The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

 
 

By Ben Trotter
Letter To The Editor 

This Could Happen To You

 


Dear Editor:

I am writing this letter to express my concerns in regard to what is happening at the Highland Cemetery.

In July 2013, I visited my father’s gravesite at the cemetery and was appalled at what I saw. A large headstone had been placed within inches of my father’s footstone. This headstone is so close to my father’s footstone that it obstructs the view of half of it. It robs the dignity and respect of my father’s resting place.

There is an existing ordinance governing the placement of markers that has been in effect since before my father was buried at the cemetery in 1973. That ordinance is a law written by the city of Glasgow many years ago. The ordinance only pertains to certain sections of the cemetery and in this case pertains to the section where my father is buried.

As I understand it, the ordinance was written because the plots in the newer section of the cemetery are much smaller than the older plots. At the time the new section was added, the layout was designed to maximize the number of plots. This resulted in a reduction in the size of the plots. Based on this reduction, the city wisely decided to limit the type of grave markers to footstones only to ensure the symmetry and beauty of the cemetery. The plots are too small and there is not adequate spacing between and within the plots to accommodate both headstones and footstones. For many years, all the people that had loved ones interred at the Highland Cemetery accepted and complied with the ordinance.

In February 2014, I wrote to Bell Mortuary (who placed BOTH markers) and the City of Glasgow requesting that the upright monument infringing upon my father’s resting place be brought into compliance with the existing ordinance. Since then, the City of Glasgow Cemetery Committee has had several meetings trying to resolve my request. Through this process it was discovered that there are 44 headstones placed in the Highland Cemetery out of compliance with the existing ordinance (directly in front of footstones or where footstones were planned to be placed)! These headstones were placed in the cemetery from approximately 2003 to 2013.

The City of Glasgow has determined that the resolution to this problem is to change the existing ordinance. Yet the plot sizes are not being increased to accommodate the ramifications of the new ordinance. The new ordinance will allow headstones throughout the entire cemetery under certain guidelines specified by the new ordinance. Additionally, the 44 headstones that are now there and are out of compliance with BOTH the original and proposed ordinances will be grandfathered in and be allowed to remain where they are.

This is just wrong and disrespectful to those who are being infringed upon. Do you think the plot-holders of the 44 footstones being infringed upon would like to be able to stand at the foot of their loved ones grave? The city has the authority to move the non-compliant headstones, but the city has yet to make this right. The footstones should not have to be moved to accommodate the headstones that were placed out of compliance with the ordinance that was designed to prevent this very situation. That is what the city is asking this ordinance-compliant plot-holder to do.

Where is the justice in this system? Does this seem right to you? These 44 headstones will forever affect the beauty and symmetry of the Highland Cemetery. They were never supposed to be where they are because the city initially said it was inappropriate. Now the city is making an exception for them. Why are they being given preferential treatment for being noncompliant? How is this fair and respectful to the law abiding folks?

Does this sit well with you? If not, please voice your opinion at the ordinance hearings. Also, if you know any relatives of the 44 being infringed upon, will you please bring this situation to their attention, so they can voice their opinion too and help prevent the ordinance from being changed?

There have been articles written about the meetings and issues in The Glasgow Courier recently. However, there has been little to no response from the public on this issue. The new ordinance has already been proposed by the Glasgow Cemetery Committee. The City Council has accepted it and formally wrote it. After it has been heard at a public hearing twice, it goes into effect 30 days after the second hearing. The first hearing already took place on August 4, 2014. The second hearing is scheduled to be on August 18, 2014. If not opposed at these hearings, the proposed ordinance will go into in effect in September. These hearings are held at the Glasgow City Council regular meetings which are open to the public. Please attend and voice your concerns.

In my opinion, since the plot sizes cannot be adjusted, the existing ordinance should remain as it is. It has been in effect for a very long time and was created to protect the beauty and symmetry of the cemetery. The headstones that are out of compliance should be brought into compliance.

My concerns are that this new ordinance is being written to resolve an issue that should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. The new ordinance is shortsighted and does not protect those interred at the cemetery. The new ordinance could harm many more people than have been harmed by these 44 monuments.

What will the Highland Cemetery look like in another 40 years? How many more gravesites will be infringed upon? That, I guess, will depend upon public opinion. I have already expressed my concerns loud and clear to no avail. Possibly if the city hears more voices of concern they will listen. Please express your concerns to the Glasgow City Council at the August 18, 2014 hearing.

Inevitably this affects everyone. We will all end up in a cemetery somewhere someday.

Ben Trotter

Father Buried At Highland Cemetery

 

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