SALISBURY — Flowers will need to be removed from Longhill Cemetery grave sites within seven days after a burial, after the Cemetery Commission voted unanimously to adopt such a policy Friday morning.
Commission Chair Gordon Frost told the board at its meeting at Town Hall that some of the flowers in the cemetery have been there for over a month and he recommended that the towns’ Public Works department dispose of any graveside flowers after a week.
Most flowers are dead after seven days of inattention according to Frost, who further clarified that, if a family can schedule a burial, it can also schedule flower removal.
Selectman Wilma McDonald, also a member of the Cemetery Commission, argued that 14 days may be a better grace period.
Public Works Director Lisa DeMeo agreed with McDonald, arguing that winter storms complicate matters.
“We will be taking care of the storm and 14 days is easier for us to handle,” she said.
Town Manager Neil Harrington reminded the commission that family members often live out of town and may not be able to make it back to Salisbury one week after a burial.
Frost, however, was not swayed by the objects, adding, “we can’t even get the Christmas stuff out of there.”
Commission member Ken Eaton also preferred a seven-day grace period and McDonald later in the meeting reduced her suggested grace period to 10 days.
The commission eventually voted unanimously to give families a seven-day grace period to remove the flowers left at the grave site before they would be disposed of by the town.
The town placed a public notice in the Daily News on March 28 which stated that personal items, such as plants by flush markers, shrubs and artificial flowers are not allowed at Longhill Cemetery and must be removed by April 30 or they will be disposed of by the Public Works department.
A person in the audience attending Friday’s meeting told the Cemetery Commission Friday that the public notice was incorrect and that artificial flowers are allowed at Longhill Cemetery.
Commission member Ken Eaton agreed, the regulations were checked, and it was verified that artificial flowers can be placed in the cemetery.
According to cemetery regulations, plantings, urns and clay pots are also allowed but must be placed within 14 inches from the front of the main headstone.
Any wreath or Christmas greens must be removed by Dec. 31 of each year, weather permitting.
Veteran flags may be installed at the back edge of the flush marker and religious artifacts may only be placed at the base of the headstone.
The Cemetery Commission also heard an update on Longhill Cemetery from Harrington.
Harrington told the commission the town has been working with Millennium Engineering to come up with a long-range plan for the cemetery.
Harrington said he would like to take advantage of federal American Recovery Plan Act funding to pay for a number of concerns in Longhill Cemetery including: paving and reaving of the cemetery’s interior roads; hiring an arborist to develop a tree removal and trimming plan (which would be performed this year); installing a new fence to run along the rear of the property line; purchasing signage to identify the nine sections of the cemetery; and paving the east side entrance.
“That cost will far exceed what we normally put in our budget, rather than go to Town Meeting and take money out of free cash, I think we should use this federal money as a one-time expense,” he said.
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.