to enlarge.