The City of Troy is starting work on a project to restore and preserve the city’s cemetery on the hill west of town, starting with adding water access for maintenance, and potentially leading to the formation of a cemetery board to see to the cemetery’s future.
Mayor Dallas Carr has one simple reason for why he wants to see a board formed and the future of the cemetery secured while preserving the past: “It’s time.”
“It’s been there over a hundred years,” Carr said. “I’ve walked through that, I don’t know how many times in my life. I’ve listened to a lot of the people through the years that have made suggestions, and I walked it with my dad — many times — learning the history of the town by just, learning the names from my dad.”
Carr recalled walks through the cemetery as his father told him the tales of the people who rest there. He said he sees taking care of the cemetery in a respectful manner to be a matter of only doing what is right by the people who founded Troy.
“We put a new cemetery up there adjacent to the old part, and it’s a field of knapweed — and weeds,” he said. “Nobody wants to get ‘rid of the old part. Nobody knows the value of those trees and the surroundings better than me.”
A Jan. 14 Facebook post by the city showing pictures of drilling equipment that was at the cemetery putting in a well drew some criticism, though the majority of comments were positive.
Some expressed concern that the old part of the cemetery would be changed, or even worries that the cemetery would become “golf course like.” Those expressing opposition cited the intentions of those who established the cemetery.
But Carr said that there is no intention to alter the old part.
“It’s a beautiful place, and we want to keep it that way,” he said.
The city will place water lines running along the current paths from the new, centrally-located well. In the old part of the cemetery, spigots will be on in warm weather to allow people to fill vases or clean off headstones.
In the new portion of the cemetery, the city will install a sprinkler system to keep things from drying out in the late summer. Even there, though, the sketches call for the lines to run within the borders of existing paths.
Carr said that, as it stands, there are times in the summer when the cemetery is difficult to even mow because of how much dust gets kicked up.
Once the water is in, Carr said he wants to get area churches onboard with establishing a cemetery board. From there, Carr hopes there could be an attendant to maintain the grounds in the warm months, keeping up with weeding and mowing, as well as a tool shed for storing equipment.
“I would like to see the churches fund that, and anybody else who wants to donate to it,” he said.
The city would continue to do the work it does now, such as plowing and road work and burials, but the city can’t afford to pay for an attendant.
He also would like to see informational kiosks, helping to inform people about the cemetery rules and the some of the history and locations in the cemetery.
The work so far drilling a well has had financial support from the Troy United Methodist Church, Carr said.
Cliff Akin, a trustee with the church, said the cemetery project met the criteria for grant requests that the church considers. He said that the proposal was well-received.
TUMC Pastor Karen Disney said funds came through the 1998 donation by the Swanson family.
“In the past few years the visionary committee has awarded grants that have supported domestic violence shelter needs, funding for the Troy after-school program, the backpack meal program, the food pantry, along with many other worthwhile projects,” she said by email.
Carr said he doesn’t think, if a board is formed, that all the churches would need to provide money. Each could provide labor or whatever they are able.
He also said he thinks there could be room on such a board for community members who want to help outside of church membership.
“It’s going to take a combination of people to make this work,” Carr said. “That place is a special place, and we’re all involved with that.”