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Cemetery work welcome

Friday, 28th September, 2018

Manager of Curtis Family Funerals Mark Curtis at the Memorial Rose Garden in Broken Hill Cemetery. PICTURE: Callum Marshall Manager of Curtis Family Funerals Mark Curtis at the Memorial Rose Garden in Broken Hill Cemetery. PICTURE: Callum Marshall

By Callum Marshall

Curtis Family Funerals has welcomed a cemetery expansion plan which will create about 150 new plots, among other changes. 

The $200,000 expansion work was set aside in this year’s budget and will see the extension of the memorial garden, new fencing, curbing, and the planting of rose bushes.

The expansion has now been incorporated into council’s Cemetery Plan of Management with their recent 2017-18 KPI report noting that, “due to the decreasing available space in the current rose garden for ashes, the construction of the extension is currently (underway).”

Manager of Curtis Family Funerals Mark Curtis said the extension of the memorial garden was a good decision.

“Over the last 20 years when we opened our cremation facility in Broken Hill, we’ve been noticing an increasing trend towards cremation,” he said.

“At the moment the rate of cremations is 63 per cent.”

Mr Curtis said the memorial garden was a well-regarded area of the cemetery because, as opposed to other sections of it, it was kept in very good condition.

“One thing we’ve also noticed is families appreciate the rose garden because it’s something that the Council maintains,” he said.

“As families age or as people move away from Broken Hill, they have that certainty that things are going to be maintained.

“If you look at older sections of the cemetery though, which are gradually falling into disrepair, there are now no longer any living relatives to come and tend to those graves or any relatives in Broken Hill to look after them.

“A lot of people choose the rose garden because it looks good and Council maintains it. People will know their loved ones will be in a cared-for environment after they’re gone, whether they’re moving away or they’ve died themselves.”

Common criticism of the cemetery has often revolved around its general amenity, with Council’s plans for new fencing and curbing going a long way to addressing those issues. 

“Things like curbing and fencing and that sort of thing aren’t as well maintained as they once were and perhaps that’s a reflection of the fact that we’re no longer a wealthy community.”

Overall though, Mr Curtis said the Council looked after the cemetery well and that, as far as available space goes within the rose garden, it was currently at a satisfactory level.  

“The Council has been fairly good at managing the cemetery over the years to make sure it caters to the needs of the community, even to the point where they’ve just recently gone back to some of the older sections of the cemetery that still have space for burials in them,” he said. 

“From my memory, there’s still about three rows vacant (in the memorial garden). So it’s not completely packed out where they’re trying to find space to fit people in.

“They’re being proactive and they’re building a new section when they need to, rather than waiting for the problem. Which I must say is quite unusual because normally Council wait until there is a problem.”

As for issues that could still be addressed within the cemetery, Mr Curtis said clarification over broken gravestones and replacing uprooted trees were important.

“There’s been about three storms that have passed through the cemetery over the years that have caused damage to gravestones,” he said.

“Now people are responsible for their own gravestones but, of course, if the family have moved away then those gravestones remain broken and people find that distressing.

“There perhaps needs to be in Council’s mind, a policy that talks about what they do when accidents happen in the cemetery and there are no longer any relatives who can fix those things.

“With the last storm that came through, there were probably half a dozen trees in the cemetery that were uprooted and they’ve never been replaced.

“The cemetery’s a dry, hot and dusty place at the best of times, so providing trees aids with the shading of areas where people frequent. 

“On the whole (though) I think Council, in the broad scheme of the community, pay the cemetery a reasonable amount of attention when you think of what they have to balance.”

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