The only compelling cemetery issue that needs to be addressed this year is: How can we come as close as is feasible to satisfying the desires of the families currently using the Davie graveyard to have continued access to affordable nearby plots for traditional burials? Although the alternative proposed here is not 100% of what 100% of those families want, we should be able to come pretty close for what the preponderance of those families want. While an inexpensive nearby Jones Ferry location for a new cemetery might not be preferred by all of these families, many of them might prefer a quiet beautiful rural setting. Has anyone asked them? It takes only 5 minutes to drive from Fidelity & Davie to Jones Ferry & Damascus Church. Other than needing to drive a few minutes further, what would be so bad about a new cemetery?
The Town could do its best to make up for the change of location. It’s likely that these families would be satisfied with a simple setting that would continue to provide affordable plots. The rather modest graveyard along Davie has never had a fence, or even some benches, and it doesn’t seem that anyone has ever complained. From 1948 to 1968 this graveyard was whites-only. For most of its life, it was used by many of the most well-off Carrboro families in its rather simple form. To lay out a new cemetery, the Town could invite local funeral home directors and faith leaders who are the current leading users of the Davie graveyard to take the lead in designing it. They could choose the nicest half-acre out of a three acre parcel for a first zone. That zone could be restricted to traditional burials for the first ten years. At some point in the future the remaining 2.5 acres could gradually be used to host whatever current methods are preferred by our transplant residents as they age.
Some council members want to sell plots on a sliding price scale, to provide more affordability to families with limited economic means. It would make more sense to use inexpensive land to offer inexpensive plots, rather than using highly valued land for that purpose. Some council members were sympathetic to families who want to maintain ties to the Davie location. If one is concerned about continuity of location, then more long term security for this issue would be provided by acquiring a suitably-sized tract on Jones Ferry; the filling-up cut-off for it would be further into the future than would be attempting to pull off another half-acre from the Fidelity open space every ten years. That would depend upon approval by future town councils.
If this open green space was not next to the graveyard and it was privately owned, then the Town would jump at the chance to buy it for a park at a reasonable price. When the African-American patriarch Town Counsilor Hilliard Caldwell led the effort to sell most of our meadow for a post office in 1989, the citizens’ Cemetery Commission did not like the idea. But as they acquiesced, they insisted that the money received should be used to buy more land for graveyard use elsewhere. Now to fulfill that nearly completed 1989 deal, we are simply proposing that the Town imagine selling this land to itself and then use the proceeds to buy rural land out Jones Ferry.
This year it would be best to limit the discussion of end-of-life methods to the families who would be impacted by closing of the Davie graveyard chapter in Carrboro’s cemetery story. Although a bewildering variety of methods are growing in popularity with our baby boomer transplant population, our neighborhood is under no obligation to consider these methods (much less to host them). Overall there is not a lot of enthusiasm on our town council for getting into the graveyard business. The challenge faced by we pro-park people is that most of our town council lacks the courage to exit the graveyard business now. It was insulting to our neighborhood to hear some council members recently say that they were opposed to buying new land to accommodate our traditional families because they did not want to stay in the graveyard business, but that they would be happy to first fill up our meadow with more graves before getting out of the cemetery. business. If Carrboro Town Council is not willing to buy new land out on Jones Ferry, then they could use less than 5% of the huge out-of-town Anderson Park to locate things such as scattering fields and columbariums in some tiny corner of it.
The CVDA consultants’ graveyard plan for our open green space would cost $350,000 to implement. That plan provides for three currently-in-style alternatives to traditional casket burials. But the burial preferences of the 90% of Carrboro’s population consisting of transplants are rapidly changing, and few of these transplants are close to needing burial service. When this debate began in 2020, the author of this site had never heard of “aquamation”. Recently it was advertised nightly on WUNC-FM. Town government is far too clunky to respond to the variety of requested methods that will arise in the coming decades.
The expert who said the Town could buy 3 acres out on Jones Ferry knew about the land purchases for the Judea Reformed Cemetery just past Damascus Church on Jones Ferry. A new town cemetery in its vicinity could contract with the same landscapers who maintain the Judea Cemetery.
GY5 Grave Plots completes Graveyard?
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