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Recommendations for Oakwood Cemetery Chapel burials now official

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 by Elizabeth Pagano

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department has some recommendations for the graves found during the restoration of the Oakwood Cemetery Chapel. Following a series of public meetings about the discovery, a May 1 memo to City Council from Acting Parks and Recreation Department Director Kimberly McNeeley states the department “is recommending that the recently discovered burials within the footprint of the Oakwood Chapel, where safely recoverable, be exhumed and re-interred in close proximity to the Chapel and within the section of the cemetery historically called the ‘Colored Grounds.” McNeeley explains that the recommendation has the support of “regulatory and professional feedback, precedent” and some of the descendants of those interred in the historically black section of the cemetery. In addition, McNeeley writes, the department will work to commemorate the burial and the cemetery, with information about that project to come later this spring. However, the memo also warns “there are limitations to exhuming every burial that may be discovered due to constraints imposed by the building’s structural grade beams.” The full, final report detailing the department recommendations was released April 27, and is available online here. The total number of burials on the site is estimated at 25.

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