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City crews begin cemetery improvements

Andalusia’s Department of Leisure Services has begun the $350,000 to $400,000 in improvements planned in the city’s cemeteries, director Dwight Mikel said Wednesday.

City crews have been aerating the turf.

“Basically, what we’re doing is poking holes about the size of an index finger into the turf,” Mikel said. “It’s the same process we use at the golf course and it allows water, air and nutrients to get down to the root system.”

Describing the progress on planned improvements as “slow but sure,” Mikel said crews are working on drainage improvements, including sub-surface draining and surface drainage, and landscaping projects that will direct water run-off in the right direction.

At present, there are not irrigation systems in place for the city’s cemeteries, he said.

Long-term, the project will include irrigation systems, landscaping, resurfacing and fencing.

Early in their term, which began in 2008, the current city council approved a tiered plan for increasing the cost of burial plots. The first two tiers have been implemented, he said.

The majority of the project will be funded by those sales, he said.

“But at some point, we’ll have to go back to the council for funding,” Mikel said. “We’re starting with the parts of the project we can do with current funding.”

He said much of the landscape plan for Andalusia Memorial Cemetery has not been installed.

“We’re trying to look at ways to install the softscape to make the cemeteries nicer places,” he said.

In the planning process, he said, he’s also looking at the possibility of including a columbarium, a special memorial building for the remains of those who wish to be cremated, as interest in that process increases.

“It wouldn’t be terribly expensive to include that in the project,” he said.