A Summit councilman who is also a funeral director said Tuesday that he’s appalled at the operations of Greenlawn Cemetery and suggested expanding it in order for a fresh start.
Councilman Chris Daniel said one of the many problems with the cemetery is the presence of a dump site on land adjacent to it. He said the town should consider acquiring that land, cleaning it up and making into a new addition to the cemetery.
“I am ashamed to be a funeral director and sit on this board and say I am over the cemetery,” said Daniels, who estimates he’s been to more than 30 burials there in the past month with surging COVID-19 deaths. “There are families wanting to remove loved ones.”
The town took over the cemetery from a private association years ago after its members were no longer able to maintain it. The graveyard has long been a maintenance nightmare because for years there has been little order in arranging plots, and the space between many graves are too narrow for a lawnmower to pass through.
Daniels noted that there’s at least 40 feet of overbrush on the western end of the cemetery that has overtaken many graves.
Grave digging is another problem, Daniels said.
“Right now, as it’s set up, anybody can come over and dig a grave,” he said. “There’s not one certain set person that digs a grave at that cemetery.
“Saturday, for example, there were two funerals. I was at both of them. One was being dug by a guy who digs graves all the time. You could look at it, you could tell. There was another one with a shovel and some picks who never dug a grave in his life. You could look at him, you could tell.”
Some graves aren’t dug properly, Daniels said, adding that he’s seen instances when vaults wouldn’t fit in them.
“Can you imagine going to bury your loved one and you go up there and the box won’t fit in the ground?” he said.
Mayor Percy Robinson said he agreed with Daniels that the town should expand the cemetery.
“Before I was on this board, I lost someone close to me and I struggled with wanting to move her,” Daniels said. “We can do better than that. “It starts right here with the board who took the cemetery over.”
Water woes getting worked out
The council also heard from Superintendent Tim Baylor regarding water problems that recently led to a week-long boil-water notice.
The town had about four or five leaks to repair as of Tuesday, down from a high of about 15, Baylor said.
Summit initially went under a boil-water notice when it took a water tank offline in order to sand and paint the structure. It experienced a system-wide drop in pressure. The problems grew when a water main broke right after that.
“We have no way to regulate pressure since our main water tower is undergoing painting, as you know,” Baylor said, adding that no work has been done to the tank in the 21 years he’s been on the job, making potential problems unforeseen.