Ringgold officials plan to spruce up the historic cemetery at the corner of LaFayette and Church streets to make the site a more inviting and accessible destination.
Over the past few weeks, City Council members and city staff have been discussing fencing and sidewalk possibilities that were being planned out in 2011 before the famous F-5 tornado struck the city in April of that year causing a lot of projects to be placed on hold.
Now, with the city having already rescaped its downtown area tremendously in recent years, officials are looking to make the historic cemetery more inviting.
During a Sept. 24 work session, the council looked at samples of decorative fencing and discussed ideas for the project.
“We’re looking to dress that area up and have a way to visit that cemetery,” said City Manager Dan Wright. “Cemeteries are a tourist item, so we’d like to try to make some type of investment there.”
As with any project, cost is always one of the biggest concerns.
Councilman Randall Franks recalled that initial quotes in 2011 were in the $20,000-$30,000 range.
“Originally, we started looking at this in 2011,” Franks said. “The idea was to try to do period fencing to match the cemetery’s period, somewhere in the 1800s.”
During the Monday night, Oct. 8, meeting, the board explained some of its ideas, approved adjustments to the plan, and instructed Wright and city staff to move forward with gathering more details and pricing information.
“What we have on the books is an appropriate period fence along Lafayette Street with a pedestrian gate with an arch with the name of the cemetery on it, as well as a fence along Church Street with a service entrance and a sidewalk in front of the cemetery,” Franks said.
Randall’s motion also included black chain linking on the other two property line borders with black poles connecting the fencing, and appropriate signage for parking.
“We’re looking at that as phase one of our project, and then discussing phase two being some restoration work to be done to the wrought iron, as well as some other work being discussed by our Ringgold Downtown Partners,” Franks said. “I think at this point we’ve got also the possibility of phase three, which would be a connector sidewalk taking the sidewalk on down to our parking lot there at our children’s park. Maybe at our next meeting, we can fully approve going forward with whatever we have in front of us.”
The cemetery, which houses the graves of several Civil War era soldiers, is frequented by history buffs and is also a popular stop on the city’s Ghost Tours during the Haunted Depot festivities.
Both Mayor Nick Millwood and Mayor Pro Tem Terry Crawford have voiced their excitement about upgrading the historic site.
“That’s a cool little spot there…I don’t see why we wouldn’t move forward with it,” Millwood said.
“To me, it shows that a city cares when a cemetery like that is kept up,” Crawford said.