ADAMS, Mass. — The Cemetery Commission may dip into its Perpetual Care Fund to purchase a shed for Bellevue Cemetery.
Commissioner Bruce Shepley told the commissioners Wednesday that although they may have found a proper storage shed to meet cold storage needs at Bellevue Cemetery, actually purchasing it may be a problem.
"If it is what we want we still have to come up with the money," he said.
The project was initiated after the commission agreed that a dilapidated shed used for cold storage needed to be knocked down. This would lead to less storage at the cemetery.
The commission looked at building completely new or adding on to a standing garage, however, both options were expensive. The commission ultimately decided to run down its cemetery fund and expend approximately $100,000 to make repairs to the garage.
This still leaves storage needs at the cemetery with the white shed on the verge of falling down.
"We never addressed what's happening to the space in that building that will be torn down," Commissioner Jim Taylor said. "That is how this whole thing got started. We know we need the building."
Shepley said the commission, to his knowledge, cannot touch the principle in the Perpetual Care Fund only the interest.
"We are a town with over $400,000 in principle and I want to find out where it is written that we cannot touch that," he said. "If indeed can we get a legislative action or some language that will allow us to?"
Shepley said it may be advantageous to change the parameters of the Perpetual Care Fund and, for example, only allow the commission to draw 1.5 percent of the total amount as long as it does not go below $400,000.
The rest of the commission agreed that the shed needs to be replaced and Shepley said he would contact town counsel.
"We have winter coming on and they can't use that building for another winter," Taylor said. "It is being broken into and is dangerous."
In other business, Shepley suggested the commission update its regulations -- specifically ones outlining where plants and urns can be placed.
"I think we need to have some language that clearly states where plants and flowers can be planted and that we are the ultimate authority in that," he said. "I think the board is going to change all of the time there has been a cemetery commission for decades and for some reason whatever we know is different than what the public thinks."
This has been a constant struggle at the town cemeteries and Shepley said it would be good to have some concrete regulations to point too when questioned by the public.
Before closing, Shepley said he would like to pass on a plot sale issue to town counsel -- although he believes he has gotten to the bottom of it.
Shepley said a woman came into the office recently claiming that some of the lots she had purchased were occupied by someone else.
"She said she went up to Bellevue and some of the lots she claimed she bought had stones on them belonging to another family," he said. "
He followed the paper trail and back into the early 2000s and found the individual only committed to the purchase of multiple lots and never paid for them.
"The commission sent her a letter saying we have not yet received commission for the lots," he said. "…Another year went by so they sent another letter with a drop-dead date that said you must pay or they are getting turned back in."
Shepley said there seemed to be a partial payment but said the evidence brought forth by the person seemed "fishy."
"I made a copy of all of the information and I am putting them in a folder and in order," he said. "I want to submit it to town counsel just to make sure I am following a process."
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