SOUTH PORTLAND — The City Council considered the possibility of creating a cemetery commission on March 5, but councilors said, in the meantime, they are more in favor of hiring a contractor.

City Manager Scott Morelli said that in 2017, the council voted to accept $70,000 from the New England Headquarters of the United Methodist Church, to be placed in a trust for the Brown’s Hill Cemetery.

While South Portland does not own any of its 11 cemeteries, there is a law that requires the city to care for veterans’ gravestones and plots, Morelli said, and the law also allows the city to “care for the other sites, keep the lawns mowed, etc.”

Bay View Cemetery also requires city maintenance each year, he said.

Morelli, who had spoken to the Parks and Recreation Department about to the matter, presented three options to the council: hire a contractor, a “sexton,” who would have proper knowledge to care for headstones, some of which are decades old and cannot be cleaned with certain chemicals; create a cemetery commission; and add a new division to the Parks and Recreations Department.

He recommended the first option, which many of the city councilors agreed with.

“I think option one seems like a no-brainer to me because as the manager said, it’s not a fulltime job, and one of those cemeteries is full,” said Councilor Deqa Dhalac.

She asked how many times a year the two cemeteries need to be maintained,

Kevin Adams, director of the Parks and Recreations Department, answered, “Brown’s Hill, we put a crew of two to three people, about six times a year and that cemetery is .9 acres, and it usually takes them one full day to take care of it.”

Adams said that Bay View Cemetery is 2.2 acres and, with a crew of two to three people, maintenance would take about three days, six or seven times a year.

Portland has a separate cemetery department, he added, if the council were ever interested in exploring that option.

Mayor Katherine Lewis and Councilor April Caricchio agreed that while a contractor is hired, the possibility of a full-fledged cemetery commission could be considered.

Brown’s Hill is full and no longer sells plots, but Bay View still has space, said Morelli.

The session was a workshop, and no decision was made.

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