SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The city of Savannah is taking on a new initiative to help improve the maintenance and condition of the historic Evergreen Cemetery.
For the last few years, News 3 has been following the complaints from families and city leaders. Last fall, the city started exploring ways they could legally buy the land after the owner passed away.
“This is terrible. I’m not use to seeing this cemetery like this,” said Gerri Clark who has a loved one in the cemetery.
Overgrown grass, weeds, and dumped trash continue to be a problem for the decades-old graveyard. It’s home to many African American families since the 1930s.
“It was Mother’s Day and I wanted to come and bring some flowers and put it on my sister’s grave. I could not find it,” Clark said.
She wants something to be done to the cemetery after years of the property looking neglected. Her family took it into their own hands to clean up their loved one’s gravesite.
“I wish the community also could come and join in and clean up the area. Know that the body is there, not the spirit,” she said.
District 5 Alderwoman Dr. Estella Shabazz said the city of Savannah is stepping into help.
“I remain committed to a long-term solution to this matter,” Shabazz said.
The cemetery is privately owned, but the previous owner recently passed away without a will. In 2019, the city invested more than $90,000 to keep the cemetery in good shape to find a buyer for the property but that fell through.
“They opted out due to the limited revenue opportunities remaining at this location which would have made it difficult to cover ongoing maintenance,” Shabazz said.
The city is now working to buy the cemetery through probate court. Shabazz said this process has been slowed down by the pandemic backlog.
“I have been calling, working, crying, and shouting for that to happen. I do believe that hopefully as the probate and legal situations go on that it could one day become a city cemetery,” she said.
Until the city can own the cemetery it will be the responsibility of neighborhood groups and volunteers to make sure the gravesites stay clean.