Battle brews over Millsap memorial

April Millsap was murdered along a Macomb County bike path last July.

Now, her mom wants to build a memorial at the site to honor the 14-year-old whose life was cut short,  but county officials are blocking it.

Family and friends of Millsap say they believe a monkey wrench was thrown into plans to honor her with a memorial. April's mom, Jennifer, called it a kick in the gut. 

Family friend Jean Persely says it's not just about April.

"The garden design is not just a memorial to April but part of healing for the community," Persely said.

They came up with the design in hopes of placing the memorial in her honor on the wooded bike trail in Armada where she was killed last summer.  But when the memorial plan was presented to the Macomb Orchard Trail Commission, they say it was not approved.

"They told me plantings along the Macomb Orchard Trail did not work for them," said Persely. "That did not comply with their trail policy, which we had never been made aware of, in the six months of going back and forth with the county on this."

Family of friends of the Millsaps say that the policy for memorials was changed by the commission minutes before their presentation. The commission says it had nothing to do with the family.

"It was coincidental," said Troy Jeschke of the Macomb Orchard Trail Commission. "(We) have been working on a policy for months."  

Jeschke said after looking at the renderings and hearing the presentation, the commission could not approve the memorial as originally proposed.

"We asked them to possibly revise it, making it smaller," he said.

They don't want to go smaller. The Millsap family and friends say they will move forward and if they can't place the memorial at this site, they will find another place. 

The conflict between the family and the commission may have been in vain.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackle says the commission does not have the right to approve or deny the proposal. 

"We'll make an appropriate decision when we have opportunity to sit down with family," he said. "Because it is the jurisdiction of the county, not this other organization, that's attempting to make that decision."

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