Lunenburg Commission Considers Robot Mowers for Cemetery Upkeep

The Lunenburg Cemetery Commission’s recent meeting highlighted ongoing concerns regarding cemetery maintenance, notably the potential use of robot mowers, and addressed several issues such as maintenance funding, headstone regulations, and the need for electricity in cemeteries. The commission entertained a variety of topics, from budgetary constraints to the implementation of modern technologies to preserve the sanctity and appearance of the local cemeteries.

A discussion point was the introduction of robot mowers to manage the grass around gravesites. The presentation on robot mowers covered different models and their features, like GPS navigation and collision avoidance. The commission considered the use of these autonomous machines as a solution to persistent maintenance challenges. The debate centered on the effectiveness of robot mowers in navigating the varied terrain and the proximity of headstones, with the idea marked for future consideration.

Maintenance issues extended beyond mowing, with the commission expressing dissatisfaction with the state of the cemeteries, particularly ahead of Memorial Day, a period when pristine conditions are most expected. Concerns were raised over the reported man hours for mowing and trimming, and a resident’s public comment added to the urgency by criticizing the cemeteries’ upkeep. The commission discussed the possibility of supplementing the workforce with summer workers, contemplating the associated hours and benefits.

The meeting also tackled the subject of headstone regulations. The commission assessed a request for a large headstone covering multiple plots, igniting a debate over the aesthetics and uniformity of the cemetery. While some members voiced concerns about aesthetic and maintenance issues that could arise from deviations to standard regulations, the commission ultimately approved the request. This decision underscored the commission’s role in setting and occasionally adjusting policies to balance individual requests with the collective appearance of the cemetery grounds.

Financial discussions were pivotal; the commission grappled with budgetary concerns related to updating the “rain maker” system for record-keeping, estimated at $50,000 to $100,000. They debated the timing of data entry and the necessity of comprehensive records for locating burial sites. The need for electricity at North and South Cemeteries was another financial challenge, with considerations of seeking grants and funding, and the potential use of solar energy as a cost-effective solution.

Further fiscal deliberation involved the repair of historic headstones dating back to the 1700s and 1800s, where the commission had to navigate discrepancies in repair cost estimates while considering budget constraints. Plans to illuminate the American flags at the cemeteries were also discussed, with the commission looking to obtain quotes for installing electricity, or alternatively, using lights.

The issue of headstone cleaning by Hathaway Memorial Cleaning surfaced, revealing ambiguities regarding the commission’s involvement in the payment to this private entity, and the lack of clear documentation regarding the funds and trust. The commission was determined to resolve the trust-related matters that had been pending since 2016 and intended to establish clearer guidelines for such financial transactions in the future.

Another environmental concern was the state of the grass at the cemeteries. The commission debated the use of compost from a local old dump area to improve the grass quality, questioning the necessity of purchasing compost when a local source might be available.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Town Manager:
Heather R. Lemieux
Cemetery Commission Officials:
Nancy Foss Yasko, David Dorren, Todd Holman (Cemetery Superintendent)

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