Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Current Affairs: PWCo Board of Supervisors Set Precedent to Destroy History

Once again, Prince William County has proven its disregard for history and the rights of families and their ancestors.  In a unanimous decision during the September 8th session, the Board of County Supervisors voted to disinter a small family cemetery dating back to at least as early as 1855 in order to facilitate the building of a shiny new fire station.

Public safety and response times were the catch phrase for the BOS decision but it was evident to those in attendance (in person and via live media coverage) that the BOS decision was a foregone conclusion.  In a heavy handed show of favoritism, Chief Kevin McGee was given ample time for his presentation of why the only option was to remove the cemetery to facilitate "response times" while advocates for history like Bill Olson of the Historical Commission and direct descendants of those interred in the cemetery were given a scant 3 minutes.

In the end, the BOS decision came down to the almighty dollar (somehow removing the cemetery was a less expensive option than a land swap with the adjacent landowners -- which was conveniently never pursued).

Martin Nohe's comments in the Potomac Local News that he would "lose  a lot of sleep ... knowing the board has been put in a position to make this decision ... moving a cemetery" are disingenuous at best.  The Coles District Supervisor has been aware of the Norman/Lynn Cemetery beside the Coles Fire House since the earlier debacle on his watch when the PWCo School Board disinterred the Lynn Family cemetery to make way for a fancy new football stadium.  But then, it's an election year and "improving" his district with a football stadium and a shiny new fire station is an excellent platform to run a campaign on.

The BOS were presented with three additional options that would have permitted a compromise, leaving the cemetery undisturbed and still facilitating a shiny new fire station for the community.  Any number of means could have been employed to cover the additional cost (minimal at best in the scheme of things) but none were explored or considered.  Indeed, these options were never truly on the table.  The BOS vote was very much a foregone conclusion.

As a direct result of the PWCo BOS's disregard and disrespect for history and the rights of the deceased, as reported in an article from InsideNova.com, two Historical Commission Members Quit Following Decision to Remove Graves.

The BOS is probably collectively patting themselves on the back right now for succeeding in bulldozing over another historic cemetery (and the rights of their descendants) and disposing of two advocates for historic preservation at the same time.

With their vote and lack of regard (or compassion) for the families of those buried in the Norman/Lynn cemetery, the Prince William County BOS has set a precedent that cemeteries are merely nuisances to be overcome (and bulldozed) in the name of county growth and the march of "progress."  Especially in an election year.

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