The Brookfield Association plans to abandon two cemeteries


“I have to go on with my life. I’ve done my job to get to this point, and I really have to turn it over to the next group that’s going to take care of it,” said Jeff Nolan, president of the Central Cemetary Association of Brookfield.

The association owns Laurel Hill and Brookfield Central Cemetery. The separate properties cover a combined area of ​​12.9 acres of active cemeteries. According to filings, the association acquired Central in 1887 and Laurel Hill in 1900.

Cemetery ownership in Connecticut is limited to municipalities, church corporations and designated cemetery associations — one of several laws Nolan says makes cemetery ownership “uneconomically viable.”

Other laws require charities to be registered as nonprofits, so they must file specific information with the Internal Revenue Service each year to maintain their tax-exempt status.

On March 15, 2021, the IRS added the Center Cemetary Assoc. from Brookfield to a list of nonprofits whose federal tax-exempt status had been automatically revoked after failing to file the notice for a period of three consecutive years. According to Nolan, the dismissal was part of the plan.

Nolan spoke to CTInsider on Wednesday, less than a week after writing a letter to first coach Tara Carr noting repeated attempts to find a buyer or entity willing to take over the association. He also asked for the city’s assistance “to facilitate a transition to full-time professionals to manage a regional cemetery operation that includes Central and Laurel Hill.”

Five years ago, Nolan said the association made the decision to slowly retire; choose not to spend “a lot of time and energy rebuilding the rules”. He added that he believed the statutes governing the associations made it impossible for cemetery ownership to be “economically viable” and believed the state, regional government or private sector should take over the work.

“It was the problem that created everything,” Nolan said.

The Board of Selectmen discussed the issue at their meeting last week after Carr received Nolan’s letter and directed the city attorney to gather information on “the best way forward” for the city.

According to Brookfield City Attorney Dennis Kokenos, the city could resume operations of both cemeteries if they are abandoned. But the law “is silent on what will happen to the property itself – the property is owned by an association…so we’re going to have to work with them, they’re going to have to work with us in the solution process.”

To purchase the property, the city must first determine “what funds it has, what funds are still there, and whether it was created as a perpetual fund,” Kokenos added.

State law allows city officials to annually maintain neglected cemeteries that are not under the control or management of an operating cemetery association. The statutes also allow municipalities to acquire title to abandoned cemeteries, but they “must use due diligence to identify the owners of the cemetery or any of its lots or burial sites and must inform them of their intent to acquire the cemetery,” a state legislative search. says the report.

First female draft pick Tara Carr said in an email Wednesday that the city is “not currently considering” purchasing the cemeteries, but will “consider all options regarding ownership of the cemetery.”

“The Association and its representatives are working with the City to produce the necessary documents to move this process forward,” she added.

Under laws guiding funeral practices in Connecticut, a cemetery association must appoint a sexton to accurately record information about each burial, including the date and place of interment, which is reported to the clerk’s office. from the city.

The association has not appointed a sacristan since 2017. A message on its website notes the legal ramifications of incorrect recording and reporting of burial data: statutes”.

Speaking at the board meeting last week, manager Harry Shaker described the situation behind the association’s decline as ‘very, very, complicated’ and said he spoke with Nolan about the decision to abandon cemeteries.

“There’s been very little paperwork over the last few years that I know of over the last few years, and very little communication — so that’s where it’s at now,” Shaker said.

On Tuesday, Nolan said burials had taken place at cemeteries over the past two weeks, but he noted the cemetery’s history and said decades of use of a paper-based system and human error were attracting attention to the need for state intervention.

“We can’t ask a group of volunteers to try to build a system designed for a much, much bigger problem,” he said.

Coach Steve Dunn told CT Insider this week that the association approached City when he was the first coach. He recalled agreeing that something needed to be done and said he thought the city should step in. But he said the group failed to provide the financial information necessary for city officials to make a decision.

“I told them I thought it was a good idea, but I need to see financial documents,” Dunn said.

Nolan said he only contacted Dunn for help in escalating the issue regionally, adding that there would be no problem sharing the association’s financial information.

“I’m very confident about keeping the financial records,” Nolan said. “Burial records are an ongoing problem.”


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