On Saturday, February 8, the Chicago Presbytery voted to approve the sale of the 130-acre Presbyterian Campground in Saugatuck to developer, David Barker, for $10,000,000. The property is on Oval Beach, which is one of the most beautiful beaches in the state. The sale had become necessary as the only way available to pay off an outstanding loan of $7.6 million incurred to settle a sexual abuse lawsuit filed in 2002. Over 3,000 signatures had been obtained in opposition to the sale.
Barker plans an initial development of 8 homes with 2-acre lots on 22 acres with a later phase of 4 more homes. Each lot is expected to sell for $2,000,000 or more. Use of the remaining 100+ acres has not been decided by the developer. A permit will be required for each property.
The Oval Beach Preservation Society has announced its intention of opposing the permitting, as has Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance.
Together with the notice that Singapore Dunes development will proceed, this announcement will result in over 430 acres of natural coastal dunes in Saugatuck Township being converted from a natural, recreational area to private residential use — what a shame, what a loss!