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#398103 - 01/22/11 10:01 AM NEW CEMETERY FOR BELIZE CITY
Marty Offline

This morning the Belize City council officially inaugurated the new burial site which is located thirteen miles on the Western Highway. Despite many challenges, the ‘Eternal Garden’ as it was unveiled will be the next final resting place for Belize residents. Councilor Wayne Usher told us more.

Councilor Wayne Usher

This is the first phase of this new cemetery. What we have here, what you are seeing is a very small section of what is going to be. If you stretch the camera you will notice we go very, twenty acres. This is just the start to getting the turn around and to make sure that the first burial was made possible of Tuesday this week. Just to back track a bit, we have people from other districts that are buried at the Lord’s Ridge Cemetery so it’s a public cemetery. Reporter: How seen can we see the cemetery fully functional in terms of using other means of burials, cremations, etc.? It’s a little ways down because the statutory instrument has not yet passed that will allow us legally to do that. As things stands right now we don’t have the legal authority in Belize City to do above ground burials. The law says six feet under. So, all of that has to change to give us that legal authority to do. And on this site, down the stretch we will have mausoleums like a little hut where we can bury bodies inside. We’ll have vaults, column bariums for when you cremate your bodies so that you can put your urns inside, all of that will happen right here down the stretch. Reporter: Now in terms of immediate works after this, what is going to happen? We will continue with the infrastructure, the access, and the parking areas to be demarcated. We want to as soon as possible, as we can afford it build a non-denominational chapel, a guard hut for security and other things that are very much needed to make it look nice as soon as possible.”

Councilor Usher says that the fees for burial are a bit higher than of the one at the Lord’s Ridge Cemetery but says that they are trying to strike a balance between the former and present fees.

Councilor Wayne Usher

The fees there were seventy five dollars for an open grave and two hundred and fifty dollars for a tomb, so the price is reflective of what it will cost us to the same work of what we did in Lords Ridge up here. The transporting and everything has made the price go up and we try to strike a balance the best we can. And let me just say this, even though they are saying, some people are saying not everyone that the prices are too high. The Belize City Council will have to subsidize even those prices that we have set you know because the price of preparing one grave space is seven hundred dollars. Between five and seven depending on the depth of the land etcetera; so in Belize City we had to pay between five and seven hundred to prepare one grave spot for which we were charging seventy five and one fifty even up here we will have to be subsidizing. So the Belize City Council will continue to do what it has to do to help the public in the burials.”

The first burial was done on Tuesday and the name Eternal Garden Memorial was suggested by Whitney O Waight.


#398108 - 01/22/11 10:07 AM Re: NEW CEMETERY FOR BELIZE CITY [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

New cemetery, new rates; how will the dead sleep?

There’s has been controversy over the new cemetery since the site in Hattieville was first disclosed. The cemetery is run by the City Council and as things go there is always conflict. Its thirteen miles from the City which presents a problem for many families, but the biggest bone of contention is that even the cost for dying has gone up. The prices for burial plots have more than tripled, from seventy five dollars, and if your family can’t afford to bury you, well you will still be laid to rest…in the paupers’ section. News Five’s Marion Ali reports.

Marion Ali, Reporting

The Eternal Garden Memorial was officially opened today at mile thirteen on the Western Highway as the new burial ground for Belize City residents. The twenty-point-seven-acre site, according to Councilor Wayne Usher, replaces the historical Lord Ridge Cemetery in Belize City for all new earthen burials, except in cases where burial plots at the Lord Ridge have already been paid for. Usher says that the passage of a new statutory instrument will allow for new types of burials at the new cemetery.

Wayne Usher

Wayne Usher, City Councilor

“We will have the authority to bury people above ground, we will have the authority to build burials above ground for burial as in Yarborough vaults, we will have the authority to do mausoleums which is like a little hut with several bodies buried inside the hut above ground, we’ll have columbariums where when you cremation your bodies, you can put the urn within little cavities columbariums. I want us to also move into area of cremation of bodies. What that will also do, the statutory instrument; if we have let’s say forty thousand people buried at Lord Ridge, the statutory instrument would then allow us to bury forty thousand more people at Lord Ridge above ground of their loved ones. So you see we will have a lot of burial space coming on stream and different types of burials will be allowed and authorized.”

