Memorial Crosses in Lafayette May Not Endure Property Sale

The fate of a crosses memorial that covers the hills across the street from the Lafayette BART station is suddenly in limbo.

The family who owns the land and allowed the crosses to be placed there now wants to sell, and people are speaking up about the emotional value the crosses bring to the community.

There are some 4,000 crosses at the memorial for the men and women who fought and died in the two Middle East wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The memorial has been a part of the landscape for more than a decade, and now its future is uncertain.

Peter Clark is president of the Happy Valley Improvement Association, representing about 2,500 community members.

"They were instrumental in getting the crosses put there too; they have to deal with the crosses," he said. "I think the city of Lafayette has to be very careful in what they do to deal with the crosses."

Members of the Clark family, no relation to Peter, want to free themselves of the land. Their mother, Louis Clark, the founder and supporter of the crosses memorial who allowed them to be placed there as an anti-war statement, has since passed away.

"I think the Lafayette Planning Commission may have made a mistake because those crosses are illegal now," a family representative said.

The municipal code indeed was changed after the crosses were installed more than a decade ago to prevent another war memorial from popping up somewhere else in the city.

But the crosses draw a lot of emotion from people who see them daily, and some don’t want to see them go.

"People come and bring their kids; I see people on Memorial Day, I see dads with their little boys," resident Anna Bird said. "That puts a little more responsibility on the community to get involved rather than sit back and do nothing."

The Lafayette City Council will take up the issue on Feb. 12.

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