Supervisor, Grand Rapids Township
1836 E. Beltline NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Dear Mr Devries,
We are a small handful of local residents interested in occasional use of John Bonnell Park. In brief, if I understand correctly, John Bonnell Park is township property. I have met with several WPA members represented by xxxx. The WPA claims they have been granted explicit permission by Mr. Devries to utilize, govern, and improve this public property. They referred me to you for confirmation of this claim. Another member brought up that new arrangements are pending with the township to solidify WPA’s exclusive access. If this is true, I believe there would be sufficient interest from other community members to be made aware. I wasn’t able to find any documentation, minutes, public hearing notice, or record of this claim.
Our simple request is for the WPA to respect our equal right and desire to enjoy public property without having to justify our presence. Each time I visited with my dog since I was kicked out in late June (when I sent my initial letter), I have experienced intimidating behavior. Several members have photographed me from arms reach, several have insulted me, others speculate we come there as a challenge or for other hidden motive. One threatened physical harm to me (the other WPA members present intervened and nothing came of this).
We have no hidden agenda or plot. We have no desire to stir up conflict. But for decades the WPA has knowingly facilitated the misconception that this area is private property. The only reason others haven’t used this area historically is that they have been convincingly intimidated by signs, gates, and posturing by adjacent residents. I understand the temptation but cannot respect the presumption by which WPA has taken over public property for themselves to the exclusion of other citizens- including every board and staff member in GR Township. That is unfair to others who could have enjoyed it over the years and would have been equally willing to share in its upkeep and improvement.
Our sole request to the township is to consider that other people would like to visit John Bonnell Park. We respectfully ask the township to remind WPA that this is public property they need to share with fellow citizens without intimidation or false claims to special privilege or ownership. If there is discussion to grant formal special privilege, we ask you to consider that this is a desirable access point on Reeds Lake that other people in the area would like to enjoy. Please help us communicate our position to the WPA so we can go there peacefully.