February 5, 2013

Waterville council gives support to city takeover of Pine Grove Cemetery

Legislation needed to disband cemetery board; addition votes, maintenance budget also required

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE -- City councilors on Tuesday voted 6-0 to support a proposal to have the city assume management of Pine Grove Cemetery.

The city-owned cemetery on Grove Street has been run by a board of trustees since 1943, when that management system was set up by an act of the Legislature.

City Clerk Patti Dubois told councilors that the system no longer works.

"It's become apparent that the current structure is unsustainable," she said. "The revenues from the cemetery are dwindling. Every year we're selling less and less lots."

Dubois said City Manager Michael Roy asked her to help facilitate the transfer of cemetery management.

She said she has been working closely with cemetery Superintendent Trudy Lovely, as well as with Allan Rancourt, the only cemetery trustee still performing duties.

She said officials approached Rep. Thomas R.W. Longstaff, D-Waterville, to ask him to support legislation that would disband the cemetery's board of trustees. A public hearing on the emergency legislation is scheduled for Monday. She said Rancourt plans to testify in support of the bill and she or Roy also will be there.

"We're trying our best to transfer in a seamless way," Dubois said.

A budget has not been developed for the cemetery yet, but she expects to have more detailed figures at the next council meeting Feb. 19, she said.

Councilor John O'Donnell, D-Ward 5, was absent from the meeting. The council must take two more votes to approve the management change and may take them Feb. 19.

Councilor Karen Rancourt-Thomas, D-Ward 7, asked where people go to buy a cemetery plot; Dubois said they may go to City Hall for that purpose.

Meanwhile, efforts are under way to improve the cemetery's chapel, and cemetery maps have been developed that ultimately will be placed online.

"That is a good historical resource for our city," said Councilor Eliza Mathias, D-Ward 6.

Dubois said 29 street signs have been ordered for the cemetery that are decorative and aesthetically pleasing and will help visitors find graves.

"Thank you for all your work, Patti," Rancourt-Thomas said.

"It's been fun -- a lot of work, but fun," Dubois replied.

In other matters, councilors voted 6-0 to spend $9,000 for aerial ortho-imagery for updating the city's tax maps.

City Assessor Paul Castonguay said the state has decided to photograph the entire state, county by county, and this year, Kennebec County is being photographed.

The state contracted with an Ohio company whose quality of photography is much better than what the city is used to, according to Castonguay.

"It's a chance of a lifetime to jump on the bandwagon and get $90,000 worth of photographs for $9,000," he said.

Councilor Rosemary Winslow, D-Ward 3, was impressed.

"Excellent," she said.

Councilors also voted to transfer $47,453 from remaining funds in the 2004-05 bond to buy light poles and fixtures for Head of Falls and make other improvements there.

Amy Calder -- 861-9247
acalder@centralmaine.com

 

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