The Oak Dale Cemetery Board was established by the Urbana City Council in April 2016 to be responsive to concerns of the community. The board has indicated a desire for community input. All meetings are open to the public.
“Oak Dale Cemetery is known in the area as being a beautiful cemetery with a rich history and it is apparent that we should capitalize on this and strive to be a destination; a “park-like” setting, where people can come and relax, reflect and re-connect with their ancestry and family heritage,” the cemetery board wrote. “Recognizing the importance of maintaining the condition of Oak Dale Cemetery to provide a quiet, dignified final resting place for the deceased family and friends of the community, each of the past five years, a conscious effort has been made to make some type of improvement at Oak Dale Cemetery and better identify what role we (the City) should play in serving the pre-need and at-need services that families expect. It became apparent that in order to provide the level of service that we want to provide, and the citizens expect, we must make a commitment to do things differently.”
On Thursday, city Director of Administration Kerry Brugger handed out copies of Administrative Regulation 22, policies and procedures for Oak Dale Cemetery, during a board member and asked members to review the current regulation for possible revision at the next meeting, which will be on Jan. 18, 2018.
City Council confirmed the appointment of the board’s initial members, consisting of Lynn Reich, William “Bill” Edwards, Wayne Smith, Gloria Malone, Tonya Barrett and non-voting member Councilman Pat Thackery. The board met for its inaugural meeting on June 16, 2016, and began organizing and establishing by-laws.
Early in 2017, due to a City Charter change approved in the November 2016 election, the mayor appointed two additional (alternate) members, Nora McCain and Arletha ‘Jo’ Frasure to the board.
On Jan. 19, after considerable discussion and debate, the Oak Dale Cemetery Board adopted by-laws, which provided:
A Mission Statement: “The Oak Dale Cemetery Board is dedicated to the spirit, beauty, usability, economic viability, long-term preservation, and enjoyment of historic Oak Dale Cemetery.”
A Vision Statement: “Provide general guidance concerning the operation of Oak Dale Cemetery. Achieve financial stability to maintain the integrity and historic nature of Oak Dale Cemetery. Facilitate communication with the public regarding Oak Dale Cemetery.”
A Purpose: “The establishment of a cemetery board is to engage the community in advising the City of Urbana Administration and City Council on policies, rules, operations and long-range development of Oak Dale Cemetery.”
The board meets on the third Thursday of each month. Issues addressed have included establishing the Cemetery Improvement Fund in February, 2017. This fund can be used for beautification and ongoing improvements over the years. These are dollars immediately available for identified projects, and community members can designate their donations to a specific project. The board updated Oak Dale’s policies and procedures in March and finalized a resolution to a family’s concern in June.
Discussions continue to develop plans for repairs to the historic cemetery holding vault, a future Memorial/Scatter Garden, maintenance/repairs, along with a variety of other short-term and long-term improvement projects.
According to City Finance Director Chris Boettcher, contributions to the Cemetery Improvement Fund are tax deductible.