Date: May 5, 2021
Evergreen Cemetery is aware of allegations that are circulating in regards to the management of its grounds. As a result of the recent publicity the New Jersey Cemetery Board is conducting an investigation of Evergreen Cemetery. The Cemetery is fully cooperating with the investigation. The Cemetery is deeply distressed by these allegations and is releasing this statement to provide information to all of the families who have loved ones buried there and those who have been questioning the procedures that are in place. Simply stated, Evergreen Cemetery has never relocated a casket or body except in response to a legal order. A casket can only be relocated with a permit and court order. In those extremely rare cases when a casket is moved, the funeral director is present and the Cemetery’s involvement is limited to locating the gravesite and occasionally helping with the excavation.
Evergreen Cemetery is a non-profit cemetery founded in 1853. Because it covers 115 acres, it has deer, foxes, rabbits, squirrels and groundhogs. If a groundhog becomes a nuisance it is relocated by a professional exterminator. There is no rat problem.
When there are no other options, headstones and flat stones are temporarily moved to the side in order to allow access to new gravesites without damaging the existing stones. The locations of all graves throughout the cemetery are carefully marked and the headstone and flat stones are returned to their exact locations as soon as possible. This is a seldom used but sometimes necessary procedure.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted the operations of Evergreen Cemetery. While many members of the public were able to stay at home safely isolated, Evergreen Cemetery’s employees worked overtime, often seven days a week. They risked exposure to the virus, and one foreman was hospitalized with Covid, placed on a ventilator and missed several months of work. This, combined with the inability to find additional employees willing to work in a cemetery during a pandemic, caused some landscape maintenance to be deferred. The situation is being addressed and the cemetery expects to be back to its normal park-like condition in the near future.
Evergreen Cemetery strenuously denies the allegations of poor management or mistreatment of any individuals buried on its grounds. Evergreen Cemetery expresses its sincerest condolences to those who have been misinformed and would like to assure the public that it is taking this matter very seriously and will provide further updates once they are available.