By Michele Owen—
MUNCIE, IN—Beech Grove Cemetery, a historic landmark dating back to 1841, is enjoying new life under a new superintendent. Troy Watters, a longtime Muncie resident with a history of public service, was appointed to the role in July and accomplished a noticeable change in just a few months. “He works there with the guys,” Muncie resident Mary Stilts said at the September city council meeting. “It’s not a supervisor sitting in the truck.” Since July, the Beech Grove team has removed 9 dead trees, restored a fountain, maintained the grounds and repaired the historic chapel, which has been closed for years.
Watters’ passion for Muncie history is evident to anyone lucky enough to take a walking tour of the cemetery. Watters can mention Muncie’s founding families, veterans of all of America’s wars, and family plots visited weekly by Muncie residents. Watters admitted that some might find it strange or morbid to walk through a cemetery, but he understands the allure. “There’s a lady who drives from Marion just to walk her dog,” Watters remarked.
Some of the improvements were showcased on Sunday, September 10 at the Chapel Ribbon Cutting and Open House. During the ceremony, Watters thanked the city council and board for their support, the workers for their service, and Mayor Ridenour for helping turn the budget around. “Everyone has been so supportive…Muncie Sanitary and street service have been so helpful with the equipment.”
At Monday’s city council meeting, Watters presented Beech Grove’s 2023 budget, which included additional building repairs and upgraded amenities. New mowers, a backhoe and a few other upgrades are planned to save money and allow the cemetery to preserve the historic site. Council also approved an ordinance to allow the public to walk dogs on leashes in the cemetery.
Beech Grove Cemetery is open to the public weekdays between 8 and 4. The public is also invited to join the Old West End Neighborhood Association Cemetery Tour on Saturday, October 8. The $10 tour includes refreshments and will begin at 3:30 p.m.
In other city news…
Proposed improvements to Riverview Park have received approval from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and Department of Natural Resources (DNR), meaning work can begin soon. The project, which includes upgraded bathrooms, a splash pool and new playground equipment, has been in the planning stages since 2020. The park will also receive new trees, as part of the 1,000 trees in 1 initiative. 000 days of Mayor Ridenour.
“This is going to have such an impact for the East Side,” commented Ridenour. “It’s a beautiful place, but the park has been in need of a serious overhaul for years. We’re thrilled to see the children of Whitely and Mayfield being able to walk to a paddling pool.
Engineering work for the project has delayed the schedule somewhat, but the Parks and Special Projects Department is excited to begin construction. Following the approval of the IDEM and the DNR, the teams have already started the construction of the paddling pool. New play equipment has been ordered and the project is expected to be completed in 2023.