Letter of Complaint to WPA


Dear Ladies and Gentlemen 7/26/2010

Please be advised that I represent various residents and potential users of the John Bonnell Park who have been interfered with directly by members of your association in their attempts to utilize this park. The John Bonnell Park was gifted to the Grand Rapids Parks and Boulevard Association in 1914. This association in turn donated the area to the City of Grand Rapids in 1920 “ for the use and benefit of the public”. Research regarding the plating and property line history of this park has been performed, and the Register of Deeds office does not reveal a transfer of this property from the Township of Grand Rapids to your entity or any other after 1920. Property research reveals that the WPA owns property adjacent to John Bonnell Park which is owned by Grand Rapids Township. However, the property owned by the WPA describes only an approximate 28 feet of lake frontage. A copy of the property description and demonstration of property owned by WPA is attached for your convenience. In spite of the limited property owned by WPA, your association has “claimed” a large section of public lake frontage to which you have no right.

Individuals I represent report harassment and intimidation by WPA members including but not limited to attempted expulsion from the park, physical threat, and threat of reputation defamation. WPA has also engaged in various improvements to public property, including establishment of a marina, permanent gate with lock, electrical utility, permanent brick grilling structure, kayak and canoe storage racks, and signage declaring the area as private property of the WPA. These “improvements” have taken place on public property and without proper permission from Grand Rapids Township or the State of Michigan. These activities have been carried out in a manner that excludes residents in the surrounding area to equal use. As far as I have been able to discern, WPA has not obtained a license, easement, or other legal agreement for use and occupation of the John Bonnell Park

Additionally, I have been unable to find evidence on record of any environmental studies prior to the establishment of the marina, nor a permit issued by the State of Michigan for the operation of the marina. This is in violation of Michigan Compiled Laws 324.30102. Further activities relevant to these laws include removal of natural vegetation, placement of fill, and drainage of waterfront along the registered wetlands of John Bonnell Park between Reeds Lake Boulevard and Reeds Lake.

If I am wrong regarding an exclusive right for use having been granted by the township of Grand Rapids, please provide evidence to demonstrate that I am incorrect. If I am wrong regarding your failure to comply with the Department of Environmental Quality regulations for either environmental studies or the permitting of your marina, please provide documentation to prove that I am incorrect. However the matter has been researched and I suspect that in fact WPA has proceeded under its own perceived authority and simply established the marina and other “improvements” to the exclusion of all public users, without legal right.

At this point on behalf of my clients I demand that WPA and its members do the following within 10 days of the date of this letter:

1)Remove the existing gate from it’s hinges and remove any other barrier that impedes any user from free entry to John Bonnell Park.

2)Remove all signage from the public property of John Bonnell Park and re-establish those signs at the appropriate property line of the WPA

3)Stop harassing, intimidating, threatening or engaging in ANY activity perceived as such or otherwise interfering with the free use of any public user of John Bonnell Park

4)State in writing intent at the end of this current season to remove all watercraft currently resting on the grass of John Bonnell Park.

In the event that WPA fails and/or refuses to comply with the demands of this letter and provide written verification of the same, I will proceed to address this matter and in turn seek recovery of damages and attorney fees from the WPA. My clients have authorized me in this event to seek both declaratory and injunctive relief in the Kent County Circuit Court.  An outcome in favor of this pursuit risks for the WPA the court-ordered abandonment of most current waterside activity and likely the marina itself. Involvement of the courts would quite possibly in turn involve the DEQ which would direct its attention to the entire waterfront of John Bonnell Park. This matter can be resolved swiftly and without any further expense, time, or litigation by compliance with the reasonable demands stated above. I look forward to your prompt response to this matter.

Thank you,