Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Cemetery asks city to bury old debt


Council to vote on forgiving $45,781 on Wednesday

By Gregory Korte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MOUNT WASHINGTON - In the 1950s, the Mount Washington Cemetery received a bill from the city of Cincinnati for sidewalk improvements and boulevard lights.

Those assessments, for a few hundred dollars, went unpaid for more than 40 years. As of June 30, with penalties and interest, it's grown to $45,781.

Now, the cemetery wants City Council to forgive the debt.

"We have no spaces left to sell, so we have no way of raising money," said Mary Anne McCord-Berry, secretary-treasurer of the Mount Washington Cemetery Association. And while the cemetery is looking for grants, "as long as there's $46,000 in debt hanging over our heads, I don't think anyone will give us money."

The alternative: If the cemetery goes bankrupt, the city will have to take it over and maintain it.

The cemetery lies on 6.8 acres in the heart of Mount Washington, between the branch library, the water tower and the post office. It was established in 1855 by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a fraternal group, but was soon abandoned. The cemetery faced long periods of inattention until the Mount Washington Cemetery Association was created in 1966.

"That's Mount Washington history. We have original settlers in that cemetery," McCord-Berry said, rattling off names such as Sutton and Pogue that mark the gravestones.

Councilman David Crowley introduced an ordinance Monday that would forgive the assessment. City Council is expected to vote on it Wednesday.

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E-mail gkorte@enquirer.com




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