TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The City of Tampa is stressing its commitment to protecting historic cemeteries within the city.
Mayor Jane Castor held a news conference Friday to share the progress the city has made in protecting “historic burial grounds” that were forgotten or abandoned. The city said it has committed time, money and manpower to the cemeteries.
“Protecting forgotten, abandoned, or vulnerable cemeteries is the right thing to do,” Mayor Castor said in a statement. “This is a high priority in our history, and it should be respected and honored appropriately.”
The mayor’s news conference was held at Memorial Park Cemetery in East Tampa. The city has taken over maintenance, trimming the tree canopy and replacing dilapidated fences at the cemetery.
Castor was joined by Administrator of Neighborhood and Community Affairs Ocea Wynn and Director of City Planning Stephen Benson. Wynn leads a task force that Castor established last year to address the protection of abandoned burial sites.
“That includes taking over the maintenance, trimming the tree canopy, replacing a dilapidated fence and much more,” Wynn said.
Stephen Benson said they’re also taking security a step further by going through the process of land use change. It will protect these sites from developers.
“Regardless of the zone, it adds protections on top of the land so that in the future, the development rights or the ability to do develop doesn’t come into question again,” Benson said.
Benson said they want to protect all cemeteries with this new proposed policy and they’re encouraging private owners to reach out to the city to be added to the list.