In memory of Barbara Lollar

Until her untimely passing on December 22nd, Barb Lollar was an esteemed member of the Indianapolis community.  She was a fellow paddler, and was at her happiest when paddling her solo canoe on Indiana’s flowing streams, according to her husband.  She was an environmental attorney (passionately representing the public interest) for several agencies, including the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers.  She enjoyed visiting our national parks with her family.  I sent the following passage to her husband and to Governor Eric Holcomb who also attended her recent memorial service.

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                                         In memory of Barbara Lollar

                 An excerpt from The Hour of Land by Terry Tempest Williams

                       (reflections from Theodore Roosevelt National Park)

 

“Sitting by the river – this meandering river — … I am Theodore Roosevelt watching the currents as grief gathers like a whirlpool and finally flows downriver. 

Life and death are kneaded back into the accumulated soil of the prairie.

The personal shock and assault of death that drops us to our knees in time becomes a tapping, a turning, a gesture like any other – we are not special, just part of the river, rushing by me now.

Our fear of death enslaves us to the illusion that we will live forever.  Theodore Roosevelt knew firsthand that we do not.  And so he lived large and he never forgot the source of his own healing and strength.

“There can be no greater issue than of conservation in this country“, he wrote.

He was a man of his word. During his administration, Theodore Roosevelt was responsible for protecting 150 national forests, 51 federal bird preserves, 4 federal wildlife preserves, 18 national monuments, and 5 national parks, 230 million acres in all.”

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VA schedules public meeting to review environmental study for new Crown Hill cemetery site

In the “we told you so” department, yesterday I received official notice  from the Veterans Administration that it has scheduled a public meeting for January 23rd at 6:00 p.m. at the Indiana War Memorial in downtown Indianapolis.  The purpose is to present the proposed site, describe the VA’s draft Environmental Assessment and proposed FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact), and receive public comments.  The administrative record will remain open until February 12, 2018.

This is the same site which we suggested to CHC’s Keith Norwalk on August 10, 2016 as the obvious alternative to his destructive plan to eliminate 15 acres of mature woods. Well, the Crown Hill board was too resolute (i.e. willful) to consider the obvious alternative as presented by the community.  So we were forced to go to battle for 8 months before Senator Donnelly and Representative Carson persuaded Crown Hill and the VA to come to their senses and re-locate the site— to the immediate east in an open field.

The text of the VA’s email appears below.  It also contained a link for the draft Environmental Assessment report—

https://www.cem.va.gov/CEM/docs/EA/Crown_Hill_Draft_EA.pdf

The VA’s notice–

“In May of 2017, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration (NCA) announced that it would pursue a land exchange of a 14.75 wooded lot VA currently owns for an adjacent parcel of comparable size owned by Crown Hill Cemetery.

The Administration completed a Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) for the proposed property acquisition for cemetery expansion and development of Crown Hill National Cemetery. NCA plans to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact following a 30-day comment period, ending on February 12, 2018.

Additionally, VA will host a public meeting January 23 at the Indiana War Memorial at 6 p.m. to present environmental findings, preliminary project plans and obtain community feedback.

For additional information on the Crown Hill Land Exchange, please view a letter from the Interim Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs published in May, 2017.”

 

Crown Hill woods note– Ludicrous admonition from big pusher– “Don’t push it!”

I had an encounter with one of the chief promoters of the destruction of Crown Hill’s north woods last week which is merits memorialization.

Having breakfast at a local eatery, I saw Gordon Wishard at a nearby table.  Wishard has been on the Crown Hill Board for many years.  He was one of the chief pushers of the cemetery’s ill-fated 2006-07 plan for private commercial and residential development, and I bumped into him on several occasions during that prolonged battle.  During our brief conversations at that time he was cordial but unsympathetic to the idea of forest preservation.  He recently retired as a senior partner at the big Ice Miller law firm practicing corporate law.  He’s definitely not used to hearing direct push-back from community folks or tree-huggers.  And he’s probably not accustomed to being on the losing end of things when his clients holds most of the cards economically and politically.

Last week, I greeted him in a friendly way w/ a handshake and said I wanted to thank you for relocating the site for the planned VA columbaria (to the immediate east where there would be almost no impact).  He gave me a sour look and tried to silence my comments  with a stern “Don’t push it” admonition.  I smiled and replied: “Don’t push it??  Are you kidding? We were forced to battle your ill-conceived project for eight months”.  To which he again sternly (and theatrically–in a lower voice), warned “Don’t push it”.

The unmitigated gall of some imperious Crown Hill board members!  They try to unnecessarily destroy a forest, causing the community 8 months of angst, labor, and expense. And then, when called to account in a minor way, they resort to a ridiculous, theatrical “Don’t push it”.

Would it have been so hard for him to graciously, if not begrudgingly, acknowledge the outcome with something like “I’m glad it ultimately worked out for you and Crown Hill”?  No class. And certainly no heart.