Cemetery changes to be considered at Town Meeting

Oct 19, 2017

Town Meeting voters will be asked to adopt the new regulations governing municipal cemeteries on Oct. 23.

One possible change includes who may be buried in the town’s three cemeteries: Agawam, Centre and Long Neck.

According to language in the draft regulations, those buried locally are “exclusively limited to those Wareham residents or individuals approved by the management of Wareham Cemeteries, Town of Wareham…The governing body may determine residency requirements.”

At a previous public hearing on the rules, some residents raised concerns on that requirement. Christopher Berg, director of the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home in Wareham, said that currently nonresidents are allowed to purchase grave sites in town for an additional fee. It costs $600 to buy a burial plot in the town’s cemeteries. There is a fourth, private cemetery in town, St. Patrick’s. It also costs $600 to buy a plot there.

Berg said “it’s very rare” when nonresidents seek plots in town. While the potential changes let commissioners determine residency requirements, Berg said he believes former residents or family members of town residents will be allowed to buy plots.

“I don’t think nonresidents will be banned from buying graves,” said Berg.

One other proposed change that drew concern related to who in town had authority over the town’s cemeteries. Currently, the commission does, but language in the draft change made clear that “the governing body is the town administrator through the director of the department of municipal maintenance…with advice from the Wareham Cemetery Commission.”

According to Selectman Judith Whiteside, who is the board’s Cemetery Commission liaison, that language will be removed from the draft before Town Meeting. The change is in response to concerns raised by residents, she said.

Other than that it “appears there will be no other substantive changes,” said Whiteside. Town Meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Wareham High School auditorium.