TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Memorial Park Cemetery just off of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is more than 100 years old.
It’s a historically black cemetery that went through a foreclosure after the owner died.
In a move that surprised the City of Tampa and descendents of people buried there, a developer purchased the cemetery for $18,000.
Thursday, Tampa’s City Council voted to spend more than $100,000 to buy the land from the developer.
“Just for the record, I want to be clear, the city never owned this piece of property before. It never went into foreclosure before in our possession,” said Nicole Travis, the Administrator of development and economic opportunity for the city of Tampa.
Travis worked to purchase the cemetery after a public outcry.
“There is a lot of history rooted in this community and a lot of sentiments that are built around this cemetery and it was important for us to make sure that the citizens knew that the cemetery would be protected,” Travis said.
She added a USF study of the property found more than 15,000 people are buried there, many of whom in unmarked graves.
“I’m sorry that we’ve got to this, but I’m glad to see that we’ve come a resolution, at least beginning that, so that we can protect and preserve such important history,” City Councilman Guido Maniscalso said.
The city now has plans to put a fence around the property and a marker to let people know about the history of the property.