DERRY — It takes a lot of hard work to keep the town’s historic cemetery looking its best.
From almost constant seasonal mowing to road repairs and burial site care, it takes a lot of time and effort to keep Forest Hill Cemetery in good shape for the families that visit their loved ones.
That, according to Public Works director Michael Fowler, is why he considers the cemetery one of the town’s success stories.
The 35-acre burial ground is home to many of Derry’s earliest settlers and also has adjacent property for future growth.
The cemetery’s proposed budget for next year was one of several Public Works categories coming before the Town Council during a recent budget workshop.
For next year, Fowler hoped the town would agree to put money into cemetery road repairs and also support the purchase of a new mower.
“These machines are moving 35 acres of cemetery,” Fowler said. “They don’t stop mowing until the leaves fall. It’s very tedious work.”
The mowers go almost constantly during the warmer season when the cemetery has more visitors.
Town Councilor Al Dimmock said a $7,900 mower was way too much to spend.
“They got a brand-new one last year and they want another one this year?” Dimmock asked. “I think they can wait a year.”
Fowler said a cemetery mower would have to be stronger and bigger than the usual type of mower.
Right now, Forest Hill has five mowers. Councilors flagged that item to discuss later.
The town has made efforts to save money in the cemetery budget, Fowler said, including having town staff dig graves.
The cemetery also receives money from trust fund interest every year.
Fowler said expenditures are down. Employees are mostly seasonal during the warmer months and other town officials share duties between the cemetery and highway department.