City Council’s first action after receiving the report was a vote to erect a fence at Vick. At the May 11 Vick Cemetery open forum, I urged caution and a slow roll — fences require fenceposts, which are anchored below ground level and pose potential danger to shallow graves.
Councilwoman Gillettia Morgan has advised me that
- a land survey of the entire property is underway;
- New South Associates has agreed to advise the city on appropriate fencing for the site; and
- New South will be onsite to oversee installation of any fencing to prevent further disturbance of graves.
- all of this is good, but
- we know that areas inside each of Vick’s borders were not radar-surveyed;
- this includes the front edge of the cemetery, under the power lines and inside the city’s right-of-way and/or the utility easement;
- but also, along its western edge, where the cemetery abuts a natural gas pipeline easement;
- and in the back, where trees are growing in the cemetery (should they be cut down?);
- and, on the east side, where an unsurveyed strip perhaps 20 feet wide runs through the driveway, across the parking lot, and all the way back to the woods;
- the determination of the course of fencing should take place only after a more complete assessment of the locations of graves is made and after an assessment of what, if anything, should be done about structures such as the parking lot and electricity transmission poles;
- once New South has identified types of fencing appropriate for the site, the city should seek public input on the style of fence selected (read: NO CHAIN LINK);
- as Rev. Carlton Best so incisively noted at the open forum, Vick Cemetery is both a physical place and a grouping of ancestors. Both have been dishonored. A fence goes some way toward protecting the place, but we cannot lose sight of the 4,224+ people who lie here.