April 29. 2013 10:17PM

Goffstown West Lawn Cemetery getting new fence, entryway

Union Leader Correspondent

GOFFSTOWN - Cemetery trustees went before selectmen Monday night and learned that money to pay for a galvanized steel fence and entryway at West Lawn Cemetery has already been set aside by the town.

Jean Walker, chairman of the cemetery trustees, appeared before the board seeking guidance on how to proceed with a proposal from Mill City Iron Fabricators of Manchester to erect a galvanized steel entryway and fence to run parallel with Route 114 at a cost of $28,000.

Walker said she was unclear about whether selectmen needed to take further action after getting what she believed was a proposal from Mill City in response to a request for the information.

She was told by selectmen that the $28,000 had already targeted by the town for the fence and entryway, and that the only way municipal funds can be set aside under state law is if there is a legal obligation to pay for a service.

Town Administrator Susan Desruisseaux told Walker and selectmen that there had been a purchase order approved by selectmen at the end of last year. It showed selectmen approved the bid submitted by Mill City Iron Fabricators, effectively giving the cemetery trustees the go-ahead to enter into the contract.

"So we encumbered money specifically to meet the obligations of this agreement?" asked Selectmen Chairman Collis Adams. Desruisseaux said there may have been some confusion because the purchase order had been made on Oct. 24, 2012, with no action since then.

One question raised during the discussion was a recent change in state law affecting cemeteries. Under the old statute, all cemeteries in New Hampshire had to be fully enclosed. "That's not the case anymore," Adams said.

Walker said the trustees had originally inquired about getting wrought iron fencing installed around the cemetery, but were told that "wrought iron doesn't really exist anymore." Instead, she said, the industry standard is to use galvanized steel.

The entryway and fence will be erected at the new addition to West Lawn Cemetery, which is located north of Route 114, directly across the street from the existing cemetery. Five years ago the parcel, which abuts Autumn Street, contained a baseball backstop and diamond, used occasionally for practices by Parks and Recreation Department soccer, lacrosse and softball teams.

Selectmen two years ago gave the go-ahead for the property to be used for expansion of West Lawn Cemetery after cemetery trustees told selectmen that finding new cemetery space in town had become an "emergency."

Selectmen were told last night, however, that the space emergency no longer exists. Cemetery trustee Joan Konieczny told selectmen that only three cemetery plots had been sold in 2012. "People are choosing cremation" as a cheaper alternative to burial, she said.