Bondi View

Waverley Cemetery finances cause for grave concern

source: flickr.com

By Lauren O’Connor

Council face a backlog of maintenance and management decisions at Waverley Cemetery, Bronte including over the possibility of a café, funeral parlour and pavilion.

135 years have passed since the first of  80,000  graves was dug at the cemetery and this year Waverley council is contemplating upgrades to the site.

Proposals for a café, pavilion and funeral parlour have been rejected because they required ‘excessive’ borrowing.

Mayor Sally Betts says the cemetery is not economically viable at this stage but maintenance decisions are “quite imminent in the next six months.”

“We are doing some work this year to fix up the backlog of infrastructure, to get more niches. We will this year I’m sure vote on a business case that will look after the cemetery into the future,” she said.

In response to a 2004 Conservation Plan, former council employee Dr Bronwyn Kelly propose a pavilion, cafe and library on the grounds to create much needed revenue and stabilise an eroding gully.

 

A petition circulated among locals last year in fear of structural instability of the headland and supposed financial collapse. Clr Betts and Labor Clr Ingrid Strewe deny the fears are valid.

“Ms Kelly calls it ‘Save Waverley Cemetery,’ [but] it doesn’t need saving, it’s not going anywhere, it’s not in danger…” Clr Strewe said.

“She had the cemetery in her department for many years and all people are saying that it’s actually deteriorated while being in her care.”

Waverley Council has allocated $97 million over the next ten years and say they never received a petition concerning the cemetery. Internal roads will be built and resurfaced in March, fences and retaining walls are set to be upgraded later this year.

“No petition has been lodged with Council,” a council spokesperson told City Hub, “Council has dedicated more time and resources to the Cemetery’s infrastructure backlog in the last six months than ever before.”

Dr Kelly told Fairfax in December time is running out to save the cemetery from financial distress and instability.

Two geo-technical studies were carried out in 2003 and 2013, addressing issues of erosion, hazard vulnerability and tidal wear on the cliff face.

 

Clr Betts said the reviews advised Council the precinct should be monitored but was not an immediate risk.

“We will over the next year, maybe two years to stabilise the cliff…We do have a plan to stabilise the cliff. ”

“As time went on there was insufficient money and the infrastructure like the roads and things like that starts to fall apart,” Clr Betts said.

 

Council decided on a rate rise in 2008 to fund the upkeep of the cemetery, previously it was run at a loss because its only revenue was generated by selling plots and niches.

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