Bellmawr’s Resurrection of Christ Cemetery on Anderson Avenue is in the midst of beautification efforts and will remain a Catholic cemetery, according to Louis Cicalese, who is the president of Harleigh Cemetery.
Because of the obvious, large-scale tree cutting and clearing work that recently took place on the property, several readers reached out to SJO with concerns about toppled headstones and markers. There were also questions asking if the burial ground would remain a Catholic cemetery. Cicalese responded to SJO via email and confirmed that Harleigh Cemetery will maintain the cemetery and will also be providing burial services.
He wrote: “I am happy to address your questions regarding the Resurrection of Christ Cemetery. The community will shortly witness the resurrection of Resurrection of Christ Catholic Cemetery. As you can see, trees are being removed so we can begin the clean up process of improving paths and driveways. In addition, all the existing headstones will be preserved.”
All photos by SJO. Work to remove and clear trees at the cemetery is underway. In the background are the Bellmawr Hockey rinks.
He continued: “The cemetery has never closed since its inception in the early 1900s, but it was never a very active cemetery because it was so heavily treed. Our plans are to beautifully landscape this very special Catholic cemetery. We will be offering Catholic families options of traditional in-ground graves, family estate lots, niche gardens, cremation graves, and mausoleums. Families can start the pre-planning process with our counselors beginning September 2016, by contacting us at RCC@cemdevco.com or 856-963-3500.”
The Borough of Bellmawr will be included during the planning process. Cicalese wrote: “We will be working with the Borough of Bellmawr to create new signage and plan our mausoleum buildings while we keep the historic character of the cemetery intact with its ornamental gate on the corner.”
The historic character of the cemetery will be maintained. This includes the ornamental gate on the corner that is currently obscured by overgrowth.
As for any toppled headstones and markers, Cicalese said work will be done to ensure that all existing headstones are protected and set properly during the project.
Because of mandates outlined in the New Jersey Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Act, the Camden County Soil Conservation District (CCSCD) is involved.
Craig McGee of CCSCD confirmed that Harleigh Cemetery is in the process of preparing a Soil Erosion and Sediment Control (SESC) Plan application to be submitted for approval.
He explained that the CCSCD is charged with implementing the New Jersey Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Act. Chap 251, PL 1975. The Act requires that nearly all land disturbances in excess of 5,000 square feet submit and gain approval of a Soil Erosion and Sediment Control (SESC) Plan.
“We review those plans for compliance with a set of standards and issue a certification. Usually a certified SESC plan is required prior to land disturbance and the issuance of building permits,” McGee said.
He further clarified that the CCSCD does not approve land use or the scope of the project, only that it meets the Standards for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control in N.J. “In general, we look to make sure that soil doesn’t erode from the site during construction activities and that the development of the site doesn’t impact any nearby waterbodies, including streams and wetlands.”
A History of the Resurrection of Christ Cemetery:
To read a history of the Resurrection of Christ Cemetery, check out the article that Mark Matthews wrote for CNBNews titled “Bellmawr’s Forgotten Polish Cemetery.” For his article, Matthews referenced NJDOT’s Historic Architectural Resources Technical Environmental Study from 2006.