Originally created 11/27/01

City grave space runs low



If people continue to die at the rate they've been dying, Augusta officials say, by spring there will be nowhere left for the dead to go in city-owned cemeteries.

Of the four cemeteries owned and managed by the trees and landscape department, there are no grave sites available for public sale and only 23 available for private sale. Four spaces have been set aside for indigent burials - also called pauper burials - which are required by law.

"We're running out of space," said Derek Vanover, the interim director of the trees and landscape department.

On Monday the Augusta Commission's engineering services committee directed the trees and landscape department to spend the next two months drafting proposals for graveyard expansions. Commissioners ultimately will have to decide whether they should get out of the cemetery business or start creating new ones.

Finding a place for a new cemetery, however, will not be an easy task, said Commissioner Willie Mays, a mortician.

"When you talk about going into an area, you're talking about a fight," Mr. Mays said.

Some suggestions landscape officials made to commissioners included expanding West View Cemetery into adjacent city-owned land and putting a new graveyard at the end of Richmond Hill Road.

The city owns and manages Cedar Grove, Magnolia, West View and Rollersville cemeteries. It also maintains Arsenal and the Fitten Street Sand Hills cemeteries.

The issue is slated to go before the commission in January.

Reach Heidi Coryell Williams at (706) 823-3215.

The Augusta Department of Trees and Landscape will spend the next two months studying cemeteries owned and managed by the city and considering sites for graveyard expansions.