NEWBURY – The First Parish Church on High Road has a growing problem – a grass-growing problem, that is.
For years Doug Morris, who grew up in Newbury but now lives in Salisbury, has visited the cemetery across the street from the church to plant flowers and pay his respects to relatives laid to rest there -- including, most recently, his grandmother. His family plot is tucked behind a stonewall on an area about half the size of a football field behind the newer Thomas Parker cemetery. There is also an older cemetery at the front of the lot, visible from High Road.
But this spring Morris’ attempts at filial piety have run into a snag. Lack of regular maintenance at the cemetery has left his ancestral headstones buried under waist high grass. He tried to clear an area around the family graves with his backyard weed whacker but found that the grass is now “way too high,” he said.
Unable to resolve the problem on his own, Morris said he started contacting church officials about the long grass around Memorial Day. Unfortunately that also wound up being a futile endeavor, according to Morris. In speaking with 5 different people, he says he got 5 different answers.
“I got one sob story after another about why the grass wasn’t being mowed,” said Morris. One time he was told the church had run out of money. Another time he heard that the amount in the mowing budget wasn’t adequate to hire a professional landscaper.
Morris was particularly frustrated when a team from the Essex County Sheriff Department’s worker program was brought in to mow the older front portion of the cemetery that can be seen from the road, but left untouched the grass growing around the 150 to 175 graves in the back section, where his family plot lies.