Thank you to Pastor Russell Farmer, his Team of volunteers and those who have provided/donated materials and other efforts, to restore Oakland Cemetery to its original glory. I would like to …
Thank you to Pastor Russell Farmer, his Team of volunteers and those who have provided/donated materials and other efforts, to restore Oakland Cemetery to its original glory. I would like to encourage all Cranstonians and the families of those interred at Oakland to join in their efforts, either financially or with their time. The next clean-up event is 9/9/23 with dates, hopefully, to follow.
I admit that I have a vested interest in the cemetery and the clean-up efforts, as I was born and raised in the area and have 3 generations of family interred in Oakland. My grandparents purchased a home on Narragansett St. and plots in Oakland Cemetery in the early 1900's, with the home staying in the family until 2005. Unfortunately, we live 1500 miles away and can't physically be there to help. We have donated to the cause financially and through outreach. On the rare occasion that we are in the area, we spend time tending to our family plots.
As we've travelled across the US, we've noticed that one can tell the vitality of a community by the conditions of its cemeteries and parks. Entering Cranston, through Pawtuxet, one witnesses well-maintained neighborhoods and businesses with boundless activity. Unfortunately, entering Cranston from Providence, on Broad St., one is presented with the rundown and overgrown conditions that is the Oakland Cemetery. It is interesting that several news articles have been published and broadcast over the years with little to no change occurring. Though surrounded by a fence, the caretaker's cottage is collapsing under its own weight. The mausoleum is a horror story (no pun intended) all on its own. Kids being kids, someday a youth will be seriously hurt while investigating what's inside the fence.
The city notes, that due to private ownership, "it is outside the city's purview" to do much more. One has to wonder what the true value of Oakland Cemetery is, as the only funds that can be generated are through the sale of unused burial plots while the physical structures are valueless. Coming out of the Covid Pandemic, the American Recovery Plan Act was made available to the nation to jumpstart the economy through support of businesses and communities. There may have been an opportunity to gain funding through ARPA, or other grants, to purchase or improve the property by justifying an "Urban Greening" development approach.
The unfortunate reality is that Cranston will someday end up "inheriting" Oakland Cemetery, which will become an added tax burden to the citizens. I would offer that now is the time for the city to engage/partner with the owner and work together to improve the property. Then, research any and all funding sources to help reduce or offset the long-term tax burdens that will be coming in the next decades.
All too often, when systems and facilities breakdown, we hear: “They need to fix it.”, “They need to change it.”, “They….”. Until “They” becomes “We”, change will come slowly and at an ever-increasing societal cost.