Monday, April 29, 2013

Stage Set for Renaming Forrest Park

Posted By on Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 6:57 PM

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The stage is set for the Memphis City Council to either put the park names controversy to bed or engage in a nasty battle over Forrest Park and the statue and remains of General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

A committee of citizens named to rename three parks split 4-4 Monday on a motion to go back to the original Confederate-themed names. In separate votes, the committee then, by split votes, chose new names for the parks. The recommendations are only advisory.

Forrest Park would become Civil War Memorial Park; Confederate Park would be Promenade Park (Naval Battle of Memphis Park was rejected); and Jefferson Davis Park would be Harbor Park (Wolf River Cobblestones Park was rejected).

In an ominous note, Councilman Harold Collins, a member of the renaming committee, requested an opinion from City Council Attorney Allan Wade on whether ithe council could rename Forrest Park and move the statue and the remains of the general and his wife. Short answer: Yes.

"In our opinion, the Council's authority over the renaming of the park, relocation of the statue, and re-internment of the remains of Mr. and Mrs. Forrest has a sound legal and political foundation."

The remains of Forrest and his widow were moved from Elmwood Cemetery to the park in 1904.

"We have been advised that the Forrest family burial plots still exist at Elmwood Cemetery and that there is adequate room for the reinternment of Forrest and his wife. We have also been advised that there is also room for the Forrest statue."

In order to reinter Forrest, the city would have to initiate a Chancery Court lawsuit, which would keep the controversy alive indefinitely.

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