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In a move that appears not to surprise many people, the Buena Vista Trustees have approved a new policy for the management of the Mt. Olivet Cemetery, which is owned and operated by the Town of Buena Vista. The policy contains two major changes. It clarifies the rules regarding memorial objects left on graves, and it sets new fees for gravesites.

The move follows preparations over the past several months by Buena Vista Public Works to improve the appearance of the cemetery. The problems with appearances are two-fold.

In the past few years, there have been problems with the sprinkler system. This has led to a scruffy-looking appearance; with little water, grass, vegetation, and shrubbery dried up, the wind began to blow the dirt.

Not only was the maintenance of the cemetery a concern, but memorials left on the graves, some for years, have begun to appear windblown and sun-scorched, contributing to a generally unkempt appearance. Many community members expressed dissatisfaction with how Mt. Olivet looked and the impression it made for their loved ones buried there. It was noted that the town has an obligation under the land-use code to maintain town property appearances.

Buena Vista Public Works Director Shawn Williams has been working on the watering system to restore the cemetery’s greenery. In the Trustee’s May 11 meeting where Trustees approved new policies, Williams said that he has a personal goal to restore the cemetery to beauty.

Trustees discussed the need to be gentle related to announcing the new policies regarding the length of time that memorial materials might be left on graves. They settled on a variation of this message: “The Town of Buena Vista respectfully reserves the right to remove any decorations which have fallen to disrepair or have become weather-worn, and the right to maintain any vegetation present on the gravesite.”

The other main change to cemetery policy involved an increase of lot prices, to recognize the need to help fund better long-term cemetery maintenance. After a lengthy discussion, trustees agreed upon an in-county and out-of-county/out-of-state lot prices:

  • In-county residents: $750
  • Out-of-county: $2,500

While there was some discussion of making lot prices in-town, versus out of town, several trustees, including Trustee Cindy Swisher pointed out that county residency is important. She added that the cemetery should recognize that local people may live just beyond town limits and still be a part of the Buena Vista community due to ties to businesses, churches, and the school.

The policy passed 4-2, with Trustees Libby Fay and Norm Nyberg voting no.

The new lot prices will take effect August 1, 2020, giving county residents time to purchase cemetery lots at the current rates, before increases take effect.