Mayor Joe Hogsett is urging the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs to halt its construction project at Crown Hill Cemetery.
The VA announced last year it would buy 15 acres of land in Crown Hill Cemetery's North Woods and build a columbarium – a structure that holds burial urns.
Many opponents of the project want the columbarium to be built, but not at the expense of the city's largest old-growth forest.
Hogsett joined that opposition Wednesday, urging the VA in a statement to spare what he calls a “crown jewel of our city's natural heritage.”
Indiana Forest Alliance Executive Director Jeff Stant says the VA has been unwavering in its rejection of ideas for an alternative site.
“For them to change course requires a political direction change, at the top of the agency, and they just haven’t been willing to make that change," Stant says. "And we hope the statement by the mayor today, the most important political official in our community, will have an impact.”
Mayor Hogsett says he ultimately wants Crown Hill Woods to become a part of the city's park system, but that wouldn't be possible so as long as the Federal Government owns the land.