An Update to "Portland, Maine, the Desecration Capital of
By Paul O'Neil, December 13, 2000
In the six months since the first
article was written there have been many developments. The city
of Portland has hired a consultant to develop a master plan to restore
the Western Cemetery. The unfortunate fact is the city has left
the off- leash dog park issue open. At the time of this update it
is business as usual in the Western Cemetery. The dog owners who
regularly desecrate the Western Cemetery belong to an Organization
that they call, of all things, "The Friends of The Western Cemetery".
They are often referred to as the Doggy Brigade.
When the city hired the consultant, a committee was established
consisting of the consultant and interested members of the community
and representatives of interested organizations within the community.
This committee, the Western Cemetery Planning Committee, has been
working with the consultant to create the master plan. The committee
has representatives on both sides of the desecration issue and has
been meeting regularly. There have been two public meetings. Their
most recent regular meeting was held on December 5 and the consultant
presented his initial recommendations. He recommended that if dogs
are to be allowed in the cemetery they should be on a short leash
(6 feet) and only allowed on the pathways. A majority of the Western
Cemetery Planning Committee disagreed. A vote was taken by the entire
committee and it was voted 8-3 to recommend banning dogs from the
cemetery altogether. This favorable vote was influenced by a number
of factors one of which was the literally hundreds of letters and
e-mails which were generated by the article on this site. The members
of this committee were given copies of all letters and e-mails received
by the city concerning this issue. It is very doubtful that this
vote would have been achieved without the input from and influence
of the hundreds of concerned people who read about the situation
on "Voices from the grave" and we thank you all.
The third and final public meeting of this committee is scheduled
for December 13 and the doggy brigade will turn out in force. The
dog owners will try to put enough pressure on both the City of Portland
and the Portland Press Herald to keep their support on the side
of dogs in the cemetery. The Portland Press Herald still seems to
feel that the Western Cemetery is a public asset and should accommodate
dogs. Although the paper in general does not seem to understand
what is going on we must admit that the letters to the editor dept.
has been very professional and have been a great help. The Ancient
Order of Hibernians and their many friends will be at this public
meeting and will be fighting to return dignity and respect to the
After the final regular meeting of the Western Cemetery Planning
Committee the consultant's final recommendations will go to the
Portland City Council and they will consider them in January. It
is important that we keep the pressure on the city. If you e-mail
a letter to the city and to the Press Herald be sure to congratulate
the Western Cemetery Planning Committee on their positive vote and
tell the city that they should be looking for alternative sites
for dog parks other than cemeteries. Fencing off an alternative
site may cost a few dollars but it is money well spent.
As always we appreciate and need your help to win this fight.
[Editor's note, please see the next
update to this article published on May 23, 2001].
- Paul O'Neil
Paul is the President of Division 1 of the Ancient Order of
Hibernians in Portland Maine, and is leading a campaign to return
dignity and respect to the Western Cemetery. Contact Paul at:
Please help to bring the Portland City government
back to their senses. Write a letter today!
For the Portland City Hall, send your
City of Portland
389 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101
Or, send your e-mail to:
If you would prefer to write a “Letter to the
Editor”. Send it to The Portland Press Herald (Portland’s Daily).
The maximum length is 250 words and you should send it to:
Voice of the People
Portland Press Herald
P.O. Box 1460
Portland, ME 04104-5009
Or e-mail it to: Letters@pressherald.com