Carver up for auction

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Less than one year after being taken over by new owners, Carver Memorial Cemetery Park is back on the auction block.

DD&B Carver Cemetery LLC, the company that purchased the beleaguered East Washington Street cemetery in May 2004, is holding an on-site auction for the property at 10 a.m. April 19.

Both the original cemetery, which has approximately 850 plots remaining, and an adjacent 15-acre parcel earmarked for the graveyard’s expansion are for sale. A memorial trust of $385,000 for perpetual care will also convey with the property.

Email newsletter signup

William Mann, the cemetery’s co-owner, said he and partner W. Michael Robinson have decided to sell the site to get it back into the hands of a professional cemetery operator.

&uot;We bought it as an investment, brought it back up to code and restored the confidence of the community,&uot; said Mann. &uot;Now we feel like it is time for us to move on.&uot;

The company had hoped to build a residential development on the 15-acre parcel, Mann said. Although it is zoned residential, deed restrictions in place for decades mandate that the land be used as a cemetery.

&uot;It would have been a long process to get that deed restriction extinguished,&uot; he said. &uot;We decided we would just rather let it go.&uot;

Things seemed to have calmed down for the troubled cemetery in the months since Mann and Robinson had purchased it.

The pair addressed many of the maintenance problems-overgrown grass, improperly maintained roadways and abandoned vehicles-that contributed to the state’s decision to close down former owner Abraham Applewhite Sr.’s operation.

Applewhite sold the cemetery to Mann and Robinson days before the city was poised to auction the property for back taxes. The city is not involved in the upcoming auction, said Shirley Snead of the city treasurer’s office.

Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett said he hated to see the cemetery back on the market.

&uot;They have made improvements and people seem pleased with the changes,&uot; Bennett said. &uot;I hadn’t heard any complaints about the cemetery until the sign went up last week.&uot;

Last year, citizens rallied for the city to buy and operate the cemetery that caters to Suffolk’s black community. The city has owned Holly Lawn and Cedar Hill cemeteries for years.

Although the move won support from some Suffolk City Council members, most

argued that the city should not be in the cemetery business.

That city still isn’t interested in taking over the cemetery, said Dennis Craff, spokesman for the city. But it is paying attention to the situation.

&uot;I guess our interest would be in whoever buys it,&uot; he said. &uot;We’ll be watching to make sure we get someone in here who is a professional.&uot;