The City of Avon Park took a pass on providing the mowing services for a cemetery in much need of care, but discussion of the issue appears to have sparked community support.
Deputy Mayor Brenda Gray sought assistance from the city to help with the mowing and trimming of the Lincoln Garden Cemetery on the south side of town.
The landscape maintenance of the 6.8 acre cemetery at the east end of Garrett Road has been a long-term issue.
Occasional community volunteer efforts have helped, but when volunteer days are scheduled every month support dwindles, Gray said. It needs consistent care.
The cemetery is not qualified as a non-profit entity, she said. It’s a Limited Liability Corporation, but it has no money to mow the lawn unless someone dies and is buried there. The burial fee is $300.
A lawn service was paid $2,500 to maintain the cemetery for a year, but there was not enough money to continue the service, Gray explained.
The city council considered a proposal, presented by Gray, to mow the cemetery for one year for $1,200.
Mayor Schuler noted that years ago the Bougainvillea Cemetery requested similar assistance and the council declined.
It’s not a good thing for the city to be in the cemetery business, she said.
Gray said helping the cemetery would be “community involvement.”
Council and City Attorney Gerald Buhr discussed at length whether or not Community Redevelopment Agency funds could be used to pay for cemetery maintenance.
Citizen Al Hinson said the Southside CRA has paid to clean up the property.
Buhr noted it was city funds, not CRA funds, that paid for the demolition of condemned structures in the southside.
Buhr said CRA money has to be used primarily for brick and mortar (buildings/structures) projects. He added only a limited amount of Main Street CRA money can be used to promote events that can be shown to impact the business climate.
Citizen Tom Macklin said this would be an opportunity where churches from all over town could adopt a month to mow and trim at the cemetery.
Discussion on the issue continued for more than 30 minutes when City Manager Julian Deleon offered that the city could mow the cemetery twice a year as a courtesy, noting that it needs mowing now.
Council took no action on the issue, but the discussion appeared to have prompted a number of citizens and council members who said they will seek community support to help with the upkeep of the cemetery.