Group wins battle to save forest at Crown Hill Cemetery

Posted at 3:47 PM, May 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-05 18:24:52-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- A group has won the battle to stop the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from clearing a forest of trees at Crown Hill Cemetery to build a monument.

The Department of Veterans Affairs purchased the 14.75 acres from Crown Hill Cemetery in 2015, and they were going to turn it into a veterans cemetery for cremated remains.

The agreement between the VA and Crown Hill will allow the cemetery to be built on an adjacent parcel of land that is owned by Crown Hill, keeping the centuries-old forest from being destroyed, according to a statement released by Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN).

“I am pleased that the VA and Crown Hill have come to an agreement to pursue a land swap that would allow the project to move forward without impacting the forest. This project is about our veterans, who deserve access to burial sites closer to their communities and their families.

We always achieve more when we work together, which is why I asked the VA to engage with all stakeholders to ensure this project is a win for veterans and the entire Indianapolis community. I want to thank the VA, particularly interim Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Ron Walters, and Crown Hill Cemetery for their efforts to find a solution. ”

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Keith Norwalk, President of Crown Hill Cemetery, said they are proud to help the VA continue their tradition of honoring the sacrifice of Indiana veterans. 

“Crown Hill Cemetery is proud to work with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to continue its more than 150-year tradition of honoring the sacrifice of Indiana veterans. The new location of the VA’s planned national cemetery within Crown Hill addresses recent concerns from the community while still creating a peaceful resting place and lasting memorial for Hoosier veterans and their families.”

Mayor Joe Hogsett said the agreement would ensure that future generations can enjoy the old forest.

“Today is a great day for the people of Indianapolis, whose voices have ensured that future generations can enjoy an old-growth forest which represents a unique piece of our city’s natural heritage.

I applaud the tireless advocacy of Senator Donnelly and Congressman Carson, who came together to find a long-term solution for our community, as well as the efforts of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Crown Hill Cemetery, whose work will honor veterans and preserve the natural wonder of the Crown Hill North Woods.”

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