Duncan Memorial Park is a jewel in the middle of the city of Grand Haven. Its nearly pristine 40 acres of forest and hills have been a destination for hikers, sledders, dog walkers and nature lovers for longer than any of us have been alive.
City officials say the park as it is, and as its benefactor Martha Duncan insisted in her gift to the city more than a century ago, is in jeopardy.
We support the city’s Duncan Park Preservation Fund to help protect this unique amenity.
Recently, the City Council approved the creation of the fund to protect the area in an ongoing legal dispute with an attorney representing the alleged descendants of Martha and Robert Duncan.
City Manager Pat McGinnis says the city has already spent nearly $120,000 in legal fees in “the current onslaught of litigation.” And it’s not over.
Grand Rapids attorney John Tallman filed a suit in March, claiming a transfer of the property from a trust to the city, approved by the Ottawa County Circuit Court, was an illegal taking of property. Tallman says the alleged heirs should now own the park.
While we can’t be sure what the alleged heirs would do with the park property, placing it in private hands is not what Martha Duncan wanted when she presented it to the city in 1913.
And we doubt many Grand Haven-area residents would want that, either.
“It really makes me sad when we have to spend very scarce resources to defend a public interest from very real threats,” McGinnis told the City Council. “We can’t just sit back and do nothing, so we have to step up and pay for this.”
With a fund in place, McGinnis said the community can battle against such litigations and ensure the natural area remains as it is.
Contributions to the fund can be made through the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation.
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