‘Bear with us’: City addresses concerns over unkept cemeteries in Phenix City

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PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WRBL) – Citizens in Phenix City are concerned about the upkeep of several cemeteries in the city and have taken to social media to express those concerns.

Community members say grounds at Pine Grove Cemetery have been unkept for a while, the grass is overgrown, tombstones are broken and litter has also taken over. They have expressed their dismay over the state of the cemetery. Citizens have left questions on Facebook, asking who is responsible for maintaining Pine Grove and why it is in this condition.

News 3 reached out to the Phenix City Mayor Eddie Lowe to find out who was responsible for maintaining Pine Grove and he said the city is responsible for several cemeteries.

“It’s not only Pine Grove, a few years back and I would tell you the city did an outstanding job to be able to accept those cemeteries. I think we’re over eight or nine or maybe ten of them, but it’s not just Pine Grove, there are cemeteries that we’ve gotten calls about that need to be cut. We know that and we understand that,” Lowe said.

Lowe told News 3 the City is having a hard time maintaining the cemeteries.

“We’re not looking the other way, the whole issue is and we’ve said this and we’ve talked about this and I pray and hope the community understands and just bear with us. The workforce has been affected and all employers you can go anywhere around and know they need help. It’s just the virus were dealing with, well it has affected us as an employer, as the city. Our workforce is down and because of that we can’t expediently like we have done in the past, go out and manicure areas such as our cemetery,” Lowe said.

The city plans on making time to maintain the cemeteries and they’re hoping the citizens of Phenix City will understand as they try to come up with a solution for this problem.

“We are getting to them and I pray and hope that people understand that. Because it’s everywhere and every business you go to, they need help. That’s the reason why, but they will get to it but we’ve been having some challenges with the workforce,” Lowe said.

Several citizens have mentioned that tombstones are cracked and dirty, but Lowe said the city is not responsible for their upkeep, only the landscape.

“Thats not the responsibility of the city, it’s of the family members. Because again, we can go out and manicure and do all those things but ultimately it’s the responsibility of the family members to make sure that is up to par,” Lowe said.

Lowe said he understands the community’s frustration.

“Listen, we sympathize with them. I thoroughly understand, we thoroughly understand but what I’m asking and hoping is that they will just continue to bear with us. Because again of our workforce, listen I would feel the same way but I will always look at it this way, I will understand what the situation is once it has been explained,” Lowe said.

New 3 asked Lowe if citizens in the community could volunteer to help maintain the cemeteries.

“I will say this, yes everything is on the table. However, let me say this in the past when things like that have been done and what we have to be mindful of and careful of. It’s great intentions but there have been situations where things like that, not the exact volunteerism has been done and something goes wrong. The city can turn around and be sued, however, I know that you can sign waivers but were not at that point yet. I don’t know if we will get to that point but right now we’re just managing it as best we can,” Lowe said.

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