This email is sent to you consistent with MRE 608. I’ve had the opportunity to discuss possible resolution of this matter with my client, Friends of Reeds Lake. My client is willing to resolve this matter based upon WPA’s agreement with the following provisions:
Removal of the gate from the community area;
Removal of existing personal storage from the John H. Bonnell Park;
Declaration and injunction entered prohibiting the WPA from excluding members of the public from the John H. Bonnell Park;
Removal of all WPA signage from the community area, including the “No Trespassing” signs and the WPA park rules signs;
Removal of the marina, or in the alternative, agreement to a jointly managed marina as discussed below;
New signage declaring the park as open to the public
As an alternative to removal of the marina, my client suggests a mutual use agreement with specific bylaws to govern the uses of the John H. Bonnell Park. This idea encompasses:
- A new joint non-profit, made up of the Friends of Reeds Lake and the WPA. One possible name is the “Friends of John H. Bonnell Park;”
- The new entity to be governed by eight term-limited voting officers (Half WPA, Half FRL), with a 5-vote majority necessary to change bylaws/park rules;
- Existence of a marina, but with public access as well. This could also operate as an income generating facility, with the proceeds used to provide maintenance to the park. The parties would need to reach agreement on how to operate the marina, and how the slips associated with the marina would be assigned. My client envisions at least half of the slips would continue to be reserved for WPA members.
Naturally, any agreement MUST have the consent of Grand Rapids Township. In speaking with Mr. Bowie, I know that he feels that WPA has utilized this property for an extended period of time. However, according to the articles of incorporation filed on WPA’s behalf, it didn’t exist prior to 1995. The statute which went into effect regarding adverse possession and public property was enacted in 1988, seven years before WPA’s existence. Prior to that time, a number of individuals occupied the John H. Bonnell park–hardly “exclusive use” for adverse possession purposes. I should also note that we have determined that there have been other public users of the park throughout the years, including neighboring home owners and fishermen. Your client’s argument of adverse possession fails from a factual and legal perspective.
I’d be pleased to talk with you further regarding this matter.