HENDERSON, N.C. — A Henderson cemetery has sparked sharp debate about who owns the property and who is responsible for its maintenance.
"Nobody really knows who owns the cemetery or who owns the burial plots," Henderson Mayor Clem Seifert said.
"Blacknall Cemetery is an issue that we need to address," City Councilwoman Mary Evans said.
In a tight budget year, city leaders debate whether the city can afford the upkeep on property it may not even own. Blacknall Cemetery is more than just a Henderson budget issue that involves mowing the grass. Some of the graves are showing years of neglect.
The cemetery has historical significance. It was the first public burial plot available for African-Americans.
"The City Council, city manager, the mayor -- all of us in the city of Henderson have come together and decided it is not going to be an eyesore any longer," Evans said.
"We consider Blacknall Cemetery to be an important part of our heritage, and we want to make sure that it stays neat, clean and looking good. The dilemma is whose responsibility is it really and who should pay for it," Seifert said.
Seifert said he will recommend for now that the city continue funding the maintenance at Blacknall Cemetery. The topic will be taken up Monday by the full Henderson City Council.