While there are many cemetery plots available in the city of El Dorado, resident Pat Bradshaw wanted 10 specific plots.
The problem was those plots aren’t available, having already been sold to others.
The El Dorado City Commission heard about the request during their meeting Wednesday afternoon.
She told the mayor she wrote to him on Aug. 21 about the plots at Bella Vista Cemetery and wondered what procedures had taken place since then.
“Since 2008 I have been trying to purchase these 10 lots,” she said, adding that she paused for a year or two in those efforts.
“Almost every year I have talked to Mr. (Jim) Murfin (city attorney) about what procedure to take to do this and I really haven’t got any good results yet,” Bradshaw said.
Murfin said he has spoke with Bradshaw on several occasions at length, although he was not the city attorney when she first started trying to purchase the plots.
Murfin explained the statutes involve the city being able to recapture plots in the cemetery after a certain number of years go by.
“The discussions involved at some point bringing in our cemetery department head to tell us what kind of supply of cemetery plots we have,” he said. “We have something like a 50 year supply.”
The only option for the city to sell those plots would be to list all plots sold more than 50 years ago in a pleading of the district court to recapture them as city property.
“It seemed from the city’s point of view somewhat superfluous,” Murfin said. “She has in mind certain plots are most beautiful and contiguous. Because the city determined we did not want to at this time go through the expense of filing with the district court and publication notices, I had advised Ms. Bradshaw in effort to meet her halfway I would do all of the leg work for her at no charge but the expectation would be that she needed to pay the filing fees and publication fees.”
He said those fees, which would be about $500 to $600, were not something she wanted to pay.
“Given our pretty big supply, it would make more sense for us to wait another 10 to 20 years, then presumably have even more plots we could take in,” Murfin said. “At the end of the day, Ms. Bradshaw is a super nice person and I am ready to help her but I don’t see that it would make sense for the citizens of the city for it to come out of their pocket for the purpose of getting her just the plots she prefers.”
Page 2 of 3 - Herb Llewellyn, city manager, further explained Murfin was talking about the city going to court and taking plots the city of El Dorado has already sold to someone else but no one has been buried in yet.
He also reiterated Murfin’s point there are a lot of available lots.
“I think when Jim talked about 50 to 60 years, that is in this cemetery,” Llewellyn said. “When you look at all of the cemeteries there are hundreds of years of plots available.”
Mayor Mike Fagg asked Bradshaw if she had talked to Llewellyn about this and she said she had not.
Fagg then said he got an e-mail stating Llewellyn had said he had listened to her story many times and would not do it again.
Llewellyn clarified he said he had heard the story.
“I understand that problem,” Llewellyn said.
“Could you have talked to her and told her?” Fagg asked.
“It has been explained to her many times,” responded Llewellyn.
“In my opinion I think we owed her a phone call to talk to her from you,” Fagg said. “That’s just my opinion. When someone calls and wants to talk to the city manager, they ought to be able to talk to them.”
“My preference is the customer talks to the person who can help them,” Llewellyn said. “The reason she talked to Jim is because that’s the person she needed to talk to. The best way in my opinion to deliver services is the person closest to the problem to deliver services. My direct solution would have been to tell Jim to do work and then tell Tammy to pay the bill. If you want someone who can’t answer the questions, then I’m it sometimes. In this case I’m it. The best person was Mr. Murfin and I had him work on it.”
Bradshaw said since she was just a citizen she didn’t understand all the rules and regulations.
“I don’t understand how many lots are available,” she said. “It seems it would be good for the city to have some money coming in.”
She said some of them went back to 1885.
“They’re telling us someone else owns the plots and in order to do this we have to take ownership and we have plenty of plots,” Fagg explained to her. “Today they’re saying they don’t want to spend the money to do that because we don’t have the need for it. You have two options there.”
Page 3 of 3 - Those were to pick new plots or pay the fees.
“So I just picked the wrong plots?” Bradshaw asked.
Llewellyn said there were a lot of plots out there.
“Maybe I should choose another one there,” she said.
She was directed to visit with Kevin Wishart, interim parks director.
“You go visit with them and if you need me you call me,” Fag told her.