North Adams Cemetery Commission Advises Rates, Rules

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The Cemetery Commission is recommending a raise in rates of $125 for cemetery plots.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Cemetery Commission on Wednesday finalized new grave plot fees and made some changes to the cemetery rules and regulations.

Commissioner Paul Arabia said he standardized the prices and added a flat $125 to the old prices and doubled the current $25 for perpetual care to $50 for each grave.

He said residential single graves will cost $450, double grave lots will cost $900, and four grave sites will cost $1,800. These amounts include perpetual care.

Nonresidential single graves will cost $900, doubles will cost $1,500, a four-grave lot will cost $3,000. These prices also include perpetual care.

Commissioners agreed the prices were fair and they will be sent to the mayor and City Council as a recommendation.

The board stressed that there will be no glass or wire allowed in the city's cemeteries. Some of the popular vigil lights, or solar lights, are made out of glass and wreaths have wire in them that cause safety hazards for the people who maintain the cemetery grounds.

"Over the years, what I have experienced, the vigil lights are glass and people would leave them and if a lawn mower hits them, it's not good," Arabia said. "The wire for the wreaths are really dangerous; one of our guys was cutting grass and he caught a piece of that wire. It cut off, it spun out and landed right in the cutter's leg."

The committee decided anything placed near a grave must be put on the base of the stone or immediately adjacent to the base in order to facilitate mowing.

Commissioner Roger Eurbin said he wanted to add some sort of policy for fallen grave stones due to sunken graves.

Arabia said he does not feel comfortable touching the stones because it could become a liability. He said the stones are private property and when a stone falls over, it often means the grave’s foundation has been compromised and needs to be redone.

"If you just set the stone back up there is a liability there in my perspective; these monuments have fallen over and have killed people," he said. "I feel if I touch and modify it just so it is upright and something happens I feel like I am liable."

Arabia said many of the owners of fallen graves are most likely long dead and the committee should check with the city first before making a decisions on a policy for fallen graves.

Commissioner Donna Morgan stressed the importance of making clearer rules for littering at the cemetery.

"We need to make people have a little amount of responsibility when it comes to trash," Morgan said.

Arabia said he wants to leave trash receptacles near the water faucets to see what people throw out. He said the receptacles should have proper signage, too.

"We also have to put some signs on them because we can have people dumping urns and rocks in there because then we can’t pick the thing up," Arabia said. "This needs to be strictly enforced with some teeth to it."

Arabia also proposed a rule that would prohibit burials from being scheduled after noon on Saturdays. Normally, burials scheduled after noon cost an extra $200; Arabia proposed to only charge this if a burial goes past noon.  

"Most Catholic funerals in North Adams traditionally start at 11 a.m. and most of the time they go past noon," he said. "I don’t have a problem with that, but nothing should be scheduled after 12."

Eurbin said he recently heard from a probation officer who has volunteered his inmates to help clean up Hillside Cemetery. 

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