TOWNSEND -- Five years or so from now, Townsend's cemeteries will be full. A quick look at the plot plan for Riverside Cemetery on Dudley Road shows a name in nearly every space.
The tight space came as no surprise to Cemetery and Parks Department officials. Two 5-acre parcels, one cradling Riverside and the other on Turnpike Road, were logged this spring. Some of this land will be used for burial plots.
"It was a long time coming," Commissioner Boyes said. Before serving as a commissioner, Boyes was employed by the department.
The department purchased a 5-acre L-shaped lot abutting Riverside from John Christian in the early 1990s. The lot runs along the long east side of the cemetery and along the back down to the Squannacook River.
The lot off Turnpike Road was dedicated to the Cemetery and Parks Department by the town in 2002, said Carolyn Smart, member of the Finance Committee.
It was the land near the river that presented a problem for Superintendent Roger Rapoza. "We've worked on and off to get it cut off," he said.
Even though the land cannot be used for burial because of the proximity to the water and the steep slope, the trees needed to be thinned.
Conservation Agent Leslie Gabrilska was key to interacting with the state to get the project abutting the river approved. "It's nice to have a go-to person like that. I can't thank her enough," Rapoza said.
A road will lead into the recently cleared area from Dudley Road. Other roads will lead back into the existing cemetery land so that equipment can get through as needed.
The logging on Dudley Road took about two weeks. It needed to be completed while the ground was frozen. "They were in and out," Rapoza said. The project was a selective cut; some trees were left on the side planned for burials and the rear part of the lot near the river was thinned to create a healthier environment.
The cut in the side lot will have an extra benefit. Stones covered with moss will now be exposed to more sunlight, and the moss should die off, Rapoza said.
The lot on Turnpike Road was tackled next. A section of trees remain between the cleared lot and the road.
The logging projects raised about $17,000 from the sale of the wood and chips. This will be used to partially fund stump-removal. Workers from the cemetery department will do the work and the department is looking at what equipment will need to be acquired to finish the job.
"We're going to try to do it and save the cost," Rapoza said.