Greenleaf Cemetery supporters took their concerns about the cemetery’s condition to the Brownwood City Council Tuesday, saying the cemetery association lacks funds to property maintain the historic 95-acre grounds.
Supporters, meanwhile, have organized a citizens committee, volunteers have mowed the tall grass and weeds, and a work day for volunteers has been called for Saturday, council members were told.
Supporters told council members they’re asking the city to help give appropriate care to the cemetery in the form of funding and advice. The city council has appropriated $5,000 a year toward maintaining the cemetery, pays its water bill and picks up its trash, cemetery association President Ronnie Lappe said.
Several addressed council members on topics ranging from the condition of headstones, the length of grass and weeds before volunteers mowed the grounds and the condition of the plat.
“There is a lot of history” at the cemetery, Lann James of San Angelo, whose son was buried there after he died in March, told council members. “Everybody out there is important.
“A cemetery is a hard place to go to but it is a healing place as well. … We need help out there. I know that Brownwood’s a good city … but you can’t be proud of that.”
Lappe said Greenleaf Fisk donated five acres to the city in 1863, and other donations followed. Greenleaf Cemetery operated as a city cemetery until 1923, when it was chartered as a non-profit, Lappe said.
He said the city could use “twice as many or more” employees but can’t afford that many workers.
Last month, about two dozen people attended a meeting of the cemetery board and expressed their dissatisfaction with the cemetery’s condition.
Lappe said then that workers hadn’t been able to mow the cemetery because of recent wet weather. Lappe also said then that the cemetery needs more than the three groundskeepers it currently employs.
Lappe said the Greenleaf Cemetery Association has $650,000 in certificates of deposit, but isn’t allowed to use those funds for maintenance and upkeep.
The association can, however, use the interest from the certificates, as well as the sale of graves, for maintenance and upkeep, Lappe said.
He said the cemetery has a yearly budget of about $100,000.
This Saturday’s work day will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and hot dogs and drinks will be provided.
Volunteers are asked to bring their mowers, edgers and similar tools.