INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration is exploring alternative locations to Crown Hill cemetery.
According to Ronald Walters, interim Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs for the department, environmentalist concerns have surfaced recently about the cemetery. Walters said as a result, the project’s design has been modified to preserve as many “old growth” trees as possible, including those 40 inches in diameter or greater and nearly 75 percent of other large trees.
The Indiana Forest Alliance filed a lawsuit against the V.A. in December saying the V.A. didn’t follow the proper process when it came to finding and choosing a location for the cemetery. A judge denied the request to halt the project, and the Indiana Forest Alliance is appealing the decision.
In January, nature groups protested the deforestation of nearly 15 acres of trees that were scheduled to be cut down at Crown Hill cemetery.
A local group also gathered outside of Congressman Andre Carson’s office urging him to get involved in their efforts to safe the forest.
“We continue to operate in good faith, as we seek to balance our mission to serve the nation’s Veterans, our responsibility to the American taxpayer, and our sincere desire to engage cooperatively and collaboratively with the Indianapolis community,” said Walters.
He said that if other locations are suitable for cemetery development, comparable in size to the current one and provide appropriate access for large funeral processions, they will be given consideration.
It is not guaranteed that a new site will be purchased for the cemetery, only that the department is looking at other options for land.