A Camel Is A Horse Built By Committee

It’s a truism that decisions by committee don’t always achieve the best solution, only the solution that everyone agrees on. On May 24th, I wrote this post about the City of Austin’s proposal to disallow  personal grave memorials at Austin Memorial Park.  I explained my stake in this cemetery and why I am against the new rules.  Austin PARD (Parks and Recreation Department) provided a survey that well over 1000 people completed.  Thank you to all who completed that survey–I know there were many who read this blog who participated.  Your voices were heard.

Initially, PARD planned to completely remove all personal mementos from graves. After the results of the first survey, PARD has amended their initial  proposed rules. The results of the survey suggested that most who completed the survey did not want the aesthetic of private, sometimes quirky, memorials changed.  So, PARD compromised with  new and improved rules.

Sort of.

What is now proposed is that there can be private memorials placed only within 36 inches of the head of the grave (this would include the headstone) and 10 inches from the sides.

While I appreciate PARD’s willingness to listen to taxpayers and stakeholders, I still have problems with the newest proposed rules.  I will have to completely  rip out the garden atop my daughter’s grave and there will be grass planted, against my wishes.

This “compromise” won’t improve maintenance, the mowers will still mow around graves and segments of graves.  With the amended rules, PARD is still insisting upon a change of cemetery aesthetics away from what has naturally evolved in the cemetery.

PARD is asking for yet another survey on the new, proposed rules. If you believe that cemetery stakeholders who own plots should be allowed to place private memorials on the entirety of those plots,  please take a few more moments to complete the new survey, here.

You will only have until Friday, June 13, 2014 to complete this survey.  The City Council will decide this issue sometime in August.

Please remember:

The plots are owned in full by family members. We’re only asking  allowance to memorialize our loved ones on land we own.

The garden and memorials on Shoshana’s grave have been there for over 7 years.  There are other graves that have had gardens and memorials for much longer, even decades.  There is a common understanding in law whereby unenforced rules and covenants become null and unenforceable over time.  All we ask is that this cemetery and its graves be considered in the same way–that the new cemetery rules encapsulate the aesthetic which developed over time.

Reasonable people agree that nothing dangerous should be on graves.

The new proposal doesn’t decrease maintenance in any substantial way.


6 thoughts on “A Camel Is A Horse Built By Committee

  1. Tina, it’s good news that the city is willing to listen and has softened the proposed rule changes. I believe they can and should bend a little more to allow families to continue tending their plot gardens and memorials so long as maintenance and hazard considerations are met. I’ve filled out the new survey.


    • Thanks, Pam. I don’t believe I’m requesting anything too difficult and I hope city officials will grandfather the existing memorials into the rules.


  2. Tina, thank you for helping to keep this situation in the light of public scrutiny. It is encouraging the City seems to remain open to a process with more community involvement. Fingers crossed the rules and regulations can be softened further to allow for individual and cultural differences. (Survey completed.)


    • Thank you, Deb. Well, they asked our opinions, didn’t they? While I’m disappointed with the revisions, I’m hopeful that city officials will keep an open mind and grandfather existing memorials.


  3. Pingback: Guest post: Graveside mementos at Austin Memorial Park in danger of being prohibited | Digging

  4. Thanks for keeping us up to date on this issue. One thing people consistently say they like about Austin is the atmosphere that ecourages us to be creative and keep things ‘wonderful.’ I agree that people should be able to memorialize their loved ones in ways that feel right for the family. I agree with you that laying down grass (which will require mowing) won’t mean less maintenance. Good luck. =)


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