The Dr. Laura Hare Charitable Trust (LHCT) has proposed a negotiable offer to the DVA for the purchase of 14.75 acres of the Crown Hill Woods. The deal would also allow the DVA to recover any related expenses.
The DVA purchased the property at Crown Hill Cemetery in the Fall 2015 with the intent to build a national columbarium for the interment of the remains of 25,000 veterans. Construction was set to begin this fall.
The sale of the property fell under the radar of environmentalists who had fought in 2006 to save the property from commercial development. Neighbors, environmentalists and other concerned parties began to question and protest the project this year.
The tree grove is a complete forest ecosystem with some trees estimated to be as old as 300-500 years as well as the natural home habitat for two species of endangered bats in Indiana. The forest is one of the last of its kind to exist in an urban setting and the only tree grove of its kind in Indianapolis.
The DVA had stated that some of the trees in the grove would be spared and they would do try to save some of the largest trees within the design plan. However the LHCT believes the construction will destroy the forest as a whole and weaken any trees the development sought to save.
The Laura Hare Charitable Trust is a private foundation that seeks to preserve and protect ecologically significant land.
If the LHCT is able to purchase the property from the DVA, they plan to make the site open and available to the public for “passive recreation” while keeping the forest intact.
The DVA has not yet commented on the offer.
A private foundation is offering to take possession of an old growth forest in Indianapolis from the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA).