City has plans for historic cemetery

The City of Bainbridge will soon take legal action to take over ownership of the historic Pineview Cemetery off East College Street.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Bainbridge City Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing City Attorney Tom Conger to file paperwork in Decatur County Superior Court to formally condemn the property.

The city government is condemning the land parcel the cemetery is on, so that it can assume ownership and better maintain the cemetery, which has fallen into disrepair.

A Superior Court judge will hold a hearing and an appraisal of the property will be done at the same time, City Manager Chris Hobby said.

At a council meeting in October, several citizens voiced concerns about whether the city’s planned acquistion of the cemetery would affect their family burial plots.

There was some friction before regarding how city officials planned to assign remaining plots in the cemetery to the relatives of people already buried there and other vested parties. Due to the cemetery’s age and the informal transfer of ownership over the years, no records can be found of who owns what, according to the attorneys working on the condemnation.

However, on Tuesday night, Hobby said an amenable solution had been settled upon after Deputy City Manager Dustin Dowdy met with members of the renewed Pineview Cemetery committee. Once the city assumes public ownership of the cemetery, citizens will be allowed to claim plot ownership by submitting a notarized oath that they are in fact the rightful owner, by family relation or other interest, Hobby said.

“The cemetery committee has already been doing productive work [with groundswork] and we’ve been helping out by hauling away the debris they clear,” Hobby said. “In the future, we will keep the cemetery mowed and free of litter.”

However, because of budget constraints, individuals will be responsible for repairs to burial markers on the plots they have ownership of at their own cost, Mayor Edward Reynolds said.

The more difficult issue that remains is mapping out who is buried where and which plots are still available for future burials, Hobby said. The historical society had mapped out Oak City Cemetery in the past, but an inventory of plots will have to be done from scratch at Pineview Cemetery, he said.

“There are some broken markers there and it’s possible that some graves are unmarked,” Hobby said. “We have tools and technology to help locate those, without disturbing them, but I expect it’s going to be an involved process.”

See also: City closer to taking over cemetery

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