RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The City of Richmond wants to take ownership of three historic cemeteries managed by the Enrichmond Foundation before its collapse, according to a letter obtained by 8News.
An estimated $200,000 seemingly vanished after the local nonprofit Enrichmond Foundation dissolved in June 2022. Now, the city of Richmond has sent a letter to property owners with the intent to take ownership.
8News spoke with Brian Palmer, founder of Friends of the East End, a local nonprofit organization that has worked closely with restoration efforts of the Historic East End Cemetery. Palmer says the city’s decision to step up is much needed after a failed plan by the Enrichmond Foundation left a community high and dry.
“They couldn’t handle the 76 acres. They just couldn’t,” said Palmer. “They never had a plan. They didn’t have the expertise. They didn’t have the experience.”
The letter, sent to the Enrichmond Foundation and Parity LLC, expresses interest in taking over East End, Evergreen and Forest View cemeteries. Despite the collapse of the Enrichmond Foundation last summer, the organization still owns Forest View Cemetery and Parity LLC owns Evergreen and East End Cemeteries. According to the Virginia State Corporation Commission, both businesses are inactive.
A change in ownership is something Palmer is excited to see. He hopes this time the community can be apart of the conversation.
“I think it’s important to have everybody who’s invested, who’s committed and who’s worked at these places and who’s related to these places at the at the table,” said Palmer. “Because we’ve had so many undemocratic, closed-door decisions made about these community assets over the years.”
There is no word yet on where the city stands in this process or how long it could take.
“You just can’t come in here with mowers and weed whackers and just start laying waste to the place,” said Palmer. “Because again, people are buried here and there are many, many unmarked graves. So I respect the caution that the city is showing.”
Richmond City Councilwoman Cynthia Newbille invites residents to share their thoughts at the next community meeting, scheduled for October 28th.