Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
October 13, 2020
The Friends of Bosque Bello (FOBB) formed in 2018 in response to citizens’ concerns about the state of Bosque Bello Cemetery, the only municipal cemetery in the City of Fernandina Beach, FL. It is a subgroup of the Amelia Island Fernandina Restoration Foundation, Inc., a 501(c )(3) not for profit organization registered in the state of Florida.
Since FOBB’s founding, members have been quietly working to address documentation, security, maintenance and landscape issues in order to preserve and restore what has been called the Ancient Section of the cemetery, which dates to 1798, when it was established by the Spanish. That portion lies within the Old Town Fernandina Historic District. With rare exception, burials are no longer done in this section.
Sal Cumella, the City of Fernandina Beach’s Historic Preservation Planner has created a website for interested individuals to track progress on cemetery issues and to learn about volunteer opportunities and upcoming events featuring Bosque Bello. The website contains links to the the City’s website with information on current burial policies and rates as well the Master Plan and a video of the recent Atlas Preservation 48 State Tour that featured preservation activities in Bosque Bello.
FOBB has also been concerned with providing for future growth of the active cemetery by advocating for a construction of a columbarium. The cemetery master plan, adopted by the Fernandina Beach City Commission in 2015, indicated that the time to capacity of the 29-acre cemetery was 10-12 years. Unless more space is available via land purchase or construction of above ground opportunities for burial of ashes, new burials may not be possible after 2025-2027.
Recently, under Cumella’s guidance, workshops have been conducted on the cleaning and repair of old grave markers and cemetery monuments. Additionally, the FOBB Steering Committee has been working with a consultant and the City’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee on the design and location of a columbarium.
Cumella wrote: “We are very proud to announce the launch of our new website and Facebook page. This will better allow members to more easily keep up with upcoming events/activities and makes it easier for the Friends of Bosque Bello to connect with each other and share anything Bosque Bello related with the group. Please check out our new webpage at BosqueBello.org and follow us on Facebook at the link below. We look forward to hearing from you on Facebook and the website. ”
Those desiring to make a financial contribution to the FOBB’s work, may make out a check to the Amelia Island Fernandina Restoration Foundation and mail it to Post Office Box 7, Fernandina Beach, FL 32035. Please note FOBB on the memo line. Donations are tax deductible.