Friends of Bosque Bello meet to begin forming organization

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
March 29, 2018 5:00 p.m.

Close to 50 people devoted an hour St. Patrick’s Day morning in Fernandina Beach to identifying goals and determining a form of governance for the newly formed Friends of Bosque Bello, an advocacy group to help preserve the city’s only municipal cemetery.

Adrienne Burke speaks about the significance of Bosque Bello cemetery to audience of cemetery supporters.

Adrienne Burke, who currently works as a planner for Nassau County, led the meeting at the Fernandina Beach Library, assisted by Adam Kaufman, President of the Amelia Island Fernandina Restoration Foundation (AIFRF). Burke worked as a Preservation Planner for the city of Fernandina Beach when the current Cemetery Master Plan was developed and approved by the Fernandina Beach City Commission in 2015. One of the recommendations in that plan was the formation of a “Friends” group to help restore and preserve Bosque Bello Cemetery.

As a 501(c)(3) organization, the AIFRF has agreed to provide assistance to the Friends with respect to receiving donations and working with the city to enter into any required legal agreements for construction projects or other joint efforts.

Burke, who has agreed to lead the Friends effort on at least a temporary basis, explained that she is looking to form a governing board consisting of representatives of the various organizations seemingly most interested in the cemetery effort. Those organizations include the city and the county as well as private sector representatives from WestRock and Oxley-Heard in addition to the following citizen based organizations:

  • Amelia Island Fernandina Restoration Foundation
  • Amelia Island Genealogical Society
  • Amelia Island Museum of History
  • Amelia Island Trails
  • Amelia Tree Conservancy
  • Bartram Garden Club
  • Duncan Lamont Clinch Historical Society of Amelia Island
  • Historic District Council of Fernandina Beach

Other organizations/individuals may also be candidates for the board. Burke, along with several meeting attendees, will be seeking volunteers for board positions.Once the board is established, work plans will be announced and volunteers sought for specific projects.

Priority goals of the Friends at this time are preservation and maintenance, security and building a columbarium to accommodate future growth.

During the meeting several questions were asked regarding the relationship of the Friends to the city of Fernandina Beach. Burke responded that the city would continue its current responsibility for managing the business of the cemetery, but that the Friends would provide assistance in areas for which the city is not currently funded. Examples might be cleaning and repair of damaged gravestones, developing a landscape plan, and promoting the cemetery’s rich history through signage, tours and/or publications. Other examples of successful local public private partnerships include the library expansion, restoration of the train depot and 8 Flags Playscapes.

Individuals who would like to be kept informed of developments or to volunteer may contact [email protected].

For more information on the work of other cemetery friends organizations and efforts to preserve cemeteries, visit websites for the Chicora Foundation, Association for Gravestone Studies and Florida Public Archaeology Network.

As a reminder, the Florida Public Archaeology Network will present a program at 7:00 p.m. on March 20, 2018 at the Fernandina Beach Library entitled “Cemeteries as Outdoor Museums.”  This program is being co-hosted by the Amelia Island Genealogical Society.  It is free and open to the public.

Editor’s Note: Suanne Z. Thamm is a native of Chautauqua County, NY, who moved to Fernandina Beach from Alexandria,VA, in 1994. As a long time city resident and city watcher, she provides interesting insight into the many issues that impact our city. We are grateful for Suanne’s many contributions to the Fernandina Observer.

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Mrs. D. Hunter
Mrs. D. Hunter (@guest_50653)
6 years ago

I know Jacksonville will miss Adrienne terribly at her former post at RAP, but aren’t we lucky to have her back! Welcome back, Adrienne!

julie ferreira
julie ferreira(@julie-ferreira)
6 years ago

An important part of the beauty of Bosque Bella are the TREES. I hope someone pays attention to them and stops city maintenance from running into their base with mowers or injuring them with a string trimmer. The Bosque Bella trees are heavily stressed from storm damage, improper pruning techniques, and ill-advised maintenance procedures. Damaging tree bark with a string trimmer is so easy to do. Healthy, mature trees can recover from slight damage but because these are older and ill, they are more vulnerable. Someone needs to make sure that the mower wheels and blade housing and weedeaters need to stay completely away; girdling the base of the tree is very damaging as it removes the tree’s circulatory system. The city has access to bark mulch. The trees could use rings of it placed around them before its too late. The mulch will also insulate the soil and help to provide a buffer from heat and cold, it will also help to keep the roots moist during dry periods. The cemetery is nothing without the trees. They need immediate attention, that’s where to start with preservation.