City of Albany responds to criticisms of Riverside Cemetery

Albany's Riverside Cemetery is the resting place for hundreds of families dating back more than 100 years. / Mary Green

Riverside Cemetery in Albany is filled with history. Some of it belongs to Nicki Stephens' family.

"From great-grandparents all the way through parents," said Stephens.

But Stephens said she doesn't like the way the cemetery's maintained.

"I hope they will pay attention and start trying to upgrade what's going on down there. Whoever is doing the work needs to sort of step up to the plate," she said.

The City of Albany maintains the entire cemetery, and that's what they say they're doing right now. Chad Arnold, the facility maintenance ground superintendent, said they're getting it cleaned up.

"We're actually going through the whole cemetery now. We're doing an uplift of the cemetery. We're putting out shrubs and stuff to give some color through," said Arnold.

Brown patches of dead grass are littered throughout the grounds, and Arnold said they were caused by a weed-killing agent that crews are no longer using.

"Now we're actually using a retardant agent where it'll allow us more cut time, especially right now through all this rain," he said. "It's been our worst enemy, not just at the cemetery but at the parks as well."

Stephens said her family's plot used to have boxwood plants that the city removed years ago. But Arnold said the cemetery's planting policies, which state that only one flower arrangement is allowed per grave space, are necessary.

"If you put too many flowers out, especially with wind coming through a lot of times, they just spread throughout the cemetery and you have to go clean up, picking up all these flowers," he said.

Arnold said crews work on the grounds five days a week, and even more around the holidays.

"I look at it myself, if it was my own loved one out here, I would want the same respect as any other member that's buried out here, so we treat it like it's ours," he said.

That's what Stephens said she wants to see, because it's not just her family's history that'll be at Riverside.

"It is very important to me. I'm headed in that direction, and I'd hate to know that I'm going to a wooded area where the hogs are going to be taking over," she said.

Arnold said Riverside did have a problem with wild hogs back in February. But he said they were captured and removed from the cemetery within three weeks and haven't been back since.

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