The Council will also authorize, in emergency cases, night burials, and has purchased necessary equipment to facilitate this exercise. The new cemetery is also said to be topographically suitable and allows for graves to be dug at the required six-foot depth, as opposed to the four-foot depth that was the practiced at the Lord Ridge.

Most people will remember the flood that the media had to wade through on the access road to the cemetery in July of 2010. Usher said that the newly upgraded road is expected to be accessible even in the rainy season.

Wayne Usher

“It has been raised and if you notice we have excellent drains on either side now so it shouldn’t obtain at all that same situation and we have culverts that are placed along the route so I am trusting very much that it will live up to its standard.”

But while the access road was one problem that was dealt with, there are many more to be ironed out, such as the concerns by Hattieville residents that the site is in their village.

Gilbert Domingo

Gilbert Domingo, Chairman, Hattieville

“Our boundaries begin at twelve miles and the burying ground is at thirteen miles which is a mile within the village boundaries.”

Marion Ali

“What’s the concern of the residents that the cemetery lies within their boundary?”

Gilbert Domingo

“Some of the major concern for us was they never even gave us a notice that it was going to be there. There’s nothing in it for us as far as earnings and that’s one of the other concerns that we got. If you are going to be there as they clearly did, we’re gonna continue to fight against it and see what can happen. The villagers, the community is totally against it, it has never changed.”

Marion Ali

“That’s the majority?”

Gilbert Domingo

“That’s just about everybody and we have never changed that.”

Another concern is over the new price; two hundred and fifty dollars per grave spot, a price which many will have problems in paying. Usher says that who can’t afford to pay, will be laid to rest in the paupers’ section.

Wayne Usher

“If you are in the category of being indigent and cannot reach that cost even after, you can come in and negotiate and pay in installments if you don’t have it at one lick, even after that you still cannot pay, then we will have to bury you, we will have that obligation.”

Marion Ali

“You mean to write it off because the person will be buried by that time?”

Wayne Usher

“Yes, we will have to place you in the area reserved for paupers because that is the only area that the council will have “free” for burials, everywhere else will have to pay. So if you are in that pauper burial category it means you do not own that grave it belongs to the council in perpetuity which means that after seven years we can recycle that grave of your loved one.”

Eternal Garden Memorial is located on the same Highway and within reasonable proximity to the privately-owned Homeland Memorial, which also uses as a part of its logo the phrase “an eternal garden” in its advertisements. We brought up this point to Usher’s attention.

Wayne Usher

“It has no bearing on this one at all. This name came up after discussions with wider area [emm] including churches of senior staff and junior staff at the council and councilors. So we went outside of the Council to come up with the name.”

The first person buried at the new cemetery was Charles Moss Senior this past Tuesday. Reporting for News Five, Marion Ali.

The cemetery will also have a non-denominational chapel on site. The historic Lord Ridge Cemetery will remain open for tomb burials and the use of spaces already that are owned. It first opened in 1886 and over the decades, it served as the city’s primary burial site.

Channel 5

#398109 - 01/22/11 10:09 AM Re: NEW CEMETERY FOR BELIZE CITY [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Goodbye, Lord Ridge, Hello, Eternal Garden

The new city cemetery was opened today - but it's been making news all week because the funeral directors have made a bitter public fuss about the proposed rates that go with the new location.

It's surely been a public relations nightmare for the council, but today the council put on its best face, and moved ahead with the ceremonial opening of the new site.

Andrea Polanco found out more:…

The Eternal Garden Memorial is the City's new burial site located at mile thirteen on the Western Highway. This 20.7 acres plot of land is said to be 19 to 24 feet above sea level and can accommodate an estimated fifty thousand graves spaces.

Zenaida Moya-Flowers: Mayor- Belize City
"This is a beautiful piece of land, its suitable enough for a home and as with all beautiful sculptures it will take some time to develop and uncover the beauty that lies beneath as our design, our plans and our vision for Eternal Garden Memorial come to past."

