Clean-up costs: Town applies for ‘neglected cemetery’ grant

State money may help with the clean-up of Branchville Cemetery.

The Board of Selectmen voted June 20 to have the town apply for a $2,000 “neglected cemetery grant” available from the state.

“That would cover the cost of clean-up,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said.

The town had already undertaken an effort to mow grass and otherwise improve the appearance of neglect at the cemetery, off Branchville Road and Florida Road.

“Branchville Cemetery has just been let go. We’ve gotten an incredible number of calls,” Marconi told the selectmen.

When he learned of the grants, Marconi thought it made sense to apply.

“It’s available. I said, ‘Why not?’ We should get any money we can get.”

The grant application approved by the selectmen lists four cemeteries — Branchville, Maple Shade, Olde Town and Ridgebury — as locations where the state money would be used for “clearing of weeds, briars or bushes; mowing of grounds’ lawn areas; repairing of grounds’ fences or walls; straightening of memorial stones.”

The town may eventually initiate an effort to formally take over ownership of the cemetery. Title to the cemetery isn’t clear, and Georgetown funeral home had been in charge changed hands and stopped caring for it.

“The new owner said we didn’t buy it, we don’t own it, we don’t want it,” Marconi said.

So, a town take-over would be one way to assure it’s cared for. A decision to acquire the cemetery would probably start with the selectmen and eventually involve a town meeting — as well as the courts.

“We’d have to go through probate,” Marconi said.

The neglected cemetery grants of up to $2,000 are administered by the state Office of Police and Management (OPM).

“What’s OPM? Other People’s Money?” joked Selectman Bob Hebert.