Town Meeting voters reject cemetery rule changes

By Matthew Bernat | Oct 24, 2017
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Selectmen Chair Peter Teitelbaum defends proposed rule changes for the town's cemeteries at Monday's Town Meeting.

Wareham's cemetery regulations will remain the same for now after Town Meeting voters rejected a Cemetery Commission proposal that would have updated the rules.

Commissioners hired a consultant with 40 years of experience to “codify and update the rules and regulations for cemeteries” said Town Administrator Derek Sullivan.

The changes were drafted to bring the rules in line with state guidelines. In Wareham, there are four cemeteries, three – Agawam, Centre and Long Neck Cemeteries – are operated by the town. The fourth is run by St. Patrick’s Church.

Initially, one change would have shifted authority for running cemeteries from the Cemetery Commissioners to the town administrator. After hearing concerns from residents at public hearings held earlier this fall that provision was removed.

Town Meeting voters aired concerns over other changes, including one that would have required approval before nonresidents could be buried locally.

“We should not have to ask permission to bury a loved one in a cemetery plot that we bought,” said Susan Akins.

Akins expressed frustration at what she said was a lack of care at town cemeteries. Others lamented the loss of water spigots for maintaining flowers. This summer, spigots were replaced with rain barrels in a bid to reduce waste and minimize vandalism.

Board of Selectmen Chair Peter Teitelbaum said the regulations were properly vetted, and he urged for approval.

“I don’t think people who have worked so hard on this appreciate the implication that something is being snuck by,” he said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Cemetery Commissioner Deborah Rose said she joined the commission a few years ago after seeing a lack of activity. The rule update was the result of hard work, she said.

“We have worked our fingers to the bone,” said Rose. “We have a great consultant helping us and we finally came up with something that is pleasing to all.”

Town Meeting voted 74 - 45 to send the regulations to further study.

Comments (5)
Posted by: Phredzzz | Oct 24, 2017 08:31

Excellent exmple of Democracy at its finest! Local government doesn't know how to handle a mini-issue and those working thier "fingers-to-the-bone" are so exhausted and want validation for thier work, so they and Selectmen hire a 40 year cemetary Code expert to do thier job for them. The 40 year expert thinks he knows-best what Warehamites need to do, even though he NEVER interviewed any family members who own a Plot. He then proceeds to tell the town citizens how to operate/manage the Cemeteries which they ALREADY knew what was needed. The "Expert" thinks he knows who should be allowed to be buried in  a Family owned Plot. The "Expert" was wrong and Warehams Selectmen are wrong. The Citicenry is right and tells the Local government to take thier "Expert" and send him back to wherever he comes from. Chalk one up for the common - sense of the Public. Oh, one more thing; who in thier right mind thinks Empty Rain-Barrels are a good idea? Just go back to what has worked just fine for forever, and turn the Spigots back on. If you are so worried about people accidently leaving the water running, install a ussage Timer to shut off the water after a few moments. There; Problem solved and you can send my "Experts" Check to a Charity to be named latter.

Posted by: bob | Oct 24, 2017 10:04

Great comments,and you are right,but you left a few details out...The comment about our T.A.,and his sarcastic remarks made to a citizen,who complain about the rain barrels,or the comment made the MMD,was to keep barrels full,and are not doing,or a comment made before in a newspaper that the T/A. had the water shut off to save money...GOOD FOR THE CITIZENS TO STAND UP AND BE HEARD...

Posted by: Phredzzz | Oct 24, 2017 10:29

Thanks BOB. Sooooo, let me see if I have this one right! Turn the Spigots OFF to save money, but pay someone some money to go and monitor the rain barrels and fill them if they are not full. Makes perfect sense to a Politician, but average everyday Taxpayer;    Hmmmmm,   Not So Much !

Posted by: Curiouscat | Oct 24, 2017 16:36

This must be a problem with the Centre Cemetery as the barrels at Agawam are always full.  I don't know what the big deal is, you drive up to a barrel, fill a container, water your flowers and done.  The only problem is those who wish to water grass parcels which I don't believe is part of pertertual care.  I am curious as to how the cemeteries make money since a one time fee for perpetual care is charged.  The current charge is $400.00 but years ago it must have been a lot less so if you paid even $100.00 twenty years ago, that is a bargain for having the cemetery mowed and maintained every year after.  It seems to me there are just a handful of people not happy.  What irks me are the people who go to the cemeteries in November and decorate for Christmas and then in April the decorations are still there.  I would rather have the Town workers filling pot holes instead of removing decorations.

Posted by: brazz | Oct 24, 2017 18:26

How often do people go to the cemeteries? Bring a watering can in case the barrels are empty, even simpler solution. Don't we have bigger issues?

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