Preliminary repairs begin at Elkhart cemetery
Posted: 07/17/2012 at 6:12 pm
By: Angelle Barbazon
Construction workers fortified the land near the riverbank Tuesday to prevent further erosion. Mayor Dick Moore temporarily closed the 150-year-old cemetery on Middlebury Street over the weekend because of safety concerns. The riverbank is steep and has worn away in some spots.
The city received a permit from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources on Monday to work along the Elkhart River. The city plans to install a wall of large stones to help put a stop to erosion. Jeannie Regan-Dinius, DNR cemetery and burial ground registry coordinator, noted that governments are exempt from a state law that requires approval of construction within 100 feet of a cemetery.
“The city was doing their due diligence,” Regan-Dinius added.
Elkhart engineer Mike Machlan said the city expects to receive bids for the construction project within the next two weeks. Work will begin soon after, he said.
Patricia Johnson, a local cemetery historian, asked city leaders Monday to allow the state archaeologist to study Grace Lawn Cemetery. Elkhart police received a report days earlier that human bone fragments were discovered near the eroded area. A forensic pathologist later confirmed that the white objects found at the cemetery were not human bones. Regan-Dinius verified Tuesday that the state archaeologist has no plans to visit the cemetery because no human remains have been found.
Grace Lawn Cemetery will remain closed until further notice. Anyone who wants to visit the gravesites of friends and family can call the cemetery at 293-2811 to make an appointment to enter the burial ground.
Editor's note: This article originally stated Grace Lawn Cemetery was 180 years old. It has since been corrected.