The Enrichmond Foundation recently released its master restoration plan for Evergreen Cemetery. I am still digesting the details, but its estimated cost of $18 million seems dauntingly realistic.
What is more concerning at this stage continues to be Enrichmond’s process. Executive director John Sydnor’s column in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on the eve of the plan’s release in February 2020 began this way: “After a seven-year effort, Enrichmond has settled into the lead stewardship role at Historic Evergreen and East End Cemeteries.”
It is hard to see how Enrichmond sees itself in the lead stewardship role at East End Cemetery except by continuing to ignore and attempting to displace the stalwart Friends who have been out there for so many years. This is a terrible scenario for everyone involved, although it fits with the pattern of Enrichmond’s decisions thus far.
The unveiling of Enrichmond’s master plan at the Maggie Walker National Historic Site on February 29, 2020 was a warm affair, and there are many whom I respect on the advisory committee that helped Enrichmond draft its plan. But it is absolutely essential that the city of Richmond, the county of Henrico, state agencies, and the public help open Enrichmond’s so far unaccountable process. Who can answer the questions raised in Brian Palmer’s letter to the Richmond Free Press on March 6, 2020? Especially after Enrichmond’s visible failures at the 17th Street Farmers Market, why are so few asking them?
My colleague Adam Rosenblatt and I put forward our own concerns, which the Richmond Times-Dispatch published on March 3. Personally, I would much rather be writing about the earlier history of these important sites than about a painful stewardship scenario that the state was supposed to have helped solve.