Robert Eurbin, left, Chairman Paul Arabia and Donna Morgan make up the newly revived Cemetery Commission.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The newly appointed Cemetery Commission has been charged with reviewing fee increases and revitalization of the city's cemeteries.
The commission had been dormant for seven years before Mayor Richard Alcombright recently appointed Roger Eurbin, Paul Arabia and Donna Morgan commissioners.
"I wanted to put a commission back in place so we could discuss the fees, but also, now that we have that new section down at Southview," Alcombright said, referring to the plot where a cemetery building had been removed. "It was kind of the opportune moment to do that, and we did have people with significant interests."
Eurbin, in particular, has been very vocal about the condition of the cemeteries. He has been leading a restoration project of the historic Hillside Cemetery the past few years with the city and community.
Paul Arabia has been working with the Department of Public Works for years and, according to to the mayor, "knows every inch of the cemeteries like they were his own back yard."
Morgan dedicated her time after retirement from Clarksburg Elementary School to the creation of the Children's Memorial Park in Southview.
"I just thought it was a great mix of people to start this up again and start putting some focus on the right thing to do for our cemeteries over time," Alcombright said.
Alcombright said the Cemetery Commission often only becomes active when there are fee increases or something of the like.
"I hate to say this, but it's a somewhat in the day to day an out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of a thing I think," he said. "Really what brought it to light was the more passionate Roger became, and the more he was putting into it, the more I thought that we should craft something where these questions can be answered."
The committee at its first meeting on Wednesday discussed raising fees for plots and plot maintenance, recommendations of which they will forward to the City Council for approval.
"I think it is one of the first things they wanted to tackle," Alcombright said. "Our funds are kind of depleted, and we want to be able to invest in our cemeteries when we can and where we can so that was one of the first things they prioritized."
With a tighter city budget the commission remains mindful of major increases.
"We don’t want to burden the public at this point in time, but we have to maintain," Arabia said.
Morgan agreed with Arabia, and said their budget is modest compared to other city departments.
"Right now it's lower than everyone else's total all around, and it needs to be increased," she said.
The committee will meet again May 20 to finalize its budget and discuss possible new rules and regulations for the cemeteries. And take up the prickly subject of fee increases.
"It's going to take a long time to bring things back to where they need to be, but this I felt was the a good way to start," Alcombright said.