Council wants residents’ input on how much to spend on old cemetery

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsChecking for burials outside the cemetery fence and securing the property against vandals who knock over and steal grave markers, dump trash and do other damage could cost as much as $630,000, Swain said. “I would feel better if we had public input,” said Mayor Pro Tem Mike Dispenza. “We’re going to have to take that money from somewhere else. I want to make sure our citizens want us to spend the money like that.” One possibility is turning the cemetery into what state statutes refer to as a “pioneer memorial park.” That would involve the city declaring the cemetery abandoned and that there is a need to clean up the site to protect public health, safety and welfare. After necessary repairs and improvements are made, the site would be maintained in its natural state. At Councilman Steve Hofbauer’s request, city staff was directed to include public outreach efforts as they pursue options for the site. The goal is for a large public turnout to discuss the issue once staff has proposals for the council’s decision. The cemetery is a legacy from the early settlement known as Palmenthal, founded in the 1880s by German and Swiss immigrants from Nebraska and Illinois. City officials said a search of records indicates the Jonas family, one of the pioneer families that settled in Palmenthal, donated 20 acres to the church for a cemetery. The city has acquired 14 acres adjacent to the cemetery with the idea of establishing a historical park there. The community’s first school – a one-room schoolhouse built in the 1880s and now in McAdam Park – might be moved to the proposed historical park, where there also could be exhibits detailing the railroad’s impact on Palmdale’s development. PALMDALE – City officials said they want to try to restore dignity to ill-kept, vandalized Palmdale Cemetery but also want to hear comments from citizens on how extensively the city should be involved. Council members ordered staff members to come up with a proposal for cleaning and securing the 120-year-old cemetery and with options for future city involvement. Staff was also directed to try to reach out to civic organizations to seek public input on what should be done with the cemetery at 20th Street East and Avenue S. “I think we need to restore dignity to what should be considered a sacred place,” said Councilman Tom Lackey. Cleaning up debris, trash and overgrown vegetation could cost about $20,000, plus $30,000 annually for upkeep, said Leon Swain, Palmdale’s director of public works. The cemetery could be a good fit with the park, city officials said. One of the issues is ensuring all burial sites are accounted for. Only 2.5 acres of the original cemetery is fenced and appears to have been used for burials, but there is a possibility a search might yield burials outside the fenced area, city officials said. According to records, there may be as many as 203 burials, although there appeared during one examination to be only 187 marked graves within the fenced area. Far fewer than 187 markers are still there. The last burial of record was Jan. 17, 2001, city officials said. The cemetery no longer accepts burials because of the possibility of disturbing unmarked graves. “I would like to know what’s going on inside and outside the cemetery,” Ledford said. “We don’t have to X-ray the whole 17 acres, but you might have people buried outside the boundaries.” Ledford said he would also like to see some type of barrier to protect the property from car crashes, which he said seem to be regular occurrences. Part of the block wall along the front of the cemetery was knocked down by a vehicle earlier this month. [email protected] (661) 267-5743160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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