Progress continues at Centralia’s Greenwood Memorial Park as headstones are being power washed and records are being organized, according to Centralia city manager Rob Hill.
On Tuesday, the Centralia City Council approved a Professional Services Agreement with Schinnell Surveying and Mapping to clearly establish property lines and ownership at Greenwood cemetery in an amount not to exceed $40,000.
“We got to make sure we know exactly where the property lines are. Some of the lines are kind of questionable, so we have to make sure we are actually working on the property that we have the authority to to work on,” Hill said.
The city of Centralia has been making steps toward restoration of the long-neglected property, including the recent recovery and sterilization of records relating to cemetery and the approval of the agreement to have property lines established.
“The last few months there’s just been part-time (city) employees out there working and doing really the dirty, grubby work of scraping the vaults and powerwashing the concrete vaults, clearing brush, clearing sod around the headstones,” said Hill.
The Chronicle has reported on the goings on regarding the 10-acre Greenwood Memorial Park in the past. The cemetery was considered abandoned by the state in 2015 until the Washington Senate passed Engrossed House Bill 1801 by a 47-0 margin in April of 2019, granting Centralia access to the property and nearly $500,000 in funding from the state capital budget to clean up the property.
In October of 2019 the Greenwood cemetery records were found in poor condition and the city paid to have them sterilized. Hill said that one of their goals is to create a burial database so that family can find where there loved ones are buried.
“Over time the concrete deteriorates and you cannot read the headstone. So there are a lot of names out there that are lost out there and so it’s really important that we try to get that record and tie it to a map,” Hill said.
Hill, Shannon Murphy-Olson, the city attorney, Community Development Director Emil Pierson and three citizens make up the committee that is meeting next week to come up with a plan for further restoration.
“We’re in the process of trying to develop some plans for approval, particularly there’s an area out there in the middle of the cemetery that we are really going to try to dress up and make really nice. So those plans are being formulated,” said Hill.
The city has been working on removing overgrown vegetation, power washing the vaults, scraping moss of the headstones, and removing dead trees. Hill said that when winter is over they will be able to do more and complete projects such as painting and landscaping.
“A lot of work is being done but it’s kind of drudgery at the moment, everybody is just plugging away at their piece of the puzzle,” Hill said. “The city is committed to being the lead on the restoration efforts.”