Plan ahead for neglected city cemetery

Some South Bend residents say the city's oldest cemetery is starting to show its age, thanks to years of neglect.

The City Cemetery on Elm Street was built in 1832 and holds the graves of Civil War veterans, Vice President Schuyler Colfax, city co-founder Lathrop Taylor and the Studebakers.

But, among those famous tombs lie several broken or damaged gravestones.

"It makes me feel unhappy that people don't have reverence for other family members of other families in South Bend," said John Bryant, who has family buried in the cemetery. "It seems if the mowers hit a stone, it's just moved sideways a little."

Bryant says the city doesn't regularly mow the grounds, resulting in overgrown grass. And, he says fallen trees that damaged tombstones during storms two weeks ago have yet to be picked up.

The common council recently passed a resolution they hope will help get the cemetery the attention it needs. It requires them to create a five-year plan for the historic site.

"A five-year plan to look at what we can really do to really enhance the quality and the whole area that's out here," said Council Vice President Oliver Davis. "Expansion in terms of lighting, in terms of security. There have been reports of vandalism out here in the past."

Davis says the planning process is only in the beginning stages. He's hopeful the committee will be able to find some money to appropriate to the cemetery during the upcoming budget process, which could help speed up repairs.

"When a city loses their history, they lose themselves," he said.

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