City’s Cemetery Commission discusses second access road
By Nick Nunn
Members of the Cemetery Stewardship Commission (CSC) discussed upcoming projects, including maintenance on the cemetery grounds, new history projects and a proposed second access road leading to the Madison City Cemetery at their meeting this month.
In addition to keeping up with the regular maintenance devoted to the cemetery grounds, the commission discussed creating a list of the gravestones and monuments, which are in the worst state of disrepair, so that some of the CSC’s budget could be allocated to repairing them. Also, the commission is beginning the process of soliciting bids for the construction of a fence along the Cobb Street line along the cemetery grounds.
The commission also discussed beginning two history-related projects, which should take six to eight months to complete: a study of the artisan stones that are in the Madison City Cemetery and a reworking of the CSC’s brochure.
The CSC’s brochure was last updated in Dec. 2005, and the commission hopes to expand the scope of the brochure’s information section to include information about some of the other patriotic-related memorials around Madison, in addition to the already provided information about the areas of the cemetery and its points of interest.
Monica Callahan described the impetus for the second proposed project: “When we went to Milledgeville, we had seen some specific artisan stones that they were very proud of and we came back and discovered that we have one of them.”
After this discovery, the idea of a more thorough investigation into the history of gravestones and monuments in the Madison City Cemetery appears to be a fruitful future undertaking.
Most of the meeting was spent discussing a proposed project, which would be of the utmost importance to the CSC: a second access road leading to the cemetery.
“Essentially, what has come up is for the county to consider a secondary access,” said Callahan during the meeting.
“It’s just at the beginning of the discussion,” said Callahan. “No routes have been discussed by the commission.”
The planning and execution of the project of the project will ultimately fall within the purview of the City Council. The CSC would take on an advisory role in the project.
“Since we are charged with overseeing and protecting the cemetery, it would be great to offer feedback, just to make sure they know what we know,” said commission member Richard Simpson.
Simpson also discussed the opinion of earlier commissions, which dealt with similar proposals in the past.
“Previous commissions have been not in favor of a secondary access because they were more concerned with the impact on the history and the heritage," Simpson said. "And the possibility of having another route could create the possibility of vandalism in the cemetery.”
One of the largest traffic concerns related to the second access is the possibility that people would use the route for through access instead of having to drive through downtown.
Property owners around the cemetery would also be a concern during the planning period of any proposed route, since their land could be affected by the options for the location of the second access.
The largest ethical and perhaps legal issue with implementing a second access route into the cemetery will be avoiding unmarked burials, which can be found all around the cemetery. The unacceptability of moving unmarked bodies is a problem that was faced the last time a second access was proposed. During the early planning stages, a number of bodies were found in the proposed location of the route, which caused a cancellation of the earlier plans almost immediately.
The next meeting for the CSC will be 5 p.m. on the first Tuesday of October at the fire station beside city hall. It will be an open meeting, and the commission hopes that the public will come out to hear the discussion about the proposed second access route to the Madison City Cemetery.
Printed in the September 20, 2012 edition