$400K project OK’d; improvements set in city cemeteries

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Andalusia City Council agreed Tuesday to spend approximately $400,000 to improve Marshall and Memorial cemeteries.

Director of Leisure Services Dwight Mikel said the project has been a long time in the planning stages. Among those who have participated are representatives of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the county engineer’s office, Hugghins Sod Farm, the city’s horticulturalist, the city’s street department and the community enhancement committee.

“This started out as a beautification project,” Mikel said.

But when those involved began to evaluate the issues, they found a major problem to be addressed is drainage, he said.

The plan now includes improved subsurface and surface draining, erosion control, landscaping, turf improvements and irrigation, as well as some resealing and resurfacing of the road areas.

Memorial Cemetery was opened in 1945, Mikel said, and has never been resurfaced. Marshall Cemetery has been resurfaced more recently and will need to be resealed, he said.

By implementing some of the original plans for the cemeteries, he said, many of the problems will be fixed.

Another component is the addition of decorative fencing along the front of each cemetery and the side facing the street.

“We also are going to enforce rules that we have in place for our cemeteries,” Mikel said.

The city’s cemetery ordinance prohibits trellises, toys and glass objects in the cemeteries. In recent years, many people have added small garden flags and other decorations. City crews will begin removing those items this week for two reasons, he said.

“First, out of respect for the adjoining property owners,” he said. “Secondly, because these objects make it difficult to maintain the cemetery.”

Basically, the city’s ordinance only allows pots of flowers to adorn graves.

The council agreed to finance the improvements, using a revenue stream from the sales of cemetery plots to repay the note. A request for proposals will be sent to local banks.

Mayor Earl Johnson said improving the cemeteries sends an important message.

“If you think about it, many people come back here or come here to attend a funeral,” he said. “If the appearance of the cemetery is bad, they have a bad impression of our city.”

“It’s like anything else,” Johnson said. “If you get a little clutter here and a little clutter t here, it gets out of hand. It impacts our ability to maintain the cemetery. For those people who have these things on the graves of their loved ones, it might be a good idea to go get it.”