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No engineering solution available for cemetery

By Erin Smith

Officials with the town of Elizabethtown have learned there is no engineering solution for the geologic damage at the City Cemetery. The cemetery will be a topic of discussion during the Town Council’s noon work session on Monday.

Town Manager Eddie Madden said Scott Simpson, an engineer with the W. K. Dickson Company, will attend the noon work session to meet with the Town Council and present their exact findings.

“At one time we were looking at the possibility of using a technique where you pump flowable cement into the crevices that have formed, but that doesn’t look an option now,” said Madden.

Flowable cement is a very loose type of concrete that sets up and stabilizes the area where it is applied, but in this case, it would be cost prohibitive said Madden.

The town had soil samples taken of the damaged cemetery. The soil samples have revealed that the damage is caused by shifting soil, according to Madden.

“It is very likely a similar occurrence could take place again, over time. What we do know is there is not much we can do to stabilize it,” said Madden.

Three options are expected to be discussed at Monday’s noon work session of the Town Council. The first option is to wait and see; the second option is to address the surface issues with sand and topsoil and repositioning the headstones; and the third option is to develop a new cemetery and move the existing graves.

Madden said the third option is likely to cost the town $2 million. He said that figure is based on North Carolina Department of Transportation estimates. Engineers will be seeking the board’s input as to how they want to proceed.

Madden said there is a 60 acre parcel of land near the airport the town owns which is restricted for use for airport purposes only. However, the town has received preliminary approval from the NC Department of Aviation to use the property for a cemetery if it is needed.

Mayor Sylvia Campbell said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will pay for one project and the town has the opportunity to obtain FEMA funding.

She said the Town Council wants to hear from some of those who have loved ones buried in the cemetery.  Mayor Campbell said the board is sensitive to the feelings of who have relatives buried in the cemetery.

“We hope to have folks present Monday who have relatives buried there,” said Mayor Campbell.

She added the Town Council is not going to rush into any decisions regarding the cemetery, but rather listen to all of the options presented and weigh each one carefully.

The matter is scheduled to be discussed during the noon work session which will take place in the Council Chambers at 12 noon at the Elizabethtown Municipal Building.

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