City wants to clean up cemeteries

Published 11:59 pm Monday, January 12, 2009

Andalusia residents have probably noticed the improvements to the entrance at Andalusia Memorial Cemetery. Now, city officials hope the interior of the cemetery can become just as attractive as the exterior.

Dwight Mikel, director of leisure services for the city of Andalusia, said the cemetery plots are not always kept in the best shape and he urged family members to do their part to clean up those plots.

“As the city, we’re charged with the selling of these grave spaces, just like if you were to go out and buy a lot to put a home on,” Mikel said. “There are covenants and restrictions that are in place at the cemetery that are there to protect your ‘neighbors’ in the graveyard, so to speak.”

Mikel said there are several city ordinances in place that deal with the appearance of the city’s three cemeteries — Andalusia Memorial, Marshall Cemetery and Magnolia Cemetery. Previously, these ordinances were not always enforced, but Mikel said the problem has become large enough that action will be needed in the future.

“We’d just like the public to know that over the next couple of months, we’re going to actively enforce the rules and regulations of the cemetery,” Mikel said. “It’s maybe going to be a bit of a change, compared to what some folks are used to. We don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade, but again, we’re there to protect the rights of the adjoining plot owners, and to improve the appearance of the cemetery.”

Mikel said one policy that will soon be more stringently enforced regards visitors who leave artificial flowers on gravesites. After time passes, these flowers become faded in color and their petals often separate from the stems, becoming littered on the ground and causing an eyesore.

In addition, there are policies that prevent the placement of any porcelain figures, glassware, toys and other small similarly sized objects.

Mikel said the number of cemetery-related ordinances is too large to detail completely at the current time, but the city will eventually make the rules and regulations public through advertisements and other media.

“There are some policies out there that nobody ever violates, but then there are other policies that are violated all the time,” Mikel said. “We just want to be consistent and respect the rights of the grave owners. Right now, people who know they may have items at the cemetery that could be violating these policies, they should go retrieve those items as soon as possible — especially if they have sentimental value.

“After we’ve made the policies public, somewhere down the line (the city) will have to confiscate some of those items that are violations of the regulations. These aren’t just a set of rules that ol’ Dwight cooked up one day; these are ordinances the city has passed over the last 60 years or so that deal with our cemeteries.”