By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Two of Bowling Green’s oldest and most revered sites are in need of attention due to high usage.
Oak Grove Cemetery is almost full, and City Park buildings are suffering after years of heavy use by city residents.
Last April, the cemetery had 424 plots left. Now there are 361 remaining, said Brian Craft, director of public works for the city.
“Where do we go from here,” Craft asked during a city council strategic planning meeting held Saturday.
The city is already running behind in planning for a new cemetery. “You need to plan for it probably a decade in advance,” he said.
The city has to purchase the land, buy concrete vaults, and possibly install them in the ground ahead of time.
The fact that cremations are being performed more now may give extend the life of Oak Grove Cemetery and give the city more time. Two city employees maintain Oak Grove, which is “well respected and well maintained,” Craft said.
Craft warned that whatever officials decide to do, the old and new cemeteries are “forever commitments” for the city.
Also during the strategic planning meeting, the declining condition of some City Park buildings was discussed.
“It has been well-used and well-loved,” Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley said of the Veterans Building. During the recent Winterfest chili cook-off held in the Veterans Building, Otley worried if the rows of crock pots would blow fuses.
The 75-year-old Veterans Building isn’t the only structure at City Park that is “crumbling,” with the Girl Scout Building and Depot also on that list.
A few years ago, an architect studied some options for the largest of the three buildings – the Veterans Building. The options appeared to be: tear it down and turn it into more parking; remodel it; or rebuild it. The cost difference between remodeling and rebuilding was $3,000, Otley said.
It’s a “no-brainer” to rebuild, Otley said. “It’s an extremely economical rental for citizens to use.”
Otley suggested that the city not be tied to the present footprint of the three buildings, which are all located near the entrance to City Park.
“The possibilities are really open,” she said.
The city may want to consider tearing down the Veterans, Girl Scout and Depot buildings, and constructing one structure that serves the purposes of all three.
“We want to build the right building,” Otley said.