Tacky or tasteful?

City of Rockingham to draft policy to address cemetery benches, memorials

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — Tacky or tasteful?

City of Rockingham officials discussed whether to accept or refuse privately provided benches, couches and other memorials aimed at creating a degree of comfort and familiarity at city-owned cemeteries.

City Manager Monty Crump said Tuesday during the city’s annual budget retreat — the issue came up almost as a sidebar discussion — that he’s received “some pretty voracious complaints” about people putting on display a variety of seating areas and other mementos. The problem is that each plot is adjacent to another, and what one person likes, another might dislike.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com City officials in Rockingham will draft a policy in an attempt to address privately placed benches, couches and other memorials in city-owned cemeteries.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
City officials in Rockingham will draft a policy in an attempt to address privately placed benches, couches and other memorials in city-owned cemeteries.

As Mayor Steve Morris said, “you can’t legislate taste.”

Crump said city code does not currently regulate such issues. He asked and received the consensus of council members their approval to draft a city policy to address the issue.

Such a policy will have to be delicately crafted.

“You can make a pretty good case it’s unsightly and unseemly,” Crump said.

The issue, Crump said, “has the potential to get worse if we don’t have a police in place.”

That’s true — but not necessarily for all of it.Councilwoman Anne Edwards said some of the benches are very expensive and look very nice.

The problem, Morris said, is that not everyone will agree on what does and does not look good.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Items on an individual gravesite will not be affected by a soon-to-be crafted policy to address items in a cemetery.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Items on an individual gravesite will not be affected by a soon-to-be crafted policy to address items in a cemetery.

“Not all of it us unattractive,” Morris said, “but it’s hard to legislate taste. That’s the tricky part of it.”

Larry Harrelson, buildings/grounds and cemetery supervisor, said the city owns or manages four cemeteries — Eastside, Northside, Southside and a family cemetery near First Baptist Church on Everette Street.

Harrelson said he’s been approached by family members and, individually, he’s suggested that as long as the item is on the family’s privately owned plot, no one is going to say something. The complaints Crump has received seem to have been sparked by practices not adhering to the unwritten rule.

“If it’s on a gravesite, we’re not gonna mess with it,” Crump clarified. “It’s something we’re going to have to gingerly address.”

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Rockingham

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