What started off as a hopeful fundraiser to see the return of a treasured landmark in Coloma has turned into a lost cause, and some people feel like they've been scammed. Back in October of 2020, it was announced that former Coloma resident Blair Struble was starting a GoFundMe which was hoping to raise funds to purchase and restore the Deer Forest Park, but donations have stopped and zero of the people who donated have apparently been reimbursed.

Now, many who heard about the park's fundraiser are starting to voice their concerns about the ordeal on the Benton Harbor & St. Joseph, Michigan Memories Facebook page:

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Last I heard was that he said he didn't know how he was going to get money back to those who donated. I don't know if there was record of who donated and how much they donated. It seemed like a scam from the beginning to me honestly. -Amanada L.-

 

 

Back in January, Deer Forest Sanctuary Fans (Not associated with Struble) gave an update that they had reached $10,000 in donations, which is when things get tricky, according to Amanda:

Shortly after that is when he decided for whatever reason to disappear. Sorry not sorry but it was a bs scam from the beginning and I feel bad for all the people that donated money to him.

There has been zero communication from the organizer of the fundraiser publicly about the condition of the fundraiser. Likewise, the Deer Forest Sanctuary Fans page hasn't been posted since November of 2020. I reached out to Blaire through messenger, enquiring on the status of the fundraiser and if it's off, how people can receive refunds. I am waiting for a response and will update you upon its return. Deerforest.org, the website which once held info for the fundraiser, is now a dead domain. According to the GoFundMe page, the cause raised $4,402 and is no longer accepting donations.

Dennis Churchhill recently visited the park and took the following pictures, and had this to say:

The reality of reopening I’m not sure of. Just remembering what it looked like compared to now, (there are trees growing in the walkways) just looking through and over the fence it seems to me a lot of money to invest to bring it up to code. The electrical, sewer the buildings? Not to rain on anyone’s parade, I don’t see it being financially feasible.

Courtesy of Dennis Churchill
Courtesy of Dennis Churchill
Courtesy of Dennis Churchill
Courtesy of Dennis Churchill
Courtesy of Dennis Churchill

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