We are talking about the Riverside Cemetery on Riverside Drive and Linwood Cemetery, the city’s historic African American cemetery, in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood. There are many decades of history at both Linwood Cemetery and Riverside Cemetery, but with those years comes costly maintenance and repairs. The county says they can help to maintain them with tax dollars.
There are dozens of notable Maconites buried at Linwood Cemetery, like Medal of Honor recipient Rodney Davis and Charles Douglass, who founded the Douglass Theatre.
Over at Riverside Cemetery, prominent names include former Macon Mayor Charles Bowden and local businessman William Fickling, who inspired the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Those cemeteries hold a lot of Macon-Bibb’s history, which is why the county is looking to help save them.
Riverside Cemetery is part of the original Ocmulgee Crossing Tax Allocation District along with Rose Hill Cemetery, meaning the county can legally spend tax dollars there to maintain it. As for Linwood, Reichert says, “The idea is that we needed to add in Linwood so as to be equitable.”
Under Georgia law, Macon-Bibb cannot spend money to maintain Linwood Cemetery unless it owns it, but Reichert says the Macon Cemetery Preservation Corporation could agree to donate it.
He says the county is thinking about whether they should take ownership of Riverside Cemetery.
“Their expenses every year have been above their revenue. They don’t see that trend changing because more and more people are being cremated rather than buried,” Reichert said.
Reichert says Riverside’s biggest expense is maintenance which the county can handle more cost-effectively.
“Using perhaps prison labor, this that or the other, if we own it. We can’t do that unless we own it,” Reichert said.
Riechert estimates that routine maintenance at Riverside could cost around $300,000 a year, not counting improvements. He says he is basing that estimate off of the cost at Rose Hill Cemetery. They’re still trying to get an estimate on what Linwood would cost.