Health minister promises cemetery consultation

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The Minister of Health is promising greater consultation with the public, as well as parties with vested interest, as government pushes ahead with opening a new public cemetery at Tomlinsons.
The Antigua Barbuda Labour Party administration is reverting to a controversial decision it made in 2003 to relocate the public cemetery near to Heroes Park. Back then, the decision was scrapped almost immediately after residents raised objection to the cemetery being located along the busy main road, which has since been renamed Sir Sydney Walling Highway.
“I intend to consult with all the church leaders and the community. Death touches every single body, so we are going to have wide-open consultations, when we get the schematics, which is impressive. We have had some preliminary indications and it is time,” Joseph told Parliament yesterday.
When the idea resurfaced that the ABLP administration was again considering opening the cemetery since the current Friars Hill Road compound has exceeded its intended capacity, objections were again raised.
But Joseph said he is hoping the stakeholders would see the necessity of using approximately 10 acres of government land to create a modern resting place for the dead.
“The National Ceme-tery is overused … the crematorium, and I’ve discussed this with the two major funeral homes, they have come to my office to discuss [it] and so we are going to consult them,” he said.
The minister said an expert from Maryland is to aid with plans for the burial ground to be tentatively named, Tomlinsons Park or Tomlinsons Garden Cemetery.
“The old system of padding up the dirt and all that sort of thing will be gone. We are going to put little tombstones, and the land will be lawned. There will be lots of flowers and lots of trees. We are going to create a parklike environment to be the resting place of our loved ones,” he added. “Burials will be in concrete vaults.”
Joseph said the plan included a non-denominational church, crematorium, and an ecumenical centre spread across about 10 acres and not the 50 acres which was earlier suggested.

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