MUNHALL (KDKA) — The historic Homestead Cemetery in Munhall has no caretaker, no board of directors and no ownership.
Weeds and tall, un-mowed grass obscure some of the markers in the 34-acre, sprawling, bankrupt graveyard.
And now, after two years of spending hundreds of hours cleaning and maintaining the cemetery grounds, a volunteer group, called Help Homestead Cemetery, has informed the Borough of Munhall it can no longer continue with the cemetery upkeep.
It was a decision not made lightly.
Sandy Wolfe, who helped set up the Help Homestead Cemetery group said, “This was a very difficult decision. There were a lot of good intentions from a lot of people, but it just became too much work for us.”
She said there was too much work to be done, and too few volunteers.
Munhall funeral director Michael Aldrich told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti, “It’s horrible. If I let my grass would grow that high, the code enforcement officer would say that’s $1,000 a day.”
Aldrich says it’s now impossible to purchase any new gravesites in the Homestead Cemetery, because there’s no one to purchase a lot from.
If someone had previously purchased cemetery lots, Aldrich says it’s a different story.
“If they have a deed to property they had bought there years ago, and had been given a deed to show they own a certain section, someone can still be buried there,” he said.
While the official cemetery volunteer group has been disbanded, the graveyard still gets a helping hand.
David Hruska lives in West Mifflin. He has no relatives buried in the Homestead Cemetery, but he tries to stop by the graveyard a couple of times a week to cut the lawn.
“It makes me feel good when I do it. It helps the community, it makes it look a lot better,” Hruska said. “I talk to the people who drive through, they have loved ones buried here, that makes you feel good, too.”
Wolfe hasn’t given up completely, saying, “We’re hoping that someone, whether it’s a private entity or the borough, will come in and take over and maintain the cemetery.”