Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Treading on hallowed ground

This is written on behalf of over 190 dead veterans who are buried with their families in the Ketchum Cemetery. I also write on behalf of all our family members and friends who are buried there as well as all the living who enjoy and treasure the sanctity of our traditional mountain cemetery. The David Ketchum Post 115 of the American Legion is one of the largest in the state of Idaho, numbering over 350 members and spouses who share the common goal of preserving the quietude and the special holiness of this lovely cemetery.

Beyond their aesthetic interests, many are Ketchum residents who are taxpayers and voters with a deep and abiding interest in the affairs of our community. One of the biggest events involving the Ketchum Cemetery and the American Legion is the annual Memorial Day ceremony, always attended by over 100 guests and family members of the dead buried there.

This letter is not to recite the numbers of interested people who have expressed concern over the notion of affordable housing immediately adjacent to the cemetery. Rather, it is to endorse those concerns by helping the families and friends of people buried there to fully understand the travesty about to be perpetrated.

The property proposed for the 19 affordable housing units is immediately to the north of the cemetery's north boundary. It is narrow, uncompacted and immediately overlooks the cemetery's grave sites. The prospect of affordable housing units with minimal storage and parking issues, people, pets, equipment and automobiles, right next to graves violates the feelings of remembrance and holiness we all experience when we tread on hallowed ground. Said simply, the site selected for this development is a wrong idea in a wrong place.

Beyond the fact that this inappropriate location is being considered by Ketchum authorities at this time, you should know this is not a new idea. When I served on the Ketchum City Council I believe the minutes will show the idea was discussed and summarily discarded as wholly inappropriate because of the property's approximation to the cemetery and the people buried there.

There are zoning issues here as well as process and procedures issues, but well beyond these issues is the underlying need to preserve and protect the final resting place of our beloved family and friends and others who have bought plots intending to be buried there. Let us not violate their right to rest in peace.

Maurice M. Charlat

Commander, American Legion Post 115


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