Cemetery Controversy

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"I would just like to see some consideration for the people of this area."

Longtime resident Bobby Wilson is spearheading a petition drive to stop the planned expansion of a city-owned cemetery on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in Philadelphia.

The track of land in question is located across the street from the pre-existing cemetery. It's about 2 1/2 acres. Concerned citizens fear that almost half of that land will not be able to be used because much of it is covered with a gully which is anywhere from eight to 10 feet deep. Given this and the needs of the nearby park, they say this is not the best site for the expansion.

"If they put a graveyard there it's only going to be a few years and it's going to be full," says concerned citizen Fred Evans. "If the city is going to create a graveyard, put it where you can use it for 15, 20 or 30 years."

"We don't have adequate parking for the park," says Wilson. "We don't have a senior citizens’ walk or just an exercise walk. I just think there's a lot more better ways to use this property."

As for expanding the nearby Westside Park, Philadelphia Mayor Rayburn Waddell tells us that there are plans to do this. However, right now he says specifics are not available. Meanwhile, with the limited amount of space available on the land in question, he says this would not be enough land anyway to adequately expanding the park.

As for Wilson, who has presented a petition with more than 100 names to the city council, he says he would like to see the gravesite expansion take place at another city owned cemetery, East Lawn. According to him, East Lawn has at least 30 acres of available space.

Meanwhile as for now, city officials say plans to expand the cemetery on Martin Luther King Drive are set to proceed as scheduled.