A small family cemetery may be the latest casualty in Montgomery's rapid eastward expansion. Family members of the deceased oppose a plan by developers to build a shopping center at the site. But in this case, it appears progress may prevail.
The old Pinkston Cemetery is located just beneath a giant tree on Chantilly Parkway. It's more than a century old. It's unclear how many people are buried there. Only two headstones remain.
"We do not want it moved," said Ann Pinkston LeBarge. "Eternal rest should mean eternal rest."
LeBarge and her family went before the county commission Tuesday. Their grandfather is buried at the cemetery and they oppose a plan to move it.
It's not surprising that a developer, Trum L.L.C., wants to build a new shopping center at the site. With a new Home Depot just over the hill, the land is ripe for development.
"You have to strike a balance between progress and preservation and unfortunately, compromises like this happen," said Alabama Historical Commission Archeologist Stacye Hathorn.
Hathorn says the developers have already applied for a permit from the commission to move the bodies. And so far, they're following the law.
Trum L.L.C. has posted signs at the site, notified family members, and agreed to move the bodies with dignity. They've offered to enlist the University of Alabama's Office of Archeological Research for help.
"It's sad to see things go, but by moving them, sometimes we gain information that wouldn't have had before," Hathorn said. "That's why we like archeologists to be involved."
This won't be the first time a cemetery has been moved. The historical commission gets about ten similar requests per year. And, as the city expands, they expect to get more.
Under the developers' proposal, the bodies at the Pinkston Cemetery would be moved to Grace Church Cemetery or Montgomery Memorial. All they need now is the county commission's approval.
But family members are still holding out hope.
"We're trying to convince these people that they need to allow the cemetery to remain there," DeBarge told WSFA 12 News.
County commissioners say they're prepared to make a final decision, but they have given the developers and family members two weeks to try and come up with a compromise of their own.
Reporter: Mark Bullock
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