Fate of marker that once identified Nathan Bedford Forrest Park up in the air
Posted: Mar 10, 2014
By Kontji Anthony
MEMPHIS, TN –
(WMC-TV) – The park once named after General Nathan Bedford Forrest is now called Health Sciences Park. Controversy settled? Not exactly.
Now, the fate of the massive concrete marker that once identified the park is up in the air.
Currently, the concrete slab is being housed in the General Services building in Overton Park. But the Overton Park Conservancy plans to take over that space.
"They offered to move the Forrest Park stone anywhere we wanted in Shelby County," said Lee Millar, Sons of Confederate Veterans. "Of course, we want it placed back in Forrest Park where it belongs."
The Sons of Confederate Veterans and City of Memphis are now at odds over what to do with the marker. Wherever it goes, it must be moved by June 30.
Last year, the Sons of Confederate Veterans placed the marker at the park entrance with permission from the former parks director. The city then hauled it away, saying the group did not have proper permission to put the marker there.
"We’re trying to return items to their owners or dispose of them," said City of Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George Little.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans contend Memphis City Council’s resolution to change the name of the park is illegal. An ordinance named the park decades ago.
"According to state law, a resolution cannot override an ordinance," said Millar.
The latest development heightens current tensions.
"We’ve got a lawsuit against the city and the city council for the illegal and improper removal of the stone," added Millar.
Will the city grant the Sons’ request?
"Unfortunately, that is now Health Sciences Park and while I appreciate their position, the council has taken action and spoken to that. So, unfortunately, we will not be able to accommodate that request," said Little.
If a decision about where to place the stone is not made by June 30, the city would list it to be claimed. If it is not claimed, it will be sold at auction as surplus, according to Little.
"All people should appreciate everybody’s history," said Millar. "You shouldn’t try to erase it."
It is unclear if the lawsuit will be resolved in time to end the standoff.
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