Plan to move graves in New Ipswich causes a stir
NEW IPSWICH, Mass. (WHDH) -- A plan to move more than 50 graves in a New Ipswich cemetery for construction purposes is causing controversy.
Donald Whitney comes to visit his sister's grave two or three times a year. She died more than 25 years ago from breast cancer at the age of just 34. And Whitney doesn't like the idea she might have to be dug up and moved somewhere else.
“Well I mean, someone’s buried, you’d hate to disrupt their gravesite. Kind of have the idea someone’s buried, they’re there forever,” Whitney said.
But the state says it owns the land between the stakes where more than 50 people are buried and may need the land to stage equipment for any project on its dam right next to the cemetery.
The town could be forced to move those bodies at a cost of $50,000 to $100,000 and an emotional cost that's hard to calculate.
The problem came to light when the town started putting some fill on a baseball field. The state brought out surveyors and found another problem; the state says it owns the land that the town has been burying bodies in.
“Let’s face it. It’s not good publicity -- that whoever’s at fault…we need to work together in other words,” said Oliver Niemi, cemetery manager.
Oliver Niemi is New Ipswich’s sexton -- its cemetery manager. He's convinced local officials wouldn't have begun burying people here without the state giving them the land.
But until that paperwork can be found, town officials will have to hope a compromise can be worked out or people like Donald Whitney may find that forever isn't as long as they thought it was.