Jul 302014

By Tammy Gray

Expansion work on the Holbrook Cemetery continues, with City Manager Ray Alley reporting that the results of asbestos and lead paint testing on the small building at the southeast corner of the expansion area have arrived.

Alley noted that the building does not contain asbestos in any amount that requires costly procedures for removal, but it does contain lead paint. He explained that he is waiting on a cost estimate to abate the lead paint so that the building can be demolished.

Funds from a brownfields abatement grant will be used to help cover the cost of the demolition. The project began near the end of last year and is not expected to be complete until the end of next year.

Removal of the building is necessary to complete the cemetery expansion, which is expected to carry the city through the next 20 years. The cemetery is expected to be full in another five to 10 years if the expansion is not completed.

Approximately 30 burials take place at the cemetery each year, but earlier this year the city council agreed to raise fees for non-residents in order to preserve the number of plots available to residents. At the time, Alley told the council that non-residents were being buried in Holbrook because the fees were significantly lower than in other nearby towns.  The fee increase is expected to slow down the burial rate and ensure plenty of space in the cemetery for residents for years to come. Rates for residents to be buried in the cemetery are expected to remain the same at $375, but the rate for non-residents is $3,000.

Once complete, the expansion will open up an additional 150 to 175 plots. The expansion area is mainly to the east of the current boundary, and will go all the way to the edge of the city equipment yard road. A temporary chain-link fence is in place, but will eventually be replaced by a permanent block wall to blend in with the rest of the existing cemetery fencing.