NEW MARLBOROUGH — The town cemetery in Southfield is poised to accommodate significantly more burials for decades to come.
The New Marlborough Land Trust has agreed to donate 8.4 acres toward expanding the 1.7-acre William Henry Lee Memorial Cemetery off Norfolk Road which is running out of space, according to town officials.
In all, the municipality maintains 11 cemeteries in the town's five villages: Clayton, Mill River, New Marlborough and Hartsville being the other four.
Land trust representatives will officially discuss their offer before the Board of Selectmen on Monday night, according to its president, Ian Devine.
"The land trust felt this was a win-win situation for the community and land trust," he said.
Should the selectmen accept the offer, they would have to seek final approval from annual Town Meeting voters in May.
Selectmen's Chairman Nat Yohalem calls the potential real estate gift a "very generous offer."
We're extremely grateful," he said. "There was never any hesitation [by the land trust] to help us out."
Given to the land trust in 1988, the woodlands is wedged between the cemetery and Umpachene River. Land trust and town officials expect the majority of the usable acreage would be cleared as needed for burial plots.
"The real deciding factor for us was the land will be unchanged; the bulk of it is flat, forested land," Devine said.
He noted access to the additional burial ground will likely be from within the existing cemetery so neighbors aren't inconvenienced. The land trust is currently conducting a legal review of customary cemetery deed restrictions, before finalizing its offer.
If townspeople approve next spring, the donation will be the second real estate transaction in three years between the land trust and town. In 2014, the nonprofit bought town-owned for more than $50,000 to expand the Robert Joffe Nature Sanctuary, a living wildlife and learning preserve, frequently visited by school children on science field trips.
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233