This new burial ground will offer city residents the comfort of proper drainage, demarcation and additional equipment to help to bury their loved ones, something that was missing from the Lord's Ridge Cemetery:

Wayne Usher: Councilor
"I am very pleased to tell you all today that when the first hole was dug here, the trial hole - we dug one trial hole not a big one but just enough to go down. We were down to 6 feet right Mr. Bedran 6 feet and no water ladies and gentlemen, no water at 6 feet. We can now go back to the laws that says you should be buried 6 feet under, we can now do that. In Belize City I think we had to stop at 4 feet. Now we have a generator, we even have tripod lights spotting on the bodies and everything else happening. We have a tent so the guys can come in rain or shine. We are equipped, our people at the cemetery will be in uniform so you won't have to guess who is attending to you."

"If you look at the map behind me there will be certain areas demarcated for example you won't have ground graves mixed up with tombs, it will be separate. ground graves will be ground graves even papal burial will be done in a certain area so it give aesthetic and order to what is here."

But to bury their loved ones here, it sounds like residents will have to incur a hike in the prices, for instance an open grave like this one costs two hundred and fifty dollars, and today Councilor Wayne Usher gave us the full rundown of proposed prices:

Wayne Usher: Councilor
"For tombs it's a thousand dollars and for vaults its twelve hundred dollars. For the re-opening of graves - the price of that have yet to be determine. For children its one hundred dollars. "

Andrea Polanco
"So councilor tell me, when it will be finalize?"

Wayne Usher: Councilor
"That needs to go through due process. It has to go through the solicitor's office for that to be legally drafted. There has to be consultation through the cabinet level, then it goes to the House of Representatives for passage into law and all of that has processes. I do not know the intricacies of those processes but I do know that it has to go through all those stages before that could be pass."

Landscaping and beautification projects have already started on the site. It is still a work in progress and in the years ahead residents of the city can expect new services:

Zenaida Moya-Flowers: Mayor- Belize City
"At first glance this may appear you know....it something that is in the making and you are right because it is something that is in progress, what you see here and what we are sitting around here took some time but it's a process whereby there has to have been a lot of vision."

Wayne Usher: Councilor
"We will have the authority to bury people above ground. We will have the authority to build vaults above ground for burials as in Yabra vaults. We will have the authority to do mass so lenience, which is like a little hut with several bodies buried inside the hut above ground. We will have columbarium where when you cremate your body you can push the urn within those little cavities. I want us to also move into the area of cremation of bodies - do it properly this time. What that will also do - the statutory instrument if we have let's say 40,000 people buried at Lord Ridge, the statutory instrument will then allow us to bury 40,000 more people at Lord Ridge above ground of their love ones. So you see we will have a lot of burial space coming on stream and different types of burials will be allowed and authorize."

And while the city council has plans - the folks 6 miles down the road at Homeland Memorial plan on capitalizing on the upgrade in services and prices, and on the popular dissent over the new cemetery.

Israel Marin, Owner - Homeland Memorial
"This is 55 acres but in doing the landscaping and the road structure and leaving the trees and stuff I don't think we will have full use of the 55 acres but we have targeted 45,000 spaces which is good for 125 years. Our thing is one use; we are going permitting reuse of the graves presently because we have enough space for 125 years so there is no need for that. The perception that people had out there was that Homeland was for rich people which is completely false. We have plots here for $1500.00 which includes not only the plot but actually with the services. The other plots are for $3800.00 and $2800.00 but its inclusive of all service which includes the tents, the chairs, the internment, building of the crepe and stuff so that notion that Homeland is expensive I think is just a perception because they were comparing prices that were paid previously at Lord's Ridge. We also have a program that we work with Social security so instead of getting your money from Social Security for funeral benefit there is a voucher that you can get from them and we would provide you the complete service with that voucher, maybe it was not known to many people because the Lord's Ridge cemetery was there but now that that is not available and most people are thinking that they have to move to 13 miles, we just want to make sure that the public is aware that homeland is an alternative and it's a good alternative."

So whether you choose homeland or the new city cemetery - burying your dead will cost more than ever - but, there's a tradeoff, it will also look better.

The Lord Ridge Cemetery - which is a comparably sized area - served from 1886 up to the present.

Channel 7


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