Battle looms over future of Lafayette crosses as property owner poised to sell

LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KGO) -- There's a battle looming over the future of a prominent anti-war memorial in the East Bay.

It's a display of 4,000 crosses just across from the BART station in Lafayette. Once considered highly controversial, the memorial has become part of the landscape -- but now its future is uncertain.

"My marching orders are to liquidate," says Charles Clark as a he stands at the foot of a hillside in Lafayette, a property he owns and one that's hosted the Lafayette Crosses memorial for more than a decade.

It's been more than six years since Clark's mother Louise died, leaving her 5 acres of land to her six children.

Louise Clark was a founder and supporter of the crosses memorial, put up in 2006 as an anti-war statement. But now, as co-trustee, Charles Clark says it's time to sell, putting the future of the crosses in limbo.

"Once I sell it, it's not going to be up to me," explained Clark. "If that's the end result, that's the end result, but it's my goal to keep a memorial of some sort going here, if we can."

Clark has offered to donate the southern slope, where the crosses sit, to the city.

"In every situation, they've declined my offer. They don't want it," said Clark.

In the meantime, the Lafayette Planning Commission has approved Clark's application to redraw the property lines to make it more attractive to potential buyers.

"Mr Clark wanted to move the lot line between his two parcels, so that the two homes that exist on one parcel could now have their own lot," explained Niroop Srivatsa, the Director of the Lafayette Building and Planning Department.

It's a decision that's now been appealed to the full city Council.

"The public has somewhat adopted, is involved in this now," said Mike Munnelly, a neighbor and longtime supporter of the memorial. "And I don't think he has a right to just take it away."

But not everyone in Lafayette is a fan of the memorial, including some families who've lost loved ones in the wars.

"There's a wide range of views," said Peter Clark, president of the Happy Valley Improvement Association. "Some will come up to me and say you've got to get rid of those crosses. They're a terrible, terrible insult to my family."

The city council will consider the next step for the property on February 12.

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