Committee to oversee cemetery restoration

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — At the urging of members of the Southwest Harbor Historical Society, selectmen on Tuesday voted 5-0 to form a committee charged with restoring local cemeteries.

Historical society President Karen Craig opened the discussion, saying members are concerned about the state of the many old cemeteries within the town, which have fallen into disrepair.

“We’re hoping the town will make a decision to have a committee to handle these cemeteries,” Craig said.

Craig noted the historical significance of these cemeteries, which contain the graves of some of the island’s earliest residents. Many veterans are buried in these cemeteries, she added.

Maine law requires municipalities to repair and keep in good condition the burial sites of veterans who served in a war, including the Revolutionary War.

Craig said the committee would not be involved with the Mount Height Cemetery, which is owned by the Mount Height Cemetery Association.

Selectmen had no issues with the proposal.

“It’s something I feel we need to do,” said Selectman Chad Terry.

The board did discuss the possible make-up of the committee.

“I think the historical society should play a role in this,” said Dan Norwood.

Members of the historical society agreed to participate. Discussion about the make-up and duties of the committee is expected to resume at the selectmen’s Aug. 9 meeting.

Selectman George Jellison pointed out that restoration and maintenance of the cemeteries means additional costs for the town.

“I think we’re heading towards spending more on maintenance,” Jellison said. Town Manager Don Lagrange said that could involve hiring another person for the public works crew.

On Wednesday, Lagrange said there are 10 cemeteries listed in town records. Grass is being mowed by the town crew at five of these cemeteries.

Echo Lake parking

Selectmen also expressed concern about traffic issues and safety along Route 102 in an area known as The Bluffs. A parking area at the popular spot for hikers and swimmers is too small in the summer months. Vehicles park on both sides of the state highway.

The section of road is in the town of Mount Desert, and the parking area is part of Acadia National Park, selectmen noted, yet the problem affects everyone who travels that route.

“It’s a high-speed area, and the park is allowing parking on both sides of the road,” Norwood said.

Norwood said one of his employees was driving through the area on Monday. He saw two small children dart from between parked cars and onto the roadway and almost get hit by the vehicle he was following.

Chairman Tom Benson said he, too, sees parking as a problem.

“They have to get the parking out of the road; that’s my opinion,” he said. “There’s plenty of opportunity to increase parking.”

Lagrange suggested taking the matter up with the League of Towns, which consists of town officials from nine municipalities, including the four towns on Mount Desert Island, and representatives from Acadia National Park.

Selectmen agreed to have Lagrange write a letter describing the problem and send it to League of Towns members and the Maine Department of Transportation.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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