BLUFFTON — Members of the Shannon Cemetery Commission may have came up with a possible solution in an ongoing battle about a cemetery that was the final resting place of some of the village’s founding settlers.
Commission chairman Nate Ulrey made a suggestion of the village leasing the land to a non-profit organization in exchange for a contract with that organization guaranteeing the maintenance and upkeep of the old cemetery, which includes gravesites of Revolutionary War soldiers.
Village residents have been at odds since talk of restoring the dilapidated cemetery began. Opposition to some of the suggestions mainly came from the Friends of Shannon Cemetery, which wants the headstones returned to their original locations. However, village officials have stated they lack the funds to properly tend the cemetery.
Ulrey said leasing the lot was a possibility.
“It’s an idea that needs to be looked into more,” Ulrey said. “It would have to be legally drawn up. There would have to be some kind of road to take if it wasn’t kept up.”
Friends of Shannon Cemetery chairman Tracy McIlroy said it was an avenue they would consider, but they would first want guarantees that headstones were returned and the land not given over for use as a park.
“It is one of the better ideas we have heard so far,” McIlroy said. “We will look at it later this month when we meet.”
The cemetery closed in 1870 because it was full. A little over 40 gravesites are known now, but some estimate as many as 200 people are buried there.
Councilman Dave Steiner, who is also on the commission, said an agreement would depend on the council’s opinion.
“”We can reset every grave possible,” Steiner said, “but it could be very expensive depending on which way we went.”
The commission gave member Harriet Moyer clearance to talk to local veteran and business organizations to gather ideas on what should be done. Possibilities range from a complete restoration of the cemetery to developing a low-maintenance, landscaped garden with a memorial marker.
Ulrey planned to address village council Tuesday on the commission’s discussion at the meeting.
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter@Lance Mihm