Should there be more stringent rules on who can enter Maple Lawn Cemetery and when they can enter it?
That question was discussed by the Boyne City Commission during its regular Tuesday Oct. 22 meeting, resulting in the scheduling of a public hearing on the matter for Tuesday Dec. 10.
“Since 2007, four phases of fencing has been installed in the Maple Lawn Cemetery: three phases of ornamental; and, one was the chain link going around the back wrapping up to Boyne Avenue and coming a little bit up on Division Street,” said Boyne City Clerk/Treasurer Cindy Grice. “That project was just shy of $154,000 with almost $12,000 being raised via donations and fund-raising. Since that time we have received an additional $10,300 in donations for cemetery gates.”
Grice said before any gates are erected there needs to be a public discussion concerning city policies on various elements of the cemetery’s operation.
“We really need to talk about rules and regulations, the first one being if hours are going to be established and, if so, how do we do so?” she said. “If we do that I think it’s important to hold a meeting kind of like we do with any of the street projects where we hold a public meeting at a regular city commission meeting, advertise it, put our signs out … so the public has the opportunity to know what’s going on and participate.”
The preliminary cost estimates to install gates show a total of nearly $37,000.
Boyne City Manager Michael Cain said the city definitely needs to determine if it needs the gates and how it will use them before purchasing them.
“Are we looking to establish set hours for the cemetery? Are we looking to cut down on cut-through traffic? Is that really an issue?” he said…. “In some respects getting some of the gates is the easy part; how we’re going to use them is probably the more complicated stuff.”
During the public comment period of the discussion, Eleanor Stackus, a long-time funeral home owner, spoke from her numerous years of experience in dealing with cemeteries.
“In dealing with this for 52 years with different cemeteries in the State of Michigan, most cemeteries do have fence, most cemeteries do have gates,” she said. “A lot of cemeteries are open gates where you can open them to go through or they are manned possibly by possibly the city, possibly the police department, possibly by the sextant of the cemetery to be opened and closed at times.”
Stackus added, “I’ve had several comments of when are we going to put up some gates.”
Stackus said all sorts of people use the cemetery for purposes other than visiting a grave site.
“I can tell you that bicycles, cross-country track, exercise programs that use our cemetery for their training after school,” she said…. “We have found golf balls from golfers off of Lewis Street. It’s a terrific spot for bicycles to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B.’ It’s a great spot for dog walking—consequently they do not pick up what they deposit.”
Stackus said she would like to see one main gate erected at the Boyne Avenue entrance, and that the other entrances and exits be studied.
Boyne City Commissioner Delbert “Gene” Towne said he would like to hear public input on the matter before moving forward, and added that the donations should be used for their intended purpose.
“I’m all for further study,” said Boyne City Commissioner Tom Neidhamer.
Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom asked how much money there currently was for gates. Grice said the cost of the gates differ depending on the location due to size differences.
“I’m in favor of having a public hearing on this. I think people who visit the cemetery regularly … would probably have more input and concerns on things,” she said…. “I think the thing I’d be interested in seeing … is a history of how much vandalism and other problems that have occurred up there.”
Boyne City Commissioner Derek Gaylord said wants to research the issue further and wait to opine on the matter until after the public has had a chance to speak.
Boyne City Mayor Ron Grunch directed city staff to schedule the Dec. 10 public hearing.