The town’s newest official panel, the East Greenwich Historic Cemetery Advisory Commission, is off to a running start, with three clean ups planning for May 3 (details below). That enthusiasm is a good thing, since East Greenwich has more than 90 historic cemeteries within its borders, many of them completely overgrown.
The commission has five members and was established by the Town Council after a strong push by local historian Alan Clarke. Clarke, who lives in Potowomut (and so is not a member of the EG panel but serves as an advisor) is a member of the state historic cemetery board and has been organizing clean ups in EG on his own in recent years.
A resident attended the commission’s monthly meeting last week after she read about the new panel. Turns out, she has a cemetery on her property and she was looking for help to get it cleaned up.
“I just feel bad,” she said, referring to the cemetery’s condition, “but with the poison ivy and all, it was too hard. If my people were in there, I’d want it taken care of.”
That’s just what the commission is hoping for – to get people with cemeteries on their property interested in having them cleaned up and then maintaining them.
The EG School Department is donating some equipment to the commission, including two riding mowers, a tractor, a trailer, a leaf vacuum, and a couple of small hand tools. Ever since the town took over landscaping duties for the schools several years ago, the district has had no need for the equipment.
One question that remains is where to store the equipment. Commission members are talking to the town about possible locations for a cemetery commission shed.
The panel meets on the first Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. at Town Hall (in the second floor conference room near the Town Clerk’s office).
Here’s information about the May 3 cleanups:
Volunteers from across the area will work from 9 a.m. to noon on:
1. East Greenwich Historical Cemeteries 23, 24, & 25 on Cedar Avenue
2. East Greenwich Historical Cemetery 31 on Sleepy Hollow Road
3. East Greenwich Historical Cemetery 62 on Wine Street
If you are interested in helping out on May 3 or would like to restore other E.G. cemeteries, contact volunteer coordinator ML Formisano at [email protected].