Funds to clean up Methven Cemetery

The piles of collected tree debris at Methven Cemetery. Photo Dan McLaughlin

Additional funding has been given to complete the extensive clean-up at the Methven Cemetery following a severe wind event in September.

The event caused the closure of the cemetery to the public because of the risk of trees continuing to topple.

Ashburton District councillors agreed council should be involved in the site clean-up and fund it through harvested log sales and council funds.

There are no firm costs yet, but the estimated cost of site clean-up, reinstatement and works to allow for future increased capacity at the cemetery are up to $90,000.

The work will be funded from net log sales of $20,000 and up to $70,000 from the Methven Cemetery cost centre .

The cost centre had a surplus of $16,000 in 2019/20, and $29,000 in 2020/21, leaving a deficit of $25,000 to be funded from the general rate.

At last week’s council meeting councillor Stuart Wilson asked why open spaces was not funding the work through existing budgets.

Council open spaces manager Ian Soper told him the September storm was a “left field event” and there was no budget.

He said most of the costs involved were to clean up the site, including the “forestry mess” left by the last harvesting and windrowed stumps.

Grinding the stumps rather than burning them would supply an estimated 2000m3 of mulch that could be used on-site and at other locations in Methven.

Cr Angus McKay said the cemetery currently looked “an absolute disgrace” and work on cleaning it up needed to start.

Cr Liz McMillan agreed, saying the piles of debris were huge and the walking path needed to be reinstated as soon as possible.

A cemetery development plan will be presented to Methven Community Board at its meeting on Monday and will then go to council.

-By Mick Jensen