Groups urge Lincoln council to help save local cemeteries

Groups urge Lincoln council to help save local cemeteries

LINCOLN – Lincoln has 83 known historical cemeteries, and Ken Postle has visited 60.

“That means there’s 23 waiting to be picked up and redeveloped,” the Blackstone Valley Historical Society cemetery coordinator said. “They’re just lost.”

Postle, a bivocational pastor, spends the majority of his spare time rediscovering and restoring historical cemeteries from North Attleboro to North Providence.

“Lincoln used to be the place that I used to come to show off,” he said, noting that Lincoln’s cemeteries were well maintained and marked. “North Providence was once the place the whole state held their nose up to because they actually paved over cemeteries.”

Lately, Postle said “it’s flipped.” The state has recognized North Providence for its dedication to its burial grounds, while Postle said “Lincoln seems to be going on a path downhill.”

As a pastor, Postle said he volunteers his efforts recovering cemeteries because many of the people buried in the Blackstone Valley are his ancestors.

“They weren’t buried to be forgotten,” Postle said, addressing the Town Council on Tuesday.

With development on the rise, he said, more and more cemeteries in town have become landlocked, completely blocked off from visitors. The town’s GIS maps no longer show easements into cemeteries, he added, making it difficult for potential developers to see.

“People don’t know where these cemeteries are,” Postle said.

A family in Lincoln recently built a fire pit in the middle of one of the town’s cemeteries, he said. At one point, he said he felt that the cemetery was well protected.

“I tried to talk to the owners … on the plot map this thing is way bigger than it looks,” he said. “I went in there and felt heartsick.”

The solution to help better protect the town’s cemeteries is to mark them on the maps, he said. Otherwise, “the history is shut off and lost.” He also cautioned the council this week to “step back and go slower” when it comes to developments.

“Lincoln has incredible treasures and I don’t want to spend my time fighting. I’d rather be out there finding these things and introducing kids to the joy of history,” he said.

Members of the Lincoln Conservation Commission also appeared before the council on Tuesday to ask for support on cemetery preservation.

The commission oversees the town’s historical cemeteries while organizing cleanups and local beautification projects across Lincoln including the Shady Brook and Butterfly Garden projects.

The commission asked the council for additional signage in town making people aware of the fines for littering, something Councilor Ken Pichette said he’s looking into. Pichette said Lincoln also needs to update its ordinances related to littering and illegal dumping.

Comments

Signs that point out the fines for littering can be almost as unsightly as litter itself.

Ken does great volunteer work for this community. I hope town officials listen to him and resolve the vandalism and land locking of these cemeteries. Land owners should have have the right to disallow people from visiting their ancestor’s cemetery.

Lincoln is so fortunate to have Ken and a Historical society that’s willing to work with the town and the conservation commission to set goals. The time is now to revitalize why were here.